Before joining Microsoft, I worked predominantly in the consulting space for organisations such as Dimension Data and EY. I never got along to User Groups, I had never been to Tech.Ed (this year will be my first year ever), and I thought the Scobleizer was a Unix based fruit juicer!
Joining Frank’s family provided me with some invaluable experience on the other side of the registration desk, however after attending a few of the UG’s and road shows, I found the same issues that had kept me away from alot of the community events and networking functions over the past 8 years were still prevalent today. Recently I caught up with a couple of developers who I would classify as “Critical Path” developers, and they shared some really interesting opinions with me, that I felt compelled to blog about. Why do I call them Critical Path developers? Because everytime I ask them to come to an UG, or attend a free event, their response is, “Can’t come, I’m on the critical path this week”. Seems like every week is a critical path week.
Their biggest issue was around the way we time and host events. They all agreed that the late night timeslots where hard to make, due to work and family commitments. The next issue was around content; most of them found the content to be lightweight or were frustrated when presenters used the opportunity to present as a chance to spruik themselves or their companies wares/capabilities. The last issue was around the concept of community; they were off the opinion that Microsoft had fostered a community of quirky geeks who loved to get technically deep and eat pizza. And that there wasn’t any love for developers who worked 14 hours a day on delivering Microsoft based solutions week in, week out.
So why post this? Because I want to know how we can become more effective. I would love to know what kind of events would fit into everyones calendar, and what kind of content would compel people to attend our events. More importantly, I want to be able to reach everyone, not just one segment of the community. It frustrates me when people tell me our events are crap, or that we just don’t get developers. I’m not going to know toilet paper is stuck to the back of my pants less someone tells me! Am I? So give me some feedback developers, if you think we are doing something well, then call it out. If you think we should be doing something else, say your piece! Or else, Chut Up!