Let’s Connect Part 2: Why Don’t the Users Listen to Us?

Good GUI

Why is it so difficult to get users to adhere to our message about social collaboration, file sharing and not to use email? We discussed that at Let’s Connect. Here’s the second part of my summary. Also: You get my presentation about sexy wikis. 

You can read the first part of my summary from the Let’s Connect conference here.

At every conference I’m attending about social collaboration there’s one topic that always pops up. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Connections conference, Sharepoint conference, Teams conference or generally about collaboration. The question remains: How do you get the users to adopt to this new way of working (it’s not really new anymore).

To be fair, I see a lot more collaborative work in organisations now than I did just a few years ago, but there are always parts of a large organisation that is not on board with it. This leads to people not being sure about where to find information. Also: Even in organisations where this now is the preferred way to work, there are always hurdles to overcome, where you can see that there are areas where people aren’t collaborating as well as they could be.

I attended several sessions at Let’s Connect where this was discussed, and I will summarize some points from each of them here.


As I mentioned in my previous blog posting, Stefanie Preisinger presented how Continental had introduced Office 365 and Teams to their huge organisation all over the world. She wanted to show how they had done their digital transformation journey

A lot of organisations think that this is just about introducing a new version of Office, and replacing your mail system. But it’s so much more than that. This transforms the way we work.

Continental created a motto called Share. Work. Collaborate. They also had a a mascot to make it more personal and appealing.

In 2012 they they created a social intranet in HCL Connections called ConNext. It’s still their default intranet page and it contains 27 000 blogs, 22 000 communities, 120 000 users in total, 1700 guides and 2700 answers in social support. Since Teams very easily creates silos, they are still using Connections to break down those barriers.

Other things they did was having a personal guide who can take the users by the hand and give personal support. Via workshops and events they made people passionate about the change and made them curious.

I loved this session, as it is a very good example on how to do it: The organisation realises what a huge change it is, and then they put energy and resources into adoption and user training.

Using the Intranet as an engine for employee experience improvement

Lee Bryant did a great session. He has this understated sense of humour. He says funny things and have funny slides, and it’s all delivered in such a deadpan way that it’s extra funny. It also gets the message across.

His main point was that the old corporate structure and old style of management culture created helplessness in an organisation. You get users who can’t use the tools they are provided. And it’s important to realise they aren’t the problem. The organisation is to blame.

He also pointed out something that all of us who are working with collaborative solutions experience: A lot of people think that digital is not part of your working day. How many times have you heard: “Another system?” But no, collaborative solutions is not another system. It’s the new way for you to work. But the system makes it hard for people to realise this.

Companies have often bought a ton of software, but they don’t know what they’ve got, or where the digital talent in the company is. This makes it difficult to find out what broken processes that hold them back.

In these cases you have to roll your sleeves up and go team by team and have a detailed conversation how they are working. And go through the digital tools they have today, and how they are using them.

The company Hootsuite employed a person who walks around in the organisation fixing processes that aren’t working. That’s all he does. His job is to find faults in the system, and the only one he reports to is the CEO.

It’s also important to make people feel ownership of what they are doing. When someone owns a process, they will engage to try and improve it.

His advice were:

  • Map capabilities and talent
  • Identify broken processes and help to switch to service orientation
  • Combine the services in a platform.
  • More digital talent mobility.
  • Fix and remove broken processes (mid-level)
  • Top level: Inform about digital investment.
  • Innovate using new capabilities.
  • Create a digital capability map, it shows the emerging digital organisation and supports innovation.
  • Have continuously feedback loops, this promotes continuous improvement
  • Ask people: “Is it getting better? What can we change?”

Don’t forget: People power your business and the best customer experience starts with a great employee experience

The University of Zurich

Roberto Mazzone and Marco Spuehler from the University of Zurich did a session on how the faculties, administration and students use HCL Connections.

Using Connections, the users have to think differently when it comes to social collaboration. They have 660 professors, which means 660 kingdoms. Because who is in charge of a professor?

The university introduced Connections in 2011. According to Roberto they did everything wrong:

  • No management support.
  • No plans which component should be used in which manner.
  • No community manager established.

However, Connections can spread out even if your management doesn’t promote it. But the change to this way of working is hard. It is not normal to work with a social business environment, and this is something a lot of users feels, no matter what age group they belong to! People like email! They’ve used if for years, and Roberto and Marco admitted that they did not offer them better ways to collaborate.

Other challenges are that people are shy and they can’t distinguish between privacy and transparency.

Here are their advice on how to introduce HCL Connections in a good way:

  • Make HCL Notes/iNotes/Verse, Sametime and Connections one experience.
  • Add Connections to Notes. That’s the easiest way to get rid of attachments in emails
  • Get your tasks from your Activities
  • Do not invite people into a community before it has contents
  • Communities is a major acceleration factor when introducing Connections

There was a huge art research project at the university. This was done by using a VPN connection to a Windows server. The users found this too complicated. Today this project is a fully browser based solution in Connections. It also improves how information flow thanks to email notifications. This makes everyone is well-informed about activities in the project’s community. Files also allows organising information into chapters

Infrastructure and real estate infrastructure at the university uses Connections to plan and have an overview of needed maintenance. They have everything from cleaning personellt to gardeners, architects,  controllers and project managers using it. No more “where are the files, who has it and who’s got the newest version?”

