Knowledge Management workshop results

Last week, I held a workshop on building a learning organization, including applying knowledge management. I was invited to the Omnia End User Conference in Stockholm, organized by Precio Fishbone that develops the award-winning Omnia suite for Office 365, which we also use at Haldex.

During the workshop, I asked the participants to list common areas in their organizations where knowledge transfer of best practices could help them excel. Such areas could include both learning from other people’s mistakes, as well as building on each other’s knowledge. We had a great mix of public and private companies in the audience, and organizations ranging from a few hundred to more than 20.000. When we started talking, however, we quickly noticed that we share many knowledge transfer problems. No matter where you work, being the owner of an Office 365 environment, sure has its challenges and here are some that we all shared:

  • The ever-increasing knowledge gap between what Microsoft delivers, and the knowledge of the end users. Just a couple of years ago the challenges were smaller, but now we all experience the fire hose of new apps and have a hard time keeping up. And it is not enough to know the app itself – we should also know how to apply it successfully in our organizations.
  • The view of learning needs to change both at HR and among the end users. You can’t sit around and wait for courses to be assigned to you. If you want to learn Teams, the internet is there for you Each person must take charge of their learning journeys, know what they need to succeed, know who can help them, and know who to ask for help when they don’t know where to turn. Here, Personal Knowledge Mastery, Modern Workplace Learning, and Mental Models can help.
  • Best practices for handling projects once they are over. It is easy to install a project site and bombard it with files over time, but harder to know what to save or not at the end to preserve the essential lessons.
  • Reaching out to frontline workers no matter if they build products, install products, sell products, or anything else. These people know both the products and customers by heart, and we need good ways to transfer their knowledge to others.
  • Knowing how to make managers all the way to the CEO share their insights. Survey after survey all highlight the absolute importance of managers taking the lead as users of Office 365 (document handling, Teams, Yammer, and more) and as communicators. For example, by installing a management blog as we have done at Haldex can be a start, or to ask questions via social channels so people know their answers are appreciated.

There are, of course, many more areas where sharing of best practices can help us, especially when we focus on each organization. But here we found areas where we all could agree on no matter where we work. We will now start to share best practices via Precio Fishbone’s Yammer feed for their customers and via LinkedIn and more. Many of us feel alone when handling Office 365 rollouts, but by reaching out and learning from each other, we can build a community where there are always people who listen.

Photo by Aubrey Odom on Unsplash (we’re in this together)

Let the cloud workshops begin

Next week will for sure be adventurous! We are conducting no less than two full-day workshops with our chosen vendor Precio Fishbone to sort out the document handling and quality management system. We also have the formal kickoff with 12 colleagues from different parts of the company and the world, where they tell us how we could work smarter, from their perspective. I have been talking about the digital workplace for years, and now it is happening.

Precio Fishbone and their praised product suite Omnia were the ones who best matched our needs. Since a year back, our Quality department had collected all the limitations of the current ways of using documents and then added their own needs as well. Meanwhile, we also took the latest version of our company´s processes and saw a chance to turn them into a truly global system, connected to the document handling.

After comparing different vendors for the document handling and the quality management system, it was clear that Omnia had what we needed. Their third product, the Intranet, also looked and worked well with central notifications, beautiful news publishing, and constant renewal. Precio Fishbone also invites their customers to webinars about their roadmap and their next releases, plus a Yammer group for customers. This appealed to me who want to make sure the vendor both listens to what the customers need, plus are inventive and tell us what is happening.

Next week will probably add a few gray hairs from all the thinking, but oh it is so worth it. At last, we can build an environment that truly helps our colleagues, based on current thoughts on Knowledge Management, the Digital Workplace, and Modern Workplace Learning. I will for sure keep you posted on our journey to the clouds.


Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Project Starman has started

Now when Haldex is moving our intranet into Office 365, we formed a formal project with global members and of course chose a great name. First off is our FastTrack collaboration with Microsoft. When you engage in this, be prepared to answer some really technical questions on Azure, authentication, proxy servers, federated identity providers, and more. “How do your users log on to their computers and applications in your current environment?” might sound rather straight forward, but then you get to choose between ‘userPrincipalName’ and ‘sAMAccountName’ So, bring a devoted server hero to your first meeting with Microsoft.

And no matter what I have heard people telling me about the migration included in FastTrack, we are left with three choices: File shares, Box, and Google Drive. This probably means Microsoft will not assist us with the migration from SharePoint on-prem, which I guess is a very typical user scenario. It also means we either handle the migration ourselves, or let a vendor include it as part of their deal.

