Eric Kraus


Ask Stupid Questions…Please!

The local Microsoft Technology Center has a mantra of “No guessing”…and I love it. All engagements start out with a level-set that in order for the effort to be successful, all assumptions must be validated and no concerns left unaddressed. I have really enjoyed this collaborative ‘mandate’. There is a level of efficiency AND effectiveness that comes with the removal of all the usual barriers.

However, this level productivity maturity only comes when people talk. “No guessing” is a theme that manifests itself through full transparency (and that means everyone). This means people need to speak up when they have doubts and when they disagree. And yes, as you can imagine, great listening skills are still valued, and needed.

I recently read a fascinating quote by Abraham Lincoln via a blog post by Simon Terry:

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Unfortunately, many of us belong to a culture that still feels they cannot be seen as vulnerable. I see it every day…and I’m admitting…I fall victim too. We lie, exaggerate and cheat ourselves by making it appear as if we’ve got everything under control and aligned to a solid vision. In reality, we could all use some type of help. And especially when we are part of a team…ego is the antithesis to team.

Those people who ask questions and never let doubts or concerns fester often end up helping the entire team move forward faster toward its goals.

Social Collaboration – Are you Interested or Just Interesting?

Are you struggling to adopt a social collaboration tool?  Look no further than your company’s culture.

The value in enterprise social tools comes when we use them to be interested in our company’s success rather than use them to be seen as interesting or knowledgeable. However, that value comes with a shift in corporate culture.

Change in Culture

Warren Susman was a well-known author and history professor at Rutgers University. He was most known for his studies in culture during the 70’s and 80’s. If you haven’t read Culture as History — you have to add it to your list.

Susman was said to be “one of the transformative minds of his generation”. During his research he documented 200 years worth of self-help books. He read these books in chronological order, making notes of their key messages. He noted one very significant change right around the 20th century. Susman believed this change formed two distinct periods of culture in our history.

A Brief Look At History

19th Century — the Culture of Character

During the 19th century, the US was primarily a farming society. People rarely left their home towns. The only people we knew lived within 100 miles of us. However, these people formed a very important community that everyone relied on. We think of people during this time as having qualities like being helpful. People valued, above all else “Character”: Were they good people? Were they generous? Did they benefit and provide value to their community?

Susman called this the Culture of Character. During this period of time, social collaboration was actually occurring naturally through the interest and desire for people to contribute in a community.

20th Century — the Culture of Personality

At the turn of the 20th century, the US was undergoing a radical change with the industrial revolution. We evolved from a society of farming, where people never left their homes to one of big cities and booming business. During this time, we think of people with qualities like knowledge and communication skills. People valued “personality” more so than ever. Are you outgoing? A good public speaker? Are you liked among your peers?

Susman called this the Culture of Personality. During this period of time, social collaboration has significantly reduced. People have become more interested in getting ahead, then belonging to and supporting a community.


Interested vs. Interesting

The cultures of personality and character can be seen today juxtaposed between the cultures of different organizations. These corporate cultures drive behaviors aligned with how employees perceive and measure success. Well established organizations drift into to just celebrating the news. Much like the culture of personality, they share success and wins because they are interesting. Start up companies are rooted in the passion for something bigger. Much like the culture character, people are interested in the collective success of others and their company.

Social Networking Tools

Facebook and Twitter are social networking platforms I’m sure many of us are familiar with. They were created and became popular during the Culture of Personality. It’s not surprising these social platforms define success by things called “Likes” and “Favorites”. While there are many great benefits to these platforms, many people use them to share personal information. And on these tools…they strive to be the most “interesting” or liked person.

Facebook in the Enterprise

In our professional careers, having a message ‘Liked’ by our peers doesn’t necessarily have a great correlation to our success. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that the way we use Facebook and Twitter today would be helpful in collaborating with or leading our teams.

It’s Not a Tool Problem

I argue, it’s actually not a problem with the tools. It’s a problem with our intent. I’ve heard from many leaders who say they struggle with enterprise social because they fear posting messages that are not insightful to their team… Their intent is to be interesting. I think they have it backwards.


“The real value in enterprise social collaboration comes when we use them to be interested, not interesting.”


Businesses are Evolving – A Stronger Need for Social Collaboration

As a massive digital transformation is underway, the demands on organizations are increasing. Companies are being forced to adopt agile practices to compete with the demands of consumers and the innovation of competitors. So how can an organization reap the benefits of using a social collaboration platform to help compete in their marketplace? It starts with forming a culture around being a team and believing in shared goals.

Never Assume You Know Who May Contribute


Communication Like a Team

In order to succeed as a team, we must communicate like other successful teams we know. Consider an american football team’s huddle. Imagine if a quaterback only huddled with one wide receiver. What happens if that one player isn’t open? This is why email can sometimes be a bad form of a huddle. An email assumes only certain people on the team should know what is going on.

