I will first introduce myself, as it is not Dan who is writing this blog entry today. My name is Doreen Jacius and I work for Dan. My “real” title is Systems Analyst, but as most of you know from following Dan, I, like Dan participate in many parts of the development efforts within the IT department. Dan has mentioned me (without name) MANY times in earlier blog entries and now it is my turn to attempt a blog entry. I stress the word attempt since it is not something I have ever done before! I have been coaxed into a public speaking situation one time in my life and that is the extent of my experience in this domain. Keeping that in mind, here is my story:
Earlier this week my 11 year old daughter was getting fitted for hearing aids and struggling with how the world sounds to her now. She was very frustrated and the look of agony on her face made me question if we were doing the right thing. When her audiologist told us that it is going to take a lot of time for her brain to get used to processing new sounds that she has not heard in many years, it made me think that is how I felt when I first came back to work and started learning SharePoint. I had never seen SharePoint before and it looked much different than a Lotus Notes environment I had left 10 years earlier. For the first few months of learning SharePoint I was questioning whether coming back to work was really the right choice. I was frustrated that I could not immediately figure out the difference between a list and a library. I then became frustrated with setting up workflows and trying to learn the difference between list, reusable and site workflows. I became frustrated with many things! This is how my daughter is feeling with adjusting to hearing new sounds – she doesn’t ever think her own voice will sound normal again.
Two years later I can look back and say Wow, I sure have learned a lot. Yes, there is a lot of functionality in SharePoint that I am comfortable working with. And holy cow, I know how to create a fairly complex data view web part – when even just 18 months ago, I thought Dan was talking in a foreign language when he attempted to show me what a dvwp was. I cannot count the number of times that Dan would tell me “Just watch and you will eventually get it”. I didn’t always believe him back then, but looking back at the progress our department has made with SharePoint projects; I am starting to believe his words.
This week I am finding that I need to remind myself of this scenario as we move forward into our next, more complex SharePoint project. I am worried about how I am going to deliver a user friendly solution when I am not even sure where we are going to start. The users are becoming more confident that my participation can help ensure a solution with features they are excited about, and that is what is making me anxious. I have heard about “how” we can give them many of the features they would like in SharePoint, but I haven’t discovered the best way to do it yet. SharePoint is a robust product and there is always something new to learn: how to connect to reporting services, how to take advantage of more complicated workflows, how to work seamlessly with a SQL Server database. Although I am now comfortable with many aspects of SharePoint design, I am still faced with the same dilemma. I need to gain more confidence in my abilities to learn something new. SharePoint has been an excellent product to help me and the SharePoint community has helped me when I can’t help myself. I look forward to the new challenges we face and I know SharePoint will play an important role in the solution we roll out. How do I know this? Because looking at the past has shown me that I can learn to do what others have shown me is possible to do.
As my daughter struggles with the adjustment to hearing sounds she has no memory of ever hearing, I am reminded of how I felt when I first started learning SharePoint. In the 24 hours that she has had the hearing aids, I already see a huge difference in her tolerance of them – I know my SharePoint learning curve won’t always be as speedy, but as I venture into new projects I need to remember it wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know the difference between a list and a library.