User Adoption

The importance of seeing your Office 365 users as individuals…

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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.

Change by color: The secret of green dots, yellow dots and red dots

blue-bright-candy-827066_croppedI had an insightful user adoption conversation with Yammer product evangelist Steve Nguyen recently. Steve shared an analogy he uses to identify key internal change agents for technology initiatives. The model, called green dots, yellow dots, red dots, categorizes users in the midst of change moments.

Green dots are the individuals that are highly motivated to change. They’re keen to adopt new technology with no prodding or encouragement. Green dots are natural innovators and early adopters that engage of their own accord. They’re driven to learn, excited to engage in new technologies and unafraid to change and adapt.

Yellow dots are hesitant and require encouragement to change. Greenish-yellow dots respond well to positive messaging, only requiring mild encouragement to jump on board. Reddish-yellow dots are more resistant. While there is still a chance they will jump on board, it will take significantly more effort to get them excited about the change.

Red dots are resistant to change. They may be technology laggards, see no purpose in the change or are motivated to maintain the status quo. When pushed or forced to change, red dots can often dig in. They remain resistant and can influence others to refuse to adopt the new technologies.

So what does this mean?
As a change initiator, it’s important to understand where to focus your time. Green dots are intrinsically motivated to change. While you need to actively engage these users in your change management strategy and leverage them as key change agents, you should not spend a majority of your time trying to “win over” green dots.

Yellow dots are hesitant or reluctant to change, but can be encouraged to adopt. As change initiators, we need to consider yellow dots as our target market for change. Investing in adoption campaigns, targeted communications, user education and “what’s-in-it-for-me” messaging for yellow dots can yield tremendous results.

Spending too much time converting red dots is like chasing after your SharePoint naysayers. As I’ve shared in previous posts, SharePoint naysayers are those individuals that persist in deriding SharePoint without provocation or apology. Naysayers come from many different contexts and backgrounds and can exist at all levels of the organization. They may be developers, information hoarders or tech-geeks that are “above” tools like SharePoint.

As SharePoint practitioners, we’re prone to over-investing in an effort to convert our naysayers into enthusiasts. While this conversion may occur in rare cases, it is not the norm. True naysayers are entrenched in their beliefs, and will require a change of heart or social pressure from other resistors to make a change.

It’s also important to note that not all red dots are naysayers. Some red dots are simply slow to change or are technology resistant. Given adequate time and attention, these red dots can eventually be won over. But it’s important to acknowledge that these red dots are heavily influenced by the yellow dots that adopt before them. The yellow dots teach the red dots that change is possible and show that life on the other side isn’t all bad.

 

Don’t wait. It’s time to engage your users

As SharePoint and Office 365 practitioners, we get excited when new product features and capabilities are released. It’s in our nature. We see the value these Collaboration tools provide and can’t wait to put new features to use. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget we’re in the minority. 

Most of our business users don’t really care about SharePoint or Office 365. They’re focused on the constant barrage of work coming at them and don’t have the time (or the desire) to learn new technology features. And we can’t force these users to adopt our platforms. They’ll choose to adopt only when they see that the technology can provide them a clear benefit.

Our job is to serve as a bridge for our users, showing them how SharePoint/Office 365 can eliminate the manual work they hate doing and deliver capabilities they need. If we bridge successfully, we’ll turn our users into advocates and evangelists.

So how do we engage our users? Let’s break it down into three initial steps:

Look for early adopters. In his renowned work on diffusion models, Everett Rogers identifies the vital role early adopters play in the spread of ideas. Early adopters are a judicious group of individuals known for evaluating new ideas, new technologies, etc. and making recommendations to others. Early adopters exist at all levels of an organization. They’re not always people-leaders or technology evangelists, but they’re well-respected and tend to be highly networked. They also tend to be key influencers (the people others go to when they have a question or need advice).

As SharePoint/Office 365 practitioners, it’s vital we identify the early adopters on our business teams and partner to deliver technology solutions for them. If we deliver solutions that thrill these early adopters, they’ll spread the message.

Find what your users need.When I was completing my Master’s in Library Science, I learned that library patrons seldom ask reference librarians for what they need. They translate their information needs into something more “helpful.” A patron that needs books on how to toilet-train their 2-year-old, for example, will ask for books on child development or child psychology. It’s the reference librarian’s job to ask questions and discern the real information need.

