The True Value of a Community
A community member’s recent comment on a blog started a lively exchange about SCN being a “community” or “just a tool”. I chipped in my two cents there but after some further thought, I felt that maybe it might be worth its weight in gold to be highlighted in a blog post.
Below is my response reproduced in whole:-
Let me share the finest example (IMHO) of the value of this community, which coincidentally happened just today.
I was given a task to assess a new requirement and I recall it sounded similar to some of the conversations I had with another community member on that. So I sent out a short email which sounded like “hey I got this, wasn’t this what we talked about regarding the challenges you faced on your recent project?”
Lo on behold, I received an email at the end of my work day which was 3-4 pages long detailing all the specific challenges with the requirement and how each was addressed, what the official response from SAP was, links to the blogs that the member has published regarding certain aspects of the challenges and even included a slide deck on the work done! It probably would have taken at least 30 minutes to compose that comprehensive reply.
And from my end, I had just expected a “ya, this was exactly what we talked about previously” to confirm if it was a same requirement or not.
Now imagine that…. and consider the fact that
- Both of us are not SAP employees
- We live 8 timezones apart
- We only started to interact with one another in the last 1 year
- We have never met in person (but will do so when both of us attend TechEd Barcelona for the first time this November 🙂 )
This is not something that you can get searching on OSS, SCN or Google. This is not something you can get by posting a discussion thread asking for answers.
And this wouldn’t have happened if both of us were not participating in SCN and saw it as just a tool rather than a community.
Additionally from my own experience, I have grown so much professionally (technical skills and otherwise) due to my participation here on SCN which was just over 2 years, and I would dare say you would too and invite you to do the same. You won’t regret finding the time to do so! 😉
PS: I’d suggest you have a look at the Member of the Month’s to see what inspires others to do the same
With the impending 1DX launch, some of us have voiced our misgivings (I’ve certainly had a few!) on the impact of its premature launch date.
However, my experience as mentioned in the comment above has come as a timely reminder for myself as to the true value of this community. It is not in the platform, Jive or 1DX or any other for that matter. It is not in great features that was promised in 1DX and not delivered. It is not in how fancy 1DX will look like on a mobile device. It is not in whether or not the search will work, or if the blogs will be migrated properly.
The true value of this community is in its people.
This community has shown me a world beyond the physical boundaries of my workplace and my home.
This community has opened my eyes and my mind.
This community has challenged my viewpoints, and helped me grow because of that.
This community has exposed my bigotry and shown me the errors of my often self-righteous ways.
This community has shown me kindness and grace when I myself have fallen short of the mark.
This community has welcomed me and given me names that I could call friends.
This community has given me laughter and fun when we were seeing goats everywhere!
In no particular order, thank you Bhavesh Kantilal Colleen Hebbert Jason Cao Jelena Perfiljeva Jeremy Good Matt Fraser Michael Appleby Tammy Powlas Vadim Klimov Veselina Peykova Roberto Cantero Jürgen L Simone Milesi Christopher Solomon Raphael Pacheco Steffi Warnecke Susan Keohan and to the countless many who daily continue to find their sense of belonging in this community.
And to the mysterious individual who nominated me for SAP Mentors. I might never know who you are (unless I’m able to pry that information off Jason), but I am truly grateful and indebted for that.
Come 1DX (warts and all), yes, we will miss the status updates and other what-nots, but that won’t stop us from being the community we are and have always been.
Because when all else is stripped apart, the true value of this community is in its people.
Whoa!!! Thanks for the shout out! haha And thanks MORE for putting this blog together.....which....wait a second......is part of being involved in the community! "He gets it! He really gets it!!!!!" 😉
Many of us "old timers" from around here (SDN represent, yo!!! haha) might appear at times to have grown cynical from the almost constant "give me! give me! give me!" these days the "community" seems to have become (some have even called it a "free 3rd party help/support desk for consulting firms"). But thankfully we have GOOD people like you to swing back in and remind us why we are all here in the first place and why many of us have "stuck it out" through the years.
Of course, you can not force people to shift from "takers" or "lurkers" into "participants" but I think if many of them would give it a try, they would find out that the value they get from SCN will be far more than they ever dreamed. What might start as simply spending a few minutes of your morning or before lunch or on break answering some forum questions or posting up a blog about your thoughts on the current state of your area of expertise could very well lead to friendships and new knowledge you never thought possible.
Wait a second...I think I got some dust in my eye...... (haha)
Thanks Eng for mention, it's an honor to me!
