A Workshop – One Day? Two Days? Longer?

Agnes outlines her thinking on workshop length:

The most common question I get about my upcoming workshop, SharePoint 2016 and Office 365 Search in Practice, is why I’ve decided to choose a two-day format.

I know it could be one day. Also, it could be three days, or even up to five.

I do have ten years of experience teaching and doing workshops around the globe. I’ve tried several formats. Some worked, some didn’t. What I’ve found is that I don’t like frontal teaching. It’s not my style. And I know, it can be exhausting as an attendee, too.

In her post, Agnes talks about:
– 3 teaching / learning approaches used in workshops, and
– the five reasons she has embraced the two-day design.

This is a question I have wrestled with many times too. It’s good to see someone else’s thinking … and decision rationale.

And if search in SharePoint 2016 and Office 365 is important in your work, you should sign up to attend.

The New IT Department

The experience of Hollands Kroon, on reimagining what it means to work in a municipal government, and the impact on the IT department:

One of the key decisions that Hollands Kroon administrators made as part of the workplace transformation was to empower employees by eliminating standard job hierarchies and reporting structures, freeing up more of the workers’ time and energy to help them better serve citizens. All employees are now organized into self-governing teams based around shared specialties—for example, one group is all people who work on tax issues, while another covers youth and elderly social programs—and the emphasis is on outcomes, rather than micromanaging processes. “Each group hires its own new colleagues, and they are allowed to work in whatever way they believe will achieve the best results,” says Cremers. “Every employee has an education budget for training and development, and their own IT budget to buy whatever sort of laptop or tablet they want. What I think is really beautiful is how eager everyone is to make this transformation to the new working paradigm. They are running faster than I can predict or direct, so my role becomes doing whatever I can to support all these exceptional, talented, motivated people, and that’s a great position to be in.”


Update on Microsoft Teams

Update from Kirk on the Office 365 Team on the new (still in preview) Microsoft Teams service in Office 365:

… Microsoft Teams has picked up momentum since its launch last November. In the last month alone, 30,000 organizations across 145 markets and 19 languages have actively used Microsoft Teams.


We’re especially inspired by this early usage. Not only does it show that the product fills a real market need, but it gives us a ton of information to help shape the product leading up to General Availability, which is still on track for this current quarter, Q1 2017. Our customers have been a great guide as we’ve delivered numerous features into the product even since the preview launched—including built-in audio calling on mobile and named group chats, an easy way to keep track of the context of a conversation.

Having access to “tons of information to help shape the product” is a significant benefit for any vendor, and is greatly enhanced in cloud-delivered services. In addition to this information on usage, I hope that the Office 365 Team takes on board the significant early feedback from MVPs and market analysts who weighed in when Teams was announced, including:
– Marc Anderson, Dear Microsoft: I’m Confused. Can You Help Me Collaborate Well?
– Pramit Nairi, Only Microsoft Could Make Teams
– Stuart McIntyre, My musings on Microsoft Teams
– John White, Microsoft Teams and the New Microsoft Social Landscape

Sam Marshall on Re-Imagining Productive Work with Office 365

Sam from Clearbox Consulting recently posted his comments on my Office 365 book on CMSWire:

Sampson …. has managed to steer a line that shows deep technology understanding without losing sight of why companies acquire these technologies in the first place.
I really like the “opportunities” approach. Countless blogs and articles on Office 365 tend to focus on specific tool capabilities or are written for an IT audience. Sampson’s book therefore fills a much-needed gap because it looks at how the tools might be used together, and the trade-off between using one tool or another when features overlap.

Sam offers some good ideas for improving the book too, specifically the layout format I chose didn’t work great for him, and how to deal in a book like this with the firehose of updates that comes from Microsoft. The first I won’t do like that again, and the second is … complicated.

See: ‘Re-Imagining Productive Work’ Offers Practical Office 365 Advise.

Thanks Sam!

