Things at the beginning of the work year are always a little bit quiet until people get back from holidays and commence projects for the upcoming months. As such, it’s always the “calm before the storm”.
So what I have been doing is catching up with all the Microsoft changes and using this quiet time for a bit of workplace learning.
I’m going to put it out there that for me, I simply can’t keep up with them anymore. (And that is okay).
Also, I cannot compete – nor do I want to – with the Microsoft Valued Professionals (MVPs) out there who have access to first release and developer access to new products and functions coming down the line. I rely on these people who go above and beyond to share valuable resources and content that help build my own skills and knowledge in what’s coming up.
They help me take the first step to have a bit of a dabble, just a dabble, and then make some connections to what it means for people. In particular, the lens I look at them is:
- How do these new products and functions help support the individual, team or organisation for better work? >>> the focus over time is that I’m seeing it’s less about work and more about ‘LIFE’
- How do these new products and functions help support the communication, collaboration and community both within and external to their organisation? >>> the focus over time is how are these changing the person to be less about work and more about them as a PERSON who has PLACE in community and society.
- How are these tools helping people build better CONNECTIONS, RELATIONSHIPS, COMMUNICATIONS that will help support them in other ways that can be better used and applied to more wider societal aspects?
More and more the lines are blurring for me around “professional” and “personal development” to more just “development” because over time, I’m seeing that what we choose to learn, to do, to create are really actions that help shape us to be the person we want to BE and who we ARE. Our workplaces and our jobs for many of us, simply should allow us – and give us the space to – to be our best selves.
I cannot see the distinct difference between the “Professional Self” vs the “Personal Self” – just be “Yourself”. This may be a blog post for another day.
I’m about a few months late to the party when it comes to Microsoft Loop (“Think Plan & Create Together” so yesterday I decided to learn about it as part of my self imposed Learning Day.
It was first announced at the Ignite Conference last year, but truth be told, I was not in the right frame of mind back then to comprehend this as I was reeling from Zuckerberg’s announcement of the Meta Verse around the same time. I viewed the Microsoft Mesh announcement with enough vigour as being told I would need to have my leg amputated.
That aside, now that my disdain for all things metaverse, I decided to instead focus on Microsoft Loop. That on the outset, seemed to be about better collaboration (in the real world) even though it looked a bit “gimicky” with the bright colours, bubbles fun, and some such. Sometimes marketing people go a tad overboard…
Microsoft Loop is an app that “combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across applications”.
What does that even mean?
Well, I liken it to being able to build your own working canvas selecting and slotting in ‘components’ of other Microsoft applications into it. The beauty of these canvases is that you can share them to others (they sit in your OneDrive); they do away with the need for access and privileges to the full Microsoft programs (if your organisation allows that!) and it’s like ‘your brain’. Everything is there connected to each other. You don’t need all your tabs open to access multiple Microsoft programs to copy and paste elements of those into your working “space/canvas/portal/something”
“Hey, look! Its like a Wiki but on steroids!”-Me
Look, a video may say it better than me….
Yesterday, I explored some articles, videos and demonstrations of Microsoft Loop (and then dabbled with it myself on our own work systems – lo and behold it’s there! (as I never noticed it before yesterday) and my first thought was:
“This is Microsoft’s Notion.”
Okay, let’s see what Notion does.
Compare the videos.
They’re very similar, aren’t they?
What’s It All Mean?
If you want to see how Loop can be applied in different work contexts, firstly, I’d also be doing Google searches on “Notion” and seeing how people have been using this product as it’s been around for a lot longer. (Note: over time methinks Loop will be far better than Notion simply because of its connection to other MS apps). There are tons of videos on YouTube on Notion if you want to learn more about this. Thomas Frank comes to mind as he has a series on Notion basics.
Then work backwards from there.
All you then need to do is consider the following questions IN RELATION TO Microsoft Loop and your work:
- How are these YouTubers using Notion for their work productivity and collaboration?>>>consider how it can be applied to your work day and working with others using Microsoft Loop instead
- Consider something that you like in Notion and then replicate it in Microsoft Loop to test out how it works for you and your work systems.
- How are they setting up their Personal Dashboard (ah, they call it a ‘dashboard’ – Microsoft may likely call it a “workspace”) and the how can you replicate the same considering your work projects?
- How are organisations using Notion? (check out the Notion Customer Stories as use cases) and see what resonates that can be applied for your work teams in Loop (when it’s ready to do this).
If you want to get started with Microsoft Loop then really, the best thing to do is to learn a bit about it from the MVPs who are doing demonstrations of it and as it’s in public preview, just play with it and see how you go. It’s still in the early stages so it makes sense to just start small with what you already have access to.
I recommend checking out Darrell Webster’s (@DarrellaaS) videos on the topic and he even tells us he has a Teachable course that will soon be coming. You can also check out his post on 6 Things on the Microsoft Loop Roadmap for Release which also gives a good run down of the product. (Also check out Darrell’s upcoming presentation at the Modern Workplace Conference later this month). Register here.
It’s likely, like many new Microsoft products, that for now, it’s a bit too much or overwhelming for you so I’d say, start with something small.
Remember, just dabble because if your brain is like mine at the moment, it’s not going to take it all in.
We are simply all too overwhelmed at the moment.
For me, I tested it out last night with a friend on a Microsoft Teams call where I created a simple task list for us in our Teams chat where we could collaborate on regarding our French studies. She hadn’t seen this component before so I guess it was educational for her. If you’re thinking this is difficult to understand, just imagine me trying to explain Loop IN FRENCH to her! (For those who don’t know I’ve spent the last couple of years learning French) Anyway, we started to talk about other matters a little bit more enticing such as Strasbourgian Tartes Flambees...
I vowed to return to Loop the next day and test it out on our team meeting.
So that’s what I did today. I created another task list during our team meeting today to see how it looks like and how my colleagues can interact in my Fluid component. (It made me think that this changes the way we will take actions in meetings – too easy!)
Sounds weird but anyway, you can see what it looks like here. It’s a continually updating, evolving collaborative, real time “work space” that people can collaborate within – who knows, maybe I don’t even NEED to use Microsoft Teams! (Now there’s a thought – AFTER co-writing a book on it).
Then, lo and behold, guess what was sitting in my email soon after.
Read the email.
You can make changes to the Fluid component from within the email. That makes sure that those people still using email can still contribute.
What was evident for me is that as Loop is sitting in the Chat Function (and in the chat of your team meetings), much of my work is NOT sitting in chat discussions between people however there are times when I need to refer to the particular meeting I attended and remind myself of the actions, tasks and outputs that needed to occur so this is where it will help.
However, as there are many people who use the chat functions as to where their work is being conducted, the Loop components may be a way to simply reduce the clutter of the messages that go back and forth). You can see a demo by Darrell here.
So until Microsoft Loop becomes a fully fledged product that we’re all likely to be using a lot more, you can at least get started with dabbling with some components and adding them to your next Teams meeting and see how you go.
It will minimise the need of fumbling opening up different OneNote pages, or finding tasks sitting in Planner or some such and just basically, and seamlessly create the components that you need to get the job done with your colleagues.
We’ll be hearing about Loop a lot over the coming months I’d say but if you want to see applications then check out what’s happening with people using Notion and then align these two for your workplace applications and take it from there.
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