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Content by Charles Sterling

Recipe for making an MVP

One of the absolute best parts of my job is that i get to work with the VSTS MVP’s on a regular basis.  Due to this interaction i have had a couple people ask: “How is a VSTS MVP chosen?”

Other variants of this question would include:

“What is the process for selecting an MVP?”

“What is the critera for selecting an MVP?”

“What is the process for selecting an MVP?”

The process is pretty straight forward with three levels of “voting” starting at the regional level.

    1. Our support orgranization recieves nominations with contact details like name, email -and their country.
    2. These nominations typically come from Microsoft employees in the field but other MVP’s can submit them or any full time Microsoft employee (I have written ~4 since coming to this role-6 months ago)
    3. Once a quarter(Note: in 2016 this was changed to a monthly cadence), the regional MVP lead evaluates their nominations.  Giving them a approval/declined “vote”.  For example my good friend Rose is the MVP lead for Australia/New Zealand, PJ Forgione is the MVP lead for the US (developer tools)and LIlian and Cathy run APAC etc.  Interesting fact: Most of the VSTS MVP’s are NOT from the US.
    4. The Global MVP lead for the specific technology then evaluates these regional nominations giving them a approval/declined(Mei Liang is the developer tools global lead)
    5. “I” receive the list from Mei with all the recommendations – this includes re-nomination recommendations too.
    6. I research this list and do one of two things: agree or disagree.  If i disagree i send email to the regional lead and/or the nominator asking for supporting evidence.   Having global scope i see folks in one area doing more than nominations from another area and I try to normalize this as best as possible.
    7. At this point I send the list to the internal VSTS community council for feedback -with the ones I disagreed with called out.  The VSTS community council is representatives of all areas of Team System (Test, Dev, PM, UE etc) that can speak for the different products we ship (Team Arch, Test TFS etc)
    8. The folks that make it through the approval process are then awarded the MVP title and assigned two leads: a local regional lead (i.e. Rose in Australia) and a product group lead.
    9. For the poor souls in VSTS this is ME.  Charlie Calvert is the C# lead, Beth Massi VB, Ken Levy Fox Pro, Christine Boyd VSTO,  Simon Muzio ASP.NET and Silverlight etc etc etc etc

“What is the critera for selecting an MVP?”

Now that you understand the PROCESS -what about the critera?

I start with the simple guideline for weighting:

 “Community contributions delivered in the previous year for which no revenue was received”

While these are my own words it does map to the MVP program.  This critera also calls out something pretty important; that the MVP title is an Award for the previous years efforts…So even the biggest rock stars are reevaluated every year.  I must admit it is weird to see people like Mickey, Paul, Brian, Mitch, Ed, Willy etc in the nomination spreadsheet.

–beyond  this it is very subjective and i almost entirely use the “ink weight” of their nomination.

For instance if we were to weigh the last nomination I worked on, Steve Andrews, versus one of the folks that didn’t make it it would weigh more due to the additional page count and more ink from the additional bullet points .    I realize this doesn’t take into account any quality bar but I have not needed to get any more granular in defending a disagreement** with the previous two “votes”(regional and global MVP leads).   Keep in mind the list I receive already has a default decision made by the Regional and Global Support folks, so I/we in VSTS are either agreeing with them (no action needed) or disagreeing –and defending this position.   The “no revenue recieved” definition can make some contributions like launch deliveries, dev days deliveries even TechEd sessions suspect because we often pay T&E in the form of a stipend.

In the begining of this post i mentioned only MVP’s or MIcrosoftee’s can submit nominations.

While my happy VSTS MVP family has grown quite a bit in the last two quarters this title is a recognition of contributions – so if you know somebody that that you think is worthy please feel free to contact me I can work with you to submit a nomination for them on your behalf.  The only thing i ask is for these nomination be for somebody ELSE not yourself-grin.