Conversations for Understanding – the Amway RealTalk Approach

Claire from Amway explains their RealTalk initiative to create the context for people to talk about difficult subjects without trying to “win” the conversation. The overall intent was to improve the culture at Amway.

A few key points:
– People were encouraged to participate with a positive intent, and assume positive intent on the behalf of others.
– RealTalk was about dialogue not debate. People needed to listen to understand, not talk to win.
– After the RealTalk series finished, people continued to use the format for additional difficult subjects.

Using Data Analytics on People for Better Decision Making

Chantrelle and Natalie from the Workplace Analytics practice at Microsoft share three ideas of how organisations are using people analytics (defined as “the use of data about human behavior, relationships and traits to make business decisions“):

1. In process transformation, by comparing and contrasting process productivity across different teams within a company. If one team is significantly more productive, they are a “bright spot” (showing that something different is possible), and can be engaged to teach other teams.

2. In cultural transformation, by crunching comparative data on things like managerial interaction with direct reports, and the effect of different levels on employee engagement scores. Having data on the difference can bring real data to change programs.

3. In strategic transformation, by looking at the number of hours people are working each week, and focusing change interventions on people and teams who are not overburdened with work. If there’s no schedule-space for embracing change or experimenting with a new way of doing things – because people are “schedule-slammed” – it’s hard to make progress. See diagram above.

Read more: How People Analytics Can Help You Change Process, Culture, and Strategy (Harvard Business Review)

SharePoint Swoop – The Intranet Makeover Show

Microsoft published Season 1 of SharePoint Swoop: The Intranet Makeover Show, where three well-known MVPs swoop into an organisation for three days and make some SharePoint and Office 365 magic happen. This is Microsoft’s description:

SharePoint Swoop is not a typical reality show — this new, enterprise-focused, five-part web series from Microsoft is jam-packed with fun. Three MVP experts have just three days to help an international toy company modernize its overwhelmed intranet. Consultative makeovers of this kind normally take weeks. Can they do it?

Welcome to a world of enterprise reality TV. A world where the journey of a growing pop culture business intersects with three superhero Microsoft MVPs. Watch as it blends innovative technology and hands-on best practices for an intranet makeover you won’t want to miss. We caught it all on tape and are excited to share the learnings, best practices, and outcomes with you.

Some reflections after binge watching the 5 episodes:

1. This is a great initiative to show what’s possible when well-informed SharePoint and Office 365 experts are empowered to help. Sue I have met 3-4 times, Benjamin once, and I haven’t yet met Laura. They are good people in the community, and do great work.

2. While the show is positioned as helping the firm to “modernise its overwhelmed intranet” in three days, the reality of delivery is on a much smaller scale. One help site using a Hub site is built. One team site for The Shire is created. One PowerApp for tracking truck movements is built. Those are all great things to build within a three day period, but it isn’t the grandness of “modernising the intranet.” The CIO at the end of video 5 has the right expectation: this is a 1-2 year project / initiative.

3. The makeover shows what it should be like, in my view, when building and creating new ways of working for people and teams. Talk and listen. Explain and learn. Build and prototype. Improve and deliver iteratively. Get feedback and take the next step. In my book Collaboration Roadmap, I talk about the “Business Impact Group” that engages with business groups and teams to do this very thing. It is also the Facilitated Group Re-Imagining strategy in one of my other books – User Adoption Strategies. It’s great to see the idea come to life as a mini-series. It’s an informative way of showing the reality of an often hard-to-describe job description.

4. Office 365 and SharePoint Online enable (and demand) a new profile of the IT professional. The need for server administration, configuration, monitoring, upgrading, etc., is declining significantly. The need for bringing the innovation of what’s possible based on cloud-delivered services to people and teams is the new game. Sue, Benjamin and Laura demonstrate this new profile so well.

5. What. An. Amazing. Office.

I’m sure there’s more that could be said, but for today … awesome work to all involved.

Storytelling for Leaders – Auckland on May 29

Shawn Callahan is presenting his Storytelling for Leaders workshop in Auckland in a couple of weeks:

Anecdote’s Storytelling for Leaders program will teach you the techniques you need to better influence, engage and inspire others – just as thousands of leaders already have, from Melbourne to New York, London to Singapore.

Organisations are changing quickly. Structures are flatter and reporting lines more complex. Staff and customers are spread around the world. And everyone is deafened by the ‘noise’ of information inundation. Yet the modern leader still needs to be able to influence and persuade in this constantly fluid environment…and this leadership occurs at all levels in an organisation.

The sharing of stories orally is a powerful way of cutting through. When we tell stories, people ‘get’ what we are saying – and they remember it. This is the case whether we are communicating informally (which is what we do most of the time) or in a more formal environment such as a presentation.

More: Eventbrite – Storytelling for Leaders

Identifying Dark Data in non-OCR’d Images

The new European data protection legislation goes into effect next Friday. It’s going to be incredibly interesting to see how militant its enforcers play the game.

There are many aspects required in complying with GDPR, but one core tenet is knowing where you are storing personal data. A challenging data type in this respect is images that contain personal data but where the image has not been converted to readable text. One law firm in Sweden is doing something about its storage of such content:

Delphi, one of Sweden’s top commercial law firms, has chosen DocsCorp’s contentCrawler as part of its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance strategy. The firm selected the contentCrawler OCR module to help address the “dark data” issue that was discovered after an audit of their file systems.

