I recently gave a webinar tutorial on how to make the best use of Office 365. I provided a brief description of some the different tools available and explained how those tools connect to one another to and empower users to be more collaborative in their work.

At the end of the webinar, one of the attendees reported that his “head was spinning.” I took that as a compliment.

I explained how apps like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel are about much more than word processing, presentations and spreadsheets. Rather than having to save a file to our computer so revisions can be emailed back and forth, a file can be shared with a colleague straight from the application itself. Changes can be made and tracked. Comments can be made. Time can be saved.

I explained about platforms like Yammer, the Microsoft enterprise social network, and Teams, the Microsoft team management tool. Teams makes it easy for project focused groups to get date driven work done. Yammer makes it easy to share that work with your larger organization, to get feedback, and to work with more transparency and generosity. As I have explained in a recent blog post called Yammer is the Water Cooler, I think that Teams is the like the conference room, the place where focused conversations are had, and Yammer is like the water cooler, the place where those conversations are shared with others.

Everyone attending the webinar was watching my Powerpoint presentation. They all work at a non-profit organization, or they volunteer as a leader on the board. I could see them imagining how these tools could be deployed at their own organizations. Maybe they were thinking about all the efficiencies that could be attained. Maybe they were thinking about all the work that lies ahead.

“My head is spinning Larry, I don’t know where to start.”

This is a feeling I know well, and I have some advice. Take it, if you like.

  1. Be Empathetic: Don’t forget that with every new tool you offer, every new convenience you provide, you are asking your colleagues to change how they do what they do. Change is hard. Make your case for change clear. Provide a schedule for the change. Help people to understand why the change is being made.
  2. Start Small: O365 is massive. Depending how you count, there are literally dozens of tools, and hundreds of ways to share work and get work done. Don’t try to do it all. Pick one thing, and start there. I suggest making a commitment to longer attach files to email, but rather to share files straight from OneDrive. That one change will help your colleagues realize the advantages of working in a new way.
  3. Set a goal. It may be that you want a certain number of people to use the new tool, the new way to share work, by a certain date. It may be that you want one team to do all their work in a new way while working on one project. Whatever the goal, set it. Write it down. Check back in on it. Make sure you do it. Then set another goal. And another.
  4. Involve leadership. Nothing will work (what I mean to say is there is that NOTHING will work) without the vocal and involved support of executives and other leaders at your organization. They need to be using the tools first. They need to understand the change, and they need to support the change. Leaders first. The rest will follow.

Generally speaking, your colleagues are not going to ask you to help them change the way they work. And, not to be too cynical, but if they do ask for change, I don’t think they mean it. But change they must. Change they will. Will that change feel good, or will it be a struggle? Will the change take a long time, or will it happen quickly? Will the change work?

There’s no need to be dizzy.

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