Microsoft Ignite 2016 – New Zealand


Photo Credit: Smoke Photography Ltd

Last week I had the privilege of attending and speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2016 in New Zealand. And although the photo above makes it look like I tried my vocal chords at singing, I was really only speaking!

A couple of comments on the event:

  • Ignite was by far the largest event I have attended in New Zealand. There was something like 1700 people there; the largest conference I have previously attended in New Zealand would have been in the 600-700 people range.
  • Microsoft and the conference organiser team did a great job of making the logistics work – getting people between rooms and sessions. There were some crunch points – the long registration line on Tuesday morning, and that first lunch on the Tuesday – but the other things seemed to flow well. People were encouraged to come early to register on Tuesday morning, but the several hundred people in the line when I arrived off my flight from Christchurch close to the start time of the opening keynote apparently didn’t get that memo. There must be another way of doing registration to avoid the crunch.
  • The three venues being used for the conference were closely situated, and everything was within easy walking distance.
  • The food service was excellent. Good choices for lunch and at other times during the day, and the wandering people giving out various food items added a bit of spice to the experience.
  • As a speaker, Microsoft appointed a speech track owner to corral speakers and slide decks in advance of the event. I worked with Emma Woods, who did a great job of providing timely feedback and input before the event, and coordination on the day of my talk.

I was supposed to attend all four days of the conference, but had to pull out for various reasons at the start of day 3. It was definitely a privilege to attend, and I commend the Microsoft New Zealand team for their hard work in preparing a great event.

Where were we again? Re-starting that last meeting


I’m sure you’ve been in a meeting where you had to pick up where you left off from last time … and the quick questions are “What were we talking about again?,” “Where did we get to?,” and “What is unresolved?” There might be a mad scramble for photos of the whiteboard from the last session, or a glance in email or a team site for any previous meeting notes.

If you have Surface Hub, Microsoft has a new possibility for you, courtesy of the just released (but not fully rolled out) update to Windows 10 on Surface Hubs:

One of the most loved features of Surface Hub is the ability to send whiteboards to meeting participants via e-mail as image or OneNote file. Now, we’ve added the ability to sign in, to save and recall Whiteboards directly from OneDrive. This helps people pick up right where their last meeting ended with a simple and secure sign-in experience.


Other updates include inking support in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, enhanced multi-touch, and support for third-party peripherals.

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


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.

Diane Moore on Re-Imagining Productive Work with Office 365

Diane from Peritia attended the Digital Workplace Conference in New Zealand a couple of months ago. She shared some notes from the event, and also featured my new book as recommended reading (that’s cool!). Here’s what Diane had to say about the book:

Michael shifts the traditional focus “applications and what they can do” toward identifying how an appropriate implementation of Office 365 can improve productivity and performance in eight key areas.

We like Michael’s customer centric approach and his open advocacy for clear thinking, good decision making, creating business value and ensuring the effective use of technologies and capabilities.

The approach presented in the book provides a powerful framework for creating mutual understanding and implementing new technologies that will be useful beyond the boundaries of Office 365.

See: Recommended Reading: Re-Imagining Productive Work with Office 365.

Thanks Diane!

Robert McKay Jones on Re-Imagining Productive Work with Office 365


In his September newsletter, Robert McKay Jones included a comment about my new book:

Staying on top of the major software applications in your day-to-day life is an unrealistic goal. But making it productive for you is attainable. In the coming months, we will be highlighting a new book by Michael Sampson, Re-Imagining Productive Work with Microsoft Office 365.

This book, more than any I have read, provides a practical approach to using Office 365.

Thanks Robert! That means a lot.

See Robert’s comments on the book in general and Chapter 10 specifically in the September newsletter. Actually, as I’ve mentioned to a few people, Chapter 10 is my favourite chapter in the book – so it was interesting to me that Robert picked that for his initial comment.

To receive future copies of Robert’s monthly newsletter (which I have received for a long time), sign up on the TRIF web site.