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 positioned for ‘Outer Loop’ enterprise-wide collaboration. The grey area between a ‘Public’ Team and a Yammer Group is, however, ever 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 intelligence to adapt or reinforce their behaviours in line with the team’s agreed purpose.
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 principally share information e.g. a Forum, or to form a Community around a particular area of speciality; each 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 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). The following example shows the first week of a team which evolves into a Forum:
We can see that 5 members are engaged in the first week, with an identified leader who connects to 4 of the 5 initial active members. There is a large gallery of 15 members invited into the team, but not active in the first week.
Over the next 6-7 weeks, the shape of the Forum emerges.
A strong core has formed, interestingly with some different members than the first week. The size of the gallery has reduced, as members start to interact, though not to the extent that the gallery disappears.
Looking at the User activity, there are pulses of activity, which may coincide with particular announcements to the team. While there does appear to be a single leader (High Key Player Dependency), it is only marginally high. If the core were to become a little bit more engaged with each other, the Team Persona could migrate to a ‘Community’.
What is the intent of this team? A Forum? A Community? Or in fact is the intent to be a more collaborative Single Leader or Self-directed Team? It is the existence of the ‘Gallery’ that places this team as either a Forum or Community.
The companion Team Persona to the Forum is the Community; whose core tends toward self-directed. In the example below the establishment of the team was made over a period of a month:
Five members were active over this period, though not connected into a single core. There is a relatively large gallery of 13 inactive members during this period.
Over the ensuing several months, the community starts to grow around a core of 3 members. The opportunity exists to strengthen the core by connecting the disconnected couple that has existed since formation.
The trajectory for this community is a positive one. 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 by simply posting useful content that attracts ‘likes’ from the gallery (which will in effect remove them from the gallery).
So should these 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.