Effecting Change – the Cohesive, Larger Vision

After returning to Apple for his second run as CEO, Steve Jobs fronted various sessions at the Apple Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in 1997. I wasn’t there, unfortunately. During one of the Q&A sessions, someone challenged Steve on the decision to use Java rather than OpenDocs, questioning Steve’s understanding of the technical details and implications. Steve’s response started with “you can please some of the people some of the time, but … ,” and after a pause, said:

One of the hardest things when you are trying to effect change, is that people like this gentlemen, are right … in some areas. I’m sure that there are some things OpenDocs does, probably even more that I’m not familiar with, that nothing else out there does. And I’m sure that you can make some demos, maybe a small commercial app, that demonstrates those things. The hardest thing is, how does that fit into a cohesive, larger vision that is going to allow you to sell $8 billion, $10 billion of product a year. And one of the things I’ve always found, is that you have to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to try to sell it.

That’s not a bad summary on effecting change for an under-the-spotlight answer!

At Silverside, we are all about effecting change; about helping people and organisations transform from an email culture to a collaborative culture. And as Steve said in response to the question, people will be right in some areas about why this is a challenging journey, why the current state is better than the future ideal, and why current patterns should be left unchanged. But also as Steve said, there is a cohesive, larger vision that underpins our work, where email no longer holds pride of place.

Here’s the high-level talking points about our work and what we are trying to do:

1. The way the world communicates and interacts has shifted. There was a time when an email culture was an amazing and productive place to be, but that has become increasingly less true over the past decade. The ability of email to facilitate business, to bring project teams together, to offer strong data protection in the new world of GDPR, to enable participation across the organisation in communities of interest and practice … just isn’t there any more. Something much more is needed, and innovations in communications technology over the past decade have been fast and furious. And deeply fascinating as an enabler of new ways of working.

2. While technology shouldn’t be the place to start, changing technologies do create new options for how we live, interact, and do our work (and even the very nature of our work and jobs). The car has transformed where people live, distributing them across cities, suburbs, neighbourhoods and towns. The airplane enables a pace of business, relationships, and sports that sailing ships just didn’t enable. The smartphones in our pockets and purses (it’s a pocket for me) give us an incredible ability to stay in contact with others, to learn what’s happening, and even to micro-coordinate with friends and family. Not all implications of new technology are positive; we live in an age of unintended consequences indeed.

3. As Silverside, we don’t control what Microsoft or IBM does to its products. As you don’t either. But we bring a layer of expertise and insight into how these tools can be used, and yet we try to approach that with an understanding of what is possible in order to inform our interactions on what is necessary or beneficial in your world and work. Our scenarios approach reflects this, and soon you will be able to see the new scenarios we have put together on common business activities and where Office 365 can be used to effect change. The documents and resources we have developed are great (well, we think so), but the bigger picture is that we want these to be the starting point for a discussion with you – on your situation, on your challenges, on where you’re at, on the “cohesive, larger vision” that you have for your organisation.

There’s much more to come from Silverside as 2018 unfolds.

Can we walk this journey with you?

Where Do You Put Your Phone at Work?

One of the older books on my shelf is Time Power: The Revolutionary Time Management System That Can Change Your Professional and Personal Life by Charles Hobbs. Written in 1987, I acquired my copy around the first time I got a DayTimer in the mid-1990s. There’s lots of good ideas in the book, but the one diagram I have recalled most often is the one on setting up your desk. The “ABC Fingertip Management for Organizing Your Work Environment” is on page 138, as below:

As a young professional starting out in the world of work, the book and picture provided helpful guidelines on how to think about the relationship between physical space and work items. If you took an aerial shot of my office today, you would see a lot of similarity with the diagram. (And one other idea too in my office design from somewhere else that I can’t track down now: don’t have your desk facing a window with a wonderful or beautiful view, because it will be too distracting. Stick your desk against a boring wall, to facilitate concentration).

Of course the interesting thing with the picture is there is no computer, iPad, phone, scanner, printer, or any other device in view. Thirty years on from Charles writing his book, the question is, where should you put your phone?

For most of the past decade, my phone has been in Zone A, directly within reach of my left hand and within constant eyesight. Even though my phone hardly ever rings, that’s where it has sat.

That changed four months ago. One of the articles I read in August for a client project is called Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity. Here’s an extract:

We propose that the mere presence of one’s own smartphone may induce “brain drain” by occupying limited-capacity cognitive resources for purposes of attentional control. Because the same finite pool of attentional resources supports both attentional control and other cognitive processes, resources recruited to inhibit automatic attention to one’s phone are made unavailable for other tasks, and performance on these tasks will suffer. We differentiate between the orientation and allocation of attention and argue that the mere presence of smartphones may reduce the availability of attentional resources even when consumers are successful at controlling the conscious orientation of attention.

