Lesson 1: The attitude of a decision maker can impact the entire platform experience

I have been consulting solely on Microsoft 365 technology for just over a decade. During a moment of recent reflection, I realised I have engaged with over 80 clients!

It’s a great reminder of the range and number of organisations I have been deeply embedded in and supported through various stages of their Microsoft journey.

This is something worth reflecting on for your own experience. It’s great to take a moment to think about the long-term journey and what you have achieved, along with how projects and client needs have changed over time.

My journey began in the early days at Paradyne (acquired in 2015 and no longer in operation) as a Project Manager building process and leading delivery of many migrations and product launches. I quickly shifted into building a Change Management Practise working in project delivery ensuring projects were successful and users supported. I have remained in Organisational Change now across a few Microsoft Partners, with projects launching new applications (such as Skype for Business and now Microsoft Teams), driving enhanced ways of working across cloud document storage, collaboration, communication and personal productivity. Alongside this modern workplace focus has also been heavy analysis and communication to support projects implementing MFA, Intune, security enhancements and platform governance. Phew!

What I wanted to share turned in to a 6-part series of stand-out lessons learned through my consulting journey in organisational change focused with Microsoft 365.
While there are always many lessons across method, process and project delivery through a more traditional lessons learned, I am focusing on some broad consistent themes from engaging across many organisations and industries.

In the first lesson, I am focusing on the impact the assumptions made by, or bias of, a decision maker have in a program can have on the platform experience for employees.

How can the assumptions of one individual have such a broad impact?

We rely on the technical experts in a department or project team to help us understand impacts, configuration, decisions required, and all the necessary pieces of the Microsoft 365 platform puzzle to build out what is best fit for a specific organisation.

What I have noticed in the last few years is when I work with an organisation that has a senior leader who has a few transformation programs or Microsoft 365 projects under their belt they can think they know the journey, leading with assumptions and not listening to nuances, needs and technical detail for the new organisation.

I shudder when I hear “on my last project we …”. It is the failure to dive deep and listen to the technical knowledge experts, leading with assumptions for decisions rather than taking time to review the information and data for a specific situation.
We cannot ‘cut and paste’, rolling out the method or design from a different organisation. Every project requires data gathering, testing and the full method or process.

Where one organisation has VPN, the other could be on-premise, or where one department will gain great value from files in Microsoft Teams channel libraries, the other may find that causes issues with compliance and standard process.

If a senior leader drives the team in a direction because of the assumption the project can be delivered the same as their last role or organisation, that concerns me and I have often seen this attitude or behaviour lead to significant project issues.

What about their unconscious bias?

Just like assumptions, is the challenge when a decision make has bias towards a product, service or features which then impacts their decisions across a project.

Let’s say that person went through a Microsoft Teams implementation launching Teams for meetings or collaboration at the same time as PSTN calling. There could have been technical impacts or just low adoption and negative feedback. They may then have the opinion that you can never go live with all those features.
Or worse still, if the application was set up in a way that delivered a bad experience, they might even have harsh opinions like “Microsoft Teams is useless”.

It can be similar across security, MFA, and core collaboration. I have heard a leader criticise MFA or Intune and when I dug deeper it was the experience of a badly implemented solution which had turned them off the technology.

When you are establishing a roadmap journey for applications for staff, a single person can decide to disable applications due to their own experience and bias, not understanding the possible value for employees. I see this often with things like Sway, Bookings, Forms or even decisions around file storage in Channel libraries versus SharePoint sites, or even things like CRM and TRIM.  It is challenging when a perspective that was perhaps based on bad advice steers the platform decisions.
Another common challenge is decisions to lock down sharing for the wrong reasons which then creates an obstacle for employees halting business process.
It is important we all have our eyes and ears open and assess what is best for each organisation and never be led by assumptions or just one voice.

This is the first in a 6-part series. Look out for more lessons to follow.

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