Microsoft Teams has been established as the collaboration hub for Office 365 and will often become the first port of call for those looking to collaborate online. The more mature Yammer platform is now better positioned for ‘Outer Loop’ enterprise-wide collaboration. The grey area between a ‘Public’ Team and a Yammer Group is, however, still present.
Our own position is that Public groups are best hosted on Yammer, with the expectation that the Yammer growth path will provide features more aligned to this style of collaboration. That said, we anticipate there will be many reasons for groups wanting to use the Teams platform, even for open and public groups. The Teams Personas are therefore designed to inform teams on the archetype groups their interaction behaviours are inferring. It is then up to the team leaders to use this information to adapt or reinforce their behaviours in line with the team’s agreed purpose.
The 4 Team Personas:
Self-Directed teams are highly connected internally with shared leadership and accountability. In these teams, all members are self-directed and interconnected with a minimal or non-existent gallery. This type of team is very well suited to the Teams platform, and is the aspirational team type that SWOOP encourages most teams to move towards.
Single Leader Team
Single leader teams are co-ordinated by a single leader who is accountable for team outcomes. They are similar to self-directed teams in that they are composed of a strong 'core' of members, but are also very dependent on the presence of one or two individuals to generate engagement. Consider limiting the team size to 4-10 individuals and encourage the leader to step back to allow for the other members to take more of a leadership role.
In this article we illustrated how a team had formed initially as a ‘Single Leader’ Team (Forming) and then quickly matured into a ‘Self-Directed’ Team (Storming).
If your team purpose is to instead principally share information, then a Forum would be ideal. If you wish is to form a group around a particular area of speciality, then a Community of Practice is more suited; each of these team types require a ‘core’ of active members. Once the core has been formed, it is time to grow the team with the broader audience you are looking to engage with.
A Forum is a large group typically led by a single leader, perhaps supported by a few others.
A team formed around the formal hierarchy might be a good candidate for a Forum style team. In this case the Core would mimic the formal leadership, with the gallery representing those lower in the hierarchy.
However, even a Forum should be aiming to engage the gallery into interacting (and therefore leaving the gallery) - it is the existence of this disconnected ‘Gallery’ that places a team as a Forum rather than a Community.
The Community of Practice
A Community of Practice will often have a self-directed core of members and a gallery of interested stakeholders. Over time the core members should be looking to not only grow the level of activity, but to also start engaging the gallery into community conversations. This could be achieved in part by simply posting useful content that attracts ‘likes’ from the gallery (which will in effect remove them from the gallery), and asking questions to further conversations and engagement.
So should Forums and Communities be moved to Yammer?
Our research has found that many digital groups are formed with only a hint of what the group may evolve to. A small team may evolve over time into a community that the membership is totally comfortable with.
There is no shortage of opinions about when to use Yammer or when to use Teams. Here are just a few:
We believe if you are in Teams and the SWOOP Team Persona suggests you are operating as either a Community or a Forum, you need to ask yourself:
- Are you comfortable this is consistent with your team purpose? If not, then you need to re-engineer the team by managing the gallery downwards.
- If you are happy with the expanded group purpose, and you are happy to constrain the activity to the existing membership, stay in Teams.
- If you are looking to significantly expand the membership and scope of your Community or Forum, then you should seriously consider re-hosting on Yammer. You may, however, consider keeping a team just for the core members to use for community project activities, e.g. developing a training program or designing a new business process.