Enterprise empathy

There has been a fair amount of talk about the ills of Microsoft Teams and Office365 on the Twitters these last couple of days and like Vicky said it is starting to smack a bit of digital privilege and honestly is coming across as a bit blinkered.

Look personally I find both Teams and O365 a struggle. I am well and truly in the Slack and Google Docs camp….but it isn’t like either of those are perfect either.

I think the strongest advocates for Google over MS are either under playing the extent of the disruption that move can cause or maybe are a bit too enamoured of disruption in general. There is no doubt that Google Docs/Sheets/Slides are far superior tools for collaboration and sharing but the formatting options on all of them is weak, the ‘suggesting’ option isn’t as useful as track changes and god knows that document and access management in ‘Drive’ is a shambles. Also for anyone who has never used Gmail before its clear benefits to us are totally invisible and again it seems bizarre.

As for Excel vs Sheets? Come on!

The reality is that these Microsoft tools are prevalent and spreading so instead of spitting in the wind I have decided it is time to learn how to get the best out of them. If some of it – as is so often stated – is an installation issue then I want to understand what good looks like and how we can help clients get there. I want to understand what tricks there are to wring every bit of usability out of the tools and what are the red lines where we should just not push and tweak our ways of working instead. How can we leverage these tools to support the cultural change we want to see rather than wasting energy arguing for our tools.

To be honest if the future of work we are advocating can’t cope with some clumsy enterprise clones of popular products we are probably done for anyway.

Unusually for him (sorry mate – just kidding!) Mr Briggs had a sensible and balanced contribution to the ‘debate’ –>

..but even this I think is risky. We already have too many occasions of places where there are ‘haves and have nots’. Teams with more freedom. Individuals using their own devices when others are not permitted. Shadow systems. As for BYOD I’m not really sure I’m convinced that the majority of people want this. It is just another way for their work life to invade their personal.

So I’m not saying we should stop advocating for the ‘better’ tools. I’m always going to push for Slack, Trello, Google Docs etc (though I’m warming to Notion!) but we should be ready, willing and able to make the most of the Microsoft ecosystem (or whatever – well not Lotus!) as well in support of our broader goals.


2 responses to “Enterprise empathy”

  1. Yeah, important topic. Bringing in new tools always seems to be driven by a dedicated individual who wants change for some reason. In a loose-hierarchy org, it’s usually someone who has seen a tool in use somewhere else and likes using it. In a bigger, more structured org, it’s more likely to be a more senior person being influences by a well-oiled sales team…

    But in either case, the incentives for the person matter a lot – just because one person likes it doesn’t mean others will. Or if they do, does the tool fit with the way the team works? Or the culture of the group? (I’m sure we’ve become less sociable as a result of using Slack, as we use screens to chit chat more…)

    So it can be easy to maintain a bit of a cult about new tools, but probably just because we get so excited by the new and shiny thing, and we forget to slow down, consider the pros and cons more fully, and explain them in a reasoned way. A lot of the time, we’re not looking for new tools, but new working culture, and that comination of rapidly changing interfaces, as well as expectations, can set up a lot of divide in people – if not done carefully and empathetically.

    What does ‘better’ mean – and how much of it relies on people rather than technology?

  2. As much as I love the freedom to work with others on Google Docs I will always go back to Excel and Powerpoint for “real work”. Not least because Sheets doesn’t seem to have a particularly sensible understanding of how much memory a browser tab is supposed to consume.

    There doesn’t seem to be an ideal solution so I can see myself continuing to use a range of products for different tasks. Which obviously isn’t ideal for organisational consistency.

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