Ask, Seek, Knock

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

I was reminded of the simple truth of this verse today. I had an idea in mind for a client for 2018, and for some reason was stuck on the thought that I needed to fund it out of what he was already paying me. And then I told the client about the idea, what I had in mind, how it would work, how it would benefit him, but that I was stuck on how to fund for it.

“Why do you think you should pay for it?” he asked. “Shouldn’t I be paying for it.”

Problem solved, funding released, the way forward opens.

What do you need to ask for, or seek for today? What door do you need to knock on?

Linking Files and Notes in Yammer with Office 365 (read SharePoint)

Microsoft is making progress in the long awaited alignment between Yammer and Office 365. We don’t yet have the ability to use a SharePoint document library in a Yammer Group, but you can create and save Office documents into the Yammer Files tool. The file types are consistent (e.g., Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.), but the place where the files are stored are different – for now. Ultimately the files tool should just be the SharePoint document library that’s associated with the Office 365 group of which Yammer is a part as well.

The next scheduled change, however, is the removal of the Notes function in Yammer, which enabled the writing and sharing of browser-based rich text “documents” in a Yammer Group. This function is going away (being deprecated), and current Notes will be converted into Word Online documents in late January. There are some steps required to have your Notes automatically migrated into Files, so check out what you have to do at Office Support (see Converting Yammer notes into Word Online documents).

Essentially:
– Ensure your notes are published; if not, they will not be converted. Drafts will be deleted.
– If you want to keep past versions, do so by saving the file to your computer. Versions will not be automatically converted nor retained. Previous versions will be deleted.
– If you aren’t using the Files tool in Yammer, save your Notes manually. They will not be converted.

These foundational changes will make the replacement of the Yammer Files tool with a SharePoint document library easy-peasy (well, easy-peasy’er).

Weekend Video 09.12

Amazon gives some ideas of how Alexa could be used at the office, including scheduling meetings, ordering photocopying paper, start meetings, finding an available meeting room, finding a colleague’s desk, and more.

Weekend Reading 09.12

There are many people doing interesting work around the world. Here’s a selection of the interesting ideas I have come across this week. Find yourself a coffee or tea, pull out your digital reading device of choice, and go exploring.


  • Microsoft Teams Update for November (Anne Michels) … “Since we started to work on Microsoft Teams, our mission hasn’t changed – to create a hub for teamwork that provides people with a single place to communicate and collaborate with others so that teams can achieve more.” New capabilities for Microsoft Teams during October and November: PowerShell management, new usage reports, UK data residency option, new group chat functionalities, improved settings and notifications, and more. More

  • Alexa for Business (Jordan Crook) … “The interface is evolving. What has long been dominated by screens of all shapes and sizes is now being encroached upon by the voice. And while many companies are building voice interfaces — Apple with Siri, Google with Assistant, and Microsoft with Cortana — none are quite as dominant as Amazon has been with Alexa. At the AWS reinvent conference, Amazon announced Alexa for Business (as CNBC first reported). The new platform will let companies build out their own skills and integrations for both practical and business use cases.More

  • Flying in the Lawyers from Texas (Tanza Loudenback) … “Rent and home prices in the Bay Area are so high that one Houston-based law firm is using an alternative to hiring expensive local talent: a private jet. Patterson and Sheridan, an intellectual-property law firm headquartered in Houston, bought a nine-seat plane to shuttle its patent lawyers to clients in the Bay Area once a month.More

  • They Know (Steve Jennings) … An ode to the dark side of social media, ending with “They know more about you than you know about yourself.More

  • Dual-Screen Wallpaper (TwelveSouth) … A collection of photos for your computer wallpaper; you can get dual-screen versions too. More

Traditional Mobile Workplace vs. Phone and iPad

Carsten from SAP Hybris compares his work style and everyday device carry with a traditional mobile workplace. The new “digital mindset” provides a different way of working, moving through time and space, sharing documents, watching movies, keeping in contact with loved ones, getting briefing papers, and more.

It’s the type of short article to read and then ask, “How could I simplify what I’m doing now?”

Driving as Collaboration

In recent years I have trained four of my children to drive (sometime soon we’ll be at the halfway point: four down, seven to go). For a couple I was the near solo teacher; for others, additional friends and family have helped too (for which I was very grateful).

One of the principles I have tried to instill in my young drivers is that each driver bears responsibility for their own safety on the road, but also for other drivers too. How you drive your vehicle has an impact on the safety on others, for example:

  • Whether you brake fast and at the last second – or give enough warning to the person traveling behind you.
  • Whether you start to pull out at a roundabout and then stop suddenly after having a proper look at what’s coming (which can lead to a rear end collision) – or make it a practice to look properly before starting to go.
  • Whether you drive straight in your lane, or swerve between the extremes of your allocated space.
  • Whether you focus on your driving, or allow influences within and beyond your car to distract from the driving task.

And so on.

It’s the collaboration of driving: everyone working together to get each person safely to where they are going.

I was thinking about this joint responsibility yesterday when talking with a young person about using a phone while driving. While it’s not illegal to drive-and-talk-on-the-phone in New Zealand as long as you have a hands-free kit, I think it is sufficiently distracting to reduce ones ability to focus on the main task: driving safely to where you are going, and helping everyone else do the same too. If the mere presence of a smartphone in line of sight reduces cognitive capability for the task-at-hand, talking on the phone while engaged in a task with life-and-death consequences must be even worse. Have you noticed how people talking on their phone in normal situations zone out of what’s going on around them?

My view: no talking on the phone and driving.

I went looking for evidence of this position, and found this study:

Talking on the phone in the car is hugely dangerous even if you’re on hands-free, according to a new study.

