Got Wilk?

clip_image002You have to have been reading this blog for almost a year to remember that whenever Tim Wilkerson wins an NHRA event, this blog is written around Tim’s victory. If you’re not familiar with professional drag racing, suffice it say, it’s the fastest sport on the planet. Why do I try to adapt a SharePoint blog to a Top Fuel Funny Car team? Well, we actually have a lot in common. Team Wilkerson is a comparatively low-budget operation within NHRA drag racing; we are a comparatively low budget operation within the world of SharePoint farms. Tim owns, tunes and drives his car; a few of us share the tasks of DBA, SharePoint Admin, architect, developer and trainer. Tim drives an awesome, nitro-methane burning, Ford Mustang that goes over 300 mph in just about 4 seconds; OK, I got nothin’.

There is something that I want to have in common with Tim Wilkerson and his team’s manager, Bob Wilber; they are great people with great attitudes! I had the pleasure of meeting Tim in person at AIIM Expo back in 2006-07 when it was in Philadelphia. Tim’s main sponsor is Levi, Ray & Shoup; LRS was on the expo floor of On Demand (collocated with AIIM), and they had Tim and his car on the floor. As I was waiting in line to meet Tim for the first time, I was behind a group of people who clearly didn’t understand the sport. I overheard a man say “so, this thing must have like 5 or 600 horsepower…” Tim politely pointed out that it was closer to 8,000 hp. When I hear Tim be interviewed after a race, or read Bob Wilber’s race reports or blog, they never sound angry and they never make excuses. They explain what went wrong and they shoulder the blame for any mistakes that were made. When things go right, or really really right, like they did in Seattle on Sunday, Tim is lightning fast in giving credit to his team. A successful SharePoint (or IT) operation needs to be run the exact same way, and I try to remember that fact. I try to be patient with my users, I don’t hide from mistakes and I know for a fact that I owe any success I have to my awesome team.

I bring those points up because I think it’s ironic that Tim won his first race in 2011 the same weekend that I voiced a bit of concern over Microsoft and SharePoint. I received a few comments on the blog, and a few back-channel emails that appear to take me to task for saying bad things about Microsoft. I guess some people feel that if you use SharePoint, you should only say good things about SharePoint. I say good things about SharePoint all the time, but when it strikes me that Microsoft could improve the product, I say that too. One of the comments I received via Twitter was simply “SharePoint has already won…” Certainly that wasn’t negative, I appreciated the person reading my blog and replying to me, but I felt compelled to point out that “the game isn’t over…” Tim put his beautiful Mustang in the winner’s circle in Seattle, but his focus now is on Brainerd, MN, the site of the next race. This is a quote from the post-race email I received: “…We can’t let up now, though. We have to keep charging and keep going after every point out there, to clinch our spot and give ourselves the best possible chance in the playoffs.

Everyone involved with SharePoint, either at Microsoft or here in the trenches, needs the same kind of attitude. I will continue to support Microsoft and SharePoint, with my effort, my time and my company’s money. I will also continue to point out where and when I think they need to work harder to improve the product. As for Team Wilkerson, they have my unwavering support during the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, MN in two weeks, the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend and throughout the Countdown to the Championship of the NHRA 2011 season. Go Tim!