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10 Tips for Leveraging Habits to get solid SharePoint adoption.

So we all have things we do that over time become Habits, good or bad.  First let me preface by describing what a true Habit is:

A Habit is an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically (Wikipedia)

OK, so why I like to use habit or behavior adjustment to get SharePoint adoption, can be a method to not only drive adoption, but best usage processes. How I achieve this is not a revolution, but has been used by advertising and manufacturing companies for the past 100 years.  I like to use the case of Claude C. Hopkins:

"Claude C. Hopkins had made his name creating habits around products and making them famous," Duhigg says. "He had these two simple rules: make a product into a daily habit — find some simple cue, something that’s going to trigger the consumer — and second of all, you have to give them the reward. … He intuited [the habit loop] years before laboratories had proven that it exists."

So how do we do this in SharePoint you ask.  Well first we need to get the users to start accessing SharePoint daily as a minimum.  Now just shoving a link in there face will not work.  You need to get them the reward also, creating that Habit Loop. 

Tip 1:

Leveraging your companies browser.  So most companies use Internet Explorer as the default browser, so when a person opens IE they go to a default landing page, or internet page. So having the company adopt the Intranet Portal as the landing page is a great start.  You need to give them a reason to see it though daily.  A static, bland, and useless page…well STINKS.  I personally would get tired of that page in the first hour of its existence.  So with this option, you need to ensure you have a few ways to excite:

Stock ticker, company news, bus or transit info, weather, twitter feeds, company community news, company sales wins, etc.

So this is usually your first or entry point if you have limited resources or just need to get people aware of the existence of the platform.

Tip 2:

Build a Community, so SharePoint is a collaborative platform right.  So are you actually using it as one, or just a glorified FILE SHARE…based on the latest census from Microsoft, it is the latter. So introducing community or team based sites will drive folks to communicate.  Now this is a cultural shift for many organizations.  So how can we get folks to use it, I liken this to baby steps.

So many cases I like to put this into two silos: Fun and Practical

Fun:  So many folks like sites to do internal social fun, company picnic, company bowling party, seasonal or holiday sites, etc.  I like to create a Social Calendar also to accompany this fun.  Make sure to use a Custom Calendar Content type, so you can customize the Event Types.  I commonly use the Event Workspace, or Social Workspace to coordinate the event, location, pot-luck, supplies, directions, maps….everything.  You might event break out some the Fantastic 40 templates (2007 or 2010) depending on your needs. 

NOTE: Remember the Fantastic 40 templates have been known to cause migration challenges.

Practical:  So in Portland a lot of companies sponsor the employees to help the local community, or volunteer at local events.  So here you go.  Under HR, or a Business Unit that want to own it create a “Community Cares” site.  This site will have its own Calendar (to sync to your Outlook), it’s own twitter handle to share the companies events, a dedicated email DL for everyone to communicate, video library to store those videos we all take with our mobile phones, picture libraries to save from events, planning workspaces, a volunteer Contacts Lists, a Event Sponsor Contact List, Announcement lists, and several document libraries to hold pdf’s of event materials.

Keep in mind that Practical can still support the organizations goals, and employee health.  So think creative.  Sites like Kiazan events, Six Sigma, Employee Health and Wellness, Bike Path sites, Bring your kids to work day workspace, a event site to coordinate all the kids fund raising (because someone is always trying to raise funds for a PTA or Soccer club).

Tip 3:

MySites, so at Slalom Consulting our home screen when we open our browser is our MySite.  We see this as a place to maintain a local, company, social presence.  This includes a completed Profile section, my own calendar, libraries, workspaces and the like.  We do use this also to leverage NewsGator (the SharePoint Social Plug-in), to the max.

A our consulting firm has offices all over the US we find a need sometimes to ask a SME about a topic, or solution. We also have National Communities that focus around a discipline or technology to enhance training and knowledge transfer.  So why MySites, well here we can slow off our Skills, Interests, Memberships.  This also becomes an area we can ask a question.

My Activities, we use this function as a local news, question, and status update.  This has become a secondary way to communicate outside sending a Company wide email asking a question.

So we use this as a method to increase visibility, decrease email traffic….win win.

