Mini-review SharePoint Saturday Leicester 2019

The sun breaking through the fog at Leicester Racecourse

At just after 5am on Saturday, I was getting up for the drive to Leicester, to my first Midlands-based SharePoint Saturday in probably 5 years. I arrived at the fog-bound Leicester Racecourse in plenty of time for the 8.45am start.

In some respects, having a SharePoint event barely a week after the massive Ignite conference in Florida is a good thing, and there was a lot of news to discuss. Conversely, there’s not necessarily enough time to really get to grips with the multitude of announcements from Microsoft. This, perhaps, led to a rather muted if informative keynote.

My first session was a healthy reintroduction to the SharePoint Framework or SPFx, the set of tools to develop in SharePoint Online and, likely, a lot of future interaction in Office 365. Bill Ayers is a stalwart of the SPS scene and packed a lot of details in.

Secondly, Steve Dalby talked agile and MS Teams. For me, it leaned too much towards agile, rather than agile collaboration.

Leading up to lunch, Jarbas Horst talked about Site Designs and Site Scripting, valuable tools for employing consistent design, and consistent sites as rolled out through SharePoint.

Another issue for large deployments of SharePoint is how to manage the rapidly-developing SharePoint Framework. Yannick Borghmans discussed Mastering SPFx in Larger Projects and provided some useful context to make the notion feel a little more practical.

Chris Hoard, discussing MS Teams and security, provided the stand-out talk of the day. Not only there were some practical admin tips for Teams, but solid principles and handy details.

The sessions were rounded off by another excellent talk from Martin Hatch on SPFx, App Insights and Stream Analytics. He covered a broad range of what’s possible in recording activities into what tools, and then collating them with Power BI.

This was probably one of the most consistently good SPS events I’ve been to, and well worth the driving necessary to get there and home again. Thank you to all the presenters, volunteers, and sponsors.

On reflection, the event was more technical than the SPS London event held at City Hall this summer, with fewer sessions on intranets, adoption and change. I’m not going to begrudge this, but certainly think a broader approach could bring a wider audience.

Every thing we do…

Two quotes from tweets have really got me thinking this week, and reminded me of a quote from Karen McGrane that is never far from my thoughts.

The first was this from Simon Rohrbach’s talk to the Leading Design conference about joining, building and leaving a company.

Having confidence in the business makes everything else easier

Simon Rohrbach

In some ways “having confidence in the business makes everything else easier” feels like a truism. When there’s confidence, uphill slopes feel flatter, minor irritations are quickly forgotten, and people know the work they’re doing has a direct impact on the way the business works.

While I’m never going to suggest that internal comms needs to sell false confidence, it has an important role in stitching together a coherent story from what the business actually does. Confidence has to be built up through communication and co-operation with leadership, the people who sell the business, the people who do, and the people who train.

In short, I see this as being about changing people, which brings me to this tweet by Bruce McTague.

I find it unsettling how many people in the organizational change business do not actually believe in people

Bruce McTague The decision to invest in a person

Bruce was writing about “the decision to invest in a person” over the course of that person’s employment with a company. What chimed with me in the words “how many people…do not actually believe in people” were the times that compliance, HR, IT and other functions treated colleagues as something the business needed to protect itself from, rather than as Bruce says Truly lasting change & organization effect is within people themselves.

Which brings me to something I find myself quoting month-in, month-out. I’ll always picture mid-renovation London Bridge Station on a grey wet autumn morning, dodging between puddles in spite of being under cover, and trying to find a dry spot out of the way of the trudging crowds, so I could rewind and replay what I’d just heard.

Every thing we do is change management

Karen McGrane IA Summit Closing Keynote

My initial reaction would have been a defensive “no it’s not, don’t be stupid”, but there was something so compelling that grabbed me. So I took myself aside and there in the dripping, dark station played it back.

Karen said:
The longer I do this, the more I realize every thing we do is change management. Every single thing we do. Our whole job. Our whole career. Every single one of you, your whole career is change management.

More than the idea of change management, it was Karen’s use of “every thing” that hit me. I had an “turtles all the way down” moment.

Change management could be as simple as helping people use our websites or services effectively, to get better at using them.

It could mean helping our users understand the tools we give them, the technology they use, the language we use, and it can mean helping them to help others manage the second, third or fourth degree of that change.

It could mean helping colleagues, bosses, leaders, stakeholders understand better ways of doing things, and to get better at doing work, learning from that, and feeding back into the work we do.

No change without people
No people without confidence

Particularly in the digital workplace, every thing we do is change management. We need our fellow employees to accept that things are going to be a little different tomorrow than they were yesterday. Without engaging them as people, we can’t give them the confidence that we believe in them, and the confidence that participating in that change is going to benefit them.