SOLVED

For those that ask you about Microsoft Teams vs. Yammer

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Regular Contributor

Here's my first take, which will likely evolve the more I play with Teams. https://medium.com/@cslemp/how-to-choose-between-microsoft-teams-yammer-and-outlook-1c4b37ac4eb7#.ox...

 

teamsyamemroutlook.png

 

 

Discuss...

 

 

 

83 Replies

Hi Melanie, 

 

I totally agree with you. What makes Yammer so powerful is the ability to 'bump' into new people through open conversation. We've researched this and Yammer really fostered new cross-organisational connections whereas email and instant messaging was mostly happening within existing organisational hierarchies. I think Microsoft Teams will predominantly foster stronger internal teams, but will not be a tool that creates stronger cross-organisational linkages. Both have ROI though so I am not saying the Teams is bad and Yammer is good. You just really need to know what you're trying to achieve.

First, great to see this discussion here about the various tools and how people work together.

 

Now I was initially sceptical about MS Teams. ‘What? Another set of tools for collaboration?’

 

But what has impressed me most so far is the unified user interface and being able to add in SharePoint, Planner and others. There is far less jumping around new browser windows/tabs and the user experience is far simpler and cleaner. Office 365 Groups had that potential but the user interface was too disjointed.

 

That unified interface to me is the key. Bring users to one place for their team/project and have ‘most’ of their content available to them along with conversations/chat (email) and their calendars. It’s all about keeping it simple and Teams is going a good way towards that.

 

I am less fond of too much choice. It sounds good but in reality most people and organisations want to keep it simple and more choices only adds to that confusion which is what we see now with Yammer, Groups and now Teams.

@Chris Slemp I think email is not the dominant communication for kids till 18 years. They are all into FB messenger, Whatsapp, Snapchat etc. 

 

I think Office365 becomes more and more an App marketplace instead of an integrated collaboration suite. Feedback I get again and again is that customers don't understand it anymore. Everybody it talking about crushing organisational silo's but what we get is more and more technology silo's where one team is using an outlook group, another unit is working in Yammer, another team is working in Microsoft Teams, others are still working in those great Teamsites of Sharepoint and some dinosaur teams are working on network drives. There you go with becoming a more connected company.  

 

We need less tools and more behavioural change to become more connected inside our organisations

It might be too late to continue this interaction but we are having some success in explaining this by starting with the notion of Tools, Places and Infrastructure (the EXPLICIT addition of Places is to lay the ground work for the 'oh no, not another tool' objection as in "Now I was initially sceptical about MS Teams. ‘What? Another set of tools for collaboration?’ above)

 

Tool - to pick up to create/modify an artifact

Place - to go to interact with people or content

Infrastructure - to make it possible to use tools and go to places

 

and then mapping this to the actual O365 components:

  • Tool = Word, Excel, PPT, Project, Sway, OneNote
  • Place = Outlook (w Outlook Groups), Yammer, Teams, Delve, SharePoint Team Sites, Video Portal
  • Infrastructure = AAD, Groups, People, MS Graph, Discovery (or whatever the official name for the mechanics of finds artifacts and surfacing them thru Delve and through emerging add-in expereinces in some of the Tools)

What this can help with is understanding why there is an ongoing drive -- for lots of good reasons -- to have only ONE tool for each artifact type.  But also why there is a need to offer choice and overlap for Places -- because Places are more complicated things (by a mile) than Tools.  Because by definition a number of different things happen in a Place, not just one thing.  Because we sometimes go to Place A to do activity X ...but sometimes go to Place B to do Activity x(!).  A libary is a Place we go to primarily to interact with content (read books, magazines, do research but...WHILE THERE we may also talk to other people (in whispers!) -- we don't ONLY talk to people in cafes! And vice versa etc etc.

 

Microsoft, by having the ambition to move beyond 'personal productivity tools' (the 'classic' Office apps) to the much messier and less structured world of people interacting with each other and with varaible content is going to end up with more complex components!?!

 

So for us we are evolving something like the following

 

Yammer is the Place to go to if I want to interact with content or people about an enduring topic or subject.  It is somehwat like the water cooler (or since we're in magical digit-land, like lots of water coolers and bulletin boards and company library and department content center).  I go there when I am in the MOOD to learn/share something about a topic or subject and/or if I hope to learn/share something about what other people are 'talking' about on adjacent topics or subjects.  I expect 'conversations' with others to be a BIG part of what happens around the 'water cooler'.