List, Libraries, and Sub-sites…o’my.  So this is the point I say, move your files off your Desktop into your MySite.  Specifically your MyContent.  I use my MyContent to keep a track a few things.  Links to my Social Media sites, RSS Feeds from my Twitter, sub-sites for my personal pet projects, libraries of photos, and stuff I snap on my iPhone.  A personal Calendar and Task list for managing my day.  Along with a Blog for just internal ranting.  This has allowed me to free up about 400 mb of desktop space. 

NOTE: We do have Quotas on our MySites, but they are pretty big…so consider this first before you go down this path.  We also created a Social and MySite policy in our HR and Governance handbooks to cover content and standards.  So make sure you do that first before you give access to your company.

Tip 4:

Employee Management, so HR can find that they have way, way to many files about employees.  And needless to say as an employee I want a one-stop shop for my employee related content.  So creating a self service site for HR is a big win.  I think of this as a way to decrease the burden of…..”where is this policy, or where is that form?” I find myself going to the HR site at least 7 times a year just to update my paperwork, think of that in a national level.  So if you have 1000 employees that translates to 7000 visits a year just to check paperwork.  Consider other events, babies, change of tax info, payroll, benefits, policies, PTO, and on and on.  So make it a service providing site.

The 19th century psychologist William James observed, "All our life … is but a mass of habits."

Now you can also expand your one-stop shop to offer some additional tools, a PTO Calendar and submission process for approval.  A HR podcast, to explain monthly or quarterly changes.  A employee newsletter site, or RSS Feed.

Some organizations have extended SharePoint into there HR Management software, as a front end Self Service Portal, allowing actual changes to all your paperwork, lessening the burden on the HR staff.

We also use this as a entry point for our Annual Review process.  Allowing visibility into the process, and letting the employee manage there goals, and milestones during the whole year, not just during that tense time for all folks.

Remember that HR is a service oriented team, and they offer you the service.  Make the site intuitive, and useful to the employee.  Allow feedback and suggestions to the site, offer methods to drive folks here, and once there, have a reason to go back.

Tip 5:

Knowledge Management – Enterprise Knowledge Management.  So I have to say KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, and there is no better place to store all your organizations knowledge than SharePoint…right.  So creating a Knowledge Center or Repository is a big win for your team.  We take it very serious storing templates, deliverables, project snapshots, sales collateral, and just about any golden nugget in ONE SPOT

Now I am not saying we do all our work in one library, no way. To do this effectively you need to consider this the place that all “Polished” content goes to live after you

have done it.  Published, ready for prime time, is a better way of seeing it.  We leverage Project discussed later in Tip 8, to manage the creation of all content.  But when you see materials that shape the company, or a project.  Here you go. 

I am a fan of creating libraries in this center for key areas, and leveraging tags, and tag clouds to enhance the finding of data.  Little snapshot to the right of an example.

This is not Enterprise Content Management, in a sense of centralizing all data for the company.  If you are looking at that concept, you need to consider your CULTURE first, will people adopt it.  If you say Yes, then that is a whole other topic.


Creating Keystone Habits:

by Charles Duhigg

So we are halfway there, so lets talk creating a “Keystone Habit”, this type of habit, becomes the key to your day.  Brushing your teeth, saying “Thank You” are examples, you can probably list things like drinking coffee in the morning, or listening to the evening news.  Think of these as not just habits, but habits that drive are key to your day.  Building a Keystone is very challenging and many SharePoint deployments will never achieve this.  That does not say yours won’t, consider it a success point or long term milestone for success.

Tip 6:

Skill Management – Profiles, so I mentioned in my MySite section the idea of Profiles.  If you think of SharePoint as your companies FaceBook, or LinkedIn you can gain some sizable visibility into what your employees and fellow workers are doing.  This can require the expansion of the Profile attributes and metadata, but is well worth it.  Consider being able to quickly find out the education level of all employees, the college almamater, languages, hobbies, organization affiliations, vacation plans, etc.  What about Goals, dreams, certifications, current learning directions.

That could benefit a team looking for a person with a certain skill set to help the team.  Or HR looking for internal folks for a role.  A lot of options here.  Many folks see this as a chance to gain more information for HR to make solid decisions on, managers to understand there employees, and employees to connect with colleagues.

