Knowledge is Power but…
I was discussing the SDN community the other day with a like-minded individual and wanted to summarise my thoughts within a blog with the hope that I can shift even one individual’s approach to knowledge sharing. The gist of the conversation was around how there are still many consultants in the world who are extremely capable, doing amazing things, but consider their knowledge to be the differentiator that gives them the edge over other consultants. Hence, they will advertise what they do face-to-face with others, but only provide a black (or grey) box view of the implementation. My hypothesis is that these types of consultants are setting themselves up for being just average in the future and this blog is a light-hearted view on why I think that and the benefits of sharing knowledge.
…the World is Changing
The following highlights some of the big changes over the last few years:
- NetWeaver is big and complex (in a good way now that dual stacks are no longer preferred ;-). Throw in methodologies and best practices like ITIL, Agile Methodologies, BPM, TDD, etc; and suddenly it’s hard to decide on the best way of doing anything!
- The SAP community is an amazing development within SAP. It’s taken quite a few twists and turns over the last few years in terms of shaping itself (forums, points, blogs, wikis, hatred of points including point mongers, demo jams, Mentors, EnterpriseGeeks, JonERP, etc), but seems to be in quite a groove right now.
- Governance is a big thing in mature organisations meaning cowboys’ days are numbered.
- With Twitter, SDN, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc; it’s becoming unusual to not have an online personality.
- People are hiring based on online personalities. For example, I tend to get concerned when you don’t have one and would run more extensive reference checks with people you’ve worked with via the people who do have an online presence (trusted relationships predominantly).
Well there is probably a couple of ways I could try convince you to start sharing:
- Scare tactics, or;
- Show me the money!
- Didn’t you read above that people won’t hire you if you’re not asking intelligent questions, or sharing your learnings with others through blogs, wikis; or even just comments on blogs/wikis. (This is not completely true, but if you want international roles,this could very well be an issue)
- NetWeaver is hard and now with added agility (i.e. Refer to co-CEO announcment)– we all need help to keep up. Unless you get online and active – you’re going to be very alone and do you really want to be pioneering with full accountability.
- A lot of people like to share, but if you never give back, the river will run dry over time.
- Building solutions that aren’t well documented is becoming a thing of the past in mature organisations. Architects playing a governance role will need to review what you’re intending to do prior to you doing it.
- You may become one of the above Architects and suddenly you find that no one knows what you know and you spend twice as much time getting everyone to do it the way you know is best when you should be just pointing them at a wiki or video you once compiled.
- Similarly, if you are not involved on SDN, others may have compiled these blogs for you already, and you could have simply pointed these inexperienced consultants at their blogs.
Show me the Money!
- Using blogs is an extremely powerful way of sharing a design/solution with the community to get feedback and improvements. Just make sure you don’t sell a client’s differentiating solution online as that may get you in trouble.
- Even if you’re only just in the first few years of picking up new skills but you need feedback on something you’ve designed or doing, create a wiki of your solution and post a forum request to get feedback. The approach will win you brownie points from an online personality perspective; and you could end up with a better solution. Note –Just make sure you don’t rush the wording as this does form part of your online Resume.
- Having the ability to build real connections via Twitter and LinkedIn gives you access to a wealth of undocumented information if used correctly (not abused).
- If you are extremely capable and combine with continued knowledge sharing, you will no doubt be nominated as a SAP mentor and be given rugby tops, free TechEd tickets, insights into all things SAP, and even having the chance to jam with Mark Finnern via video conferencing (I hear). This is currently the ultimate reward for sharing knowledge for passionate SAP’ers; but can also be taken away so to get here it needs to be a habit, not a target.
- And finally to show you the money, I believe the most positive aspect you can demonstrate for a new position is demonstrated pro-active learning combined with taking their lessons learned and sharing it with their community. These people know they are worth more than the average Joe and hence can ask for and expect more.
What’s the catch?
One really important aspect about knowledge sharing is that for the most part, businesses are still not ready for you to spend a few hours every month during a key project writing blogs (unless you have a very forward thinking company). Hence knowledge sharing when it comes to extended communications like blogs and new wikis does need to take place out of hours. Hopefully this doesn’t put you off, as you don’t have to be a blogger to make a difference and every bit of useful communications helps to make our community better. Hopefully this such article is a small example of this.