The Intelligent Workplace

Education Series

Microsoft Teams – Beyond The Meeting

On this episode, I talk with James Dellow, a human centered designer and digital workplace strategist. James is passionate about the concept of effective distributed teams, and he shares his insights on what it takes to set them up.
Microsoft Teams is a major player in this space and James shares his insights on why it is a big part of his strategy. He shares his thoughts on how businesses can go further with this software, outside of facilitating meetings.
This is a practical discussion the covers the setup and operation of effective distributed teams, and then how to fine tune them to make them work for you.

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Chris Lukianenk…:           Good morning, Australia, good afternoon, West Coast America, and good evening, East Coast America for this webinar. Today, we’re going to take a bit of a deeper dive into what Microsoft Teams offers for you and your remote workforce, be on just the facilitation of amazing calls. Microsoft Teams usage is exploding across the globe right now. Many companies, like ours, use it not only out of the box, but also finding other ways to integrate it, and even augment its capabilities, which is what we’re going to touch on today.

Chris Lukianenk…:           So, let’s get this slide show moving. There we are. Look at these two handsome fellows. As usual, you have me, Chris Lukianenko, host of the Intelligent Workplace Podcast, and joining me is a previous guest of the show. In fact, he is actually my first guest on the show. Digital strategist from the Digital Workplace Company, James Dellow. Welcome aboard, mate.

James Dellow:                   Thank you, Chris. Great to be here with you again. Looking forward to it.

Chris Lukianenk…:           The microphone works beautifully the first time. No hitches here between us two. That’s great. You’ve got your Yeti – Blue plugged in as well, have you?

James Dellow:                   Mate, if there’s one thing I learned from that first podcast is good quality equipment is very important. So, yeah. That was a great lesson from working with you.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Excellent, excellent. Fantastic, mate. Fantastic. All right. So, if you’re a returning participant for these sessions, I probably don’t need to go through this slide here. But if not, this is us. This is LiveTiles, a global company specializing in employee collaboration and communication software services, and IOO for the workplace, and we’re in many global locations. But as I’ve mentioned every single time, right now, we are all working from home.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Welcome to my home office. I’ve tidied it up for you last night, so it looks a little bit nice, the way that it has been in the past, so I hope you appreciate my efforts. Let’s have a chat about the agenda for today. Now, don’t forget, these are conversations each week when we have these sessions. So, if you want to get involved, it’s really easy. Just ask a question via the app, and I’m more than happy to pose it to James when we get a sec, or you can hold your questions to the end if you like, but you’ll notice the James and I will chat back and forth during this session.

Chris Lukianenk…:           It’s not going to be death by Power Point. We don’t want to be doing that in these sessions. We want to make them a little bit different in that way. Of course, if you want to continue covers offline at the end of this, I’m more than happy for you to email us, and you’ll see our email address at the end of the presentation. Today, we’re going to have a bit of a look at effective distributed teams, which is something James is really passionate about. We’re going to talk about Microsoft Teams is so effective at assisting with effective distributed teams.

Chris Lukianenk…:           We’ll talk about some tech hygiene factors, things you need to get right. Your housekeeping, if you like, before you can run with Microsoft Teams throughout your company. We’ll have a bit of a look at what else Microsoft Teams does, and then we’ll share some of James’ favorite insights from the recent SWOOP Report, which we’ll talk about, then a question from me to James, being that I’m working for what is effectively an internet based company initially. What happens to the internet if everybody is switching over to Microsoft Teams? So, we’ll look into that. Then we’ll give you some resources, tools and solutions to go away with a little bit of a party grab bag, if you like.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Thankfully, I have James with me today because effective distributed teams is a bit of a passion of his. He’s blogged about it a few times over at his blog. You can check it at The link down at the bottom left hand corner here is to a piece of printout the James has produced. He’s going to talk about it during the session. So, I thought of you, James, and James, look, we have this idea that technology solves everything as soon as we flick the switch to distribute our people out to multiple offices or even the home offices, but that is not always the case, is it mate? I know you’re very passionate about this subject. What tips have you got for people about to either flip the switch, or about to flip the switch and go to a distributed team model?

James Dellow:                   Yeah, yeah. Look, I think just for context, I should mention that I’ve worked in a remote fashion and a distributed fashion, on and off for quite a while. I think I first started working from home a few days a week, back in around 2003. Now, back then I installed a second phone line, we were still on dial-up. I had-

Chris Lukianenk…:           Remember those days well?

James Dellow:                   Yeah. The old tunes as it connected. So, letters notes, same time chat, it’s all pretty rudimentary, but I think it’s quite interesting. Us humans, we’re pretty adaptable. We don’t necessarily need a lot of sophisticated technology there, and there are some hygiene factors. Certainly better tech helps, but really it’s about having a mindset, and a desire, and I guess a willingness to try and communicate and work together in a different way from where you’re co-located. So, this is what I argue. Yeah. The critical thing around effective distributed teams is in part about the technology, but ultimately, it’s not the most critical factor here that’s going to determine when you’re successful or not. It really does come down to that mindset.

