For those that ask you about Microsoft Teams vs. Yammer


It's all about transparency. IMHO, this is the single most important way to describe these "spaces."


open or invite.jpg

Nice - I like the analogy to the physical world!

Ah now. Great visual for explaining the difference. Well done Chris. Smiley Happy

@Chris Slemp Love it!  Two thoughts/questions:


1) Transparency - I get your point -- particularly when you amplify/qualify it towards 'inclusive' but 'transprency' also tends to mean 'candid' 'not hiding' (in an audit or compliance sense) rather than 'collabortive', 'open to exploration, 'inclusive'.  So as the SINGLE hook to hang the whole difference on it has that meaning issue?


2) common conference room (in your images) - I get that for visual impact its useful to have everything else the same in the images except the glass vs solid walls but isn't the glass-walled conference room only semi-inclusive -- you still have to go through the door!  It also might make it seem that an enterprise chooses one or the other 'style' exclusively.


What I'm trying to figure out for my company is how to activate BOTH places on a daily basis.  So for us Yammer is more like one of these...

gather space.jpgopen books and couches.jpgcouches and swings.jpg

an occassional gathering place in which you discover, discuss, share about topics not necessarily on the 'agenda' with people not necessarily on the 'team' (a 'conference room' tends to imply both an agenda and an invite list)

also oddly and interestingly, when I did a search for informal learning/gathering images and started with 'open plan workspace' the first things up are all NEGATIVE!


which might actually be a factor to some of the pushback to Yammer et al.  That is, their very 'transparency' and 'openess' is an impediment.  Hence the move to limit Yammer or locate it as one of a number of places where one can be during work that have different degrees of 'transparency'.  One is not really choosing to 'work outloud' all the time, just some of the time! And one is choosing to whom to be 'outloud' as well. 


[this brings to mind a large and very old pension/investment firm in Europe whose offices were completely open plan.  The cubes were usually half empty, the conference rooms (both solid- and glass-walled ones:) were always full and the cafeteria (which was gorgeously designed with couches, huddle areas, nooks, high tables, low tables and chairs etc.) was packed around the clock...)

Good distinction between being willing to share vs. willing to collaborate. I've sometimes used the "inclusive/exclusive" distinction instead. It depends on the audience.

Ultimately, the company has to find the right fit for their culture with regard to how to introduce this more transparent / inclusive way of working. The larger the organization, the more fearful they are of transparency and the longer and more gradual the shift will be. I'm personally not a fan of positioning Yammer as this "casual gathering place" only because it puts you on the slower path to doing actual work in the open, which is where the more concrete business value is to be realized. But... if it's what your culture will embrace, it's a good first step.

BTW, a recent post from the folks at The Ready about transparency:

Thanks for the link.  Interesting.  But it depends on whether one is trying to get everyone to work on everything in the 'open' all the time.  And on 'open' to whom. And whether or not one needs to change people's willingness generally to work 'openly' (once one has defined what that even means).


I think the impediments to 'openess' are much more complicated than the fear of being reprimanded (as seems to be the point of view of the author you linked to).  I certainly don't view Yammer as training wheels for learning to be some level of 'open'.  But this is getting pretty far afield of the original topic...

For us, the key question is 'Can I see what the conversations and groups that i might want to be a part of are?' With Yammer, the answer is Yes, hence its transparent and I can choose to get involved or not. With Microsoft Teams, my fear is that someone can set up a new team, with a few people that I am not part of, and I may never know that team even exists. I could therefore set up a new Team, with slightly different people, that no-one else would know about, and there would a be large proliferation of Teams and team Sites.


As a Sharepoint Admin, I can control somewhat the creation of new Sites, and I know that due to permissions, other people will not see many of the created sites. I do have a concern with teams that they will be created and discarded with little or no governance; a bit like finding out a week later that there was an important meeting that you should have been at, but someone forgot to invite you. Are my concerns justified?

Absolutely. I would assume that Microsoft is looking into allowing for the discovery of existing Teams/groups, even if not necessarily the conversations inside them. But yes, this is certainly an issue, and so we're consulting our clients to develop strategies for visible "launches" of high-level Teams in order to get in front of that proliferation quickly.

