How to use a custom background image in Microsoft Teams

Got a messy background but too many conference calls to straighten up between meetings? Microsoft Teams has added the capability to use backgrounds during Teams meetings to hide your untended laundry piles or your lack of an extensive and telegenic private home library, but right now, your alt-backdrop choices are “background blur” and a selection of curated images with no readily apparent way to upload custom images.

While the curated images provided by Teams are pretty nice, you might want to upload a background that reflects how you’ve been spending your time during quarantine:

tiger king

animal crossing outside nook's cranny

Microsoft Teams doesn’t offer a one-click easy solution for uploading custom backgrounds (yet), but it can be done pretty easily if you’re comfy with poking around in your folders a little bit. These instructions are for Windows 10, but you can do it on a Mac, too.

  1. Open File Explorer (easily do this by holding the Windows key and the E key simultaneously).
  2. Click This PC.
  3. Select Windows (C:).
  4. Open the Users folder.
  5. Select your user profile.
  6. Click the View tab at the top of File Explorer.
  7. Check the Hidden items
  8. Open the AppData folder (Note: this won’t appear if you haven’t checked to see hidden items.)
  9. Open the Roaming folder.
  10. Open the Microsoft folder (Do not go to the Microsoft Teams folder by mistake!)
  11. Open the Teams folder within the Microsoft folder.
  12. Open the Backgrounds folder.
  13. Open the Uploads folder.
  14. Place the image you want within the Uploads folder.
  15. Once your image is in the Uploads folder, it should be visible from within Teams when you click the ellipsis and Show background effects.

Easy-peasy! Now you, too, can be part of The Simpsons couch gag on your Microsoft Teams meetings!


How-to, Innovation

Exploring Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) – Three free ways you can spread joy today

In honor of  RAK Week (Feb 16-23) 2020, we’ve described three kinds of completely free actions that you can take today that will make someone’s day a little brighter – and likely yours as well!

We’ve all heard stories of random acts of kindness – scroll through virtually any social media platform and you’ll see evidence in scrawled notes, cups of coffee, and often just shared smiles. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all experienced more uplifting events in our lives more often?


Start by taking a deep, relaxing, breath – yes, please, right now… Now, close your eyes, for just a moment, and recall how you felt the last time you received, offered, or witnessed a random act of kindness.

You’re smiling now, aren’t you? Here’s how to pass on those life-affirming vibes:

Engage with Others

A genuine smile and an enthusiastic greeting will go a long way to make others feel at ease. Have you ever noticed that when most customers are in service-oriented establishments, they focus only on their business at hand, and not upon the people who are helping them? Imagine interacting with people all day, yet not feeling seen, heard, or valued! Make the effort to connect with the people you encounter every day. Ask them questions – and really listen when they reply. They will appreciate your acknowledgment and you might learn something or even make a new friend!

Share Your Gifts

You and I are on a collective journey around our sun as it moves through our galaxy and the universe. We can salute our fellow passengers and enhance their travel by sharing our talents. Maybe it’s something as simple as reading to a child or as unique as teaching someone how to tie the perfect fishing fly. Be open to letting people gain a glimpse of your inner world. Whatever your gifts, sharing your passions with others will expand their perspective; your example will encourage them to explore their own abilities which, in turn, will also add to the richness and diversity of our world.

“How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.” – Morgan Freeman

Prioritize Humanity

We all feel better when we know that we are safe, we are understood, and we are accepted. Caring… compassion… kindness… these traits are frequently reserved to describe humans. As such, the burden is on us to be mindful of actually exhibiting characteristics of humanity in our day to day lives. Simple gestures of kindness often have impacts far beyond the moment. Open the door, hold the elevator, or share the load with someone who has their hands full (literally or figuratively).

In what ways can you be kind today to your coworkers, your friends, your family?

We’re all in this together – let’s all make life’s experience awesome! There are thousands of ways you can spread joy! For inspiration, visit:

How-to, Knowledge, project management

Valentine lovin’ for PPMin’

‘Tis the time of year for long-stemmed roses, heart-shaped pink frosted doughnuts, pastel conversation hearts and elementary school paper valentines… Beyond romantic gestures, modern Valentine’s Day observations now frequently extend to offering tokens of gratitude to all those we appreciate. This year, why not direct some sweet attention to all those hard-working folks who do their part in supporting your organization’s Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) eco-system?

heart tree Everyone playing a role – from the Tier 1 help-desk, to the Business Intelligence experts, to those championing Organizational Change Management, and the myriad of individuals connected to these roles – deserves kudos for their unique contributions to your organization’s mission.

Embrace the contributions of the parts

Despite the cross-organizational nature of PPM, it is helpful to occasionally isolate the moving parts and formally recognize the crucial role that each function plays in the strength and success of the whole. Openly sharing the significance of the contributing roles allows for reflection upon the inherent teamwork within the organization. Publicizing functional impacts helps each individual to contextualize how their personal contributions truly matter. In turn, deeper recognition of the value their colleagues bring can also be achieved. Embracing the contributions of all the parts helps elevate your PMO’s vibe.

Celebrate the achievements of the whole

Similarly, highlighting the influence of synergy reminds all the players of their collective goal and underscores the familiar axiom, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Being part of a cohesive team feels good – even when you don’t win all your games. If your organization has not yet conducted ‘A Year in Review’ for the past calendar year, mid-February is a perfect time to say thank you for a job well done and frame the year to come. Celebrating your PMO’s successes is a great way to spread some love!