NOTE: Consider your employee HR Policy, and get both HR and your Steering Committee engaged in this.  Lots of pitfalls with this if you don’t consider all your angles.  Just make sure take a balanced approach to this, and blend it with your MySites.  I don’t like loosing productivity to internal chatter, but also don’t want to get sued for showing to much info…..consider what you want to show, what to be optional, and want to be mandatory.

Tip 7:

Use SharePoint to solve actual problems, god forbid you actually use a solution to tackle a mission critical probem, but that is what you can do with SharePoint.  Now I am not going to stand on my soap box and preach the goodness of collaboration, but hey.  You can tackle some key challenges in your org.  Consider making this a tool to retire a aging system, consider centralizing all your webs.  How about actually creating a Reporting Dashboard site that can give you visibility into your inner workings.  I like to say if you have a problem, SharePoint can likely fix it, that is not to say SHOULD IT.

Take one task in each team, they do each day, that gives them challenges, takes too much time, or they just hate doing… find a simple and cost effective way to solve it with SharePoint, and tada.  They now see the light.  This can over complicated in a second, and scope and requirements can be blowing in a matter of a meeting.  So take it slow and small….KISS will win the day here. If you can just do one task for each team that saves say 5 minutes each day, think of the ROI for the whole company.

Tip 8:

Project Management, ok so you have been waiting for me to get to this right, how can SharePoint get all my folks to come together.  HABITS remember can be good and bad.  So you have a dozen PM’s in your company, and I bet they run all projects different.  Kicks the works butts I bet, having to deal with a dozen different styles.  So TEMPLATE, many orgs have found that if they create a Project Management Site Collection, and build simple templates to tackle key common projects they can formalize the general process. If your company wants to go SCRUM, create a template, you do construction….so create a site that manages the process, diagrams, plans, tasks, and communication.

Integrate MS Project Server.  Here is a great way for folks that do not need Project, or have the skills to start.  Use the Project Services in SharePoint to render the project charter, the daily tasks, milestones, etc.  You can use SharePoint to render it easy in browser, and the folks can just come a single site all the project materials.

Keep in mind this also works in your Knowledge Management, as templates can be linked to the site as part of the template.  I have found that great Project Management sites can become KeyStone habits fast, allowing employees to get the tasks at hand, and not fiddle with finding data, or dealing with notes, and schedules.

Tip 9:

Replacing old and dead technologies – yes Centralization.  So if you are like me I have a ton of older solutions that served or currently serve a purpose, but who owns them, and who maintains them?  Common now do you really need that old AS400, or that Commodore 64 running the companies financials.  Older tech has grown to be a Habit, based on years of repetition and usage.  I can’t count how many times I have heard an employee say:

“You can have my %#$, when you can pry it from my dead, unemployed hands!”

Why SAFETY, they have grown accustom to its quirks, challenges, and features.  So replacing it might be a Cultural challenge, but it can also be an opportunity to grow new habits, out of efficiencies and role changes.  Two ways to look at this, new technology can grow new ways to operate your business, and a new breed of employee wants new technology.  Consider the direction of your org, our employee demographic, your culture.  Then move forward.

Tip 10:


“Make It So” to quote Capt. Picard – Executive Directives can drive a company from one direction to another based on what a CEO can see at a tradeshow, or seeing a commercial from the competition.  Let’s face it, if you are not competing you are dead.  So leveraging SharePoint to its max, or driving it to be a habit thru influence sometimes takes the executive team seeing the need.  Get a solution to a problem in there face.  Have them see the benefit for a portal, or dashboard; with this backing you can get traction on some of the tips above.  Remember that in order to make a Keystone Habit it must be something you do daily, a pavlovian action is even better.  So if you can get the company to commit on MySites or Intranet Portals then you can drive to a habit.


Remember, in many cases users will fight you driving a Habit down there throat, which will make it even harder to get that to become a Keystone.  Think of the Carrot and Stick, give them a reason to go, that can either benefit them in the role they have, or benefit them personally. 

References and Resources:

So if you want to get a deeper read on how habits have been used by business over the past 100 years, here is a great read. If you interested in Charles Duhigg’s book, here is the link:

Thanks Slalom Consulting Intranet for the fun screenshots of MySite.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the image:



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