In FastTrack you are also pointed to their Driving Adoption portal, but I often find these kinds of portals a bit too general and marketing oriented. Instead, I recommend anyone wanting to move to Office 365 the white papers from 2tolead. Yes, they somewhat pitch their company but above all Kanwal Khipple and Richard Harbridge clearly show why people appreciate their SharePoint knowledge. I browse through their guides almost daily for inspiration and to not miss vital details.

Soon the holidays are here but first I will invite about 10 colleagues to the project start-up. Our project office told me you can’t underestimate the value of meeting all face-to-face, and I believe them.


The first concrete steps towards Office 365

A week ago, the management team of Haldex said yes to the idea of moving our intranet into the cloud. So now all my ideas over the years on how to build an including digital workplace for all employees can become a reality. But what are the first steps to take? It is easy to get stuck in all the models of the digital workplace or listen to vendors who say it takes a day to install their product. For me, I instead start in an internal pay-it-forward exercise to collect great ideas and in a more formal step of signing up for Microsoft’s FastTrack. I tell you more about these steps in the short movie below.

By the way, pay close attention also to Microsoft’s Planning Services. If you already are a customer of Microsoft, there is a good chance you can use free days to plan your setup and migration together with a Microsoft Partner. Just follow the steps in the Planning Services link and ask your Office 365 admin to log in and check how many days you have. And if you are a Microsoft partner, signing up for Planning Services is a must.

Photo by Wim Arys on Unsplash.

Offering Digital Workplace solutions? Include tools for Modern Workplace Learning too.

In my work, I meet quite a lot of companies that offer solutions that often are framed as “digital workplace” tools or platforms. Most of them are built in Office 365, while there are others as well. Some products are not very well thought through, while others shine. I have written about such consultants before and about their products, and I still think there could be much more focus on the customer’s core business and culture. Many vendors still let their product offerings stand in the middle. Meanwhile, where you can outshine the rest is by focusing even more on the business of the customer. Your work is not mainly to help us install and launch Yammer. Your job is mainly to unveil the biggest hurdles and pains, and then offer technology as part of the solution to fix these.

One professional area that is neglected within the digital workplace discussion is tools and support for Modern Workplace Learning. I don’t think I have ever heard a vendor talk about this. Meanwhile, there is a whole movement of smart people working day and night to improve this. My advice to digital workplace vendors is to listen to these experts, and then see how their ideas can be merged with what you offer. According to the 70:20:10 framework, only 10% of what we learn at work comes from formal training. This leaves a potential for digital workplace tools to offer some solutions that can support the other 90%. For example, emphasize how your solution can establish nurturing mentor/mentee relationships over time, show us how you support the building of communities of practice and include tools for learning about your platform into the platform. There are of course many other ways, but here is a start. Also remember that only 33% of employees in average are engaged, while 51% are not engaged, and 16% actively disengaged. How is your solution helping your customers solve this alarming problem, no matter exactly which numbers they score in such measurements?

To get started with modern workplace learning you can visit sources like these:

So, dear vendors, please don’t just focus on how we should communicate and collaborate more just for the sake of it. Please also think about how you can help support the development of our employees and solve the core problems we face.

My five ideas to improve Microsoft’s offering

Earlier, I posted about five ideas on improving LinkedIn, and now I have come to Microsoft. I use their products every day privately and professionally, and here are some ideas that could make them even better from my perspective:

  1. Guide us on how to use all your apps. Sometimes, it seems you launch a new 365 app every week, and then post about how awesome it is. But you forget to merge it into a context where all your other apps live. When I and others ask about what to use when, you only say it is up to me, but that is not enough. You launch your product for a distinct reason I hope. Tell us this reason, and which app to use for what, and then we have an easier time selling them to our colleagues.
    –>My suggestion: Gather a group of people who run 365 environments internally, and place them in a nice venue for a week. Let them design how to use your services based on real-world examples. Serve them double espressos during the day, and wine in the evening. You will come up with the best training material and guidance ever.
  2. Build a better sync client for OneDrive. We all know that there is one company that leads here, and has been from the start, and it is Dropbox. I have never encountered problems with their sync app, but a multitude with yours. Yes, you ditched groove and rebuilt it, but still it is no way near Dropbox. Your client is far better than before, but it still complains about file types, creates unnecessary copies, and is slower.
    –>My suggestion: Set a team of sync experts to rebuild a new sync client. Don’t disturb them – just let them do their magic. Serve them Bulletproof Coffee during the day, and make sure they sleep well at night.
  3. Open your mail and calendar to 3rd party apps. This is the main reason I use Google’s mail and calendar – it just works with any other Android app around. Adding the 365 mail and calendar to other apps can be done, but especially the calendar is too complicated and feels too proprietary.
    –>My suggestion: Be more open and inclusive regarding how other apps can connect to your services. By letting your customers choose which Android apps to use, you show you want them as customers. You know you don’t always build the best apps in all areas, but that is ok if you are open to other apps talking to your services.
  4. Create a much smarter email handling. Email is still the big dark monster that eats away at people’s days and minds, and it is time you acted on it for real. You have started this work, especially in the excellent Outlook app you bought, but online is falling behind. You have also started to include data in 365 on how much time is spent on email, which only will be depressing for the majority. Yes, I know why you do it, but this is more like treating the symptoms more than the source of pain.
    –> My suggestion: Start to experiment more, and use an alternative UI which is based on AI and Graph. Google has its Inbox, and so should you. Tell people that it is an alternative way of using email, and make sure you treat the data will full respect regarding privacy even if you use AI.
  5. Bring back the Sunrise Calendar. Sunrise Calendar was the most awesome calendar around and I loved how easy it was to use it. Then you bought it, promised that the calendar in Outlook would incorporate Sunrise functionality, and then… nothing happened. Don’t do things like this Microsoft. What if someone bought Excel, turned it off and then promised to incorporate it into the next version of the Supercalculator App (just choose a name), and never did. The bad will would be massive and no one would like it.
    –> My suggestion: Get the Sunrise functionality up and running right away. Their latest blog post was 9 months ago, and you had lots of time before that to start adjusting. If you acquire an app that millions love and use, then treat it and them with respect. Basically, it’s rather easy: If you just plan correctly, you can have parallel development teams while you acquire the company. This way, once you launch the press release that the app is yours, you also launch an updated calendar app that is awesome. People would love it!

I have no hopes that Satya Nadella will read this but maybe someone else at Microsoft will listen. Microsoft sure does a lot of awesome things, but here are some ways to become even better.

Making sense of the Office 365 suite

It is hard making sense of the Office 365 suite from Microsoft. Barely had we had time to grasp that they have included Yammer in all Office 365 tenants, and what that means. Then Microsoft threw their Teams app into the game, and it became even more challenging to understand which product does what.

To help us, they gave an excellent introduction to the product’s capabilities:

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It is, however, not the product in itself that is hard to grasp. On the contrary, it seems straightforward and well-designed, and it is integrated with the rest of the 365 suite. The somewhat obscured path ahead is created when comparing Teams with Yammer and more. Here is where people like Naomi Moneypenny and Marc D Anderson come to the rescue.

Confused by all the apps

Marc D Anderson wrote an article called “Dear Microsoft: I’m Confused. Can You Help Me Collaborate Well?” Here, he highlights the feeling so many of us get when looking at the array of tools Microsoft give us:

What has me confused about Microsoft’s overlapping offerings in the communication spectrum is that they don’t come with guidance about which is good when or for what type of organizations. Instead we see a lot of talk about choice being good.

He also asks Microsoft to guide us much better:

Here’s hoping that the smart people in Redmond get on this soon. As the options keep piling up on us, it’s only getting harder to choose.

The solution: Highlighting what each app is good at

Naomi took a step in clarifying the road ahead by writing an article called “Choices in Collaboration: Microsoft Teams, Yammer & Office 365 Groups Service“. Here, Naomi clarifies that Office 365 Groups are the fabric behind our collaboration choices. She also explains what separates Teams from Yammer:

Yammer is the really the only app in O365 that allows you to have a conversation with the entire company. You can of course push an email or IM to the entire company, but that’s not the level of dialog we are looking for these days. Yammer is a great way to enable conversation across an entire organization. […] Once a project team has come together to work on a specific set of tasks and deliverables, that team should decide whether they want to use the Groups conversation experience primarily in Outlook, or Outlook then Teams, Teams or Yammer to get their specific work done.

Thank you Microsoft for wanting us to collaborate better. You could, however, reach even further by listening to Naomi, Marc, and more. Many of us take care of Office 365 environments, and our job is to alleviate collaboration pains. The better you at Microsoft describe what to use when, the smoother our ride becomes.