SharePoint Community; Loud but not so clear

clip_image002By: Mark Thompson

A week ago I emailed Dan and asked if he had written anything regarding the SharePoint community. I was hoping to read his thoughts on this subject but instead he gave me this opportunity to share my thoughts about my recent experiences in the SharePoint community. SharePoint Stories has developed a sturdy reputation so being a guest blogger this week is something I take seriously.

I don’t know why, but I’m still surprised at random human kindness and volunteerism whenever I see or hear it. Maybe I just watch too much negativity on television. I need to get over it and take a closer look at my own community of friends and colleagues and focus on the positives.

Speaking of community, let’s talk about the first of three points I’d like to make. There exists an amazing community of Leaders, IT Pros, Administrators, Developers, Consultants, Trainers and learners. They all have something in common. It’s SharePoint. And SharePoint is about collaboration, building solutions and creating easy access to information. SharePoint is about taking a process or procedure and making it ever easier than it was before. SharePoint empowers an individual; SharePoint is about establishing a community within your organization. Here is an analogy for you. We all know of countless people who may have relocated because of better schools, more affordable housing and let’s not forget better jobs. They go through this effort just to be part of a particular community. Similarly when a SharePoint deployment is successful it becomes a community within the organization, and people will want to be involved. The SharePoint community is a very strong and thriving community and we do want to be a part of it.

My second point is about the negative vibes I have encountered recently. These encounters are rare but I suspect the egos and the immaturity of some members of the community can completely change the landscape if we don’t recognize the signs and step up our game. Please do not misinterpret what I’m trying to say, the sky is not falling. I just want us to remember that the community is not just about you, it’s not just about us. It’s about everyone in this community. Our immaturity is discouraging the young lady who drove 80 miles to a conference to ask some nagging SharePoint questions but was made to feel stupid by one misplaced remark in the audience.

Do our egos can prevent the growth of our businesses because we don’t make time to follow up with the individual who needs two minutes of our time? Would we rather hang out with the boys at the hotel bar instead? Our behavior has prompted attendees to skip our presentations because they recognized our name from the last conference; you know the one where we argued with the “bone head” in the back of the room who was trying to prove he knows more than you.

Because of our selfishness, we’re more interested in getting our picture on the conference website & brochures instead of volunteering to actually share our skill set and present something meaningful to the SharePoint “newbies “.

For my third point I just want to remind everyone of what being part of the SharePoint community means in the grand scheme of things. A community exists because of its members. We can all benefit from being a participant, and this holds true even for the most seasoned SharePoint veterans out there. Let’s encourage each other. The presenter who had the sound or projector issues should still get a “thank you”. Likewise, we need to thank the developers who write code and build tools that are free because of their passion for the platform. They feel they can make a difference so they took a deep breath, crossed their fingers and stepped up their game. Let’s make the young lady who was so excited to attend a free seminar on a Saturday feel like her drive was well worth it. Please, do reach out to the newbies. Many of you remember meeting that individual who was totally lost when their boss threw SharePoint on their lap and was told to figure it out. Remember that look of clarity on their faces after you set them straight?

Before I step off the podium please remember that my compliments do reflect the majority but my complaints do reflect the very few individuals who don’t yet understand the big picture. Getting our name up in lights and seeking out sponsors is not the only game in town. Continue to be generous, demonstrate random acts of kindness and the SharePoint Community will continue to be strong and resilient. As the SharePoint community matures, it has to serve a broader range of members. We are seasoned SharePoint professionals who love to learn and share and newbies who have just discovered a whole new world. We are still a community of professionals.

8 thoughts on “SharePoint Community; Loud but not so clear

  1. Thanks Marc.I just read your post, I think the two of them make a very nice combined read. For the record, I'll add that the two of you (Mark and Marc) represent well, the people who "get it". Dan

  2. I posted this comment on both blogs, as I think it applies to both.Communities are funny things. If you are among the people regularly speaking at events, you tend to know the other regulars, so events can be like family gatherings. If you are active in the community, but not a regular speaker, events can be a time to catch-up, associate faces with avatars and meet your “fans”. A larger challenge with SharePoint is how many communities it serves. I, for example, am more active in the ECM community than the SharePoint community. Others I know are more active in DAM, Records Management, Project Management, and Development communities. We are all capable of spreading ourselves too thin and impacting the reason we do this in the first place. For example, I was unable to attend SharePoint Saturday in Hartford, as I was preparing to attend my employer’s Annual Meeting. There was no choice involved there, giving back vs. staying employed.More to the point made on this blog, even new or wannabe speakers can be made to feel insignificant by some of the seasoned ensemble cast. The first time I ever presented at a significant event (OOPSLA 2001) I was very fortunate to have some “regulars” help me out. They put some additional butts in chairs, and one of them handled a difficult audience member who was determined to be the BAITR (I love that term, see Marc A's blog for explanation). This kind of support, the old pros helping the young bucks, is essential for the orderly evolution that the community requires. Since we are all involved with technology, reflection should be a natural tool in our toolbox. I am counting on that, and people like you guys to keep us all on the right path. You two are clearly leading by example, IMO.

  3. Veronique,Thanks for pointing out Mark Rackley's post .Regarding this post,I have to give the credit to Mark Thompson. I would also point out Marc Anderson's "comment" on his blog. Maybe the reflective members of the community are all named Mark.Thanks fro reading,Dan

  4. You're assuming that any "community" be it for technology, sports, knitting doesn't have assholes and egos. It's everywhere! The trick is to just let them do what they do and eventually they move on 😉 Short of telling them their issue directly, they'll never know.

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