Earlier this year, there was a
great article by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief of TechRepublic,
in which he provides guidance on the habits to avoid if innovation
is in any way important to your company or team (and I’m guessing
that it is). The title is an attention-getter, and got me thinking:
what are the quickest ways to kill innovation within
As Jason mentions in his article, it’s easier to mess things up
than it is to get things right. That’s certainly true
with SharePoint, where a clear understanding of your
business objectives and careful planning, architecture, and
execution are the key to success. While his broad business
innovation-killers are certainly true in this context, there are a
number of things which are unique to (or at least more relevant to)
Understand that most of these mistakes are made with the best
intentions, in many cases the result of budget limitations, time
constraints, or the lack of proper skills to accomplish the end
goal. The end result, however, is fairly consistent: poor end user
adoption. These are not in any particular order. They’re
mutually-exclusive innovation killers.
1.Skip the information architecture.
Understanding how the platform works, how sites should be
structured with planned templates, content types, taxonomy, and
navigation are foundational to a healthy, extendable SharePoint
environment. Far too many organizations roll it out without any
thought to how end users will actually add their content and….oh, I
don’t know…find it again later. Setting up a proper information
architecture will allow your end users to take advantage of the
rich features within. Instead of struggling to accomplish the basic
tasks, the platform might enable them to innovate.
2.Deploy it, and walk away.
Yes, you can stand up a server out-of-the-box, in all its vanilla
glory, and call it well and done…and it will work for a while.
But nobody who deploys or supports SharePoint for a living
recommends you do this – not if you’re actually planning to use it
in the enterprise. SharePoint takes care and love and feeding – not
because of limitations of the platform (though there ARE one or two
limitations) but because of your limited ability to design it and
build it right in the first place. Or, more to the point, you’ll
build it right for that point in time, but as end users get smarter
and figure out how to master the basic features, they’ll want and
need more and more and….well, you get the point. SharePoint is an
iterative process, not a one-time task. What enables innovation
today will not enable it tomorrow.
3.Don’t plan for governance.
In addition to planning out future features and capabilities, you
need to proactively manage what you have deployed today. Governance
is like preventive medicine: its kind of hassle now, you have to
take time off work just to hear the doctor tell you that there’s
nothing wrong. But the early detection of what could be a serious
long-term problem is invaluable. Proactive governance (is that
redundant?) gives you an ongoing view into how your system is being
used, allowing you to refine and improve and (back to that end user
adoption concept) anticipate changing needs.
4.Refuse to recognize the power of social computing.
Block out the mental pictures of productivity-killing Facebook and
Twitter escapades, and recognize that social computing is much more
than these consumer-driven technologies. Social computing is
another layer of the search experience, helping put content and
ideas (and innovation) in context to the running dialog within your
organization. Without social, you are severely limiting your
ability to find content and ideas outside of the exact search terms
you input. With social, those search terms can be connected to
people, to expertise, to user-generated keywords (folksonomy), and
threaded comments, connecting you to people and ideas and content
that you would not have found otherwise.
Ok, this one kind of ties together the others. You really need to
go into your SharePoint deployment with a strategy for how you will
keep your end users plugged in and happy. Some ideas? Plan out your
information architecture. Refine and iterate the platform.
Proactively govern the system. Utilize the power of social tools.
And communicate your user adoption strategy. Even if you’re trying
to do the right things, a lack of visibility into what is happening
behind the scenes could cause users to quickly move from supportive
to apprehensive to concerned to apathetic. The longer you take to
deliver, the harder it will be to regain their trust. Include
people in the process and give them visibility into the change
process, and people will be more understanding (even if it takes
longer than expected).
Just remember that SharePoint is a journey, not a race. You’re
not going to get everything right all the time. Listen to your
users and be authentic, and just do your best. Oh, and reach out to
the experts community for advice and best practices
Axceler was a speaker
at the European SharePoint Conference 2011. Stay
tuned for more information on the next European SharePoint
Conference event and keep a look out for more content by joining
our community or by following us on twitter or facebook.