SHARE conference recap

I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the 2nd annual SHARE conference in Sydney this week. Put simply, this was one of the best events I’ve ever attended. The Eventful Group thought of everything, providing a great venue, outstanding business-centric sessions, fabulous support for all the speakers and great follow-through for all the attendees. A big thanks to Vanessa, Ali, Renee and Jason for making this a fun and memorable event! 

The conference also some of the best SharePoint one-liners I’ve heard. Here are some of my favorites:

  • “When you had a baby, did you budget for food for only the first year? No! Just like kids, SharePoint requires an investment year over year.” — Garth Luke (AvePoint)
  • “Build the fence but don’t scare the herd.” – Joe Snyder (VGT)
  • Definition of a cowboy project: “I’ll start coding. You go find out what they want.”  – Ruven Gotz (Navantis)

I had the opportunity present two sessions at this conference–including my first keynote. Thanks to everyone that attended my sessions! I also had the opportunity to meet a ton of news folks from the land Down Under. These people are engaged and passionate about building out the best SharePoint solutions possible, and I enjoyed talking with all of them. One of the highlights was meeting a fellow librarian-turned-SharePoint-guru. Fabulous! A special callout to Michael Sampson, Andrew Jolly, Paul Culmsee, Deborah Gotz and Michelle Goodwin. Thanks for the laughs, the flowers and the Vegemite! 

I also got to spend time with some of my favorite international SharePoint speakers, including Veronique Palmer, Richard Harbridge, Ruven Gotz, Jerry Smith, Joe Snyder and Ramin Mobasseri. See if you can guess “who’s who” in the Share-feet pic posted below!

For more on the sessions I attended and key lessons learned, see the session-by-session recap below. Pics from the event are included at the bottom of the post.

We’ve Installed SharePoint – Staff Will Just Use By Instinct Because It’s Intuitive (by Veronique Palmer). Veronique did a great job highlighting the need for user adoption strategies and end-user training. She also outlined the need for a SharePoint evangelist to promote business use. Ideally, these evangelists come from inside the business (as opposed to being hired fresh into the role). The evangelist’s existing business knowledge and contacts enable them to maximize influence and have the most widespread impact. Veronique usually finds natural evangelists when they attend her end-user training classes. She then works with the management team to build a formal or informal evangelist job description/role.

Helping Users Solve Business Problems – Not Providing a One Size Solution to Everything (by Scott Thomson). Scott did a great job summarizing his team’s approach to SharePoint 2003, 2007 and 2010. There were 2 important points I took from this presentation:

  1. We need to acknowledge that while we have changed due to being here (at the SHARE conference), we will return to offices where everyone else has remained the same. We need to take what we’ve learned while being aware that we must be the catalyst for change.
  2. Consider leaving some features unsupported instead of disabling them altogether. This will allow some enterprising users to experiment and make use of key features without leaving you on the hook for supporting everything.

Dynamic leadership in a crisis (by Peter Baines). Peter did a great job with this motivational session, highlighting ten key leadership qualities:

  1. Move quickly. You can’t wait to step in until you have all the questions answered and things are well-defined.
  2. Act with sensitivity.
  3. Act with an awareness of cultural diversity.
  4. You need structure.
  5. Don’t overcalculate things. Lead with simplicity. Act with good intent and integrity. Even if you make the wrong decision, you won’t be weak. Don’t fail to make a decision out of fear you may be wrong.
  6. Understand the value of leadership presence. It ensures your teams can’t say that you don’t care or that you don’t know what is happening.
  7. When you want to motivate people, find out what they’re passionate about and buy into it with integrity.
  8. Results, not excuses.
  9. If you want to make long-term change, you have to make a long-term investment.
  10. Courage is in making hard decisions and living with the outcomes.

Building a Robust Framework for Social Networking at Work (by Ramin Mobasseri). Ramin provided great insight into eBay’s enterprise social networking (ESN) initiative. Their motivations were clear–a dedication to better employee productivity and increased employee retention. Their primary use cases for ESN included:

  • Streamlined communication
  • Network with colleagues
  • Find an expert
  • Social learning
  • News streams
  • Broadcasting
  • Social media
  • Idea management
  • Content aggregation
  • Onboarding
  • Microblogging
  • Mentorship

Key functions of their ESN approach include:

  • Two search textboxes on their Intranet–one for searching on people and another for searching “everything else”
  • Development of an iPhone app that enables employees to search on people, events, facility maps and conference rooms
  • Social networking one-stop shopping, including the ability to post a status update on the company Intranet that will simultaneously post updates to Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, etc. Very cool!

Cleaning up Decades of Information Sprawl at Santos – From Document Mess to SharePoint 2010 (by Kartic Kapur). The folks from Santos have done some great work retooling for SharePoint 2010 and driving end-user adoption. Some of their key drivers for business engagement included:

  • Recording a video with their CEO to get top-down motivation for SharePoint onboarding
  • Looking for change champions already embedded within the business.
  • Talking with managers to formalize change champion roles. This ensures that champions get time to focus on SharePoint and recognition for their efforts.
  • Holding content migration parties.
  • Hiring new college grads to be extra sets of tagging hands at content migration parties.
  • Creating marketing postcards. (While these cards looked great, they failed miserably. Kartic’s recommendation is to study your corporate culture first and then determine what kind of marketing will work. Don’t just blindly create marketing materials.)

SharePoint Governance Home Truths (by Paul Culmsee). This was my first opportunity to see Paul present, and I was blown away. He gave a flawless presentation that clearly summarized the classical SharePoint governance challenge. He took it several steps farther, however, outlining the “platitude trap” that many SharePoint leaders find themselves mired in. I got so engrossed in Paul’s session I failed to take adequate notes. A travesty, I know…

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Collaboration – The AGL Experience (by Michelle Goodwin). Michelle was one of the funniest and most engaging speakers I saw this week. Just call her “the hammer!”

Effective SharePoint Workshops – From Requirements to Roadmap and Wireframes to Workflow (by Ruven Gotz). As always, Ruven shines! His closing keynote finished the conference off on a high note, outlining key strategies for engaging with end-users and defining effective requirements. Ruven’s mantra is “Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity.” The goal is to hear (directly from the end-users) all the requirements during the information gathering process. Then work with the management team to prioritize the requests. Some requests will fall into Phase 1. Some will fall into Phase X while others fall into Phase Never. But the key is listening to and gathering all the requirements. This draws people into the process and ensures they are fully engaged.

Ruven also did a great job highlighting key software tools he uses, including MindManager from Mindjet for mapping out taxonomy/information classification and Balsamiq for building wireframes. Both of these tools have strong visual impacts, enabling you to make the most out of your requirements gathering sessions so you can deliver (and get quick feedback on) your wireframes.

Helping Users Embrace SharePoint: Strategies for User Adoption (by Michael Sampson). Michael did a great job leading this full-day post-conference workshop. He presented a series of jigsaw puzzle pieces you can use to engage your users and build a user adoption strategy. Also included were key guidelines around valuing your SharePoint investment, including an annual satisfaction survey that focused on year-over-year calculations for measuring resistance, tolerance, exploration and advocation.


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