James Dellow:                   I think terminology is important here. Make that distinction between remote and distributed. Remote often, for me, and again, this is from experience of working with different organizations in different modes of working, is that when you’re remote, often a finger is pointing at you. If it doesn’t work, if the work doesn’t get done or the team doesn’t gel, it’s that remote person because we’re all together and we’re fine, and it quickly don’t … It really is a team sport, and it’s much better to think about us as being distributed as a starting point, and get that equity rather than assuming you’ve got a few people that are out there somewhere else in the ether, and they’re not really pulling their weight, or they’re not working the right way for the rest of the team.

James Dellow:                   I think that’s a really important point to consider. Now, that resource you talked about is a little planning canvas, because we all love those business canvasses. So, I’ve put it into a form of a one-pager. Now, there’s a blog post that goes with it, and it goes into a bit more detail about how you can use it, and some of the thinking behind it. But just in context, your question, I just want to focus on a couple of points because I talk about it around this idea of establishing what your expectations or your definitions are done might be. I think, again, talking about the non-technology success factors.

James Dellow:                   If you’re leading a distributed team, and actually if you think about it, if you’re on the receiving end of being part of a distributed team, you really want to make sure that everyone has got clarity about expectations, and expectations isn’t necessarily you answer 100 emails a day, I’m going to check in with you every five minutes to see what you’re doing. Expectations is about how are we going to work together, and I think definitions have done, which I’ve borrowed from agile project methodology, is a really good way of thinking about this because what we’re going to say is we’re not worried about how you do it so much, it’s not about necessarily the steps you have to go through to get to that end result.

James Dellow:                   What we’re trying to work out is at the end of the day, what are we happy with what we’ve succeeded? How are we going to measure our own team’s success, and what’s our definition of done? So, we want to get clarity around that. But also as a leader, the most important thing you have to do or focus on is really ensuring your team’s success. In order to get to that definition of done, what do you need to do as a leader to enable that to happen? It could be tech, it could be hardware, it could be office furniture, it could be checking in with someone twice a day on the phone. Whatever it is, that’s your job as a leader, to work out how to make your team successful.

James Dellow:                   The other thing I just touched as well is in rituals. Again, borrowing a little bit from agile project methodology language here, but rituals are all the different things, the different ways of communicating the stand ups, or the ways you’re going to run meetings, the virtual lunches, the way you recognize success, your definition of done, and you reward people, all those things. What are your teams’ rituals? Both those things I’ve mentioned, definitions are done, rituals, you got to create that specifically for your distributed team.

Chris Lukianenk…:           [crosstalk] If I were to give you a bit of a real world example, I work at part of the marketing team here at LiveTiles, and marketing teams the globe over, usually the whipping boy, sometimes we get told to go and play with our crayons, and all of those sorts of things, and-

James Dellow:                   It gives you the original deal, but I know. Yeah.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Yeah, yeah. Just recently, we are a distributed marketing team here at LiveTiles. We are in three or four different countries, and recently in three weeks now, we’ve and working together as a distributed team, and I go back to your point about having that common mindset between the team. Everything that’s changed in the world just these last few weeks, we had to pivot the company slightly, try a few new things, and it was all coming through the marketing engine, and try and get things moving and that sort of thing. Just because we’ve had that similar mindset, we’ve all been working together all remotely, we have worked like we’ve never worked before. It’s just been absolutely amazing.

Chris Lukianenk…:           We’ve gone from being the crown department to, just recently, one of my colleagues, Simon, who is very rarely gives out praise to the marketing team. He actually said to our CMO … I’ve been telling people in other parts of the company, if they want to be working like a great distributed team, have a look at how the marketing team set themselves up this past, because that common mindset, that common goal, working together, and everybody is doing whatever is needed seems to be a really key theme here.

James Dellow:                   Yeah. If you think of some of the data around the thinking behind the canvas, you talked about this idea of situations you find yourself in. Right now, the corona virus where you’re being forced to work in remote fashion. Okay. So, that’s not negotiable right now. In the past, that has been negotiable, right?

Chris Lukianenk…:           Yes, yes.

James Dellow:                   The other side of this you got to be willing to actually try it and work this way. So, that mindset that you’ve talked about is really critical. Again, it’s not just the leader of that distributed team, it is the whole team, and also the people around them that recognize, “Yeah. We’re not just doing it because we’re being forced to, we’re actually going to embrace this way of it working it, and making it work really well, and maybe even from some benefits from doing it that way as well.

Chris Lukianenk…:           I don’t think I’ve ever felt as productive in the last three weeks. It’s been fantastic actually, during some pretty tough times otherwise. All right, let’s move along. This is not about me, this is about our webinar. This is about Microsoft Teams. [crosstalk 00:10:34].