As a SharePoint/Office 365 practitioner, I have to ask “why” and “what for” questions to get at my users’ information needs. If I don’t bridge the gap and connect my users with the right functionality to meet their needs, I won’t be able to drive effective adoption and will miss the opportunity to deliver true business value.

Whenever possible, deliver the capabilities that thrill. As SharePoint/Office 365 practitioners, we’re fortunate to have at our disposal a suite of products and features with the capacity to delight our end-users. As you’re gathering user requirements and building solutions, don’t forget to ask your users for their wish list. You’ll be surprised how often these wish list items are easy to deliver without custom code or hours of additional build time. If there’s an option to deliver a wish list item that pleases your users without breaking the bank or destroying your delivery timeline, do your best to make it happen.

I often find that delivering simple things (e.g. conditional formatting on a SharePoint list, custom email notifications for items that have been completed, or a filtered web part view that only shows items assigned to a specific user) will make the difference in my solution being enthusiastically adopted or treated as “just another technology solution.”

In his book Anything You Want, marketing expert Derek Sivers calls out how powerful a message it sends when you thrill your current users: “It’s counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.”

It’s user adoption day at the Minnesota Office 365 User Group!

On March 19th, I’ll be delivering a user adoption presentation for the Minnesota Office 365 User Group. The session will provide practical guidance on:

  • Understanding your users (their information needs, motivations, etc.)
  • Building your internal community to drive excitement and adoption of Office 365
  • Working around obstacles and user resistance
  • Inspiring and educating your user base
  • Affirming and celebrating your success stories

Details for the session are provided below. Hope to see you there!

Date: Monday, March 19th
Time: 12pm-3pm
Location: Microsoft Technology Center (Edina, MN)
Registration link: https://o365mn.eventbrite.com/

The full session abstract is provided below.

Driving adoption of Office 365: From idea to implementation
For many of us, the challenge of driving sustained adoption of Office 365 feels insurmountable. We start off with the best of intentions, but most of our users get lost in the myriad assortment of technologies and fail to leverage the capabilities to drive business value. How do we inspire our users to want to learn about Office 365 and educate them so they can leverage its rich capabilities to drive business optimization?

This in-depth session explains the foundational concepts of user adoption. You’ll learn why it’s so challenging to drive lasting adoption and how user-centric adoption models can increase your success. You’ll receive practical tips on how to engage and understand your business users, learn how to build internal communities of practice, discover how to overcome user resistance, and see examples of real-world adoption programs that have driven lasting change at other organizations.

Don’t miss the inaugural #RE365 debate!

I’m thrilled to be participating in REgarding 365’s first panel debate. The debate will be recorded at Microsoft’s Production Studios in Redmond and will live-stream on March 13, 2018 from 12-12:45pm PST. The topic for this initial debate is “End users should be able to create their own Office 365 Groups.” The debate will include 8 panelists that represent either the end-user or the IT Pro point of view. The panelists are listed below (broken out based on the point of view they’re representing).

End user panelists:

IT Pro panelists:

Darrell Webster, Microsoft MVP and REgarding 365 host, conceived this debate idea and will be refereeing. Check out Darrell’s LinkedIn article for more information on the debate. And don’t forget to subscribe to the REgarding 365 channel and set an alert to receive a reminder for the live-stream on March 13th!

A video recap of Daniel Pink’s book “DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”

Driving user adoption for SharePoint/Office 365 requires a thorough understanding of your user base–their business needs, their technology acumen, their preferred methods for learning and their motivational drivers. While many of my other blog posts focus on business needs and methodologies for engaging your user base, this post is dedicated to understanding motivation. Understanding the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators (and how the types of tasks being performed impact the success of motivating factors) will help you understand your users and design adoption strategies that engage, delight and inspire.

Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us provides an in-depth review of how human evolution and technological advancements have driven major shifts in personal motivation. Pink’s assertions will change the way you think about incentives (both for your Office 365 users and for your kids). The RSA Animate video below provides a quick summary of Pink’s findings. I recommend reading the book for more detail–it’s a quick and insightful read.