Two thoughts, one very abstract and the other very practical:


1) we are longtime users of Yammer (well before acquisition) and as we were desparate for an ANYTHING-other-than-email way to communicate we ended up using Yammer for a fair number of private* groups (less than 10% but still significant).  I think that was good and appropriate.  I think that we will create fewer and fewer going forward as the use-case for Teams and Outlook Groups becomes clearer.  But I think without the possibility of narrowing the recipients -- since email was the baseline for EVERYBODY where you STRICTLY control who sees what -- I think our Yammer pickup would have been materially slowed.  So even today I'm not sure I sign up for the 'Yammer=Transparent' formula but rather 'Yammer=TENDS toward the transparent'.  Particularly given MS's attempt to 'open up' Outlook through encouraging Outlook Groups to be 'public'. So add that in and I'd get something like


  • Yammer = tends toward Transparent but with some ways to be less so
  • Outlook = tends towards closed but with some emerging ways to be more open/transparent
  • Teams = tends toward openess WITHIN a defined Team even given changes to membership (ie, new members see everything from before and can 'transparently' catch up (UNLIKE with email DLs) BUT tends towards closed OUTSIDE the defined team


Not very snappy but more accurate in my view.


2) doesn't the new Groups creation process bring up existing Groups (whether created in Outlook Groups, Teams or Yammer) on a keystroke by keystroke basis? Presumably it will do so in Yammer as well once the groups-as-service shows up.  So at least there is some chance to alert a group creator that some group named like the one that is about to be created might already exist.  Not at all foolproof but perhaps a practical start?


* in my role I have a fairly broad purview from a business perspective, not just technical.  I believe that there are some number of collections of people-around-activities that need for actual business reasons (not just resistance to change and refusal to collaborate) need to be private.  It may be that these groups in the future will gravitate towards Teams and Outlook Groups as both of these 'places' TEND to more limited membership and that seems fine if it happens.  IF that happens it will confirm the clarity of Yammer as transparent-knowledge-exchange place.  If one believes that everybody should work 'out loud' ALL the time and that all opaquenss is bad then (I don't fwiw)... Teams and non-public Outlook Groups will continue to represent enterprise failure to rise to the new paradigm...

Hi Chris,


Probably arguing a smaller point, but my interpretation of ' Yammer tends towards transparent', would suggest that a fairly substantial proportion isn't. Similarly with 'Outlooks tends to be private' would suggest that a fairly substantial proportion is transparent. These don't sit well with me. I think I would use stronger terminology such as 'Yammer is predominantly transparent' and 'Outlook is predominantly private'. 


Your thoughts?

You're probably right, although your calibration change (predominant for tends toward) probably points more to the distinction between a comparative table that is describing actual usage in one enterprise vs one that is trying to describe potential usage across all enterprises.

In our enterprise there are a fair number of (probably more than normal) private groups.
Btw, in our own small working group charged with articulating how all this stuff fits together and why you'd one place over another, I am about to 'ban' the use of the word 'transparency' unless used with a modifier such as 'enterprise' or 'defined set of people'(!)

For instance, Yammer gets high marks for 'transparency across the enterprise'. Teams gets very high marks for 'transparency within a defined set of people' but much lower marks for enterprise. Outlook email by definition can never be transparent across enterprise but Microsoft is trying to create little gardens of transparency within it with Groups. And so on...

For our enterprise at least, I no longer find a raw transparency score all that useful as a way to guide actual choice.

Totally agree, it's the integration that has caught my eye, not the farily small differences in message approaches. Many users find Office 365 confusing and it's difficult to train people on. I can actually imagine staff using it with minimal training.

I use "transparency" deliberately because that's the foundational philosophy that drove Yammer's design - it was built specifically for organizations that want to embrace a different kind of culture. If your org isn't really there, you can still get lots of benefit from Yammer of course. But as you suggest, changing your positioning might help. Perhaps "circles of trust"? In working with one team that insisted on the need for private groups, I continued to press with a few layers of "why" to get them to the real issue: there is a specific division of the company that they simply don't trust with their sensitive information. That's kind of sad, in my opinion, and is a finding worth its own intervention, but that's the reality that has to be faced. There are of course other cases where it isn't about trust (e.g. consulting agencies, regulated industries, etc.), but it's important to identify if there is a trust issue involved and either resolve or acknowledge it.

Makes a lot of sense.  No doubt there are many (most?) demands for 'privacy' that are symptoms of a lack of trust and that in those cases it's worth the effort to use the banner of transparency as a tool to get at the hidden root-cause of distrust.  But there are at least three other situations that do NOT have distrust as their root cause where a broad mandate to 'be transparent' everywhere and all the time can be counter-productive:


1-Focus on what you can influence - there are many circumstances in companies with a positive culture (where there is a high level of trust and a high willingness to share, for instance) where being able to focus and LIMIT what one sees/hears not related to the work at hand is a big POSITIVE -- is a leading practice, etc.  So how does the generalized and broad notion of transparency apply here once one has set up 'transparency' as a mom and apple pie bit of goodness.  By focusing is out team NOT being transparent? if we don't want to be seen as 'bad' do we then have to do things NOT related to the work at hand -- and perhaps even harming the focus and effectiveness of that work -- to be seen as being 'transparent' (since that has bee set up as a universal good).