When our team communicates, we post messages to our group even if we would have otherwise sent a message to just one or two people. We mention certain people because we need their input or action; however, by communicating openly, we don’t exclude others that might need or want to know. We often get some of the best contributions from people who areinterested….but would have otherwise been left out.

A football team wouldn’t have a huddle without the entire team, why would we have a conversation without our entire team?


A Team Motivated By A Shared Purpose

A team motivated by a shared purpose has the most people working towards achieving its goals. This doesn’t mean people aren’t still accountable and responsible for their own commitments. It means we can do even more amazing things when we leverage our passion and strengths together.

For our team, we chose a purpose that everyone could align to. As a team, we’ve communicated that as a common goal and we celebrate milestones and individual accomplishments as wins for the whole team. Having the right goals, means everyone on the team can be interested in the team’s success, not just their own.

Leaders Set The Tone

When we feel safe, our natural reaction is trust and cooperation. Look at military leaders… Are they recruited from the best leaders in the world? Not necessarily. However, they learn and possess a quality unlike many “leaders” in the corporate world. They create a safe place where their team can do their best work. Team members in the military need to sometimes make split second decisions that often involve self-sacrifice. They do this because they are bound by a belief that their efforts support the greater good of their team. Commonly stated, “Anyone else would do the same for me”

Recently, I heard a quote that I absolutely love. It’s from Simon Sinek:


“The best leaders in the world are like parents. All we want is to provide for our children, so they can grow up to achieve more than we ever imagine for ourselves”

“Leadership is a choice, not a rank”



After our team adopted our enterprise social platform, we soon realized it was our new tool to get work done. It wasn’t just a migration from one tool to another… it was an evolution in productivity. We are now communicating better: more efficiently and effectively. As an unintended benefit of working out loud, we found less value in our weekly status meetings. Everyone seemed to already know the status.

We’ve since eliminated status meetings; they never drove progress for us. As a team, we’re always thinking about ‘what is next’, but burning time just catching up didn’t support that mindset. Shifting from ‘status’ to ‘outcome-based’ discussions allowed us to do that better.

Reprise: Interested vs. Interesting

As you position the value of an enterprise social platform with your teams, here are a few simple tips we’ve found successful for our team:

  • do actual work out loud
  • if there was time to email, there was time to post on social instead
  • lead by example
  • invite others to participate, by making your group public
  • avoid just sharing “interesting” articles. effect an outcome by driving a conversation

For years, “what we did” and “who we met with” have been the measures of success and contribution. As organizations become more responsive to changing markets and customer demands, it will take the collective effort of every individual at the company to work together to continually evolve to exceed customer expectations.


Being Helpful

I’m re-branding my definition of an Enterprise Social Network (ESN). The term ‘social network’ all-too-often implies something like Facebook — which people use as a platform to connect with friends/family and share stories, pictures and coordinate events. With that as a definition, the term ‘social’ itself can have a negative connotation with some people.Often, I hear co-workers say:

I’m not a social person…

The reality is that most of us are social by definition. We prefer to interact with others and exist in a community, rather than be alone. Even in the modern digital world of email, instant and text messaging, people still hang out by the breakroom and share stories and insights, ask questions and naturally collaborate on work.

Enterprise social networks were designed to harness that existing ‘social’ conversation and share it with people outside of the breakroom — across the whole enterprise.

You can use an ESN to be social –BUT– their value is in connecting people and their knowledge, across the company, to get work done.

So, to re-brand the enterprise social network definition, I had to first breakdown the major activities/benefits the network provides.

Connect With Others

For medium/large enterprises, chances are you’ll never meet a fraction of the people doing great work across your company.

ESNs help organizations be a community. Members of the network contribute-to and draw-from the network for the better of the company. The network gives people the ability to lean-in and take interest in helping others succeed.

The ah-ha moment came to our team a few months ago when Larry Kuhn, a colleague of mine from another team (and different geography), helped us on a customer issue we had been struggling with for several months. My team was one of several supporting the issue. After exhausting all of our local resources and escalation paths, I encouraged the issue owner to post the problem to Yammer. Proactively, Larry found our conversation, jumped in and made connections to new resources in the organization, whom we didn’t know. Those resources engaged with us and the customer and the issue was resolved in a matter of days. The customer later came back and said:

These are the types of results that set you apart from your competitors. Impressive.

These moments are no longer ‘ah-ha’ for our team — connecting with people from across the organization, in various roles and geographies, is our new way of working.

Be Interested, Not Interesting

I heard a great quote the other day from Noah Sparks

…Social is not so much an effort to be “interesting” but to be “interested” — that is when the MAGIC happens.

Ironically, to share in a network, you can think intrinsically. Whatmotivates you? What knowledge do you have? What can you SHARE? Then join related groups and subscribe to interesting people and topics. When you can add value, do so. But remember, it’s not about you…it’s about the solution.