Here are a few timestamps to help you navigate the video:
00:25 – The “freaky” science behind what drives us
01:17 – Performance motivation (reward top performers/ignore low performers)
02:35 – Rewards don’t work that way! It’s a weird socialist conspiracy
04:20 – The key to leveraging if/then motivation
05:06 – The 3 factors that drive performance and engagement
08:08 – The reality of mastery (and how it will drive people to produce incredible results on their own time)

 

 

Inter-generational user adoption of Office 365

I recently had the pleasure of joining the REgarding 365 team for a discussion on driving inter-generational adoption of Office 365. The conversation focused on the challenges of bringing diverse teams together to drive new productivity behaviors.

Our work teams are growing increasingly dynamic, with significant contrasts in education/background, age, technological aptitude, personality and work habits. Our technology capabilities are also growing more varied, offering a plethora of choices on when and how to collaborate. The opportunity (and the challenge) is figuring out how to bring diverse people together to build new productivity habits that leverage rich technology capabilities like Office 365. This can be challenging when individuals on the team have natural preferences for some technology solutions over others (e.g. “I love email” vs. “I love chat and OneNote”). But when you add in other personal factors (e.g. preferred work rhythms, willingness to learn and adopt new technologies and willingness to openly share information), finding the right unifying tool/technology can be an arduous process.

The full version of our conversation is available on YouTube–check it out below. And don’t forget to watch Regarding 365’s weekly show Msg Center: The week that was, held live at Noon Central each Monday.

Thanks @DarrellaaS and @DanielGlenn for including me on the show!

How Office 365 has changed information architecture

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Erica Toelle, Product Evangelist for RecordPoint, about how Office 365 is changing the landscape of information architecture. We discussed how the launch of Microsoft Teams, the ramp-up in usage of OneNote and the shift away from formal site hierarchies and metadata structures in SharePoint is driving new business data management needs. This change requires librarians and information managers to shift their focus. Instead of leading card-sorting exercises to build out formal taxonomies and data models, we need to build strategies for user engagement and technology adoption. The goal is to help our users make sense of the data that is being surfaced to them every day while adapting to new methods of working and collaborating.

This shouldn’t be a difficult transition. Librarians and information managers evaluate information architecture needs for unique audiences every day. The evolutionary step is applying this knowledge to constructing user-centric adoption and education campaigns that reflect company cultures and user behaviors while also accounting for appropriate governance controls. If librarians and information managers can make the leap, they’ll drive user engagement and pioneer new information architecture methodologies that support Office 365’s growth.

Interview Transcript

Erica Toelle:
Hi, I’m Erica Toelle, Product Evangelist for RecordPoint.

Sarah Haase:
Hi, I’m Sarah Haase, Information Architect and Corporate Librarian.

Erica Toelle: 
Perfect. You have traditionally been in the information architect space being a librarian.

Sarah Haase:
Right.

Erica Toelle:                    
I think as we were just talking about before we started recording, we’re going through this shift now, where in the old SharePoint world we’d think of things in terms of hierarchies and-

Sarah Haase:                   
Exactly.

Erica Toelle:                    
… really over-designed information architectures, but in the modern SharePoint world, where we’re focused on contacts and experiences, it’s a little bit different.

Sarah Haase:                   
Very different.

Erica Toelle:                    
So, with your perspective, how are you thinking about approaching these new spaces?

Sarah Haase:                   
Right. I think it is really key, if I could even back up one second from there, I think librarians in general are something where we have had to make a big tangential shift over the last 10 or 15 years. From thinking about things in a library, in an electronic database, or in a file stack, and Dewey decimal system and all those perspectives into thinking about things from a data classification perspective in SharePoint, right? That’s where we built those information architectures that were detailed, hierarchical, they were taxonomies, right?

We had content-type hubs, and we had managed meta-data, and we were trying to control all of our term stores and really trying to manage that and now, it’s all shifted. It’s all experiences, so it’s much more about where does my content naturally belong for different types of users and different user groups? For one user group, that might be an instant message experience or a Skype experience embedded in Teams and for another group it might be a OneNote experience and for another group, it really might be a SharePoint team site or a SharePoint community site experience.

It’s really transitioning from those hierarchical methodologies to having more of an experience and it’s more of a where than a how. The how being that hierarchical data set. It’s an important switch for us to make as information architects and librarians because we have to continue to evolve our way of thinking.