2-handling the truth (being equipped to take data and turn it into information) - there is still a fair amount of work in most enterprises that can be done well and joyfully with well less than full exposure to all information in the enterprise.  Where individual practitioners are not equipped or not yet equipped or didn't sign up for understanding the context for any bit of data from an enterprise that might cross their path in a fully transparent enterprise.  For this kind of work 'transparency' can easily becomes 'noise' and an unintended consequence is that practitioners cut themselves off from ALL other knowledge because the mass is too daunting.


3-need to know - there really are still in many enterprises areas where their are legal, intellectual property or commercial reasons for circumscribing access to some information.  To set up a values systems that treats ANY such opaqueness as 'bad' can set up all sorts of unintended consequences.


In none of those is a blanket drive towards transparency a helfpul tool and can turn into a 'if I've got a hammer then all the world...'


I still think one needs a place modifer for 'transparency' to get to a goodness score.  There are many topics or knowledge areas where transparency across the enterprise is a full good.  But there are many interactions INSIDE a team or organiational unit or or 'circle of trust' or whatever-smaller-than-enteprise where a promise of transparency INSIDE THE TEAM leads to good behavior but where an expectation of enterprise transparency might lead to stifling a conversation, stilting the discourse, harming the flow (precisely because the minute-to-minute effort to be enteprise-transparency-worthy is too high!)



Yammer is network centric and Teams is group centric to me. Next to network centric working together Yammer also enables building personal social networks, the so-called weak ties which are key to knowledge sharing. Teams, Slack etc won't deliver that.


This slide is part of a presentation called 'The bigger picture of becoming a connected company' that I use with my clients when I talk about how to transform an company into a more connected company. If I needed to plot MS Teams in this visual I would plot it only in the Work Teams circle where as I would plot Yammer I would plot it in all three circles.  But it depends on the organization, it's culture and appetite to change current way of working which tool fits best to the situation. 


2016 U+M_Connected Company_Timesaver_Master (5).jpg

Chris, I'm enjoying this side-conversation to the orginal thread so much that I don't want to try and branch it off :) 


  1. It's certainly laudable to encourage focus on one's own span of possible control. Many, like myself, that have trouble staying focused find that Yammer enables their sporadic tendencies if it's not handled right. Having said that, there are two assumptions being made here: 
    • You know what you should influence. Just as openly sharing removes the assumptions about who can help you, browsing through openly shared conversations removes assumptions about where you can be helpful. The trick is not making that "helpful mode" take over your day, which brings me to the 2nd assumption...
    • Many, many people use Yammer "upside down." No fault of theirs, as I think it's kind of designed upside down for my tastes. I find that if I'm working from the Inbox first, then "walk" my most-used groups in my left nav (which are my critical projects, of course), then I rarely have time to get to the more potentially distracting home feed. Too many people just kill time on their home feed as if they're supposed to use Yammer like they do Facebook. I *rarely* use it that way, though it's quite powerful when I do.
  2. In my experience, this mostly comes from people not being careful what groups they join. You really don't have to sign up for a fire hose if you don't want to. 
  3. Totally agree. I just think we need more clarity (see how I dodged transparency there?) on which type of information is which. If we're super clear that project X is out of bounds for Group ABC for legal / ethical / whatever reasons, then there's no issues, and employees are all too happy to be excluded.

I'm convinced we remain in violent agreement on the core principles here, Chris. We just happen to be on different ends of the spectrum in this push/pull shift that we're seeing wash over one industry after another. The more regulated and high-risk industries are going to be slower, as they are with every sea change that comes. That's perfectly OK, as their caution keeps us grounded, keeps us from getting... stupid. 


...A perfect queue for this week's release of the "Circle" trailer :) 

Most execllent! 


This at least allows one to begin to answer (diagramatically at least) the question of 'work outloud' to whom? (or as in the transparency interaction -- 'transparent where, to whom?'


I think the enemy is the model (email, call, txt) where I am choosing the receptors interaction by interaction because that is a system that HAS TO shrink the circle and hide the content.  So ANY place that is setup to let me 'work outloud' to at least SOME group that is not exclusively of my choosing at that moment is GOOD.  That's why I think it's 'Yammer + Teams + Outlook Groups' rather than 'vs'.  That's also why I think that a place that lets you work out loud to a defined group even if it is only to that defined group is GOOD in and of itself.  That is not that Teams is half as good as Yammer because it isn't out working out loud to everybody.  Teams is not Yammer on training wheels but rather it is a place that makes working out loud possible rather than impossible.  


