Realising what we take for granted


I know I am lucky. I work at Microsoft and live the "work is what you do, not where you go" dream (I'm writing this message from the back deck of my house on a lovely sunny autumn day in Brisbane - 30 degrees c, last week was Canberra, the week before was Singapore).


But I am always wary that there are many people out there that do not have it so good. I am a member of the Adoption & Change Management practice in Microsoft and we work with clients everyday on adopting new ways of working, enabled by modern technology. We are out there onsite working with our clients to design, deliver and adopt great, productive experiences for their workforce and customers. But every now and again I have to be careful of the assumptions that can be made when walking into a new workspace. We all know what happens when you assume?


A couple of months ago I started an engagement with a government department helping design their adoption strategy for Office 365. I had to be checked in at reception by a fulltime member of staff and was then taken down a level into an open plan work area and shown to a desk in an are marked as "UAT". I politely set up and was settling in when I asked "Do you have guest wifi?". (You can see where this is going.)


My chaperone then politely apologised and answered that they do not have wifi in this area, or anywhere else in the building. I would not be able to connect to the network as currently everyone had to plug in the "blue cable". So I quickly had to recalibrate, apologise for my assumptions and tether to my mobile phone.


Needless to say that "mobility" and being able to "work from anywhere" featured highly in the scenarios that people were eager to embrace and leverage.


This reinforced in me the need to fully understand (and appreciate) the past and current state of a workplace, before you can begin to design the transition and future states.


I'm interested to hear when your assumptions have needed to be modified and how big some of the changes have had to be to move from current state, through transition state, to future state? 

2 Replies

Hi @Cory Banks. Thanks for sharing that story. It sounds like you discovered your assumption in the best way, through experiencing the client’s environment. That in turn, motivated the “work from anywhere” scenario in your adoption project. 

I think we can all learn a lot from working alongside the people we are about to help.


This gives me an idea for an approach to adoption project work, if the client allows it. At Adopt & Embrace, we either work in co-working spaces, from home or from client’s work places. Like many consultants, we don’t start visiting the client site till we are also starting the project. 

But what if we started the discovery phase early by co-working from our client’s environment. We could be working on something quite unrelated to the client’s project, going about our usual day. But by being embedded in their environment, we begin to get a feel for the culture. Through side discussions and informal chats, we start to hear stories of work life in our client’s environment. What an invaluable perspective. Using our “work from anywhere” tools, we just get on with our regular work and don’t even need to consider it as a chargeable exercise. When we finally start the discovery phase of the project, we have already been discovering the environment, culture and challenges. We have potentially gained trust from the people we are about to help, identified champions that will play an important role in our adoption project. 


Great insights, @Darrell Webster & @Cory Banks!


I am reminded of the need to put our adoption rollout plans into context with every client we work with. Particularly, "old school" clients who may not be using collaboration tools. For instance, we work with folks in the forestry or heavy equipment industry. In these kind of cases, it is important, in my perspective, to understand their current state and design a rollout strategy that would be a good fit for them in collaboration with IT.  (IT Teams need to be onboard before anyone else as they will need to support the technologies implemented and they will be the ones answering questions after the adoption team leaves.)  I can go on forever about this and would be pleased to jump in a call to discuss further if you'd like!


Cheers, Agustin