Erica Toelle:                    
That makes complete sense. If every group might be different, how do scale helping them figure that out in a larger organization?

Sarah Haase:                   
That’s a really key question and it starts with education. It also starts with being able to partner strategically with different groups to figure out your personas and the types of experiences that they have. Right? There are only so many types of different personas that you’re going to run into so if you can figure out for these types of users with these types of business outcomes and needs, here are the three to five or three to seven most likely ways that they’re going to engage in content. Then you can start recommending in almost a matrix style, lining up the type of personas, the type of business teams that they are and the type of experiences that might be meaningful for them. That can give them a running headstart.

You, as a facilitator of outcome and information architecture and a technologist perspective might often be required to step in and help them on their journey to that, but at least it gives you some roadmaps and some guides so it’s not all just based on you or I going in and having that conversation with them one on one.

Erica Toelle:                    
That makes complete sense. In, kind of, the old hierarchy world, we were building content-types for example, because we wanted standardized templates, workflows, policies, do we just have to give up on that in the modern experience or is there some … What do we do?

Sarah Haase:                   
Right. Not entirely, luckily, because I still love a lot of those things, but I think it again, depends on the business needs, and what we’re doing. I think that we were really focused on those information management policies and the content types and where is the data and how is the data arranged in a hierarchical sense, and it has shifted somewhat, right? Because OneNote is one of the most compelling tools for my business users and not one of them wants my help categorizing their notebooks, and the sections of their notebooks. Why? Because they’ll do it however they want to and everybody just searches and it works.

The messaging is different and the need is different but there’s still a need for business automation. There’s still a need for those workflows or those flows and those power ops, it’s just that suddenly the mechanics and the tool sets behind it are shifting and we’ve got to be adaptable and flexible to that.

Erica Toelle:                    
And rebuild our solutions?

Sarah Haase:                   
And rebuild our solutions where necessary and hopefully redesign them and improve them as we go.

Erica Toelle:                    
Got it. How about end user adoption. Have those techniques changed in the modern workplace?

Sarah Haase:                   
User adoption is my favorite thing. I think absolutely they have changed, especially in the last couple of years. One of my favorite things to talk about is the difference between the traditional models for user adoption and the user centric models. Traditional models are the sending out mass communications, one flavor, one style of communications to everyone, and expecting that they’ll even consume it via email, much less that it’s effective for them. Right? Or, a train the trainer approach. Select one person from every department to go to training and then take back what they learned to teach everyone else. Or, even training on features and assuming that business users will make the connection between features and their business outcomes in a meaningful way.

Those are a lot of big assumptions and it doesn’t work anymore. Those types of models really separate IT from their business. I think a user-centric model is more about building strategic partnerships, being able to work with users, building those user personas that we talked about, engaging with key thought leaders and influencers who are also technology advocates and technology innovators in your organization. Partner with them, help them to build the knowledge that they have, set them loose, and have them help you pay it forward to the rest of the organization. It’s much more about how to build a movement in terms of excitement and enthusiasm rather than the traditional approach of trainer the trainer, features, and mass-market communications.

Erica Toelle:                    
Sure. I know with an audience of record managers and librarians, we have to ask if we’re kind of opening up these user experiences, being more user-centric and experience and context-based, well, what about governance? Is there a place for governance anymore?

Sarah Haase:                   
No, there absolutely isn’t. Every organization should be talking about governance, no matter where you are on that governance spectrum from the we’re going to be wide open with a lot of things and we’re going to have very few limits, to the kind of company that’s going to have to have some very specific models and fixtures around governance and how that works. I think governance is very important to think about but it’s also important to think about your company culture and how to represent that governance. I’ve worked with organizations before that have big pictures that tell the story or their governance and that’s really worked well for their company culture and for their users as a reminder of that governance. I’ve also worked for companies that had a 47-page manual that got updated frequently with a change log. It’s really about the company culture, the company industry, the type of governance that they need and you’ve got to make it fit the company as opposed to trying to make it fit a rubric or a standardized rule.

Erica Toelle:                    
Makes complete sense. Any final words of wisdom for librarians or records managers as they make the transition from maybe this more hierarchical on-premise world to the modern workplace in Office 365?