James Dellow:                   Chris, tell me more about your work.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Hey, this is my show. This is my show. You’re a guest. Look, as we know, the usage of Microsoft Teams has absolutely exploded across the globe, and a lot of times, is the absolutely center of all of our internal communications. It seems that every single day, we’re finding new ways to use the software in different ways. But what does Microsoft Teams really do to help with that whole idea of facilitating those effective remote teams? Oh, you’re on mute, mate?

James Dellow:                   Yeah. I think this is the really core … No, no. I think we just had a bit of a network lag there. I think it’s one of the key things about what makes Teams such an interesting solution is that it really supports all modes of collaboration. You’ve got video, you’ve got audio or telephony, you’ve got chat. If you’re going to be working as part of a distributed team, it’s like a Swiss army knife, which goes to your point about there’s a lot, lot packed in, but it really isn’t. It’s your hub, and you describe in different words, but effectively it’s a hub that lets you do all the things you might need to do.

James Dellow:                   Oh, this is like the fact that even if you’re not on Teams at a point in time that someone wants to talk to you, it will notify you, say by email, to let you know that you’ve missed a message. Again, it supports all those different modes of collaboration. You can use it on your laptop, on a device, all those sorts of things. So, yeah. It’s a really brilliant bit of kit. I think though, going beyond that, that next step though, if we use it in the right way, it supports the transparency that you need for an effective distributed team.

James Dellow:                   You’ve got access to the information because remember, you’re no longer sitting next to someone to go, “Oh, Bob, can you show me that file?” I’ll tell you, you’re going to get very irritated very quickly if your distributed team members are constantly pinging you on chat saying, “Hey, Chris, where’s that presentation?” It works much more effectively when we are operating in a transparent way, and Teams actually provides the tools to do that. We’re actually going to come back to this point, I think, a bit later. So, I’m not going into it too much.

James Dellow:                   The other thing I like about Teams, and it’s getting better and better all the time. We know Microsoft has a got a road map. Sometimes I wish they’d go faster, but I think one area, and I’m a consultant, so I work with other people. So, I’ve probably got about, I don’t know, I’ve at least counted maybe six different teams that I’m part of with different people, different organizations. Their external access is getting better because this is also a reality. Modern workplaces, often hybrid teams, and Teams supports that mode of work-

Chris Lukianenk…:           It was a little bit clunky this time, wasn’t it?

James Dellow:                   It was, it was. But that’s gone leaps and bounds ahead. There’s still a few little workarounds, but it’s much better. The other thing, and this is probably more from me putting my enterprise IT hat on or information security hat on, is the other benefit of Teams, is everything is captured in your Office 365 tab. So, your chats are secured, they’re archived, all the files are in SharePoint, so you’re not using a tool where the information is disparate, and it’s floating away into different solutions. So, that’s a really big tick for Teams as well. Yeah.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Yeah. Absolutely. This probably moves us nicely onto this next topic, which is tech hygiene. As you said, Teams really helps in times like these, but I think the thing that slips by for most people with this, this is actually a really, really complex piece of software. It’s not like you’re installing Microsoft Word, and all of a sudden you’re up and running writing Word documents. It’s a lot more than that. There’s so many different things to consider.

Chris Lukianenk…:           So, this was running like in your experience, what tips have you got for getting your tech or your tech hygiene in order, before you actually go into a Microsoft Teams installation?

James Dellow:                   Yeah. Actually, we started to touch on this a little bit already, and one thing I want to say is you do need to be realistic about Teams, and I’m talking about this from an IT perspective for [inaudible 00:14:37]. A real Microsoft Office 365 fan girl or fan boy, is that Teams does have some fantastic features, but has a lot of them. The other thing is, is it’s a product that is still actually relative new, it’s still evolving, it’s still getting better, but there’s some use cases where Teams is not always the optimal solution. Actually, we’re finding a little bit today, a little bit of network lag, and the global ecosystem of digital workplace tools, particularly the cloud based tools, they’re all under a lot of stress at the moment.

James Dellow:                   We sometimes need to have planned these, and we need to have alternatives, and not force people into using it in a way. It just doesn’t do it optimally. Now, what then I think from that is, “Okay. That’s good. Have some support, have all the resources available, have your help desk ready to provide really good advice on those things.” But the other thing, I think, from an IT perspective is if you haven’t got your head around Office 365 groups, that’s really important.

James Dellow:                   Now, we’re in crisis mode at the moment. Let’s get Teams out to everyone, let’s get them using it. I think that’s really important, but yeah. Get your head around Office 365 groups. If you can’t do anything with it right now, have a plan for the future. Unfortunately, again, product maturity, Microsoft isn’t giving you a lot within Office 365 admin screens to do a lot around really truly leveraging Office 365 groups. At the moment, you’re either looking at learning PowerShell or looking at some other third party solutions that can help you manage those groups.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Mate, just stop here for one second. It’s just being there’s quite a few people on this call today might not be as involved in the tech side of things, maybe more in the comms side of things. Can you just give them a quick overview of the power of the Microsoft group?

