User Adoption

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.

The Rise of the Ninjas

This week, I delivered a half-day user adoption workshop at SharePoint Fest Chicago 2017. The workshop, titled “The rise of the ninjas: A unique methodology for driving SharePoint user adoption,” explains how to plan for an effective SharePoint/Office 365 adoption campaign and how to reclaim an existing implementation that has failed to gain traction with your user base.

The workshop introduced why SharePoint/Office 365 user adoption is a wicked problem, outlined two examples of how companies that “got it wrong” were able to build a turnaround strategy, and provided practical tips for driving adoption wins. The workshop also highlighted several key tenets of effective user adoption:

For more information, feel free to check out the session slides.

Workshop Abstract:

The rise of the ninjas: A unique methodology for driving SharePoint user adoption
This half-day workshop discusses the “chaos-to-clarity” journey many organizations take on their path to a successful SharePoint implementation. We will look at common training, governance and user adoption pitfalls, provide recommendations for framing a successful SharePoint Center of Excellence (COE) and give you practical tips for building an internal user community of SharePoint ninjas. These strategies can change the course of your SharePoint implementation and catapult you from being “just another file repository” to being the premier workflow automation tool people want to use. 

The problem with assuming you know what your users need…

man-person-street-shoes.jpg

Every company and every set of users is unique. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ method for engaging users and driving adoption. And one of the worst mistakes you can make is assuming you know too much. Adoption starts with understanding your users–what they struggle with, what they don’t understand, what annoys them and what drives them crazy. Your generalized knowledge of SharePoint, Office 365 and user adoption can’t supplant the need to talk to and understand your users.

To prove the point, let’s take a look at two famous user adoption failures:

new cokeIn 1985, Coca-Cola announced the release of a new formula for Coke. The consumer response was immediate. Complaints poured in, people started hoarding cases of “Classic Coke” and protest groups sprang up around the United States. Within a few months, Coca-Cola announced a return to their classic recipe.

Colgate
In a move that delved into the truly bizarre, Colgate launched a line of entrees in 1982. While Colgate may have thought consumers would easily make the leap from brushing with Colgate to eating with Colgate, customers clearly didn’t agree. Colgate entrees were pulled from the shelves quickly.

What do these user adoption failure stories have in common? They assumed an answer without first asking a question. Coca-Cola and Colgate failed to ask their customers what they wanted—they assumed they knew what their customers would buy. A critical lapse in judgment.

Great adoption campaigns are designed to suit the unique needs of the users they serve. Before you start designing your adoption program, invest in learning what your users want and need. There are myriad options for gathering this user data, from focus groups to surveys, user interviews and innovation games. How you go about getting the user feedback isn’t important. The key is to use what you learn as the basis for your user-centric adoption campaign.

User adoption isn’t a one-time project

pexels-photo-571249User adoption isn’t a temporary effort. There is no magic formula for success and adoption doesn’t have an end date. If you want successful adoption of SharePoint and Office 365, you’ll need to build, evolve and drive adoption programs from now until the day you stop leveraging the platform. Even the most successful adoption programs will die without dedicated attention and fresh ideas.

Adoption programs also need to support the natural cycle of user engagement. Sooner or later, many of your SharePoint/Office 365 evangelists and power users are going to move on to new jobs or new phases in their careers. To keep driving adoption, you need to have a continuous pipeline of new users learning about SharePoint/Office 365. These new users need to be mentored and coached so they can leverage the platform to build effective business solutions. Without a community of practice, engaged thought leaders, mentors and an appropriate support system, most of your new users will fizzle out before they realize the potential of SharePoint/Office 365.

Remember–adoption programs should drive interest in the platform, build connections between business teams/power users, propel users past the initial educational hurdles and support users on their quest to build business solutions. If you’re not actively driving adoption and the development of your future power users, your adoption is declining.