Giving SharePoint a nudge – Architect your choices wisely

By - November 20, 2014

I’m working my way through a very popular book called “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness” by University of Chicago professors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein.  The main theme of the book is “choice architecture,” and the book is replete with real-world examples of how choices are architected toward desired outcomes in private enterprise (e.g., the layout of your supermarket) and the public sector (e.g., public bicycles for hire, prompting more overall bicycle ridership).

I won’t get into the politics of Thaler and Sunstein’s concept of “Libertarian Paternalism,” but I am fascinated by how we are impacted by architected choices every day:

  • How foot traffic is affected by where the doors were placed in the building in which we work
  • How people’s schedules are affected by the fact that the default duration of a meeting is one hour (not 45 minutes, which would give us room between meetings)
  • How much I tip my cab driver when the choices of 15%, 20%, and 25% show up on the credit card processing screen

Of course, being a KM/collaboration/social computing/SharePoint geek, I immediately thought of how we architect choices in the tools we use for collaboration and content management.  Here are seven (of many) key “knobs and dials” we can fiddle with to architect choices and drive adoption of SharePoint, such as:

  1. Configuring “Best Bets” in search results to direct users toward an organizational standard or exemplary document or template
  2. Carefully thinking through default settings for lists and libraries, e.g., specifying a default industry designation of “construction” when 60% of your clients are in the construction sector, rather than choosing the first value in an alphabetized list
  3. Automating population of metadata, like using scripting to propagate document name to the “title” field automatically to improve search and manageability
  4. Using content types to drive use of standard document templates
  5. Establishing automated retention and disposition policies to make organizational policies the norm when new content is created
  6. Waiting to build managed metadata term stores until we see how people tag documents with enterprise keywords, then promoting those keywords into structured metadata
  7. Using audience-targeted content to streamline the user interface and present a more concise, targeted view of information (without eliminating the choice or ability to see other data if desired)

One of the tenets of Thaler and Sunstein’s “Libertarian Paternalism” is not to needlessly eliminate choices, but to surface the most beneficial choices most readily.  With a well-architected SharePoint environment, we can provide choices while steering users toward preferred outcomes and providing a great user experience.

To find out more about this or other ways that McGladrey can assist you, contact McGladrey’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.

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