I share the same thought as you. We are people who love information and transfer of knowledge, even though it is a daily hard work, but we must remember how it is gratifying to hear us (or read) one: "Wow, that's cool this feature" or "Thanks, you helped a lot"... these kinds of rewards are the best, because connections are created between people. I hope this "new" SCN do not miss it, and we can always have this collaborative feedback.
Wow, Eng Swee, that's truly impressive! I agree with every word you wrote. The collaboration platform itself is the basis, but it is filled with content created by community members - and this is where its value shows off. It is the fact which shall be accepted that community members are very diverse in their aims and ultimate goals of utilizing the platform - but I'm very thankful and respectful to you and other professionals who are consistently bringing creative and outstanding ideas and elegant solutions, and sharing them with other community members. Apparently and most probably, this is all done in your spare time or in between other daily activities and, with no doubt, requires thorough analysis behind the scenes, before the technical article or blog is finally posted and is delivered to the community - but this is the attitude that drives the entire community and the platform. Hats off for your ongoing efforts and hard work, and for such encouraging and inspiring post!
My very best regards,
There is a lot of Community members and a bunch of Mentors... for me Eng Swee Yeoh has an special spark. I have no the fortune to meet him in person but I'm sure he is transmitting his attitude in live to his work and to this Community. Thanks you for share your huge knowledge and for your undeserved mention to me.
Please keep doing... keep touching our hearts! 😉
Perhaps you should replace 'Community' on Wikipedia with this - amazing!
For the first time in a long while I am speechless...
I must admit that I went through a cynical phase myself after being on SCN a while. It was knowing that I wasn't the only one, advice from "old timers" like you, and seeing how you all "stuck it out" over the years that helped me navigate through that rocky path. It was at the end of that tunnel that I found the true value of this community, and I'm glad I did not give up when that was probably the easiest way out.
The pleasure is mine really. It was members like you who welcomed me with open arms with your encouragements and that helped spur me on in this community.
It is not my intention that this blog degenerate into a "huge pat on the back" session amongst members, but believe it or not, when I first started on SCN, it was individuals like yourself that set the exemplary standards to which I hoped to measure myself against. Thank you for all that you are to this community!
That was exactly how I felt when I read through that email last week *jaw dropped*
@Jeremy - *grin* thanks!
Eng Swee, Firstly I am humbled to have been called out as someone you know who works tireless for the community. 🙂
I have been around this community since 2005 ( thats way too far back ), was extremely active till around 2009, became a SAP Mentor, got sceptical / took additional non technical responsibilities at work and became a passive contributor till about sometime last year when i started re-contributing because I suddenly had way too much time on my hands 🙂
Look at the PI forum where you and me spend most of our time and you will see a trend where the major contributors keep changing every once in a while and this is something that I found very pleasing when I came back earlier this year to main stream contribution again! What I have realised during my time off from SCN and back is that the torchbearers of the community keep changing, people contribute and come to the forefront.. then move on and the torch gets handed over to the next person and so on..
All of us have our own motivations - I started off with points being my motivation ( and those days we were given some cool T Shirts for every points milestones ), and then it was the fact that I was learning from other people's experiences - I doubt I would know as much as I did, had I not been answering questions on the forums and looking at problems I would never have had in my own project/ work!
Some might say hey this is a tool for me - and honestly I have no issues with it. At the end of the day, for them it is a platform where they come ask a question get it solved and go back to their day jobs. For me - it is as you said the people, the problems and the fact that this is my go to place to learn new things and help quench my thirst to keep my self updated (& relevant ) in the market that keeps me coming back!
Do I get frustrated when I see answers on the forum for "points" - Absolutely!
Do I get frustrated when I realise that for many people this is just a mode to gain some publicity so they can put there contributions on there CV, thereby reducing some of the brand value of SCN - Quantity vs Quality - Absolutely!
Do I get frustrated when the questions I was answering 10 years back are repeated even today - Absolutely!
Do I get frustrated when there are a bunch of links shared in response to a question - Absolutely!
The list of frustrations can keep going on and they are perennially the same irrespective of Jive / 1DX or whatever the new technology platform of the future will be ..But..
Have I built some personal relationships from SCN - absolutely!
Do people recognize me when I introduce myself at meetings ( Even Customers do ) - absolutely!
Have some people reached out to me and told me - hey I helped them out and saved them truck loads of time - absolutely!
Do I get some pride when I google my name ( I hope I am not the only one ) - And my SCN contributions show up - absolutely!
Do I get some pride when I google for a topic and again I see my own answers / blogs - absolutely!
Do I get some joy when my colleagues ping me and say - hey I was searching for this and look what I found ( a post from 2006 / 2007 😛 ) - absolutely!
Eventually, where I am leading towards is - as with everything else in life - its how we look at it, I look at it half glass full, look at it for what I get out of this place and that's how it is for the one's who spend hours and hours on this community!