James Dellow:                   Yeah. Again, we can probably spend a couple of webinars talking about this, and there’s going to be people that know more about it than I do.

Chris Lukianenk…:           You’ve got 60 seconds.

James Dellow:                   I’ve got 60 seconds. The terminology itself is confusing. Office 365 Groups is a new kind of permission and people grouping within Office 365. If you can imagine, you can select a group of people to be part of this Office 365 group, and through that group, they get access to different resources in terms of a team. They might have access to a shared plan aboard, a mailing list in Office … Or Outlook, sorry, if you still want to use email, all those sorts of things, but it has wrapped into it also, some information management controls, and you can determine what happens to the information that you’re sharing. You can determine whether people invite external users into a team.

James Dellow:                   When you think about deploying Teams at scale, Office 365 Groups is the way you manage all their information, and access, and security, and life cycle at scale. So, if you don’t do anything about it, Microsoft is just going to create things for you and that’s fine, but you do risk having a bit of a Wild West later down the track. Now, that might be okay. You might not be able to build it because the information is still within your Office 365 [inaudible 00:17:51]. It doesn’t affect that, but it does affect your ability to manage that as Teams, to manage their information effectively every time. Yeah.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Hopefully, that helped everybody to understand. Great stuff, mate. Thanks.

James Dellow:                   Yeah. Basically, just tap on [inaudible] on the shoulder and go, “have you got a plan for Office 365 Groups?”

Chris Lukianenk…:           Fair enough. All right. Now, probably what people are most interested in today is how we can help. I’ve said in the previous webinars that in times of crisis, we’re all ready to draw upon the resources that are available to us just to get by. You aren’t alone. A lot of times, it’s hurting with all of this as well, and what we have decided whenever we can offer help to support the community and our customers, we’re going to do it. Hot off the press, last week, we’ve implemented a few new help services around Teams, which I’ll now tell you about.

Chris Lukianenk…:           First up, on the screen there, let me introduce you to Molly. She is absolutely fantastic. She’s our customer success champion, and her and I have been working on a number of short and sharp videos to help everyone with some really simple, but also effective tips and tricks in and around Microsoft Teams. There’s about 15 videos out now, you’ll absolutely love her. She is just such a breath of fresh air, in comparison to who you might normally see on these types of videos, these help videos, which is usually someone maybe a white guy with glasses and a headset on. She is the opposite of that, and she’s absolutely fantastic.

Chris Lukianenk…:           As I said, 15 videos up on our website and more to come. Next, right before corona hit us, we’ve created this fantastic code going to assist us with implementing Microsoft Teams. Obviously, we can’t play it in person now for obvious reasons, but what we did, we took those insights when we created that game, and we’ve turned it into what you see on the screen there, which is not the online version of the game. It’s really, really useful, even as an online, and on the website we’ll talk you through how we can help you facilitate it with your teams, to make sure that you get the absolute most out of your Microsoft Teams installation.

Chris Lukianenk…:           I’ve been involved with quite a few of these in person, and I’ve said to James before, the insights and the conversations that you have around the table with people, absolutely fantastic. When we throw in silly events to consider while you’re building out this model, it is absolutely fantastic to see how people are changing their thinking, and bringing in new apps, or bringing in new tabs and nice sorts of things to really build out a really solid base for your Microsoft Teams. It’s really, really good.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Look, lastly, if you’re at that stage when you’re ready to go with implementing teams, we’ve got a Microsoft Teams accelerator program service that really rapidly helps you go from this planning stage here with the Teams going into implementation. Look, if you want to know more about how we can help with Teams adoption, a lot of times that you might see, you’ll see the solutions tab on our website, and you’ll be able to check out more information about these services that I’ve shown you here

James Dellow:                   That’s pretty good, Chris, because I think co-designing your teams is a really important process. So, any tools like that are great for driving that.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Yeah, yeah. Look, we had a great session. We had half a dozen key customers come down, and we played this. Just the reaction from people saying, “Oh, wow. I’ve never really thought what might happen if something silly, like rats ate through, you can’t find a cable or see.” But those kinds of real life situations, who would have thought we’d have a pandemic? Most of those situations we throw into the mix when you’re playing out these teams, it really, really helps consider those different situations, and it really brings the teams together, and it makes it that you’re building something together, which is great.

Chris Lukianenk…:           I’ve used the online version that we’ve got, which has been created in our pages on a software, and it still encapsulates all of those great insights, and the methodology behind putting this together, and it still works really, really well. So, anybody that’s interested, jump onto and we can help you out there. Now, let’s get into this nitty gritty. This is what I’ve got here. We know, as we’ve said before, Teams is great for chatting, video calls, and file sharing, but I know you’ve got some thoughts on how we can leverage it further, and I’m really keen to hear what you’ve got to say here, mate.

