#Microsoft365 #Office365 #Diversity This week I celebrated my 43rd birthday, and no, I’m not fishing for congratulatory well-wishes. I do however have a message I would like to share with you. One about Diversity in Tech AND the different roles and responsibilities. With age comes (a bit of) wisdom and reflection I suppose. At the recent #MSTechSummit in Cape Town I had the privilege of moderating the Diversity in Tech Panel Discussion. Difficult to say the least, as I’m normally quite opinionated and loud, and now I had to ask the questions and moderate the discussions. I did however share two ‘thoughts’ which I’ll expand on. This is NOT a 5 minute read.
For previous posts in my #Microsoft365Challenge go to the index page.
DISCLAIMER: I WRITE ARTICLES ABOUT OFFICE / MICROSOFT 365. CONTENT IS ACCURATE AT TIME OF PUBLICATION, HOWEVER UPDATES AND NEW ADDITIONS HAPPEN DAILY WHICH COULD CHANGE THE ACCURACY OR RELEVANCE. PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND WHEN USING MY BLOGS AS GUIDELINES.
Note: The people in my picture is from a Microsoft slide deck – but if you like that cool stripey background (borrowed)- check out local Capetonian artist Richard Scott, he’s my favorite artist and all his creative genius makes me a very happy person. I also have a tattoo on my arm of his “My own joyride” painting. Anyhoo…
Understand me a bit better:
I’ve had a super interesting and tough life. I was thrown into the ‘adult world of earning your bread and butter’ at the age of 15. Over the last 28 years:
I was a bookkeeper, had a driving school, owned an art shop and gave art classes, designed and manufactured furniture and kitchens, clothes designer and made jewellery, Compliance and Management Representative for SHEQ Audits. And now for the last 10+ years – IT / Microsoft. You might wonder how that all fits together – but believe me – every single thing I have ever done adds to my experience, empathy towards people and success in what I do. Keep in mind that I never had the opportunity or resources to study – so I promise you that hard work, passion and a lot of stubbornness goes a long way.
Now this is what cultures diversity. These experience I’ve had helps me add to diversity in business (Tech). It’s NOT only the fact that I’m a happy, overweight (I prefer creatively voluptuous) 43 year old, Afrikaans, Single White Female with a Christian upbringing. Nope.
My business motto
My business motto is “Facilitating the Evolution of Human Capabilities”. Not to make lots of money, or travel the world or be famous. Nope – to help people realize their full potential. The fact that I can do what I love and that helps me earn a living and travel the world is a bonus.
Definition of Diversity
Roles & Responsibilities
Let’s think of projects (and life for that matter). Diversity in a project team also means the roles & responsibilities. We want to deliver the best solution, at the cheapest price in the shortest time. Without hurting anyone in the process right? To do that we need the best complement of resources on that team.
I found this great article by AIM Consulting – The Importance of Knowing Your Role on a Web/Mobile Development Project which is really valuable at understanding your different roles.
When software projects struggle or fail, many blame the methodology or the unorthodox mixing of multiple methodologies. This can be a factor, but the source of issues is more often directly related to critical roles being missed or misunderstood. Success is tied to how well the project team works together, so roles need to be clearly defined and followed throughout the project.
Important words that stand out are identified and followed. Your stakeholders will include your new power users and end users. These roles tend to be overlooked & undervalued and in the new Office 365 environment of agile development they also become your ‘developers’. See my blog The rise of the citizen developer.
In the past, we would setup a project, get the requirements, build everything and hand over to client (in summary). Now, most of your effort will actually go into training your end users to become power users and do their own development using the available apps and services in Office 365. Your role as developer might change into that of being the product expert consultant in an advisory role who only gets (hands-on) involved in the more complex solutions and lets the power users build the basics.
A crucial activity often overlooked is the mandate of these ‘new power users’. For example:
Mary is a creditors clerk in the Finance Department. Mary gets hundreds of documents each day (invoices & statements). She would open these emails, right click and save the attachment to her C:Drive / File Share. Eventually she’ll save these in a SharePoint library as well and once a month would print all of these, attach them to a recon and leave it on her manager’s desk for approval.
With a little bit of training Mary will be able to create a Flow that monitors her emails, whenever an attachment arrives from a specific supplier, it would then save the attachment to OneDrive or SharePoint and then another Flow could kick off to get approval for the invoice. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me and Mary has become a Citizen Developer overnight.
It’s important that Mary’s KPI’s are updated. She now also has a system responsibility and needs to allocate time to developing processes that will make her job (and maybe others) easier. She doesn’t just capture invoices anymore.
So lets talk about skills or expertise:
Apart from your qualifications and experience you have in a specific area, soft skills are very important. Here’s some great research done by Deloitte: “Soft skills for business success – Building Australia’s future workforce”
Ensure that your users have the correct soft skills to add value to process / people / projects:
My 2 Statements
I shared the word Ubuntu with the audience. This is a quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity. Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others’. It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’.
‘I am what I am because of who we all are’
So for me, diversity is Ubuntu. We are diversity, together we form all the wonderful puzzle pieces needed to create environments of growth and progress.
Low self esteem causes self-exclusion
My second statement was about self esteem. I shared with the audience that I’ve always suffered from low self esteem and that many of my 28 years of working, was spent ‘excluding’ myself from opportunities. Yes, I had discrimination – whether it be race, religion or gender. I’m not denying that, what I am saying is that I didn’t find myself good enough to compete or be part of something. I was my own biggest ‘abuser’.
If I was given the same opportunity as a guy with the same experience as me – I would automatically take a small step back and let him win. Because I felt I didn’t deserve it. He didn’t necessarily get the job because he was a guy, I didn’t get it because I wasn’t assertive enough and didn’t believe in myself.
So there’s a big lesson in this – we need to invest in ourselves and the people around us – to make sure they not only have the experience / qualifications to do the job. But also to ensure that they have the right ‘attributes’ to lead a successful life and add value.
I hope you enjoyed the article and that you’re left with some food for thought. Life is so much more complex AND so much simpler than we ever thought. Strange statement I know – but in the end…. “We’re all here to walk each other home, whether it be for a couple of steps, or a long journey.”
Watch the Diversity in Tech Panel discussion we had at #MSTechSummit in Cape Town:
The panel (thanks to everyone for being part of this):
Purpose of this blog challenge: I will write 365 blogs in 365 days around Microsoft 365. I did a similar challenge with Office 365, blogs can be found here. I won’t just be talking about the new Microsoft 365 subscription model. I will be sharing any news, tips and tricks around Office / Office 365 / Windows / Mobility and Security. And let’s not forget all the great new Apps & services available. A lot of what I’ll share on Office and SharePoint will also be applicable to none “Office 365” versions.