The researchers did a couple of experiments to test their assertions, and found that yes, indeed, the mere presence of a phone reduced cognitive capacity for the tasks at hand. Interesting / fascinating / deeply disturbing.

The article answered a nagging feeling I had regarding my phone: that it was a distraction, even when I wasn’t using it. I kept seeing it in my peripheral vision, and wondering what was happening in the services. It would be like putting a plate full of M&M’s on my desk: they would be eaten during the day by virtue of being easily accessible and within view. The secret to not eating M&M’s all day is to not put them on my desk.

My phone is now in Zone C, out of sight and out of easy reach. I have to move my chair to reach it, and I can’t see it when I sit down to work. Now I often forget about it during the day, unless it rings, which is still an abnormal event.

[Disclosure: no M&M’s were hurt in the writing of this post.]

Digital Workplace Predictions for 2017 – by Paul Miller

Writing on the Digital Workplace Group blog, Paul shares his ten predictions for digital workplaces in 2017. One in particular has been a focus of mine for the past decade:

2. Focus shifts from “firing up tech” to changing behaviour and culture

This is a striking change that we in the Digital Workplace Group have seen strongly in 2016. For the first time, many large enterprises are most concerned about culture and behaviour change when deploying new digital workplace services – and are viewing turning on the technology more as a “hygiene factor”, particularly as services move relentlessly to the cloud.


For one major pharma client in Germany, their new collaboration services were straightforward technically – but after evidence from their history that simply implementing new technologies doesn’t bring the much-touted benefits to employees, this time they turned to change management and culture as the levers they needed to tackle. This pattern will extend for many organizations and the so-called “soft skills” of digital workplace improvements will take centre stage.

I hope this thinking spreads far and wide …

Read more: My 10 digital workplace predictions for 2017

User Adoption Strategies (2nd Edition): Now Available as Digital Book

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My book on user adoption strategies is finally available as a digital book. You don’t have to wait for your copy to wing its way across the world any longer – just pay, download, and get stuck into reading. And then into applying the ideas / strategies / concepts in your work (which of course was the point in writing the book in the first place).

The digital book is US$19, compared to the previous price of US$49 for the printed book (with the majority of the difference the cost of postage).

Table of Contents
Foreword – by Nancy White (Full Circle Associates)
Chapter 1. Focusing on User Adoption is Critical
Chapter 2. The Context for User Adoption Strategies
Chapter 3. What We Know About Change
Chapter 4. New Ways of Working
Chapter 5. The Four Stages Model of User Adoption
Chapter 6. Winning Attention
Chapter 7. Cultivating Basic Concepts
Chapter 8. Enlivening Applicability
Chapter 9. Making It Real
Chapter 10. Crafting Your User Adoption Approach
Chapter 11. Measuring and Evaluating User Adoption
Chapter 12. User Adoption for Advocates of the Old Way
Chapter 13. Final Thoughts

Look Inside the Book
To check out the book, download the Look Inside extract. It is 38-pages in length and contains:
Introduction to the Book
Foreword – by Nancy White (Full Circle Associates)
Chapter 1. Focusing on User Adoption is Critical
Chapter 4. New Ways of Working

Interview with Cirrus Insight on User Adoption – for Salesforce

I had a discussion recently with Joshua from Cirrus Insight on applying the strategies in my User Adoption Strategies book to Salesforce implementations.

Salesforce adoption is one of the biggest issues facing orgs today. If employees don’t use a piece of software, it doesn’t matter how useful it might be. It’s costing you money.

Read the blog post: on Cirrus Insight
Listen to the discussion: on YouTube

Mini-Workshop at the Office 365 and SharePoint User Group Meeting

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Last week I was the second of two presenters at the Office 365 and SharePoint User Group meeting in Christchurch. My topic was to look at how Office 365 could be used to re-imagine productive work, with the caveat from Lee (the organiser) that the session was to be “highly interactive.” In thinking about how to run the session, I decided to give a very brief introduction to Office 365, argue that it was vital to success to look at how Office 365 can improve various day-to-day working scenarios, and then have the participants do a 5 minute activity in six small groups – and then report back. All in 25 minutes.

I prepared two sets of question sheets – Opportunity Analysis (current state/problem/greatness), Capabilities in Office 365 (what’s on offer), and Behaviours and Culture (essential human behaviours) – and chose two scenarios (holding discussions and managing meetings). In two groups, with three subgroups in each group, I gave one of the six resulting sheets … and asked them to spend 5 minutes answering the questions. Each of the six groups then had 90 seconds each to report back on their analysis / findings.