James Dellow:                   Yeah, yeah. Look, people tend to, I think, come from those directions you’ve mentioned. They’re either using it as a meetings tool, a conferencing tool, or maybe they just use it purely as a chat based solution. On first glance like, “Oh wow, you’ve been using it for chat. Oh, I can use it for meetings. Awesome.” Or if you’ve just been using it for video conferencing and say, “Oh, there’s some chat functionality.” But if you can imagine a bit of a Venn Diagram, you’ve got the meetings. I’m actually going to say, the other is group chat rather than individual chat.

James Dellow:                   But the other really important one is really about getting work done, and it’s that sweet spot right in the middle where we have meetings, group communication, and getting work done that really makes Teams stand out as a solution. Actually, not just distributed teams, but certainly right now, it really is good for that. But as an individual worker, you’ve really got that fantastic hub where you can actually do things. You can take action. So, I think that’s a really important mental concept to think about. Group chat is actually almost the [inaudible] I think, because how many meetings do we go to where actually nothing really happens?

James Dellow:                   In this point of time, some of the face-to-face interaction via video is actually playing a different role, we’re actually socializing. Whereas in the workplace, when we’re physically located together, we do a lot of socializing outside, then occasionally we have these meetings where we try to stay awake and stay focused. But most decisions get made outside of these places. So, there’s a whole psychology and research around meeting effectiveness. But when we’re looking at distributed teams and we’re looking at Microsoft Teams, your group chat is your onramp for when it’s starting to get to that point where you can do more with teams. Yeah.

James Dellow:                   We then look at this idea of getting work done. Well, this is, again, Teams’ superpower. It is its ability to actually integrate other tools, information, knowledge, and people into this place, this hub where you’re trying to do work. Now, there are quite a few different avenues for doing this. The first one is bots. It’s interesting. We’ve tried portals. Years ago, internets have tried the portal approach. It just didn’t work. It was hard for people to personalize them. If you tried to guess what people needed, you often got it wrong because you never quite understood the full scope of all the tools people needed, all these different bits and pieces.

James Dellow:                   But now we’ve got bots. It’s a really low friction way of integrating Teams with other solutions, because you, as the user, don’t need to learn the other system necessarily. You just need to know what you want to do with it. The bot can be built to either bring information to you, it can be done in a method where you ask it for information, or it can react to things going on, and proactively offer to do things whatever it might be, whatever it makes sense for that scenario. Then it can also take you out to that system, if you get beyond what the bot can support.

James Dellow:                   The other really neat thing though that I do really like about Teams is the tabs. So, you can actually bring things in to where you are. Again, you’re not having to go there, you bring them to you. Now-

Chris Lukianenk…:           Your one note or your Excel, all that sort of thing? Yeah. Absolutely.

James Dellow:                   There’s a wiki in there you can pull in. I think one of the most popular things that people do is bring in an Excel spreadsheet. So, there’s all sort of things you can do. If you think about the next level up, then it’s actually apps that then interact with information. The most simple example of an app is something like Poly, which is a problem solver.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Oh, I was going to mention Poly. I love Poly. Well, I love Poly.

James Dellow:                   Yeah. But you can see how it could use Poly, and obviously for those that haven’t, it actually interacts with you in multiple ways. It has a tab, it gets into chat, it has a bot to advise you if you’ve schedule a poll to happen, and you can see how you’ve actually got Teams … Actually, I should say on the side, I actually don’t think of Teams as an app. Teams is a user interface that taps into all these different features and functionality of Office 365, and through APIs integrated with other tools. Now, that’s going to give it meta, but really, Poly is a little example of how that all starts to come together.

James Dellow:                   If you think about applying that to an actual business process, you can see how you can potentially use Teams to build out a really sophisticated integration, but it can be personalized to the user. You can decide the tab, you can decide how you interact with the bot, so we’re getting to that … Actually, trying to remove friction in how we integrate with systems through apps, through tabs, and through bots. That final piece is, though, is we’ve also go the opportunity to be citizen developers by using low code automation tools. Flow is Microsoft’s option, but there are other low code tools out there.

James Dellow:                   Remember we started off saying it’s a Swiss army knife. Eventually, that Swiss army knife is actually pretty robust. The knife is not as flimsy as you might think. That corkscrew tool, you found a use for it, and that’s where we really want to get to is not just using it for meetings, because to be honest, mate, there are other tools that do meetings really well as well, because that’s what you want to do, right?

Chris Lukianenk…:           Yeah, for sure. Yeah. We’re using [crosstalk 00:27:22].