My ideal is not continuing 'transarency' of every place but rather having practitioners who know enough to make choices everyday about how and where they spend their time.  In my ideal world each practitioner spends some time everyday in Yammer, some in Teams and maybe even a little bit in Outlook Groups -- because in all three I can practice and gain the benefits of 'working out loud' but with the right acoustics.

Hi @Chris Shaida


I fully agree with your statement: "In my ideal world each practitioner spends some time everyday in Yammer, some in Teams and maybe even a little bit in Outlook Groups -- because in all three I can practice and gain the benefits of 'working out loud' but with the right acoustics.", but it is also a bit sad that we need our people to know how to use 3 different interfaces, right?


We use a combo of Yammer and Teams, but I must admit that the dominant reason we're using Teams is because of the phone/screen-sharing features (which are awesome). It would be great to have these features available within the Yammer interface since the vast majority of what we do is open to everyone within the company (and therefore Yammer is the best starting point for us).


Also - I've been reflecting on one of your previous comments about 'focus', and that this could be an argument against transparency / working-out-loud. My perspective is that you don't know what other people might find useful, so unless you're working on something that really warrants privacy, you'd be better off with transparency, and then let people who need to focus use Yammer as a 'pull' system where they go to explore. As @Chris Slemp points out, carefully choosing which groups you join can really help block out noise.

@Cai Kjaer wrote:


I fully agree with your statement: "In my ideal world each practitioner spends some time everyday in Yammer, some in Teams and maybe even a little bit in Outlook Groups -- because in all three I can practice and gain the benefits of 'working out loud' but with the right acoustics.", but it is also a bit sad that we need our people to know how to use 3 different interfaces, right?


We use a combo of Yammer and Teams, but I must admit that the dominant reason we're using Teams is because of the phone/screen-sharing features (which are awesome). It would be great to have these features available within the Yammer interface since the vast majority of what we do is open to everyone within the company (and therefore Yammer is the best starting point for us).


[end quote - can't get the quote format to turn off]



Agree on end user confusion about multiple tools and multiple interfaces...


Is teams Screen sharing and different or easier than Skype, or don't you use Skype. I am surprised Skype does not come up in this thread more.


There's a fabulous line from a Wallace Stevens poem 'whatever is, is good/the utmost must be good...'  I don't exacly known what that means but I am just tired of all of the 'if only microsoft...' 'microsoft should...' I am just trying to make utmost use of what's actually there (and what seems likely to actually come soon) rather than spend MY energy (or the energy of my enterprise) on microsoft regret. whew!


So to but it is also a bit sad that we need our people to know how to use 3 different interfaces, right?  My answer is 'no, I don't find it sad.'  Partly because MS chosen NOT to augment Yammer with Team-like features but has instead chosen to have Teams as separate (but infrastructure-connected) place [see above]; and partly because I actually think MS has done that because of what's happening in the broader zetigeist -- that is, everywhere outside of the white collar business world there is a proliferation of tools/apps/places; millenials are USED TO going to multiple places and to using multiple tools.  But those of us who grew up professionally with an incredibly stable set of 'tools' (outlook, word, excel, ppt) seem to lead with 'why another tool (sigh)!' even if that person thinks it's perfectly fine to use facebook, linkedin, pinterest, instagram, whatapps, etc etc...


So MS seems to have decided that Yammer will survive as long as it can survive as the 'place' to go inside an enterprise when you're in the mood to engage about broad and enduring topics with as wide a community as possible; that Teams will allow working-out-loud within a defined circle focused on shared, structured work; and Outlook groups will aloow a bit of working-out-loud for those who generally love them their emails.


I'm ok with that and my goal is not to be 'sad' about the multiple places thing--partly because I'm betting that the consistently expressed ties from each place back to files, notes, etc with end up being the glue that makes people think of these places as coherent rather than disparate.  But we'll see.  Perhaps sadness will ensue anyway and you can say 'I told you so!:) 

and @Rob O'Keefe fwiw and further to the above 'expression/manifesto:)' we're not particularly worried about Skype popping up in a bunch of places because we no longer think of Skype as a 'place' but rather as a 'tool' -- like a mobile phone -- that gets carried around from place to place and used whenever we need to have a video interaction.  But again, I am only speaking for our enterprise and not for anybody else's.

one last comment on 'sadness' as it relates to our changing relationship to apps, integrations, proximity driven by amazon, facebook, google search etc. - 


at first I was thrilled that mobile Outlook had Calendar INSIDE it (because I was used to that 'integration' from years of desktop habits).  But in actual use now I find it a daily/hourly annoyance to have to do those extra two clicks in those instances when ALL I want to is to look at my calendar!


old dogs, new...

