Fortnight--A Technical Challenge

One way to overcome NOCZ (Near Optimum Comfort Zone) is to engage in a fortnight technical challenge. Try something different for fourteen days!

I’ve been doing this challenge for years but especially since I started working with my new employer. The tool set available at work is not insignificant and often times there’s two or three applications to choose from. At first I took the road less traveled on a few of these just to see if it would impact my work flow.

It didn’t.

Then I started realizing that my position had me as the bridge between an off-site contracted workforce and the traditional employees at the company. Every two weeks I would make choices to use tools and technology that more closely resembled their tool set. Recently it paid off–big time!

We transitioned from Wave 1 of the project to Wave 2. That transition included changing a lot of the project team. More of the workforce was further away and not as familiar with the company’s policies and tool set, but to be productive they needed to be.

A lot of what Project Management looks like from the outside is managing Gantt charts and running numbers to communicate Scope, Schedule, and Budget. In my world it’s much different (though I can do those things). I found myself needing to coach/train the project team on the tool set for the project.

Had I only be familiar with the intended company experience from my onboarding I would not have been in any position to help them through the steps needed to be functional. Because I had challenged myself (two weeks at a time) I was able to support them through the learning process and get them up and running efficiently and effectively.

If you’re on the Microsoft Office 365 suite here are some suggestions to try:

  • Ditch Outlook and try the online version. The interface is clean and capable. I’ve gone up to 7 weeks without using native Outlook–and the only reason I had to use it was because Skype for Business doesn’t have the setting I needed built into the app.
  • Ditch Skype for Business (SFB) for MS Teams. Not only is SFB the worst app I used in 2018, it’s so bad Microsoft is switching it’s biggest SFB clients to MS Teams. MS Teams is designed to compete with Slack and it involves a different perspective on communication. It will take time to adapt to its work flow but it’s a powerful tool for anyone who has the need to communicate.
  • Try the online versions of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. When there’s a feature missing opening the file in the native app is just one click away (so it’s pretty good training wheels). Find out what you can and can’t do.

If you’re doing this as a team make it a fun challenge to come back to the team and report what you’ve learned. This doesn’t have to be a full-fledged team activity, but something that could be discussed a couple times a month over lunch. There will be challenges in doing this, but if you can create a space where those can be shared you should see a shift from it being a gripe session (complaining about the software) and turn into narratives of overcoming the challenges of learning.

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