Agents of Change

I got a little carried away last time; today, I’ll try to be a little less evangelical. That’s hard for me because I do see my role to be an evangelist for SharePoint and ECM. Perhaps this is one of those times I should listen to my boss. He tells me I need to be an agent of change – how is that different from evangelist? The main difference is that an evangelist tells you to change, tells you why you need to change and maybe reminds you of the consequences of not changing, but you have to make the change happen. Agents of change are more involved in the process – that’s where we should be when it comes to ECM and SharePoint, in the trenches, making it happen.

I was in Boston last week, attending SPTechCon. While in Boston, I caught Karuana Gatimu on Twitter saying “How to get people to use ECM? Find their most painful business process & improve it” She added “easier Tweeted than done” but I guessed she had recently eliminated some pain in her organization. The process she tackled was a paper-based forms process and the pain was caused by a lack of information as the forms were progressing through the process. Not surprisingly, Karuana will be a guest opinion maker on John Mancini’s Digital Landfill blog beginning Monday, talking about BPM and Workflow. Be sure to check that out.

Karuana tackled a big problem, but small problems can be painful too; think about splinters. One splinter in our shop is SharePoint Surveys. We make very limited but important use of surveys in planning for company events. The people processing the survey results like gathering information electronically but are otherwise unimpressed with the survey features. At SPTechCon, I learned ways to improve these in the future and the people using the surveys were happy to hear that. Right now, however, their pain point was the limited amount of information on the All Responses view. I knew there was a way to address this and a quick visit to EndUserSharePoint.com lead me to an informative article by Paul Grenier. Paul reminds us that even though you don’t have options on the survey settings menu to create new views, you can always edit the Current View from the Edit Page option. This proved to be a small change that generated a big reaction.

When I started writing this post, I asked Karuana for her thoughts on what it means to be an Agent of Change. Two points that she placed high on her list were: “Start small” and “Listen”. My boss echoes the first comment when he points out that “you’re turning an aircraft carrier not a speedboat, you have to settle for one or two degrees at a time”. My recent experience underscores the importance of both concepts. I’ll end today with one of my favorite quotes: Andy Warhol said “They say time changes things but you actually have to change them yourself” – Sounds like I’m getting back on the pulpit but I think my editor will understand.