Announcements at Microsoft Ignite are sure to create a new wave of “what to use when” discussions. But one discussion became much clearer as SharePoint, Yammer and Microsoft Teams were positioned together to facilitate inner and outer loop conversations. The “loops” explanation comes directly from Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella. As Microsoft begins to internalise this new way to view the place of Yammer and Microsoft Teams, it became apparent to me the role of SharePoint news pages in this story telling trio. SharePoint news pages are a democratisation of storytelling for team members at all levels of an organisation. This realm no longer belongs to the internal communications team alone. Might I say, they will be relieved that stories will become easier to find and consume as team members begin to write them with News pages, from within their own intranet sites. News pages will surface in the new Hub sites, in mobile apps, on the SharePoint Home page and many other places. Combined with Microsoft Teams and Yammer conversations, the inner and outer loop discussions will benefit from content rich stories that are easy to produce, thanks to the new modern SharePoint page format and web parts. Allow me to tell my story about how I see SharePoint, Yammer and Microsoft Teams working together. I have a great story to tell. I belong to the “Green team” and I know that the story is going to inspire my team to create something new and exciting. I also want to hear what others have to say across our organisation. Yes, I want to boast a little with the story. But I might also have overlooked an opportunity or problem. If I share the story with people outside of my team, I get different perspectives from people who are unfamiliar with our work.How am I going to discuss my story within my team and with people across my organisation? My team has:
1. A private Microsoft Team for our work and conversations. This is my inner loop where most of my work is done and discussed.
2. An intranet site shared publicly within the organisation. We use it to make people aware of what our department is working on, what our policies and procedures are, list services we offer internally and a web part on the page for requesting those services, a list of skills and experience in our team.
3. A Yammer group associated with our intranet site and embedded on our Intranet site. This is my outer loop.
Which place should I enter? Who am I talking to?
I first think about who I want to tell my story to. Who is my audience? I heard a good way of visualising this from Melanie Hohertz during Microsoft Ignite. She asks “who is in the room?” I’ll take that thought and ask, “who is in this place?” The “Digital Workplace” isn’t a buzzword to me. When I read the phrase, I think of a “workplace” that I go to work. It’s a digital room and I travel to that place within a few clicks. Travelling to the workplace helps me to focus on the work within that “place.”
When I want a conversation with people inside of my team, where I can draw from knowledge and experience about my work, I visit my Microsoft Team or my Outlook group. I visit the place related to the project, or department that I work in. Here in this place, I can focus on the topics, conversations and information related to my project and the tasks at hand. Any changes or interruptions are less jarring because they are related to my work.
I sometimes want a conversation with people outside of my team, a chance encounter with someone new that I haven’t met before or haven’t seen for a while. I want my conversation to be open so that anyone join it. I step into the lunchroom, the social hall, the reception. I step into the hallway, the walkways between offices. I step into our intranet and into Yammer. I can pick any of these places accessible to all of my organisation. I could choose to start my conversation in a place set up for discussing the topic of my story. But the point is, it’s a public place and anyone in the organisation can join in.
How am I going to tell my story?
I consider how long my story is. If it is brief and can be written in a couple of paragraphs, I might write it in a single post on Yammer, a long form message in an email to my group using Outlook groups. Or a long form chat using Microsoft Teams. Outlook groups and Teams conversations give me rich text formatting that I can use to emphasise a point, hyperlink text, list or number some points. Yammer will be receiving rich text controls too. But I want to share more than just rich text, and attaching a few photos.
I consider my audience again. • Who is my audience? • Is the audience my team, and is this story private to my team, or • Is the audience my whole organisation? Do I want the story to be public and available for sharing across my organisation?
I decide that my story can be shared with the whole organisation. I know the story will generate discussion, across the org but also privately within our team. So I create a News page on our Intranet site. I have a lot of options to help tell my story. I can add content to the page, such as pictures, videos, document lists, BI dashboards and Forms, just to name a few. I use the Yammer group connected to this site, and as I write my story I add the Yammer web part for the Yammer group. This means people can easily post their comments and feedback to the story, and it will be available to everyone in the organisation. Our team can read the comments and feedback, getting encouragement and valuable ideas about what we can do to improve our services. I also share a link the News page within our private team conversation. This gives my team an opportunity to read the story and post their own thoughts privately within our team. I use the Yammer connector too, to post new comments from the public thread directly into private team conversation. We can discuss as a team, how we want to respond.
This has been an example of how a team can share a story with rich and engaging content, holding both public and private conversations to gain valuable feedback. By sharing the story in a SharePoint News page and using Yammer, the team invites everyone to be part of the story and enrich the content with conversation. Using Yammer and Teams together, the team can work out how to respond and improve services, without sharing potentially sensitive opinions or processes with the whole organisation. SharePoint, Yammer and Teams are now in a much better position to share stories with multiple audiences in an effective and efficient way.
Once Yammer web part is delivered, I’ll record a short demo and update this story.