Nudges in MyAnalytics

Microsoft is adding small coaching nudges to Outlook – on the Web shortly, in Outlook for Windows during 2018, and perhaps sometime for Outlook on Mac, iOS and Android.

These nudges are:

… useful suggestions, tips, and best practices around managing email and running meetings. They help inform and guide you in making effective email and meeting decisions. They can also help you to reclaim focus hours and build better collaboration habits, in addition to other practical benefits.

The initial categories of nudges are about:
– getting more time to focus, e.g., to book time for focused work
– reducing unnecessary time in meetings, e.g., by sending someone else
– keeping track of commitments, e.g., outstanding to-do items, other unread email from a given person
– reducing after-hours work and team impact, e.g., by signaling urgency levels on emails sent out of hours

As I said yesterday, these are good, small, positive steps in the right direction for cultivating more productive habits.

I hope Microsoft adds more capabilities to these nudges over time. For example:

  • For reducing unnecessary time in meetings – the nudge could also be about other fundamentals of effective meetings, like the necessity of a strong agenda. For example, “there’s no clear agenda for this meeting; ask for one to be created” could be a nudge. Or if the person’s role in the meeting is just about hearing information, the nudge could be “request access to the meeting notes after the meeting.” Perhaps a meeting doesn’t require the original invitee or any delegate to attend at all.
  • For reducing after-hours work and team impact – the nudge should include the option for holding the message for delivery until the recipient starts work on their next business day. Outlook already has a delayed delivery capability; this could be leveraged as part of the nudge. And rather than nudging every time, this could be a configurable setting in Outlook – that messages are always delivered at the start of each recipient’s business day (for one-to-one emails).

And clearly these nudges should be in many other places in Office 365 – Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Planner and more – but Microsoft has to start somewhere, and Outlook is a good enough place to start.

Finally, this is interesting from the perspective of adoption and effective use of Office 365. In the workshop I just linked to, I talk about focusing on cultivating the human behaviours that underlie the use of tools (e.g., in Extending Effective Use, the section called Train on Core Behaviours, where my conclusion is “When the capabilities of tools outstrip the capabilities of people to act/behave in the best way, tool usage is ineffective”). These nudges aren’t about standard training tips on how to use the software, but rather about advanced behavioural habits on how to use the software capabilities effectively.

I’m jazzed to see where MyAnalytics Nudges and the wider Workplace Analytics solution goes.

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