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Eugene van der Merwe
Eugene van der Merwe

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Microsoft Word Users Are Stuck in the 90s and Don't Know How To Collaborate

Disclaimer: This is a highly opinionated piece.

  • I worked for Microsoft in 1997 for 6 months and was fired
  • I do respect the company, especially since Satya Nadella has taken over as he seemed to modernise the organisation

Although I think they’ve built a great company, Microsoft entirely missed the cloud in the early years. But by sheer market dominance Word as a product has persisted.

I totally feel sorry for people who use Word. Not that there's anything wrong with the actual software, it probably works very well. The part that makes me feel sorry for people who use Word is that they don’t know how to collaborate.

They live on little islands where their document is the be-all end-all of existence. Any changes will always need to be made by them, for them, on behalf of them. Revisions? What revisions?

Does anyone else want to make a change? Maybe some comments or a suggestion? This could take a while. It has to be saved first. Then it has to be attached. Then it has to be emailed as an attachment. Then maybe it needs to be printed out and scribbled on. Then maybe it must be handed back. Or maybe a new version must be created, saved, attached, and sent back. Rinse, repeat, rinse.

I truly cannot see how a modern organisation can agree that people use Word. How on earth can you operate and create constant improvement in any organisation by restricting people with Word and forcing them into this tortoise like workflow? Do people really think their documents are so great that it doesn’t need to be collaborated on? Is this the arrogance of the non-team worker?

What I’ve learnt is that some people just don’t get the cloud. It’s either that, or they don’t get digital teamwork. Or maybe working with other people is so low on their priority list that they simply can’t do it.

For many years I’ve thought it’s a generational problem, but since then I’ve learnt that even kids of today do not embrace collaboration on documents. For some, it’s privacy, and that I respect. For others, it just doesn’t come on the radar.

Before you say that Office 365 allows collaboration, please quickly show me anyone actually using it collaboratively. I’ve yet to see anyone but if you know of someone leave me a comment as I need some hope.

My suggestions?

  • Embrace collaboration to build an agile organisation
  • Share documents, and share them early
  • Learn to digitally work in a team.
  • Google’s software (I don’t know what it’s called anymore because it changes names every few years) allows collaboration. I’m sure there are other tools too, but perhaps get your feet wet here first.

And if you still don’t understand collaboration in the cloud, good luck! Enjoy that Island.

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