James Dellow:                   Yeah. Certainly picking the right tool for the purpose. There’s lots of ways in doing chat. Microsoft experimented with the email version where it was like chat, do you know what I mean? We can actually just use email if you just want to talk remotely. What makes the difference is that final part of the diagram is getting work done, and that’s what makes Teams exciting for me personally.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Absolutely. That’s great insights, mate. Great insights. Speaking of insights, you see what I did there? Let’s look at this soup report. If you don’t know what the soup report is, I’ll read this bit here for you. So, sweeping benchmark, the interactions of 47,000 plus people in five and a half thousand teams, and more than one million channel interactions. I’ve spread that across 15 organizations for a variety of industry sectors, and geographies, and I did this review over a 12 week period. It was a pretty comprehensive look at how Microsoft Teams is now used by businesses, and they’ve wrapped it up all into this pretty little report here you can see on the right hand side of the screen.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Now, this is James’ suggestion to guide through this report, but I’m not a real attention to detail guy, so I’ve asked James to provide us with his top three takeaways from the report. The bit of executive, executive summary if you like James, what have you got?

James Dellow:                   Well, look, it is a long report. I know the kind of laureates worked really well, worked well with them in the past in different roles, so there’s a lot in there. There’s three things that really stand out for me. Now, this first one, I think, it could sound quite controversial, but it’s actually a good thing. Actually, right now, because of this little crisis we’re under, we’re doing it away. When I say IT needs to get out of the way, what we’re really meaning is that don’t let IT determine how business users want to use Teams. So, users no, or should be given the opportunity to explore that, and discover how they want to use it together.

James Dellow:                   Don’t insist on training as being a gatekeeper to getting access to Teams. Again, I think luckily at this time, Teams is just getting deployed out to rapidly. Actually, there’s an upside to the situation we’re in we’ve seen that happen. However, the one last danger, and this is where IT cannot be the problem, but indirectly creates problems, is that you needed the rush to get it out at the moment or in the past as we were planning to deploy Teams. We basically look at all the existing structures. We look at mailing lists, we look at the org chart, we just replicate it in Teams. Again, that’s the wrong-

Chris Lukianenk…:           [crosstalk 00:29:54].

James Dellow:                   Yeah. That’s the wrong way of doing it. This comes actually back to the Office 365 groups, because they are a solution to allow you to scale it in a way that’s directed by business needs and the user needs, rather than you taking that pattern of what the org chart is, and thinking that’s how it should be. Yeah.

Chris Lukianenk…:           If I can get an insight from the Teams game that we’ve been playing, that is usually the first that they come up with. “What teams are we ready to make?” “Oh, well I need the global distribution lists to be recreated or the marketing,” or whatever the case may be. They’re more into trying to just go and immediately replicate that. It was like, “Now, hold on. How do you operate? Have you got project based teams that you want to create or whatever?” Yeah. So, I love that you’ve made that point there, mate. That’s fantastic.

James Dellow:                   Yeah, yeah. The great thing is a lot of them are the other points we’ll go through. Some of these things or ideas that people, like me, in the industry have said this is how it should be. People have actually now have given us some data, so I’m not making this stuff up anymore. This goes back to my experiences. We’ve actually got some actual data that actually this is true. If you want to jump onto the next point then, I think this is really interesting.

James Dellow:                   Teams is no longer a brand new product. It’s been around for a few years. We’ve talked about the road map, and it’s got some points, and it’s got some notations. But in terms of how we’re using it, the data tells us it’s still early days. I’m just going to reference this stat. Yeah. 70% to 95% of chat messages in Teams are still private chat messages.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Oh, wow.

James Dellow:                   When I talked to you earlier. Yeah. Now, that means that’s actually, in a way, we’re seeing a shift from email to teams, but it’s almost a substitute, and again, that’s not a bad thing. But as I said, mentioned earlier, group chat is the onramp to getting work done rather than having private chat, because private chat isn’t transparent. But it does mean that if you’re going to transition from private chat to group chat, you’ve got to learn the etiquette of how you share information, and how you bring it to the attention of specific people when you need it, rather than to fall into private chat.

James Dellow:                   One of the issues there, I think, we’ve talked about this concept of high performing teams in Teams is probably, again, in this moment where we’re rushing to use Teams. Well, you might want to think about what’s your road map going from just dealing with a crisis to actually creating high performing distributed teams in Teams. Last point then. Yeah. We summarize this as digital transformation. Again, it’s a different context. I’ve known this with Teams for a long time. We come from very similar backgrounds around knowledge management, and thinking about organizations of networks, how information flows outside the org chart.

James Dellow:                   Certainly when they look at their data, and they look at how people are using it, they think that teams really offers a fantastic opportunity to be a core platform for us to move from very hierarchical command and control models to distributed network operating models for organizations. If we want to put all the way the consulting talk of hierarchy versus network for a moment, one thing I’ve just said to people, when you think about it, the internet actually is a network. Networks are really resilient in times of disruption.

James Dellow:                   If there’s ever an argument for you to transition from command and control to a network style organization, then this is probably the time to be thinking about that in terms of building resilience inside of organizations, and that comes from busting silos, being transparent with information, and all those other things we’ve been talking about. Download the report. I think it’s about 90 plus pages. We all have time to do some reading. It’s worth getting into.

