Viva vision #11 Why Viva adoption is like pet adoption

Microsoft Viva adoption is like pet adoption because both have a mission to turn frowns upside down

Lesley & Izzy (woof), Pets As Therapy volunteers

Me and my husband adopted two beautiful dogs from Ireland 5 years ago. Both surpassed their mission and gone on to be Pets As Therapy approved volunteers. Over the past few years visited nursery schools, retirement homes. When they could no longer visit at the start of lockdown went virtual. Come January, and then once a month will visit a facility that supports mental wellbeing, building self-esteem, relationships and communication.

So why is Viva adoption like pet adoption? It also supports wellbeing, building self-esteem, relationships and communication just like my pets are doing (;o)

And, nurturing the culture of an organisation to shift to a Modern Workplace with improved productivity, with happy, empowered people collaborating from the day they are hired to retired, or leave.

So, start by building a Champion Community that drives engagement of the new tools with a mixture of high end user technical expertise, good social skills and a Growth Mindset to try new things.

There are possibly 3 ways to crowd source a Champion Community:

  • Leader nominates people from their team they feel might make good Champions. Over time this has proved not to work as perhaps these people might be overwhelmed with their own work, or perhaps don’t feel comfortable sharing their knowledge or just not using the features yet.
  • Run a comms campaign for people to volunteer. This can drum up some keen people, particularly if you offer free stuff and also say it’s an opt in/opt out programme. They shuffle along take the swag and often don’t actually promote new ways of working.
  • So with experience we found using Microsoft Productivity Score a very good strategy!

This way you discover high end users in a report. You can then:

  • Invite them to a kick-off discovery session and walk them through the champion programme outlining the benefits; to them, their team and ultimately the whole company. 
  • If they decide to join, enrol them into the Champion Management Platform – Microsoft Adoption.  This will help you onboard, manage, and inspire champions. Installing this solution inside Microsoft Teams will provide a hub to track the champions’ impact on your employee learning initiatives, your adoption program progress, and recognise them with popular Digital Badges showcasing their contributions.
  • Another nice thing to do is encourage them to name their new tribe with something really meaningful to company, sector or country. I’ve known Bees, Pioneers, Yambassadors, Ninjas …
  • The next step is to create a learning hub for all the training materials; it might include train-the-trainer slides, demo videos, quick guides. 
  • Perfect for Viva Learning with an app in Viva Connections accessible through Teams on mobiles.
  • This should be an open forum so Yammer is good. Teams might also be used but tends to be for a group of people who already know each other. You are looking to encourage an enterprise-wide cultural change and that is where Yammer rocks!

Encourage “Working Out Loud”. Sharing their modern workplace behaviour with a view others might find it helpful, and others might help them improve even further …

John Stepper

Over the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of nurturing a number of immense collaboration networks. Most notably the original GSK Yammer network where I was a Digital Comms Manager & IT Business Partner about 8 years ago. Here’s some success stories I helped curate at GSK: Yammer adoption & consumption #YammerMagic – Microsoft Tech Community

More recently Teams user adoption at Department for Work & Pensions: DWP MS Teams pioneering user adoption programme to 114,000 staff by Lesley Crook and Alex McKnight (

What really helps shift the needle is when these people are at a point they are so passionate about their new ways of working they want to share their success. An easy format is to document how they used to work before the new features; and then share how they currently work with the new tools – and the all important business benefits! Try asking them this:

“If the new tools were switched off tomorrow how would that make you feel?” That usually gets creative writing juices flowing!

Success stories are priceless and powerful! The trick is to make other teams envious of how another part of the business is suddenly improving their performance using the new tools – and are so happy about it!

To help instil the right behaviours and bring others along I created a model similar to Edward de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats. This is six coloured top hats used to help with parallel thinking for groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, and in doing so to think together more effectively.

I switched the top hats to (5 or 6) different types of hat. Consider this model as the Collaboration Change Agents. Please do not think of these change agents as individuals. You will never find them working alone. What you will find, on a daily basis are passionate people pivoting, switching hats, across (5 or 6) fictitious personas. Nurturing business success in collaboration, productivity and digital wellbeing technology in the flow of their work. I iterated the model a number of times to align to Yammer, then Teams and now Viva!

In these uncertain times, new behaviours need to be nurtured to support our new ways of working in a hybrid workplace with empathy from leaders and colleagues alike. This table simply shows the right behaviours needed for Connections, Topics and perhaps the fifth module (to be integrated towards the end of next year) – to nurture new tools success, consumption and our sanity!

Pets definitely help (;o)

My view is that Viva Learning and Viva Insights do not really need Champions as the content comes from explicit data and/documents in M365, AI and Outlook.

More great tips on how to Become a Champion – Microsoft Adoption, and a video on how to use Microsoft Productivity Scores. And the all important, Adoption technical guidance from

Great video …

Read the Microsoft customers stories with Viva themes.

Discover free Microsoft Viva workshops!

Follow my Viva visions

08 Dec: M365 UK User Group: A Viva Visionary chats with a Viva Realist (Sara Fennah, MVP)
08 Dec: Yammer Community Festival: Looking forward to catching up with old and new Yammer fans and hearing great success stories
10 Jun: Scottish Summit: MVP’s – Kevin McDonnell, Zoe Wilson, Ana Ines, Sara Fennah, the Viva Visionary and more!

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