@Chris Shaida -- even though I quoted the bit about three different interfaces, I do appreciate and agree with what you just wrote. I am not feeling "sad" but more just trying to sort out what works for our organization. I am glad microsoft is moving in multiple directions at once and seeing what sticks. I am optimistic about Teams (and wanted a persistent group chat), but we haven't started using it yet.


Thanks for sharing here, its very helpful,


Hi Chris, 


For personal usage you are totally right that people don't care different user experiences but from a company who's business it is to deliver software tools which improve personal and team productivity I am expecting a bit more. 


It's feels like Microsoft is playing catchup in the market of collaboration/enterprise social and is not driving this space. It might be the case that they are still struggling to find ways how the revenue streams of Office/Outlook (2013 data >>> The Business (Office) division brings in significantly more money than the Windows division (+30% revenue, +70% profit). In fact, nearly half of Microsoft’s 2013 profits came from the Business division alone. source: As a mitigation strategy for new players in the market they eather buy them (Yammer) or build a competing product (MS teams as an answer to Slack).  


That's why for example IBM has an interesting proposition of a fully integrated suite of collaboration and networking features (IBM connections:  as they have no fested interest e.g. like MS Office which is potentially canabilized). The challenge of IBM is that for users the platform is overwhelmingly rich of features. Without a good introduction program/change enablement activities this could lead to a low level of adaption the way of working to the full potential.


By the way, I think that the whole discussion around the future way of working/collaboration/social networking (whatever you wanna call it) is dominated to much by the tool vendors and to little by people who know how to create lasting business change. In my perspective the biggest challenge are not the tools but to change behaviour and mindsets of people to better collaborate, learn and share knowledge. But sadly enough most organisation/it departments keep trowing tools to their employees instead of beginning to fundamentally rethink how to work together in a networked age



Couldn't agree more on the trap of thinking about tools first. Our agency always leads with business problems and rethinking communication flow.

but what place is THIS a metaphor for in the MS ecosystem? :)



As an outsider whose small company has only just started exploring the different tools (and places!) in Office 365 I found this discussion fascinating and enlightening.  I finally feel like I have an understanding of the use case for various options.  And while I realize that transparency and breaking down silos has been an important goal for many larger enterprises, I appreciate the acknowledgment that this isn't always appropriate for everyone.  As someone who works in an industry where the move has been away from transparency rather than to it, I'd benefit from a discussion of what tools your organizations use for those situations.


For example, say your company is considering an acquisition.  Typically that would involve the appropriate team at the organization along with upper management, an investment bank, consultants, and the right people at the target company.  The parties would benefit from a common place in which to communicate, share and collaborate on documents, but with strict permissions on who can see what.  In my experience the default for such collaboration work is still email, with all the problems that brings.  Both Yammer and Teams seem like they would be a good option, but teams for the moment is limited to people in your organization, and Yammer's default transparency is concerning when someone seeing the wrong thing can have monetary or legal consequences.  

I've found that having these 3 systems is great for controlling my team's message. Especially in a product driven world you want to make sure the message to other teams is always polished before it goes out.


Teams: FAST, very short messages back and forth in real-time between a small tightly knit group. This is great because no one else can see your communication (Teams is invite only right now) and it isn't bogged down by waiting for a sync from Exchange and avoiding the complexity and lack of readability of heavily threaded conversations. You also don't have to worry about certain formalities like who you are sending the conversation to, whether you need a formal signature or structure to your message. This is just like chatting with your buddies in Google Hangouts, FB Chat, WeChat, etc.


Conversations: Your traditional mail experience. Use this for making announcements and serving as an inbox where people from outside your team can communicate with you. This is your new team mailbox with some extra features.


Yammer: You want to make a big announcement to the company, want to collect feedback during a live event or are conducting informal polls/collecting social sentiment about an idea. These are also typically far less sensitive conversations in nature than the two above.


We've got some content on Groups ranging from Blogs to Live Webinars with the Office teams here: 

I found I needed a trailing slash to make the URL work --

Interesting infographic. Not sure I agree 100% on the "Tone" breakdown but overall a nice way to present the options.
Related Conversations
Teams error code - 6
damnit95 in Office 365 on
4 Replies
List of all Edge URLs
HotCakeX in Discussions on
6 Replies
Stable version of Edge insider browser
HotCakeX in Discussions on
35 Replies
Sharing a Teams Calendar
Michael Krueger in Microsoft Teams on
16 Replies