Here’s what was said:

Holding Discussions

  • Opportunity Analysis … The same discussion happens repeatedly, it’s hard to get everyone on the same page at one time, and discussions are in different places / too many channels, e.g., Yammer, email, physical. There is also no organisation-wide process. It would be great if there was a defined tool and process for all discussions.
  • Capabilities in Office 365 … Yammer, Skype Groups, and SharePoint discussions, with Yammer being the best overall tool in the opinion of the group. Benefits of the different tools included visibility, inclusion (of others), real-time interaction, location independent, and interactive abilities.
  • Behaviours and Culture … Being open minded, willing to learn/adapt, flexibility, anytime/anywhere interaction, willing to be public and share. These were noted as being important because humans are social, we need to evolve, it requires understanding, and we can learn from each other.

Managing Meetings

  • Opportunity Analysis … Meetings happen without an agenda, and no minutes are captured. This means there is no structure to the meeting, people go off on tangents, time is wasted, people come late, and there are no takeaways / actions. It would be great if there was an agenda for every meeting with the invite (and it was early too), and actionable takeaways / decisions were captured.
  • Capabilities in Office 365 … Office 365 offers a whole raft of tools for meetings, including Skype for Business, Planner, Office 365 Groups, OneNote, co-authoring capabilities, SharePoint (for sites, lists, and tasks), Sway (for presenting / communicating differently), Yammer, and Office 365 Video. These tools bring benefits including access to historical information, support for remote meetings, working out loud, collaboration, and transparent action items. The group felt that Skype for Business was the most important tool for meetings.
  • Behaviours and Culture … Key meeting behaviours included focus, the right amount of time, and inclusiveness. The group almost called out the need for agendas for meetings.

Workshop activities like these are good to run in a larger group setting, where the whole group (8-20 people) get the same question in turn. This allows the capturing of more ideas, the ranking of ideas from a larger set, and joint understanding of how to combine new tools with effective behaviours to approach an opportunity. We didn’t do that in this workshop, and instead, given time constraints, I broke the group into small groups. However, it was remarkable how closely aligned the three sub-groups in each scenario were.

My slides are here:

Thanks to everyone who embraced the workshop activity despite the time constraints.

Becoming an Adoption Superhero – My Session at Ignite 2016

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At the time of writing, Microsoft Ignite New Zealand starts in 21 days, 21 hours, 48 minutes, and 55 seconds. This will be the first time I have participated in this conference in New Zealand, and I’ll be there for the opening – and early I hope too.

The session I will be presenting now has a date and time – Wednesday October 26 at 9.00am. Here’s what I’ll be presenting:

Transitioning to Office 365: Becoming the Adoption Superhero for Your Firm
As your firm transitions IT capabilities to Office 365, the new critical skillset is how to translate the opportunities for value presented by Office 365 into new ingrained ways of working for executives, managers, and employees that deliver on that value. Getting to value requires creating the conditions for adoption and driving effective use of new Office 365 capabilities, a skillset and mindset that many IT professionals have not yet focused on developing. But the time for doing so is now upon us: your firm needs an adoption superhero to navigate new territory and safely land the capabilities of Office 365. This session provides aspiring super heroes with a new vocabulary for adoption, a set of strategies for driving effective use, and the mindset required to become the adoption superhero at their firm.

If you’re coming to my session, please add it to your schedule, so as to help the conference organisers allocate the rooms for the anticipated turnout.

That countdown timer is still going. Are you coming?

Driving Effective Use of Office365 – my Workshop at the Digital Workplace Conference 2016

On the day after the Digital Workplace Conference in Auckland a couple of weeks back, as has happened at conferences before, Paul Culmsee and I delivered the post-conference workshops. Paul’s workshop was on becoming the ultimate SharePoint business analyst; mine was on driving the effective use of Office 365.

I had the day with people from five organisations (with all but one not based in Auckland), who wanted to learn a vocabulary for effective use, a framework for approaching the challenge, and various strategies to use (along with examples of when and where those strategies had been used by other organisations). In addition to the framework and strategies I presented, the delegates talked about their approaches, experiences, and learnings to date (which I wrote up during the day and distributed afterwards), and used the materials from the day to consider how to move forward.

It was a good day; I wish the delegates every success moving forward, and will be doing what I can to support their progress.

For more on the workshop, see:
Arrange a Workshop for Your Firm (2 days)
Host a Public Workshop for Clients and Prospects (1 day)
Get the Workbook for the Workshop (286 slides)