A conversation with another new addition to the crew of the mothership got me to thinking about how to succinctly describe looking for information @ Microsoft. In spite of the popular nothing-but-technology impression that the public has about Microsoft, most things in here are still more about people than they are about the tools. And it’s people skills that get more done sometimes than technical ones. (That’s not to say that technical fools and happily ignorant folks are suffered lightly!) We have search engines galore, and the internal consolidation of knowledge has improved dramatically in the past six months, but knowledge management is the sort of task that will “always be in beta” with new stuff and new people always getting mixed in.
I guess this is turning out to be more general than business intelligence, although I belive it’s more true for BI because it’s still a young discipline that hasn’t figured out which pieces of SQL Server, IW and Office that it’s going to swallow or if it will just coexist happily with one foot planted in all three worlds. PerformancePoint may kind of force the choice. But I digress… Sometimes finding information and prior art can be hard in here. What I’ve learned is that you’ve got to be persistent in your search. Sometimes to the point of being irritating. Heh. Don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer! Be sure to follow up immediately with “Can you tell me who might?” Veterans have good instincts about who they would go to if they had to find the answer to your question themselves. Be clear that you’re going to do the legwork, but you’re just asking for directions.
More often than not you have to engage non-traditional modes like simple networking, especially on the leading edge of products. Remember that software is really more about people than code. Somebody somewhere probably has the answer, so keep looking. Ultimately, though, you may find out that the somebody in question is YOU. So be sure that you’re sharing your own knowledge equally in the other direction… It will be appreciated when you advertise that you’re willing to return the favor someday in the future when someone helps you out, and other people notice when you’re frequently helping others (and are more willing to help you).
The truth is in here… somewhere.
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