 

Teams is the Place to go to to do shared work with others, whether that's a formal 'project' or shared tasks.  That shared work will generally have a defined set of people, goal(s) and time frame.  It is somewhat like the team room (or since this is magical digital-land, like a long hallway with all of the team rooms that I'm supposed to be part of lined up right next to each other!).  I go there when I am in the MOOD to work on defined tasks that move a team towards that goal. and I expect to learn/share things that are germain to the goals of that team.  I expect 'conversations' with other team members to a BIG part of what happens in the 'team room.'

 

Outlook Groups is the (probably much smaller and less frequented) Place to check into for highly defined periodic interactions, probably with people with whom I have a defined organizational relationship and with whom I have a set of shared responsibilities.  [uh, we haven't gotten this far real-world metaphor wise? conference room? staff meeting?].  I do NOT expect 'conversations' to be a big part of what happens here and that the conversations that do happen will likely be primarily formal.

 

Outlook is the Place I go to to send/receive formal and static communications and to interact with anyone who isn't lucky enough to already interact with me around the water cooler and in team rooms.  I don't really expect that the 'conversations' I have in this place to be very interesting, or to have CONTENT in them that is of enduring use and I tend to avoid such conversations as much as possible!

 

While in any of those places whenever I need to actually work on an artifact I'd like to pick up the SAME trusty tools I'm used to -- for processing words, tabulating numbers, defining a formal project plan, taking notes, developing a presentation.  But while I want to use the same tools everywhere I recognize that the talking I do in those places has subtle but important differences -- I talk differently around the water cooler, the team room and in the staff meeting.

 

 

 

 

Because email hasn't been killed and lives on. As a number of poster above have noted what we are witnessing in real life is 'and' (facebook AND isntagram AND whatsapp) not 'or'. Microsoft is trying to learn from real life as well (I'm guessing/hoping).
I love the tool / place / infrastructure framework, Chris! Your pitches on the "places" will work for some and not others (e.g. for myself, the characterization of Yammer as a watercooler is so limiting), but I love how the framework sets up this kind of value statement. It's also interesting that some of these (SharePoint, Video...) are struggling to figure out if they're a tool or a place, or even infrastructure.

I like the Tools and Places analogy. What about Skype? I wish Skype (at least the IM part) and Teams were one and the same. Having two apps open both with messages flying at you can be very distracting. Are other people finding that?

In general 'place' is so much richer (good!) and more complicated (bad!).  Maybe you'll come up with a better place metaphor than 'water cooler' (I do think water cooler is at least better than 'bulletin board'!)?

 

I think we can sometimes get trapped in a framework:  tools are supposed to be straightforward and singular (reasonable); then everything's a 'tool' (hmmm?); then everything's supposed to be straightforward and singular (aargh!).  I don't hink MS is quite getting the messaging right to chalk it all up to 'choice'...

tool/place? I agree that some components either don't fit neatly or are actually struggling with their essential natures.

 

You'd kind of think that Skype is a 'place'  (that's certainly what Google thought when they created 'hangouts' -- they thought that it might turn into a virtual for-hours-of-the-day video congregation place.  it seems that some people did/do use it that way but it's pretty clear that that hasn't really caught on.)  But it seems in lots of organizations and communities its really a 'tool' to very intentionally call someone or join a defined call.  It hasn't coalesced into a 'place' to poke around or hangout:)  btw, I think the interface for video INSIDE Teams isquite alluring, one less click here, one less there...

 

I think the 'gray area' components include Skype, People, Calendar. 

Hi Chris, 

 

Love this discussion about space, tool and infrastructure.

 

Perhaps 'places' could be characterised as either 'open' or 'by invitation only'?

 

Building on your analogy the library is open for all (Yammer), but a family reunion at my place is only for special people (Microsoft Teams).

 

Anyway - your post was a really great catalyst for reflection.

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: https://medium.com/the-ready/how-to-create-a-culture-of-transparency-e57573a3b8c5#.s6fkjwspn

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...