Our users make their own choices. They choose where, why, and how to invest their time and energy on a daily basis. Yes, they can be required to fill out a vacation request form stored in SharePoint Online and yes, they can be required to upload their documents to a SharePoint site or to their OneDrive if access to their shared drives has been disabled. But it’s a fallacy to believe that closing doors and forcing users down a single path will achieve buy-in. Forcing usage of SharePoint and Office 365 doesn’t allow for exploration, curiosity, and growth. Users will grudgingly meet the minimum expectations, but will not invest in learning the platform.
The only path to generate true engagement is through voluntary adoption. And the core tenet of voluntary adoption is personal choice. In order for users to engage and choose Office 365, they must decide for themselves that Office 365 provides them with a net benefit. Our job as Office 365 practitioners is to drive change at the individual (not the organizational) level. This individual focus ties into our communication and training efforts. As my previous post “It’s time to be user-centric” outlines, one-size-fits-all models for driving adoption (e.g. mass email communications without personalized messaging, antiquated “train the trainer” models, and old-school documentation that focuses on features instead of business needs) won’t drive change at the individual level. A user-centric approach that accounts for individual needs and learning styles will drive engagement and excitement, building business champions that will serve as Office 365 evangelists.
So what needs to change?
IT leadership must realize that users are not a collective to be assimilated, positioned, or maneuvered. Successful adoption of Office 365 cannot be mandated, and users must be engaged as a group of individuals that make independent choices. Designing our adoption campaigns to account for individual needs and learning styles will drive engagement and stronger results.