It’s often the little things that have the biggest impact: Find your Google Apps ‘light-bulb moments’ [Guest article by Verity Cardenas, Google]

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    Hi all,


    We are just off the back of a busy few weeks with our Google Atmosphere events in Japan and EMEA and our EMEA Mega Customer meet up. It was great to see so many of you in person at these events.  I'm always inspired by the energy, enthusiasm and great customer stories that come out of these events. If you've not yet participated in a customer meet up - I'd highly encourage it!


    On to today's blog post. This weeks article is written by Verity Cardenas, who manages our TLC customer program for EMEA where she shares some of the many insights she's picked up from the great work that her and the team do with customers. 



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    Hello Community! My name is Verity Cardenas and I am the Google TLC Program Manager for Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and I’m based in London. My team are part of the Google Apps Account Management team and, as the title suggests, our responsibility is to bring a little ‘Tender Love & Care’ to our existing Google Apps customers in the commercial and government sectors. We do this by working closely with the Google Account Management and Partner teams to help our customers and their end-users get the most out of their investment in the Google tools, as well as their relationship with Google. More on this later….


    Kim asked me to share my lessons learnt in uncovering end-user ‘light-bulb moments’ with Google Apps. I also picked the brains of my team members and have included their insights here too.


    Before I start, I’d like to ask you all a question: How many unread emails do you have in your inbox? Should I be ashamed of having 11,842 unread emails?


    From what I’ve observed, the way we each manage our inbox is a very personal, vehemently defended and rather political affair. There are the ‘zero inbox’ people who filter, star, delete and archive, forever working towards that utopian state of having achieved an almost impossible task. And then there are people like me who throw that concept to the wind, preferring to use the search bar instead to find the appropriate email as dictated by my to-do list of the day.


    Whilst visiting my home-town of Sydney recently, my friends asked me what my work as a Google Apps TLC Program Manager actually translates to. Whilst there are many parts to my role, the one they all identified with was ‘helping people get more out of their day by showing them how to use the tools they have more effectively’ whether that means highlighting the best tools for their ‘zero inbox’ utopia or providing more insight into Google’s strategic direction. My team are fortunate to work with a wide variety of people from various roles, industries and locations from our existing Large Enterprise customers across EMEA, all looking to do just that. 


    We run three programs designed to meet the needs of three stakeholder groups. If you are interested in finding out more about any of the below please speak with your Google Account Manager or  your Partner. The programs are;


    1. Google for Work Connect Meetups for Technical Administrators - a half day to one day existing customer event led by the customers themselves. Google supports the event to facilitate best practice sharing amongst peers on a range of topics from deployment through to change management and domain security.
    2. Google Executive Briefings for Business Leaders - a one to two day tailored briefing for the business leaders of existing customers at Google’s offices, to provide deep specialist insight for customers based on their business requirements.
    3. Google Apps Guru Workshop [in pilot stage in EMEA] for end-users - a full day workshop co-delivered with our Partners, for between 15-20 end-users of our existing customers, ideally representing different departments and seniority levels, with the aim of empowering them with tailored tips they can use to get more out of their day.

    “You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.”

    - Andy Warhol -

    Of the above three programs, the one closest to my heart is the Google Apps Guru Workshop program where we often find that the littlest things have the biggest impact: we help end-users find their Google Apps ‘lightbulb moments’. Echoing the words of Andy Warhol, these little things are surprisingly the source of much excitement and discussion among participants, and they are often the start of some big ideas that underpin business transformation within their organisation.
    Here are my personal favourite ‘lightbulb’ moments from recent workshops;

    1. A Chief Financial Officer from a European transport business frustrated with the ‘lack of control’ in Google Sheets almost jumped out of his seat when shown the protected ranges & cells functionality which meant he could save the 3 hours he’d otherwise spend every Friday morning copying and pasting data across from each of his regional reports by having them safely update their own cell range in one collaborative weekly reporting sheet.
    2. A Fashion Designer from an international brand eager to reduce delays and minimise miscommunication between his inhouse design team, fabric suppliers and production houses in China, was elated to learn he could use a G+ Community to better highlight dynamic multimedia content including photos, videos and comments.
    3. A Journalist from a Swedish media house working on a significant news story with colleagues spread across Europe and the Middle East spending significant amounts of time in coordinating times and translations, realised automatic Arabic to English translation was available via Hangouts Chat and in addition add a timezone in calendar to instantly check if it was a good time to connect with her colleagues.
    4. A mobile Field Engineer from a global industrial services provider new to the role, experienced challenges in completing the fix within the SLA of one trip. He found he could use Hangouts video calls from his smartphone to connect with experienced engineers to show the site damage and ask for their step by step guidance in real time to complete the fix within the SLA.
    5. A remote Human Resources Manager who felt disconnected from the business, took the initiative to leverage Hangouts to create ‘Virtual Coffee breaks’ to reconnect with her colleagues and again feel a part of the company culture.

