Pushing a new Frontier with Teams

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By Sanna Hansen

This past week I had the opportunity to moderate a TeamsDirect (or TeamsFocus?) with a veritable “Who’s Who” of Microsoft leadership. 

 Similar to a concept of a “YamJam” held on Yammer, the TeamsDirect allowed a specific group of people with a shared workspace to meet virtually and discuss key areas of interest. Taking the place of a traditional Skype call session, this TeamsDirect connected those Senior Leadership (we called them Conversation Leaders) with Area Managers across the globe.

 Our client (who also happens to be an early Teams adopter) knew that she wanted to embrace the modern workplace (and show off the company’s own technology), but in the weeks leading up to the event we did our due diligence in analyzing the benefits of using Yammer or Teams. 

 

Why Teams?

We see a lot of momentum happening in Teams both now and for the future. Teams adoption is top-of-mind for leadership, allows for easy conversation, contribution, and steps into file management and collaboration with integrated documents and OneNotes (to name a few).  It's a holistic workspace for those with a shared purpose. 

Oh, and that whole dynamic group thing. In tandem with the TeamsDirect, we also re-built this cross-functional group's internal SharePoint site using the latest and great of Microsoft's new and improved out-of-the-box SharePoint templates. This is a conversation for another full post, but making this move reduced any short or long-term reliance on complicated code (or even really development) and also allowed us to manage permissions for BOTH the Team and the SharePoint site together. 

In short, Teams is where it's at.

 

How we did it

To say that the group of individuals leading this event were high profile is an understatement. Because of this, the possible gains and visibility were high, and we wanted to eliminate any potential logistical or technical issues before they even thought of occurring. The design (we refer to this as Environment Design in our company) for this event included pre, during, and post activities.

Pre-event

  • Physical set up of the Teams environment including identification of Channels
  • Brainstorm and finalization of topics to be discussed, and a mapping of our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to these topics
  • Loading of any necessary introductory content (included some best practices Teams documentation and planting of a welcome message by Senior Leadership)
  • Creation of a one-pager including the goals for the TeamsDirect, how to install Teams (desktop, web app, or phone app), and how to participate (one for our SMEs/Conversation Leaders, one for participants)
  • Meeting invitation sent to SMEs/Conversation Leaders with audio (this blocked the time on their calendars and also provided a forum for us to talk during the event)
  • Meeting invitation sent to participants directing them to Teams 

During the event

  • Live Skype call (half of the conversation leaders were in-person, the others virtual) where we discussed progress, raised flags on when and where to reply, and helped to moderate the conversation flow
  • Planting by SMEs/Conversation Leaders of topics and questions into their relevant channels, and helping to facilitate discussion with participants
  • A monitored "Help" channel where I could answer general Teams questions allowing the SMEs to focus on their active conversations

Post-event

  • A thank you message in Teams and a reminder to keep the conversation going post-event
  • A recap email to attendees including an overview of event highlights
  • A conversation with the Product Team informing them of event learnings
  • A commitment by Senior Leadership to be active in Teams post-event (at a cadence of at least every other day)
  •  Monitoring of the Channels by the Community Manager (in this case me) to suggest ways to continue conversation and provide best practices support

Outcomes

The TeamsDirect was a resounding success and has provided a live collaborative environment now 4 weeks post-event. As described by the event sponsor,

"The 47 participants & I enjoyed the experience, intensely exchanging in 60+ parallel conversations during 60 minutes. We even tried a short video-chat that worked with some of the participants spread across the globe able to see each other in the moment which makes it a richer “human” dialogue."
He went on to say "We are now continuing our conversations with the full community of 210 leaders and adopting modern workplace habits!"

Microsoft Teams continues to be a hot topic with our clients, and we have made a commitment internally to use Teams for our inter-company communications and collaboration. Even further, this TeamsDirect event was the catalyst leading to our invitation to continue the conversation with the team responsible for driving corporate adoption and best practices of both Teams and Yammer at Microsoft. 

For me personally, the event was energizing. To be in conversation and provide suggestions on usage and conversation flow to this group was an honor. I am even more of an advocate (and I already believed) for the modern workplace. Now on to the next iteration of TeamsDirect!