Chris Lukianenk…:           I’ll go to page three, the summary there. I’ll see how that goes. Look, James, this Microsoft Teams thing feels a bit like a runaway train to me right now, so I think we’ve got two choices. We either hop on and enjoy the ride or get out of its way. But I work for a company that was built around the idea of interest and digital workplaces. Should we, a lot of times, be a little bit nervous that this is going to push us out of the market or replace us, or is there a plan B where we can coexist, or maybe where we’ve all been into teams? I don’t know. What are your thoughts around that?

James Dellow:                   Look, Chris, I’m glad you’re sitting down. No, I’m joking. Look, we’ve been talking about SWOOP Analytics and their findings, and the amount of things of the data that they have supports a view that’s been building in the industry. I think even if we weren’t sitting here today talking about this because of the corona virus, we’re aware that there was something happening with the internet, and I think one of the things is that traditional internet idea of the homepage being a start page for an organization is really being eroded.

James Dellow:                   As I’ve said, we’ve tried portals, we’ve tried all different sorts of things to try and make those homepages engaging, and that takes you so far. But for me, ultimately it’s about how work gets done or work getting done. Internet homepages have often ended up just being destinations. Ironically, if you want some cause to be confident about the role of internet, one thing outside of those, email should also be feeling quite threatened as well when you look at how people are using Teams. So, [crosstalk 00:35:19].

Chris Lukianenk…:           Then the whole thing that once upon a time, you used to justify stuff by having unread emails you have when you were on holidays or overnight over whatever, and I’ve still got friends that work in offices still operate like, “Oh, I was so busy. I have 150 emails.” Look, I don’t care about 10 or 12 these days on a daily basis because my communications is shit outside of that.

James Dellow:                   That’s right, that’s right. The other thing I want you to reflect on that as well, and again in the context of LiveTiles, I think they shifted towards like Teams, and said portals didn’t work. The idea of this work helping teams is not just more attractive, but it’s a more integrated approach, but potentially less friend, and ironically, more personalized to the user. Actually, a bit like your inbox. Why inboxes and email are so popular is that you have some control over that, and you’ve got a little bit more of that control and how you’d want use Teams, and use it together.

James Dellow:                   But when you also look at solutions like Wisdom’s Power Panel, I actually see that part of the same spectrum of how the primary start page being the internet homepage. Again, it’s being eroded because what the Wisdom Power Panel does, and I might let you explain in a moment [inaudible] all that is, but basically for me, it puts up a super charged global navigation across your device. You can get to the actual things that help you do stuff from wherever you are. That’s the common theme here is that it’s not about creating destination sites, like an internet homepage, it’s about creating tools that bring you the information.

James Dellow:                   So, the people, the knowledge that you need to you, when you need to use it. I’m going to just maybe let you briefly explain Power Panel.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Why don’t I just get to it, because I’ve pulled my Teams down. Just firing things up right now, so people can see this. There was a question. I’m not sure who it came from. Does the check feature in Teams work like the other messaging apps? WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, where you don’t need to have the app open to receive the messages, or do you need to have the Teams app open like Skype? I think my teams app is pretty much always open, so I probably haven’t really noticed.

James Dellow:                   Look, the very, very funny story early years ago, I was trying to encourage the use instant messaging in an organization, and managing to all my people. 30 got the instant message app, didn’t see anyone he wanted to talk to. So, he shut it down never booted it up again. I mentioned this earlier. This is the one of the cool features about Teams is you don’t have to be logged in. It will notify you via email, if there is something you’ve missed. Or if you have it installed on your phone, it doesn’t have to be up and running, and you can use notifications on your phone. But yeah, you don’t have to be logged in.

James Dellow:                   So, it’s not like the consumer Skype, yeah you need to be logged in. So, that’s a really useful thing.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Yeah. Actually, I do a lot. I’ve been getting lots of late evening pings on my phone, so the messenger in teams is gone, I have to say. Yeah. For sure.

James Dellow:                   Actually, while you’re maybe just doing some things, the other thing I would just throw in there though, why I still think there’s a role for internet though is that we still need information management tools, we still need knowledge management tools. Again, probably relevant to the current situation is that in organizations I’ve worked within recent years, they force us into value in creating places that you can go to access a trusted source of news. So, an archive of news.

James Dellow:                   One of the things I’ve raised is social media is great. When you bring social media into an organization, that’s great, but there’s also a risk of internal fake news being generated. There’s a role of having a place where you can go to and go, “What is the policy? What is the procedure? What is the news?” That is accessible there. So, as I said, I think it’s just the changing role, but it’s much better digital workplace because of it. It just means that the homepage of your internet is no longer the thing that we need to be worried about.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Yeah, yeah. Good stuff. Now, while we’ve been doing that, I’ve just pulled up my team. Hopefully, this will work. You’ll be able to see this on the screen. Beautiful. So, this is my teams here, and here is the Power Panel. We’ve got it up in here as an app, then Power Panel basically brings all the other elements of what we would classically have via digital workplace or internet into Teams. So, you’ve got your people directory here, you’ve got Yammer comes through. I better nothing click on this stuff, because this is all logged.

