OBSERVATION: Excess focus on branding is a common mis-step in cultivating True SharePoint Adoption (TSA)…

2013-02-09 MV to All: Here’s another observation 12+ years of working with SharePoint has taught me: organizations who focus almost exclusively on re-branding their SharePoint deployment are doing so because they don’t understand what SharePoint is.

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It’s a defense mechanism – a sort of if-I-can-manipulate-the-UI-then-I-must-understand-it mentality which in fact is not accurate at all.

:-(

Sorry to all you UI developers, but this is the absolute truth about SharePoint.

SharePoint was, is and will ever be meant to be a TECHNOLOGY FOR COLLABORATION – one which happens to be brandable.

That’s its true purpose, so it stands to reason tha any & all efforts to let Form (branding) trump Function must be considered superfluous, and a clear sign of ignorance of SharePoint’s true purpose within an organizaton – to promote increased productivity of The Organization via enhanced collaboration, by establishing a natural, common, consistence metaphor for collaboration – workflow-empowered collaboration websites organized in a hierarchical fashion – while at the same time providing visiblity into and control of that collaboration through tools which find and aggregate information into dashboards operating at all key levels in that hierarchical structure.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across this phenomena, in companies small (less than 50 staff) and vast (companies with over 150,000 employees). They take great delight in demonstrating all the clever bells & whistles their team of “rock star” programmers have added to SharePoint – jQuery-empowered drop downs, hovering modal windows, great special effects which provide for an “enhanced user experience”. But when I gently ask them where their models & diagrams of key business processes are, and what they’ve done so far to encode those business processes into SharePoint so it can be the collaborative tool they PAID FOR… they’ve absolutely NOTHING to show me. Still more surprising, when I ask them to show me what matching extents they went to toward branding (read “completely changing the UI to be different for the sake of being different”) MS Outlook, or MS Word, or MS Excel, they look at me as if I had 2 heads, and exclaim “why would I want to do that – nobody brands those tools – what’s the point?”

To which I say “Precisely.”

Organizations DON’T put effort into branding (see definition above) key tools like Outlook and Office BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTAND THE TRUE PURPOSE OF THESE TOOLS. And as such they “get” that BRANDING IS NOT REQUIRED, and in fact BRANDING IS A DISTRACTION and a WASTE OF ENERGY.

Now apply that very same principle to SHAREPOINT, and you start to see a pattern emerging – that organizations who DO put focus on BRANDING SharePoint are in fact displaying IGNORANCE of SharePoint’s true purpose. IF they “got” SharePoint, they’d LEAVE the UI alone, and be putting ALL their energy where it NEEDS to be – in visioning, architecting & implementing the collaborative functionality mentioned above.

-MV

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