Microsoft 365 Teamwork: The Inner & Outer Loop
At the 2017 Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida, Microsoft shared their Inner & Outer Loop visual for communication. I saw how the light went on for many attendees as they previously struggled to make sense of it all. Essentially, the “When do I use what?” question began surfacing in many conversations afterwards.
In this blog post, we’ll cover what comprises the Microsoft 365 suite, its teamwork dynamic, and the Inner & Outer Loop illustration.
Microsoft’s Inner & Outer Loop
Below you’ll see the original illustration that Microsoft presented at the conference. I decided to update it a bit, as I wanted to bring the communication methods full cycle. I also feel that there’s more to choose from than just Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and Yammer, seeing as how these tools can be used in multiple applications.
I’ve categorized my communications by the following:
The inner loop refers to the communication and collaboration within a team of people in your organization. (Think: department, project, or initiative.) These are also governed by permissions.
The outer loop is for company-wide communications and broadcasting. Since communication requires a two-way channel, Yammer can be a great platform. Stream and Sway are also great tools to create and curate content, which can then be shared with larger audiences.
The targeted region normally relates to one-on-one conversations or discussions within groups of people. These are externally facing, and Microsoft Teams has now also allowed for guest access, which brings your customers and suppliers into the loop. Yammer has also been used successfully for external communication as well.
This category contains your everyday personal communications, including chat and email.
In the illustration above, you’ll notice that Outlook suddenly appears separately. We’re not saying you shouldn’t send emails to work colleagues anymore; instead, we’re saying, “There are better ways of doing this.”
It’s important that organizations guide users by supplying communication guidelines. To make better decisions around the tools we use, we need a greater awareness around communicating, as well as a clear understanding of the tools that are available.
Basic Requirements for Efficient Communication
Over the last two years, I’ve conducted some serious research into Digital Literacy. Though there are many different methodologies, the one I go by is the 8 Pillars of Digital Literacy. Office 365 supplies us with so many apps and services, which not only supports these pillars, but also helps build up necessary communication skills.
Below, you’ll see that the ability to be a Proficient Communicator is one of them:
According to the “7 Cs,” communication needs to be:
The style, purpose and target audience are also important when making these decisions:
Microsoft Communication Tools Glossary
Think of Microsoft OneNote as your go-to notebook. Whether you’re a student or a professional, OneNote helps you take notes wherever and whenever. It also automatically saves and syncs your notes, so you don’t have to worry about losing your latest ideas.
Microsoft Outlook enables you access your emails, schedule meetings on your calendar, and share content from your computer or mobile device.
Microsoft Teams is a chat-based platform within Office 365 that brings together people, conversations, tools, and content. Essentially, Teams provides everyone with everything they need from one, user-friendly dashboard.
Office 365 Groups
Office 365 Groups enables a digital workspace where users can have conversations and share emails, files, and other types of content. Office 365 Groups is also accessible to third-party users, who don’t have access to Microsoft Dynamics 365.
SharePoint Communication Sites
A SharePoint communication site opens up a space for users to share news, reports, statuses, and other information.
SharePoint Hub Sites
SharePoint hub sites unite all related sites to consolidate news and activities in a team-wide newsfeed, which creates cohesion and simplifies search.
The SharePoint newsfeed keeps you intuitively connected with your organization and interacts with your SharePoint sites.
Skype for Business
Skype for Business connects you with the coworkers and partners within your organization. It enables instant messaging features, as well as voice calls, conference calls, and video calls. You can use Skype for Business to see when your contacts are available, in a meeting, or busy.
Sway is a Microsoft Office app that allows you to create and share reports, presentations, and more. Simply add text, pictures, and content, and Sway will take care of the rest.
Microsoft Stream is an enterprise video service that enables users to upload, watch, and share videos within your organization. It can be used to present meeting recordings, presentations, training sessions, and more.
Yammer is a private social network for organizations that is built around open communication. For example, you can use it to efficiently resolve support issues, gather feedback on projects and documents, and share best practices.
Yammer Groups are a place where users can get up to speed on a project, participate in threaded discussions, and loop customers and vendors into conversations. It also helps users discover relevant information, groups, files, and people, so everyone can share their knowledge across departments and time zones.
- Before defining the communication policies in your company, make sure to fully understand the available tools and compare their pros and cons.
- Document the purpose, method, and target audience of the different types of communication in your company, then map these back to technology.
- Create the need by hosting awareness campaigns on digital literacy and being a proficient communicator, then introduce the solution. Not the other way around.
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Tracy is a Microsoft MVP and an energetic, hyperactive adrenaline junkie who sees challenges and issues as opportunities and thrives on improving processes, environments and the general quality of life. Her broad knowledge about IT and Business gives her the ability to communicate on both levels and convey meaningful requirements and narrow the (ever present) gap between the two.