You might have heard about the new Fluid Framework that’s been in an early public preview since Q4 of 2019. In a nutshell, it’s a new technology and set of experiences that will make collaboration seamless between people of all disciplines by breaking down the barriers between apps in Microsoft 365. The Fluid Framework is on a journey to make work more adaptable, flexible and focused —no matter where the content is edited or shared it’s always connected. We have tried out this technology here at Microsoft to achieve a higher degree of remote collaboration.
Today I’d like to share a conversation I recently had with Ken Sadahiro from Microsoft Edge about how he’s been using Fluid Framework with his team while nearly everyone has had to transition to working remotely.
What started out as an experiment due to unusual circumstances has become a go-to experience that’s easy to use, feels inclusive, and saves everyone time.
Megan: Hey Ken, tell me how you and your team first started playing around with Fluid Framework.
Ken: Sure. With the workshop style we have run before, the team gathers notes and listens to presentations about user problems and writes down questions in the form of "How might we?”. We usually jot down ideas on sticky notes when we do a physical meeting, but with stay-at-home guidance, we couldn’t do that. We needed something that would give everyone an equal opportunity to collaborate. We decided to give Fluid Framework a shot and see how it works out.
Megan: So, how did you introduce Fluid Framework to the team to use during your workshop setting?
Ken: During the knowledge sharing part of the presentations, we shared this Fluid document with everyone so they could go ahead and start typing some "How might we" questions that came to mind as the presentations were happening. This is where we started, and then people organically started writing notes in real time.
Megan: How did this compare to other types of notetaking you normally do?
Ken: We usually do this exercise with sticky notes on a whiteboard and then capture everything in a digital document afterward. That takes a lot of time. Instead of sticky notes, we were able to keep everything in one place using the Fluid Framework document.
Megan: Was it an issue having people coauthoring simultaneously?
Ken: We had at least a dozen people contributing ideas simultaneously in the Fluid Framework. Even if someone was typing over here, others could see it happening, so the next person could start typing on the next line. It was super-fast and fluid without any syncing issues.
Megan: Were there any remote meeting issues that came up? If so, how did you solve for them?
Ken: We did an exercise called “brainwriting.” It’s a sort of group-based brainstorming mechanism that solves a common problem in brainstorming meetings where usually it's just one conversation at a time, the dominant person takes over, and the people who are shy or introverted may not get their ideas across. Brainwriting is brainstorming in parallel in a collaborative way. It's designed in such a way that participants are encouraged to turn off their mental filters and build on other people's ideas. Everyone is given a problem they need to go generate three ideas on, and then pass it on to the next person.
Instead of doing this in person, I was able to have several Fluid files with tables made ahead of time and say to four people, “Go work on this question.” And they would all just coedit at the same time in their own table. There was no paper shuffling. The other nice thing about Fluid is, say someone is editing at the top of the page, but you're at the bottom of the page, there's no automatic scrolling, so you don't have to worry about other people taking over the focus of the page.
Megan: Do you think you’ll continue using Fluid Framework for your brainstorming sessions?
Ken: we'll probably just do this virtually from now on in Fluid Framework because it just will save us so much time—even if we’re in the same conference room. This is going to be a lifesaver.
Megan: Is there a long-term value of Fluid Framework to your team?
Ken: The fact that we incorporated a lot of people's ideas, especially in this type of brainstorming, gave us confidence that there's a whole wealth of ideas here captured and saved in one place. That gives us a really good way to recontextualize and build on that. If we need to reference anything again in the future, each Fluid document is searchable. This gives a more accurate representation of everyone's original content, ideas, and intentions.
We are excited about the potential of Fluid Framework to facilitate and streamline team collaboration across apps, environments, and locations. Try the Fluid Framework Preview today at FluidPreview.com and stay tuned for future integrations across Microsoft 365!
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