Yes, you really can let go: Microsoft 365 Groups and Teams creation policy, revisited
I have to laugh because this is still such a seemingly controversial idea. “Should users be allowed to create their own Teams?” I have written about this topic many times before, but I still get the best comments about it from non-believers.
The real issue is that these folks have not yet modernized their approach to management (and digital transformation in general) within their own organizations. I do advocate for allowing users to “have at” the product per its intended use/design, and to freely create Teams and associate with other people. There are others, like Charles above, who simply cannot fathom how this is possible–because they do not yet live in the modern framework, and instead are tragically stuck in the legacy information system bubble.
For a really good overview of this and many other related ideas from yours truly as well as several other “Internet famous” personalities in the Microsoft Teams space, see the new eBook from ShareGate, which just dropped today.
I will just tell you my short version here: You have to practice digital transformation, and that means embracing change, and adopting new systems with governance. That’s the key. A poor adoption program is basically the shit show that Charles describes, but why? Because nobody received any context or understanding for how to use the new Information System. Plain and simple. They treat it like the old information system, and so what you get tomorrow is what you had yesterday, which is what you had the day before, and the day before that–in short, a mess.
Transform from Legacy to Modern (stop old behaviors, start new ones)
You don’t bring your legacy way of working and managing datasets into the new world; you must use the new tools and the new methodologies. The problems happen when you try to apply the old-world thinking to the new-world productivity spaces. Why do we continue to assume that users will not need training? Or more to the point, that IT Admins will not require some training? Of course, both groups should be engaged in continuous learning.
One of the key things that I can’t seem to beat into the minds of these legacy types, is that you have to stop paying attention to the underlying structure, in some ways. Look at the Teams client. Every chat workspace has its own SharePoint site/library in the background to support file sharing. But who cares? It’s just a “background structure” that supports the user experience we are going for: which is to have a chat-based workspace where we can easily attach our docs, and other apps to keep a bunch of disparate resources together and focused around our discussions that drive the work forward. So who cares if there are 1, 10, 100 or 1 million of these spaces?
Yes, Teams fatigue is a real thing, and you can get burnt out from over-adoption. But do you really think we didn’t have the same kind of “sprawl” on a file server with who knows how many nested folders and subfolders, with broken inheritance and custom permissions ACL’s? That same mess may still exist in Teams, but it takes a different form: it tends to be flatter and wide instead of deeper and nested (more Teams to control permissions, but less nesting/sub-folders).
Now here again, the answer to this sprawl isn’t Nazi-like control, it is stuff like Groups expiration policies, and training end users on the difference between Teams and channels, and when stuff like Private vs. Public channels are necessary, etc. Or, how to recognize when a SharePoint Communication site might not be an even better vehicle for distributing some content. And of course, teaching them to use Search instead of just navigating with the mouse!!! So training, too is part of governance.
Go forward, young padawan
Look, I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here, but the point is that organizations can absolutely succeed by taking the digital transformation path. This requires IT to shift their approach to management and to let go of some control. It requires some training, too, yes! With great power comes great responsibility, and so stepping into the role of “teacher” or “student” (or both) sometimes may come with the job, but that also means trusting in your students to go forward and carry out the work, without so much oversight and restrictions from IT.
If you decide to restrict the creation of Teams/Groups in the beginning, that’s okay–but think of it as training wheels–eventually your goal as a teacher is to graduate all of your students so that they can use the self-service features of Teams, as was the intended use/design of the product to begin with! Now they won’t be running away to Shadow IT apps to get the job done, and they will have more confidence in the tools provided to them.
Look, don’t just take it from me–go see what all of the other Microsoft 365 pros are saying; check out that ShareGate ebook and realize where the new information system is leading us. By the way, this principle applies in any modern ecosystem–in some ways, “the new sprawl” is unavoidable today as we are working with more information sets across more apps than ever before–so the issue isn’t going away anytime soon, and you can’t just keep your head buried in your file server and pretend the problems don’t really exist. It’s best if you can learn how to govern the madness effectively within the M365 space that your org already owns/controls–but what do you think?