    Running a Google Apps Guru Workshop is a great way to bring these ‘light bulb’ moments to life, and to encourage individuals and teams to get excited and to think outside the box.  This is something that you could work with your partner to deliver, or get your Innovation Council or internal Google Guides (power users passionate about Google Apps) to support you in running internally. To get the most out of the workshop, consider these suggestions;

    • Planning. Think about who is best to facilitate the workshop, this may be your Partner or an internal Google Guide or power user or the person that everyone tends to go to for tips. The agenda should include: 1) A round-table to introduce attendees 2) The personal goals of participants 3) Tips and a demo delivered by the expert 4) Time for practice and open discussion about use cases and best practices from the group 5) A summary of key takeaways and lessons learnt.
    • Set a workshop objective or focus area. This will help people understand how they’re going to benefit from their investment of time. It could be something as simple as ‘tips that will save you time during the day’ or ‘tips for working with teams or groups’ or ‘how to run more efficient meetings’. What I’ve found works well is to survey participants in advance using Google Forms to understand where their challenges are so you can focus the session on how to overcome them. Talk to your Apps Administrator and ask for an adoption report to see which products people aren't using as much - as this might highlight an area of focus.
    • Mix the audience up. Best practice can often be found internally by encouraging a mix of seniority, roles and departments to share their tips with one another, this can be empowering as well as productive.
    • Get people out of their ordinary workspace. Take it offsite, at a different office or even simply in the lunch-room over pizza. Being in a different space will bring a fresh perspective and energy to the session.
    • Train the Trainer. Consider implementing a ‘train the trainer’ program where during each workshop you up-skill more power users that will be able to facilitate these sessions themselves in the future.
    • Make it Fun! Gamify the workshop, get people to vote on top initiatives and provide incentives and recognition for champions who are committed to helping their peers develop new skills. Creating a G+ community ahead of the workshop could also build awareness and excitement, as well as provide an ongoing forum for participants to exchange ideas and pictures on the day and afterwards.
    • Measure your impact. This provides justification for further workshops internally as well as for nurturing possible business transformation initiatives that are identified. Monitoring improvements in the adoption report pre and post workshop is a good place to start. In addition, you’ll want to track the associated business efficiencies gained (e.g. $ saved by the mobile field engineer in using video Hangouts to complete the job in one site visit) provides a tangible result to deliver back to the business. For some practical examples read Top Tips for Measuring Google Apps Transformation by Barry Kelly of United Biscuits here in the UK. 

    ‘’That was like candy to a child - giving us a creative element in the exercise really helped our employees think differently about how they work’’

    - Feedback from a workshop participant -

    Based on my own personal experience moving from a traditional enterprise to Google tools, I quickly realised I needed to put the technology to work for me rather than the other way around. Starting with the the power of Search in Gmail to rapidly reduce my time managing irrelevant content, using ‘Find a Time’ in Calendar to identify suggested meeting times, using a G+ Community to keep my team updated and to reduce email build up. These little things, these ‘light bulb moments’, however small, have not only allowed me to keep pace, but have enabled me to form new, more efficient and personalised ways of working with my colleagues, partners and customers.
    Put the technology to work for you! Here are a few tips to support you along the way;

    • Share The Google Apps Learning Centre with your end-users for real world tips from your peers by industry, role and product.
    • Watch The Apps Show with your users, an upbeat weekly YouTube post of 3-4 minutes showcasing one or two practical functions for end-users.
    • Bookmark the Transformation Gallery showcasing over 150 real business processes shared by customers leveraging Google Apps.
    • Talk to your Partner about running a Google Apps Guru Workshop


    Give yourself and your team sometime to let little things thrill you, perhaps they’ll turn into much bigger things. We’d love to hear how go!

    Verity, on behalf of the Google Apps for Work TLC Team