Random MVP Summit Notes

I’m still working on digesting the detailed notes I took while engaging in discussions about online discussions and Microsoft’s role in the community, but here are some random thoughts I had during the summit.

More themed discussions: On Tuesday there was a 2 hour lunch with discussion tables on specific topics hosted by MS people.  Several people told me that this was their favorite part of the day sessions. Next year there should be hosted or dinners done in this way every day.  The Monday developer dinner felt a little like a junior high dance with many MVPs talking to MVPs and MS people talking to MS people.  Both wanted a little more mixing up.  Sometimes you just have to force these things.  

Faces: The summit did wonders for me putting faces to all the names I’d seen on e-mails.  It proved to be a great way for me to meet some great Microsofties for the first time as well.

MS/MVP connection requests. I’m not sure how this would work, but I think it would be cool next year if there was some way MVPs could request time of certain product group people and vica versa.  Discussion groups, meetings, and dinners could be planned ahead of time.  I spent a bunch of time hunting people down and then felt bad for stealing what should have been their free time. 

NDA Less: It just seems wrong to put so many leashes on our best customers.  A lot of what the MVPs saw (especially with regard to Whidbey) has already been included in the first Tech Preview and thus may as well be public knowledge since any MSDN subscriber can get it.  I feel like we did too good a job scaring the MVPs from sharing the good stuff with the rest of the community. 

MvpSummitBloggers.net:  Complete with photoblogs! This would help build more community around the summit participants. I love what’s happened around pdcbloggers.

Presentation Level: Some of the presentations I saw were targeted beneath the knowledge of the room.  Either too dumbed down or too much repeat information.  One of the challenges with being more open is going to be getting deeper the people that have already seen a lot of stuff to get them even more involved.

Getting it All: A timely post by Rick helped me capture better notes.

Feedback: Ask for an inch of feedback from the MVPs and you will get a mile.  Everyone was outstanding at giving constructive feedback that will honestly help us build better products.  And the other side noticed that we have started asking more and doing something about it. “Have they started training you all how to ask for feedback? It seems like it is second nature for every Microsoft person I’ve talked to.“ Was one quote.  To answer: Yes Ian, we have started to train this into people. 🙂

Of Fame: “Wow, you know Gretchen from Jobsblog?!?!“… Yes, I should hope so.  “Can I get her picture?“… This must be what the non-famous Baldwin brothers feel like. 

International Impact: The Spanish guys know how to have a good time and the French have formed a very strong sub-community within the MVPs.  I learned, and have since forgotten how to say “breadbox“ in German.  I was told is was the most difficult to pronounce and was up for the challenge.  Everyone, however, seemed to speak the universal language of “beer“ and “good times“ just fine without translation assistance.

Allchin Inspires and Balmer Engaged: Jim Allchin was the best speaker on executive day.  He was energized, technical, funny, and was able to instill his sense of passion into the crowd.  Myself included. While the other execs took the pre-canned/voted on questions Balmer spoke to them but then opened up the floor to tough live questions.  He did a great job of following the company values and being open and honest with his answers.  It was over too soon. 

Passion: I love talking with people who are passionate about technology.  I once met a person (in the software industry!) who told me “why bother trying something new? There are no new ideas left in software.“ Everyone here was the exact opposite of that. And the less I speak to someone who says that the better.

Timing: 7:30am discussions need more coffee and 7:30pm discussions need more snacks.  Yes, this was the same day with some of the same people.  Incredible dedication! I don’t know how Betsy had the energy to go back and write such great posts on the same days. 

All the fun: How can I become an Xbox MVP? 

Comments (11)

  1. AT says:

    ;o)) Josh, talk to Gretchen to hire all the MVP people at part-time Microsoft job.

    As you see there is big interest in Gretchen blogs compared to other more-technical.

    1500 is simply a 2-3% of current headcount ;o)

    Correction: Is it http://www.msmvps.com/ instead of MvpSummitBloggers.net ??

  2. Overall, it was a great event. I agree with everything you said, especially with the need for more high level (deep) content.

    How about a "Free Day". If you really want to remove boundaries, how about everyone at MS (well, those relevant to MVP’s) lists their current projects and specialties on the outside of their offices. Then allow the MVP’s to wonder around and find who they want/need to talk to. Probably not a real productive day @ MS, but could be a great day for MVP’s.


  3. josh ledgard says:

    AT: I was proposing a fictional web site. Though you could do it on the one you mention.

    Scott: That’s a great idea. I think with a few tweaks like giving the MVPs a map and have the feature teams hang out in conference rooms so they’d be more clumped together.

  4. I had a great time at the summit. As far as NDA stuff — I wanna see what’s really cool and absolutely new (or non-existant yet). The non-NDA stuff will get covered to death online, so it’s not efficient to fly a few thousand miles to hear it :). Wednesday let us in on a lot of really NDA stuff, and that was great.

  5. josh ledgard says:

    Michael: There would still be the "Seen it first" advantage. But my other points would still lead to that. Let people get in depth in a way that they won’t get from the online coverage. If that means there is a real need for the NDA, then I guess that would be cool.

  6. AT says:

    MvpSummitBloggers.net is an bad idea ;o)

    This way you limit content to one-time, once-shot and forget event instead of regular one.

    I was in Moscow (little bit far from hometown ;o) for something like a mini-TechEd or Windows/Platform 2000 Launch for ex-USSR. There was site http://www.msfestival.ru configured to serve for visitors and outsiders to get info about.

    It was updated pretty fast during 4 days. But right after everybody headed to home – no or very little content appeared on site.

    Some press-releases still referrer to site – http://www.microsoft.com/rus/general/press/2000/june/festival_sum.htm but currently site is completely down.

    It’s impossible to get photos like you suggest now.

    For example I would like to remember people I’ve talked with. Or photos with my victory in IT contest/tender described in PR above ;o)

    Every system need support after it’s created – you must not attempt to create unsupported by-design system. Preffered is to extend existing one to serve new function.

  7. josh ledgard says:

    There are a lot of people involved with pdcbloggers.net that might disagree. I think the concept is just to create a community around the event and just aggregate feeds of the people involved and not really to set up new feeds just for the events. This way you get to meet and know the people involved before during and after on the site.

  8. josh ledgard says:

    But I do agree that maybe there is a need for a more extensible site. Maybe MSEventBloggers.net then sub pages could be created for different events that are happening on a more regular basis.

  9. AT says:

    As for pdcbloggers I may agree only in case if amount of information will be huge. Compare 333 people in Moskow Tech-Ed 2000, 1500 MVPs and much how many people was on PDC.

    IMHO, Almost all MVPs already has blogs, no needs to create more.

    Creating numerous sites with similar content insrease this content availability over all other content, but descrease usability and increase support cost.

    In case if Microsoft will have established system to support web-sites for events like this (InfoSystem ??) this can be an option – but not a rule.

  10. AT says:

    There is already one interesting URL currently simply redirecting to local sites with events.


    Probably this is a source of problem as events usualy managed localy and without interactions with HQ.

    Microsoft must simply make more attention on post-event activities in addition to preparation and running.

    I do not believe that there will common format (or even guide) for all event preparations and post-event activities like a Blogging, Photo&Video gallery, stored web-casts and presentations etc..

    You must coordinate too many different sites while each of them have own goals.

  11. josh ledgard says:

    Challenges can’t stop me from at least imagining a nirvana. 🙂