A colleague of mine starts out every week by saying:

“I’d like to lean in for a moment. Is there anything I can do to help you this week?”

Our enterprise social network gives him the ability to lean in to people anywhere in the world and help them be successful.

Pieces of a Puzzle

Think of your work as a puzzle. Chances are you don’t have all the pieces when you start. You are immediately limited by what you know, who you know and where you are.

Everybody seems to have part of the answers that someone else needs

Enterprise social networks allow you to work openly and bring together the knowledge and perspective of others you may not have realized to ask. They empower other people to lean in and share, so you get all the pieces to the answer.

Being Helpful

So, to my colleagues that claim they are not ‘social’, I reply:

Being ‘social’ is about being ‘helpful’. It’s expanding the size of our team to include everyone across the company. It’s about being interested (not interesting), leaning in and sharing your piece to the puzzle.


Special thanks to Steve NguyenUrsula Llabres, and Matt Ontell for proofreading and supplying incredibly valuable feedback to this post.

Microsoft + Yammer: Transforming by Working Social —


~ cross posting with Medium ~

Yammer Search in IE

Here’s a quick little tip to add a search provider for Yammer in IE.  It makes searching for a thread in Yammer SUPER fast.

Browse to Yammer and do a Search

Just do a search for “TEST”.  You can optionally search in a group if you want.

Yammer Search TEST


Copy the URL

for example:<>/#/Threads/Search?type=following&utf8=%E2%9C%93&search_group_name=Inbox&search_group=&search_inbox=0&search_startdate=&search_enddate=&search=TEST


Browse to IEInternals Blog

Configure a custom search provider –

Yammer Search Configure


Make sure it says  &search=TEST  in the URL.  Give the search provider a name and click Install


Make a search

Just type a search term in the address bar, then click the Yammer icon Twice

Yammer Search

In my example, I configured it to search within a group

Yammer Search Result


Other Browsers

For example, ou can do this in Chrome as well.  Follow the steps above to get the Search URL.

In Chrome browser Settings… Under Search, click Manage Search Engines

Make sure to follow browser specific instructions.  e.g. for Chrome, replace TEST with %s

Yammer Search Chrome Config


Search in Chrome

Type “” to activate the search then type your search keyword.

Yammer Chrome Search






SharePoint Conference 2014 – Enterprise Social Sessions

I’m completely plagiarizing this from Christophe Fiessinger…stealing from an internal Yammer post.

Here is a list of Enterprise Social sessions from the recent SharePoint Conference.  See other posts on content from SPC2014:  Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Day 3  |  All Session Recordings (Channel 9)




Executive track


SharePoint Conference 2014 – Day 2

Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Day 3  |  Enterprise Social Sessions (recorded)  |  All Session Recordings (Channel 9)

More great news out of SharePoint Conference today.  Here are a few highlights.

OneDrive for Business

OneDrive for Business Standalone Subscription

  • 25GB of Storage (option to purchase more)
  • Offline Sync
  • Multi-platform
  • Enterprise-Ready Administration
  • Promotional pricing: $2.50 per user per month in all licensing agreements/programs (50% discount) through September 2014
  • For customers with Office with SA or Office 365 ProPlus: $1.50 per user per month; agreement types included: Open, Enterprise Agreement, and MPSA.


Skype is Now Available in HD for Customer


Office for Developers


InfoPath (Office Forms Future)

Office Forms vNext Feedback Survey

  • Feedback on vision for Office Forms
  • InfoPath will be supported until April 2023


Watch keynotes/SPC TV

Channel 9 – SharePoint Conference 2014 TV


SharePoint Conference 2014 – Day 1

Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Day 3  |  Enterprise Social Sessions (recorded)  |  All Session Recordings (Channel 9)

Attempting to summarize all of the great content being distributed at SharePoint Conference 2014 (#SPC14) would be nearly impossible.  However, here’s a list of the top links being shared across my Yammer/Twitter feeds.


Office / Office 365

Technology is Enabling New Ways of Working

Work Like a Network! Enterprise Social and the Future of Work

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM / Yammer Enhancements
  • Yammer Enterprise with all Office 365 Enterprise plans
  • Office Graph – email, social conversations, documents, sites, instant messages, meetings map the relationships between people and things that make business go
  • Groups Experience – Yammer feed and inbox will both display the same conversation, so users who are more comfortable in Yammer can participate in the group through the feed, and users who prefer email can participate in the group through the inbox
  • Inline Social Experiences – weaving social into the apps that matter most by creating Inline Social Experiences in Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics, and any other app, service, or line-of-business system that is important to business

OneDrive for Business – cloud file storage and sharing just got easier

SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1 now available

New Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2013



If you’re not following the #responsiveorg movement by now, it’s time to hop on the wagon.

Another awesome effort to follow is #_Unbound.  It’s a all about working out loud and being social.  The brain is @matthewpartovi   You can read more here.



Oh…and InfoPath is dead…but not unsupported.  More coming this week.