 “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

– William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Spread some Valentine’s lovin’ for PPMin’

Looking for inspiration on how to express the Valentine’s spirit beyond the company newsletter and donuts in the breakroom? Here’s a flexible idea that’s as appropriate for the cash strapped start-up as it is for the fully flush monopoly (and all budgets in between) and will effectively convey your heart-felt regards:

Have your PMO leadership hand sign “Valentines” to each team member thanking them for their unique contributions to the organization. These can be store-bought, created in house, or custom-printed. Enhance the sentiment by including a gift-card. Consider the standards, such as a popular local restaurant, theater, museum or zoo, or get creative with “coupons” for lunch-with-the-boss, a half-day off, or a birthday holiday. Really level-up with a profit-sharing bonus reflecting the company-wide results of the previous year!


How-to, Innovation, Knowledge, Productivity

Slay your dragons by eating your frogs

Welcome to a new month, of the new year, in a new decade! Are you feeling the clean-slate vibe yet? Ready for a fresh start? This article will point you in the direction of greater productivity with a tried-and-true method to more quickly achieve whatever professional and personal resolutions you’ve set your sights on.

May your quest begin!

here be dragons map

Here Be Dragons!

Facing yet unexplored territories often conjured fears of imagined dangers in the hearts and minds of medieval adventurers. Dragons represent a nearly universal way to express that sentiment. In today’s world, our dragons may more aptly represent those goals that we tell ourselves we want but have not yet achieved, those desires that seem too intimidating to pursue. Perhaps you’d like to switch careers, write a book, or pursue a new hobby. Sometimes it is simply inertia holding you in place. Consider eating some frogs for breakfast to get you knocking down those aspirations!

Frogs for Breakfast?

Okay, so not real frogs! Frogs are those tasks that you dread doing, the ones that you actively avoid but you must still accomplish, those things you waste time procrastinating! A business frog might be a writing a challenging performance review. Doing the dishes could be an example of the ugliest frog in your home life. This technique works wherever you could gain efficiencies. The notion is that by tackling the worst item on your list right off the bat, that action will leave you energized to tackle the things you’d prefer to be doing for the rest of the day. So, yes, frogs for breakfast!

“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

-Mark Twain

Personal Productivity Conquered

The prescription for slaying your dragons by eating your frogs is simply this: 1) frame out your dragons with the specific tasks that must be done, 2) identify your frogs, and 3) eat one or more each morning.

Happy New Year!! Here’s to your success!

#AmazingPM, ALLinPPM, How-to, Knowledge, Project, Project for the web, project management, work management

Where is my project portfolio?

The Project for the web service from Microsoft is an intriguing project manager experience in the sweet spot between “back of the envelope” planning of Roadmap and Planner, best used perhaps for a sense of timing and high-level resource estimates, and the full rigor of project management with the comprehensive toolset of Project Online and its attention to details like costs, risks, issues, and resource workload management. Project for the web challenges the status quo for traditional users of enterprise PPM software with a simplified interface, easy to adopt, and an engine under the hood power users will love.Eoin11182019no1

Project for the web looks little like the Microsoft PPM tools familiar to most. At first, you may be lost looking for the projects you’ve created using Project for the web. You may find them on the Project Home page, under either the Favorites section (if you’ve marked any as a favorite) or in with the recently used or modified projects.eoin111819no2

You access Project Home by clicking the Project link in the App Launcher.eoin111819no3

The link to the Home page appears as a “home” icon: eoin111819no4 eoin111819no5

These out of the box views of Project for the web will no doubt be augmented soon by product offerings from Microsoft Partners, if such products have not been announced already. In the meantime, one can build one’s own applications to view, report on, and/or act on project data using the Common Data Service (CDS) and PowerApps. Here is a simple recipe to build a viewer for all the projects shared with you in Project for the web.

  1. Log in to O365 with credentials that can access Project Online and PowerApps.
  2. Launch PowerApps (
  3. Click Create then select Canvas app from blank.
  4. Name the app (e.g. “Pftw QuickView”) in the App Name* field, select the Tablet radio button, and click the Create (Skip the introductory tour if prompted). (Save the app (Click File, then Save) and autosave will begin to happen as you make changes moving forward.)
  5. On the Insert ribbon, select Vertical Gallery and a gallery screen will be added, populated with sample data. Search for the term “proj” in the data source dialog and notice the number of available CDS entities for Project.eoin111819no6
  6. Select the Project entity from the list of data sources and the vertical gallery display should switch from sample data to values from your Project environment and now you have a view listing all the projects in your portfolio!eoin111819no7
  7. All new projects created using Project for the web will generate an “Untitled project” project until the title is changed. If you want more detail than an untitled title, follow these steps:
    1. Rename the gallery you just created (e.g. “Gallery_MyPortfolio”).
    2. On the Insert ribbon, select Vertical Gallery and a new gallery screen will be added, again populated with sample data. Drag the new gallery side by side with the 1st gallery.eoin111819no8
    3. Rename the new gallery (e.g. “Gallery_ProjectTasks”). Change the new gallery items to be [“Portfolio_MyGallery”.Selected.’Project Tasks’]. In our example so far, if you used the same naming suggestions given, the Items for the Gallery_ProjectTasks gallery would be Gallery_MyPortfolio.Selected.’Project Tasks’.eoin111819no9
    4. You can make the viewer “prettier” and easier to understand by adding labels above each of the viewers and you can change the data fields that get shown.
    5. Press F5 to run the application to preview it works.
    6. Publish the application to share with whom you like if you like.

This has been a very brief overview describing one approach to viewing content in your Project for the web portfolio. Subsequent posts will show how to leverage not only the portfolio but also the Grid, the Board and the Timeline, as well as how to use Project for the web with robust project management techniques such as risk management.