All phones should be banned from cars, whether or not they are actually being held by the person using them, the new research suggests.

It is having a voice engage people in conversation that makes people react badly to hazards, the research has found, rather than the actual act of using the phone.

The study looked at volunteers who were asked to respond a range of driving hazards in a simulation. Those included pedestrians stepping into the road or cars coming up the wrong side of the road.

People who had a voice that was looking to speak to them detected and reacted to half as many hazards, the research found.

Source: The Independent, Talking While Driving is Incredibly Dangerous, Even When Using Hands-Free, New Study Finds (the comments are interesting too).

I’m sure there are other studies that present evidence that there is no difference in safety whether you are talking on the phone or not.

What’s your approach to driving and talking on the phone?

Microsoft Whiteboard – Preview Now Available

Microsoft announced the availability of Microsoft Whiteboard, an app for freeform drawing on Windows 10 devices.

Microsoft Whiteboard Preview lets you create in whatever way feels most natural to you. The pen-first, touch-first technology lets you make fluid gestures with your fingers or draw out finer details with your pen. Using your pen, you can jot down notes, draw precise illustrations, or search for images on the web. Using your fingers, you can swipe to different sections of your board, turn the virtual ruler to the angle you want, and drag and drop images to create a photo stack. Whether you use pen or touch, Microsoft Whiteboard Preview recognizes your intent and delivers your desired outcomes in an instant.

Microsoft Whiteboard is available in Preview.

Multi-party collaboration is on offer within the app, but one of the participants requires some type of Office 365 account (personal, work, or school). I presume this is so the drawing file can be stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint, thus making it available for multi-person access, authoring, and editing.

Whiteboard will be rolled out almost immediately to the subset of Windows 10 devices running an English version of Windows, with support for other languages to follow later.

It will also replace – at some undefined point – the current whiteboard app on a Surface Hub. This means we might have an answer to my question on the Surface Studio, and its use as a remote participant device with collaborative capabilities for use during meetings. And for people with a Surface Pro or Surface Book, Whiteboard should allow better integration with meetings run via a Surface Hub.

There is no word of support for non-Windows devices, which is not Microsoft’s usual practice anymore.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent and LinkedIn

At Ignite 2017, Michele Ballinger and Brandon Potter, both of Microsoft, gave an introduction to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Talent, including the Attract and Onboard modules. Attract is for the recruiting portion of finding and hiring a new employee; Onboard is for managing the onboarding process of integrating the new employee into the company.

Michele starts the session with an exploration of the changing role of HR within the organisation, and introduces the idea of Empowerment HR (a move beyond Strategic HR) that gives leaders, teams and employees the tools they need to become an active part of the HR organisation. Once Michele has set the scene, Brandon walks through the various capabilities in Attract and Onboard, including some of the integrations with LinkedIn, such as:


  • Finding an application on LinkedIn and bringing it into Attract for running the hiring process (at 17m40s)

  • Integration with LinkedIn pulls the candidate’s profile into Attract that a recruiter sees in LinkedIn Recruiter (at 18m35s)

  • A candidate going through an interview process can be shown the list of interviewers and view their LinkedIn profile before the interview (this list can also be hidden from the interviewee). If it is disclosed in advance, the candidate can come better prepared knowing who he or she is talking with (at 22m20s).

  • [Roadmap] A planned integration is to automatically bring a candidates profile into LinkedIn Recruiter and Talent when a candidate searches for a job that matches what is being offered (at 19m00s).

Brandon said that the Dynamics team continues to work with LinkedIn to explore and deliver on integration opportunities. And there’s a lot of integration points with Office 365 too. Interesting.

Weekend Reading 02.12

There are many people doing interesting work around the world. Here’s a selection of the interesting ideas I have come across this week. Find yourself a coffee or tea, pull out your digital reading device of choice, and go exploring.

  • Making Cognitive Search Work (Martin White) … “The single major cause of poor quality search is not the incumbent technology but the lack of skilled information professionals. Historically, search vendors have been reluctant to identify the team skills needed to optimize the performance of their software in case potential customers take fright at the implications. This is certainly the case with cognitive search.More

  • LinkedIn and Office 365 (Jeremy Thake) … More on the initial integration between LinkedIn and Office 365. “…When a user opts-in to the integration, the organization cannot leverage the data, only the user can. What this means is that the organization can’t go through the users’ graph of connections i.e. internal recruiters won’t be able to connect to external people that their employees know. It also can’t start doing anything too scary, like predictive analysis on whether John Smith is looking to leave based on him connecting to employees from a competiting company or having LinkedIn message conversations with them.More

  • Updating Timesheets by Bot (Clarizen) … “Clarizen, the global leader in enterprise collaborative work management, today announced the availability of a new module for the Clarizen Bot that reduces the hours people spend every month updating their timesheets to a matter of seconds. Users can quickly and easily update their work and log their time directly in Slack.More

  • Daily Reality Check on your Checklist (Daniel Dowling) … “Do your best. If it sounds like advice from a kindergarten teacher, well, I get it. Vague goals produce vague results, right? So I thought, too. But over the past few years I’ve discovered that, when combined with a system of concrete daily goal-setting, there’s one nebulous goal that can prove a surprising punch-in-the-gut reality check, and lead to concrete results.More

Weekend Video 02.12

Air New Zealand has a bit of fun at the expense of the New Zealand accent. As a world traveller there is something magical about getting back on board an Air New Zealand plane and hearing the Kiwi accent again. But, yes, I get it that our accent is hard to understand.

My standard practice when talking to Americans, for example, is to say that my name is “Michael Saaaampson, no relation to Bart” in order to avoid it being heard as “Michael Simpson.”