Yes, I have a blog!!!
So, my role at for patterns & practices spans a lot of disciplines. I am the marketing guy that is responsible for awareness, customer touch, etc. (yeah, I know--not enough people know about us but we're getting better!). I am also the financial guy that guards the piggy bank. I also help with overall business strategy and pretty much serve as “business manager“ as it is defined in Microsoft lingo, which includes being on the hook for internal communications. I coordinate events like our involvement at PDC and TechEd (if you're coming, I'll see you there) as well as the upcoming p&p Summit. I've also helped initiate some new businesses within PAG like our “Emerging Practices” line of guidance that we did with Longhorn and are currently creating for Yukon. And I own the web-site that we are trying to make better for customers to navigate. The reason I write all of this is that I am a busy person like most people in the software business and there are a lot of things trying to grab my attention. So it's hard to get upset about what happened last week, but I must confess that I am frustrated...
So, we had a beer & feedback session on our early prototype last Friday. As we were doing some brainstorming on tweaking the prototype, one of the external “advisors” to patterns & practices suggested that we feature a blog on the main page similar to what the Architecture Center has with Steve Kirk. The response of most of the people in the room was “but no one on the patterns & practices team blogs”. UGHH!!! I've been blogging with fairly sizeable entries almost every week since like September or October. Six months later and most of my own team still doesn't know I blog! What makes it more amazing is that I haven't been keeping it a complete secret. It's been mentioned in presentations at team meetings. A year ago, I sent an e-mail to several of the PMs, developers, etc. to join me in a team blog. It's even on my e-mail signature!!! So, what's my point (besides random venting)? It's simply this: people have been completely desensitized to potentially valuable information that is put in front of them, whether it's links, mails, or general signs. When you think about it, how many different links are you exposed to on a given day? Whether it is advertisements, links to news articles, or e-mails that call out certain web-sites, we are constantly deluged with requests for our eyeballs. Let me give you another example. Recently, I spoke to a Microsoft evangelist that is a big p&p fan. He tells me “boy, it would be great if there was a community of 3rd party experts that could talk about patterns & practices guidance to help scale your team“. So I tell him about the GAPP (Guidance about patterns & practices), a group of guys that will be doing a lot of work around building with our blocks/guidance/etc. “Great,” he says. Then he says “you guys should do an event of some sort”. I respond “we're doing one. It's called the patterns & practices Summit and it's being led by the GAPP.” He say “that's great! You should tell more people about it. I didn't even know about it!” Then I said, “Did you know we have an internal e-mail newsletter that mentions the latest info on our group?” He responds “yeah, I love it!” Anyone want to guess what the second story was in the previous issue? That's right. The GAPP and the p& p Summit. But he missed it in the mail despite the fact that he loves the newsletter. Now, this moral of the story isn't to take a potshot at this guy. In fact, I know what he goes through. You sift through your Inbox, get the gist of the mail, and then hit delete. There's no time for details. We all do it and we miss a lot in the process. So it's not that we're not in front of the people, it's just that people aren't noticing. I am asking people to take something really valuable and I am giving it away. So I ask you all--what do I need to get people's attention? How do I let them know we're worth taking a couple of minutes to notice? No, I am not using scantily-clad models. Some will say we need to get Bill Gates to send a mail and, frankly, nothing would get me more excited that to have my hero send an e-mail on our behalf, but he's a busy man and he saves his influence for things like Trustyworthy Computing (and I don't blame him). And I don't really want to give away XBoxes or free products--I feel like we're giving away plenty with the guidance. And I should point out we don't have a big marketing budget, so I can't go on some Tablet PC-style warpath. I've tried the weekly webcasts (p&p Live every Thursday at 11am!), helped create the Summit, partnered with theserverside.net, and I even make personal appearances all over the place (though we've practically maxed out the travel budget). These have all really helped, but now I look to you--the people that somehow spent these few minutes listening to me babble. Help me raise it to the next level. Something must've brought you here. How can I get more people to pay attention. Post feedback or even e-mail me directly (user name is sandykh and my domain is microsoft.com--just trying to keep the bots away). And while we're on topic of feedback, if you'd like to see a prototype of the upcoming p&p website and give us some feedback, e-mail me. I'd love to hear what you think.