Sarah Haase:                  
I would say to be open, to be adaptable, and to say it’s okay if you’re not building out formal taxonomies, there’s new fun to be had. So, be open and adaptable to the new kinds of fun because your skill set and your experience are still highly relevant. You just have to be able to figure out how to talk to people about it every day in the new world.

Erica Toelle:                    
Perfect. Well, thanks so much for joining us here at SharePoint Fest Chicago.

Sarah Haase:                   
Thank you.

Erica Toelle:                    
Have a great rest of the conference.

Sarah Haase:                   
Thank you, you too.

When cookie-cutter user adoption doesn’t cut it…

Paper DollsIn January 2018, I had the opportunity to deliver my session “When cookie-cutter user adoption doesn’t cut it…” at SharePoint Saturday St. Louis. The session explores the wicked problem of driving adoption and true business engagement for SharePoint and Office 365. Horst Rittel first coined the term wicked problem in the 1960s, referring to social challenges (e.g. discrimination, poverty, refugee crises) that can’t be solved via conventional means. In recent years, this notion of wicked problems has expanded into the business and technology realm, describing the inherent difficulty in driving change across companies and work groups.

The session also outlined the inherent issues with taking a copy-and-paste approach to driving user adoption. Your organization’s culture, the skill set of your SharePoint/Office 365 implementation team and the unique norms of your user base require a custom approach to driving adoption. There is no recipe to follow for guaranteed results, nor is there a simplistic 10-step program for rebuilding your user’s relationship with IT or their opinion of your Collaboration tool offerings. And copying a winning user adoption program from another company and launching it as-is in your organization almost always guarantees failure. In order to be successful, adoption strategies must be targeted to your company’s culture, your implementation team and your user base.

user adoption continuum

To help you design a custom adoption strategy, I recommend building a SharePoint/Office 365 user adoption continuum. The continuum enables you to map out key engagement initiatives and tie them to phases in the adoption growth scale. Early on, companies should focus on formation efforts that build rapport with your users and define key business objectives. Many companies also use the formation stage to establish an internal user group and seed starter SharePoint/Office 365 projects that will serve as examples of success.

Once the foundation for your user adoption strategy is formed, you can move onto the adoption stage. The adoption stage is a driver for pipeline growth. This is where you start hitting critical mass and engaging users across multiple business lines to leverage SharePoint and Office 365 effectively. This will require a consistent approach for user education. Educational initiatives (e.g. SharePoint/Office 365 training classes, user group sessions, etc.) tend to be a focus for this adoption stage.

Once you’ve started mastering the adoption stage, you can think about building out advanced adoption programs (e.g. SharePoint/Office 365 evangelist programs, special internal events like SharePoint hack-a-thons or code days, etc.). The initiatives in this maturation stage require a high level of engagement from a pre-existing community. You’ll need enthusiasts that are willing to volunteer their time and organize meaningful programs that drive continued interest in the Collaboration platforms. Attempting to launch these types of mature programs too early in your user adoption continuum can hamper your success. The formation and adoption stages provide the raw materials (community engagement, an educated group of power users, internal brand recognition for SharePoint/Office 365) that will help support these mature programs.

Your user adoption continuum should be a living, breathing artifact. Build it over time so it can track your current efforts and serve as a source of motivation for your continuing journey. The continuum doesn’t have to relate to a specific timeframe, but the formation, adoption and maturation stages will take time to complete. The amount of time required is wholly dependent on your organization and your implementation team. So don’t approach the continuum as a race–it’s all about the adoption journey.

“To get people to change, make change easy”

pexels-photo-518973The Harvard Business Review released a great adoption article in December 2017 titled To Get People to Change, Make Change Easy.

The user adoption article explains how nominal decisions that users make every day (e.g. what technology to use) are often driven by the path of least resistance. In order to drive adoption of a specific use case or technology, product teams should identify the natural friction (aka resistance) in choosing one path or process over another. Reducing the friction lowers the barrier to entry, enabling your users to more easily adopt new processes and behaviors.

You can utilize this same theory to limit or stop behaviors that are no longer desired. To deter specific user behaviors (e.g. using a legacy system rather than a new Office 365 capability), introduce more friction into the old tool or process. By making the old tool harder to use, you open the door to new adoption behaviors.