A funny thing happened recently when I was asked to help initiate a group of reluctant users into the wonderful world of SharePoint. I spent the better part of three hours presenting, discussing, and facilitating, and the only time we talked about SharePoint was right at the very beginning, when I told them that we weren't going to talk about SharePoint.
You can imagine how perplexed they all then became.
My point was that the issues that were at the root of their trepidation had nothing at all to do with SharePoint, and I think I even said out loud that SharePoint was irrelevant to that day's conversation. Now that I then had captured their attention, I went on to explain that what they really need to understand was why managing content is important – not even so much to their company but for them – and worry later about learning how to use SharePoint as the tool their ITers had selected for the purpose.
Taking the technology immediately off the table was enormously important in terms of allowing a skeptical and suspicious audience to relax their minds and begin thinking about how it could be used to better their work lives. As I'm sure you have noticed, people love to talk about themselves, and giving them a forum to do so without having to worry about getting the tech-speak right was an important step in a program of change that had become somewhat protracted.
Will these users still need to understand key SharePoint concepts like lists and libraries? I’d say yes, but only to the point of functional knowledge – which is to say, they shouldn't be expected to become experts, just familiar enough with how SharePoint "thinks" so they have a sense of what happens when they interact with it. This is why I disagree with the notion that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,” for when it is dispensed in targeted and digestible form, and presented in truly personal terms, such knowledge can be enormously useful.
This is why my SharePoint session didn't talk about SharePoint, and why most of my work, in fact, centers on the business rather than the tools. I’ve found it to be a much shorter route to easing adoption and deriving maximum total value. How about you?
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