The audit found that 30% of the documents in the firm’s iManage Document Management System (DMS) were non-searchable. Nearly 70% of these were image-based PDF files, undermining the firm’s ability to manage clients’ personal data and to adequately respond to a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR).

For an organization to comply fully with DSARS or data return, erasure or portability requests, it needs to be able to search its DMS for all relevant documents. In the case of Delphi, it scanned driver licences and passports for identification purposes without OCR’ing the resulting image documents. The firm ended up storing large amounts of personal data that was effectively invisible to search technology, putting the firm at risk of non-compliance.

Identification of personal data is important. But so is knowing the legal basis under which it was held in the first place. That has tremendous implications for what organisations must do with discrete elements of personal data. Welcome to the new world, now just 8 days away.

Read more: Law firm chooses contentCrawler for GDPR compliance

Microsoft StaffHub for Frontline Workers

On the Silverside blog, I wrote about Microsoft StaffHub:

Microsoft has made significant strides in recent years addressing the needs of workers who don’t work on a computer throughout the day. Some people don’t touch a computer at work at all, and yet they still require company news, communications, and access to company resources. I have seen estimates of 500 million to 2 billion people who fit into this category – that of frontline workers (although Microsoft uses the term “firstline”). Microsoft offers a plethora of Office 365 apps for mobile devices: Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote), Delve, SharePoint, OneDrive, and more. These apps are mobile-optimised versions of the larger application.

Microsoft is also investing in apps that are mobile-first, meaning they are first-and-foremost designed for people who use a mobile device as their primary (and perhaps only) device, not their secondary one. Microsoft StaffHub is an example of this workstream (released in January 2017).

Read more: Microsoft StaffHub for Frontline Workers

Changes Afoot for Microsoft OneNote

On the Silverside blog, I wrote about upcoming changes for Microsoft OneNote:

One of my friends once covered himself in Post-It Notes and walked into his local Microsoft office. He was hoping to become the product manager for Microsoft OneNote – hence the attention-grabbing way of presenting himself – but his approach was stymied because the receptionist didn’t even know what OneNote was.

That lack of knowledge still seems to be a challenge for Microsoft – people are either ardent fans or barely know the product exists. Although OneNote has been offered as part of Office since Office 2003 and is now included as part of Windows 10, it remains under-used for what it has to offer. Perhaps Microsoft’s work with tuning it for the education market with OneNote for Classrooms will seed the market with a whole new love for the program in about a decade’s time, but that’s a long-term play we will need to watch.

OneNote on Windows comes in two editions: a full-client edition in Office 2016, and the Windows 10 app edition installed as part of Windows 10 and updated from the Microsoft Store. The Office edition of OneNote has always been more fully-featured than the app edition, and while a OneNote notebook can be opened in both, having two editions has been confusing. And unnecessary. But that confusion is about to disappear.

Read more: Changes Afoot for Microsoft OneNote

Microsoft Surface Hub 2

Microsoft announced the Surface Hub 2 today (May 15, US time). The new Hub 2 – for meeting rooms, team work, and visual collaboration – is more flexible and lighter than the first version of the Hub. It comes in one size, rather than the two options of the Hub 1.

The details:
– it’s a 4K display, on a screen of 50.5″
– multiple people can sign-in simultaneously
– four screens can be tiled together to give a more expansive view – either 204″ in landscape, or 135″ in portrait.
– Microsoft has worked with Steelcase to develop rolling stands and easy-to-use mounts
– the Hub 2 will be tested with selected commercial customers this year, and will be available for purchase in 2019.
– in the video (at 0:48), note that the woman signs in with a thumbprint. There is no mention of Windows Hello (facial recognition for sign in, but that might be an option too).
– in the video (at 1:31), note how the user has connected their Surface Pro to one of the Hub 2’s, and is able to manipulate what’s on screen from the Pro. Great effect.

The first two times we see the Hub 2 in the video, they are within the context of one person’s office. At the right price point, a Hub 2 could provide a much more immersive collaboration experience for individuals. Additional shots in the video put two or more Hub 2’s in meeting rooms, which is where the Hub 1 was positioned.

Within 15 hours of being announced, the above video has garnered over 350,000 views and attracted almost 1,200 comments. There is a lot of interest …

Great job Microsoft. The video is fantastic. The music beautiful. The device very compelling. It will be interesting to see pricing come 2019.

Re-Imagining Aluminum Smelting

From Apple:

Aluminum is a key material in many of Apple’s most popular products, and for more than 130 years, it’s been produced the same way. But that’s about to change.

Aluminum giants Alcoa Corporation and Rio Tinto Aluminum today announced a joint venture to commercialize patented technology that eliminates direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process, a key step in aluminum production. This is a revolutionary advancement in the manufacturing of one of the world’s most widely used metals.

As part of Apple’s commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its products through innovation, the company helped accelerate the development of this technology. And Apple has partnered with both aluminum companies, and the Governments of Canada and Quebec, to collectively invest a combined $144 million to future research and development.

Read more: Apple Newsroom