They have also introduced three guidelines for establishing communities:

  • A naming convention
  • At least two owners
  • Keep it closed unless it’s of interest to the entire university

Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid

Tore SøgårdTore Søgård, fellow Norwegian and board member of the Norwegian Collaboration Usergroup did a presentation on what his users do not like about Connections.

He is the IT manager in Geno, a farmer cooperative established in 1935 for breeding a Norwegian breed of ox.  They have around 300 employees, and research, development and Bio IT are very important in the company. They are also using IOT and AI and machine learning.

User adoption for Connections started in 2012, and they followed recommended guidelines:

  • Started with the leader group – definers and super users
  • Extended with super users from all groups
  • No customisation. Only on the start page
  • Users were happy. Many are still


  • Many had problems adopting to the change of culture
  • They paid most attention to the happy users instead of the unhappy users during the adoption process. This was a mistake
  • Is there any point in user guides, FAQs and user training? The users today expect UI to be intuitive and have no patience for training

User feedback as of today:

  • Many users are still happy, especially in the production part of Geno. The quality system is also in Connections
  • Problems are often solved by user help or training
  • Users find difficult ways to do easy functions. Maybe not intuitive?
  • They use IBM Docs and Kudos Boards. That improved the user experience. However, some users prefer the original activities view
  • Geno have even more internal email now than before, because the users don’t trust that their colleagues will see the information in Connections. Also: One posting in Connections may create 3 emails (or even up to 7!)
  • There’s not chat room in Connections, like in Teams. Some use forums or activities. But most of the time they use email
  • Users think it’s too much information – difficult to find.
  • Confusion about My files vs Community files (and folders)
  • Users don’t trust finding files. – Keeps saving locally too.
  • You can’t share files in public folders (unless pinned)
  • Mac users say the sync my drive doesn’t always work, and it’s totally unpredictable
  • Even if a task is checked by you, it’s still displayed as unsolved when several are assigned to the same To do
  • Connections is ok for storing data – not for dynamically collaboration. Technical minded groups in the organisation prefer Slack
  • When you open an email in your mail on the mobile phone, clicking a link to Connetions opens the web version instead of the app
  • External users struggle with Connections
  • Users want better notifications in activities
  • Demand for a plugin for PDF-files so that they can upload directly from PDF creator
  • Demand for better functionality to copy and move emails into Cnx
  • @-mentions to groups is too complicated
  • Chatrooms like Slack, MS Teams, or integration with these are desired
  • Another wish is the possibility of taking a note anywhere and put anywhere. This can be solved via Integration with MS OneNote, Evernote and similar apps
  • They want a better integration with Sugar CRM

I have to say that several of the points in the list above are technical limitations in Connections. But there are also several points here that can be solved by going through Lee Bryant’s list above. Just sayin’…

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Janine Rumrich from Make It did a presentation on how they had worked in her company to introduce Connections. Here are the things her users liked most:

  • Wikis
  • Files
  • Kudos Boards
  • Plugins for Windows, Office and HCL Notes

That list is like music in my ears, and I was very happy about the plugins being a success factor for them. That has always been my ticket for getting people to use Connections too. And of course, I love wikis.

She also listed the hurdles they had to go through:

  • Traditional refusers:
    • Skeptical about new technology
    • No or low energy for learning new things
    • Want things to stay as they are
  • Hyper-modern performers:
    • The not-invented-here-syndrome
    • They always want the newest technology and they want to be the first to use it
    • They don’t want to use mainstream things

All these are points I think most of us who work with collaboration recognise.

After this, she invited us to discuss our experiences. I shared mine, and the others joined in. There was a very interesting moment where one among the audience said he didn’t agree with all those who said that this should be championed by the CEO or top management. They had introduced Connections via the backdoor, and just let it spread out by itself. In my experience this never leads to success, and the organisation of the person who said this installed Connections over four years ago, and it’s still not fully introduced into the organisation… I’m always ready to be proven wrong, though.

Now, That’s One Sexy Wiki

Sexy wikiPersonally I did a presentation about wikis. They are great for documentation, but can also be used for a lot of other things:

  • Encyclopedia
  • Manuals and training material
  • Courses
  • Meeting minutes
  • As a notebook
  • A corporate knowledge repository

What I wanted to emphasize what I’ve found to be the best practice for creating wikis. I also gave examples on how you can make your wikis more visually appealing, and easier to navigate.

You can download my presentation here.

Phew! That’s it? Any thoughts on what I’ve written here? Let me know in the comments section (I’m screening comments and they will have to be approved by me before showing up).



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