Chris Lukianenk…:           We have travel request, we’ve got our automated both that helps us update the employee directory. It used to be called Hyperfish, it’s not Employee Directory Assistant I think we call that. But this one here is something that we’ve pulled together, just to keep everybody in the loop around the COVID-19 updates, and this is all serviced through Power Panel and into Teams. So, there you go.

James Dellow:                   That would be drawing from SharePoint, right? That COVID-19 page.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Correct, correct.

James Dellow:                   Yeah, yeah.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Yeah.

James Dellow:                   Yeah.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Hopefully, that now brings you back onto my Power Point slide. Everybody can see it, I hope.

James Dellow:                   Yeah. Look, I can wrap up on what happened to the internet. I think it’s that shifting internet away from being seen as this primary destination. You’re going to use tools in context, but you still want to have a place where you can have that, as I said, that trusted source of information and knowledge that you can go back to. Yeah. Teams doesn’t manage content ultimately, so you’re going to need to have a place for content, but it’s really about design choice.

James Dellow:                   You can make your internet useful, and let’s forget about making internet as pretty brochures, which is where we want to start it with the internet. It’s unfortunate that it’s a bit of a tug of war, but we started to realize we don’t need Brochureware anymore.

Chris Lukianenk…:           No, no. I’ve got to say, that Power Panel that we’ve been using mostly has really been a real change in the work by doing things, or going to different places to get the information outside.yeah. It’s a strange new world we’re living in. Everything is changing every day. But we do our best, but I’ve certainly enjoyed changing the way that I operate. The boss is telling me he’s available. That was a Teams notification there, that I’ve got one of the bosses turned on to say that when he’s available, he pings me up with that message there, and I know that I can get onto him straight away, so there you go. All right.

James Dellow:                   We’re definitely live, aren’t we, Chris?

Chris Lukianenk…:           Oh, we’re totally live. That’s what I love about these on a Thursday morning, while I’ve got my children downstairs homeschooling. It’s fantastic. The new world. Look, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot of different solutions we can talk about on All the details of that course that I’ve mentioned is over there before. Please jump on and have a look. Also, I’ve left you a link to James’ blog there, lots of great stuff as well. Of course, we’ll send out links to all this in the followup emails for you. If you want to re-watch the webinar and see the two of us chatter again, these will also be resurfacing via our YouTube page as well.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Right. I thought I’d answer some questions now if anybody has had enough coffee, and got themselves up and running this morning ready to ask a question. Questions haven’t been free flowing except for maybe on the podcast, the episode last week. People may be a little bit too shy. Someone did tell me that they needed a few more cups of coffee to get into the swing of things, so I completely understand that. It doesn’t look like there’s anything coming forward. But look, I guess the offer there. You’ve got our email address is there on the screen for James and myself, and we’re more than happy to answer questions via email. So, reach out to us.

James Dellow:                   Definitely.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Just to see where maybe we can help out, because really that’s what this is all about right now. This is unprecedented times, and we all need to help each other, so it’s kind of while we set this whole webinar series up for everybody. Speaking of great segue, next week we will have another one of these, and we’re going to take a look at Microsoft Teams in the education space. Now, I haven’t put up there who my guess was going to be, because we’re still finalizing that, but I can say that my guest next week is coming to us from Oxford Uni.

Chris Lukianenk…:           So, we’ve got a heavy hitter. I’ll confirm the name and the days to come, but it’s going to be great because I don’t know about yourselves. If you got children at home, my daughter is downstairs on Microsoft Teams as we speak, having her 9:00 or thereabouts daily meeting with the entire class in a team, and they very quickly got Teams up and running. It is absolutely horrible why the teacher has set it up. She needs to go through a few of the Molly videos, and learn a few things, and maybe the Teams games, and talk about how to set things up because they basically got one big general check under the classroom, and it is an absolute mess.

Chris Lukianenk…:           So, we’re going to talk a bit about that sort of stuff next week, with my guest from Oxford. Hopefully, you can join me then, but for now we’ll wrap things up. I just want to say, thanks James for being part of this today, mate. I really appreciate it. I know you’ve also got some working from home challenges at the moment, so I appreciate you taking the time from your [inaudible] there. You can probably straighten the curtains up next time, mate. It will be right behind you, but-

James Dellow:                   Yeah, yeah. I need a nice background, don’t I? Anyway, look, Chris, great chatting with you, and certainly if people got questions later, let me know.

Chris Lukianenk…:           Absolutely. I thoroughly enjoyed it, mate. Great chat, great insights. Thank you for sharing with us, and thank you everybody for joining us today, and we’ll see you next week. 8:30 Thursday in Australia. So, thanks very much. Talk to you later. Cheers.


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