Cheers to you and everyone else who spends time on this community ( whatever their motivation )! It is all the people who makes up this place a place to hang out even 11 years since my 1st contribution here 🙂
While I know their are people in SCN who share my perspective (or relatively closely) in regard to what makes the community great, it is wonderful to see and hear their thoughts.
Thanks Eng Swee for starting this thread and for all your efforts in keeping the quality high. It is truly a pleasure working with you.
From someone who has probably seen in all since 2005, thanks for your comment. I definitely resonate with much of what you've written.
And yes, you are not the only one who googles their own name! 😛
This community, both on this platform and the next, is better for having you. Thanks for all your contributions.
One can never be sure where one will find mentors in life -- as distinguished from but not necessarily separate from Mentors in SAP -- but if you open your eyes and look about you may find such life mentors in perhaps unexpected places. Today, I have found another such mentor, and his name is Eng Swee Yeoh.
Eng Swee, thank you for reminding us of that which we know, or should know, but sometimes temporarily forget. Thank you for opening our eyes and challenging our viewpoints. Thank you for showing us kindness and grace. And thank you for helping us to see past the goats. 😉
Wow... thanks Matt. Now I've got some dust in my eyes.....
Thank you Eng Swee for sharing your experiences and journey with members of this community! I've tried to put it in other ways and with different analogies (Can a community exist without members?), but clearly you have captured the essence of "community" and demonstrated what impact a single voice can have.
I think our friends from SCN will agree that when we take the time to get to know one another, we end up learning a lot about ourselves. 😆
What a wonderful post (and discussion in the comments!) on the value of community! I could not agree more, it is all about people and the relationships. It always amazes me to see this in action: The collective knowledge and experience in this network, combined with a true passion for sharing and helping each other. It is something very special.
hi Eng Swee,
First of all it's great to have you as an SAP Mentor in SAP PO area 🙂 Sounds like it was a very good choice 🙂 I just cannot agree more that it's only people as without SDN/SCN I would not be able to met Marilyn Pratt nor Mark Finnern without whom IMO there would be no place for us to collaborate 🙂 But during last 12 years here I've seen many similar things and in many cases those short encounters gave birth to a much longer relationship (for example with Kevin Wilson my 2004 ALE/EDI guru who hepled me and Shabarish Vijayakumar to write a book originating in SDN articles. Same with Roberto Viana and John Bilay (guys who wrote a largest SAP PO book among other and the second one became my mentor in many other aspects of life too). Not to mention Bhavesh Kantilal who inspired me many times to stay a bit longer on SDN and maybe compose another blog to keep up with him. Then there's Daniel Graversen
another SAP PO Mentor with whom I always meet at the teched and another Mentor in the same space - Agasthuri Doss 🙂
Eng Swee, congratulations once more and hope to meet you in person in BCN teched
Thanks for your comment, Michal. It is a testimony to the timeless value of this community (long may it continue!). People may come and people may go, but the friendships that we make here (hopefully) last a lifetime 😉
Yes, let's meet up in Barcelona in a month's time.
Eng this is a great blog and one of the final thought leaderships ones as we transition to the new platform
Thanks for including me in a wonderful bunch of names, including the Goat.
I recall mentioning a similar comment to Gali recently: we will have teething issues as we migrate but so long as we band together as the community and keep pushing for change and improvement then we'll get there.
I am forever grateful of this community from both a profession and personal point of view. This community has helped me develop my technical skill through new concepts, revisiting and challenge outdated thoughts and completely new topics outside of my core. It has motivated me to start writing and get my thoughts out to the world without fear of being judged of failure. It has laughed and cried with me.
I've become relatively quiet recently and am happy to see we continually have new people embrace community and give back.
Thank you for sharing your experience Eng Swee. It is wonderful to read another example which highlights the power of community.
And I agree with Colleen Hebbert as we move forward, as long as we continue to work together for our common goal, we will be able to create positive change and help even more members support one another, no matter how far apart they are.
Yes. Very nice blog and yes, the community is important. I have several folks here in the community that I have met over the years and been able to interact with here (old SCN), email and in person.
I even had the opportunity to host a few at our home. Including one friend from India who we introduced to his first peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And he was also a tad nervous with the concept of dogs in the house as pets!
I’ve shared several meals and beers with folks, sometimes just passing through airports on layovers.
Maybe I’ll get a chance to meet you in Barcelona too in a few weeks!
Hi Eng Swee,
I am just now catching this blog because I had not participated in the beta but it was fantastic. A few weeks back I was encouraging several colleagues to come here when they have time to participate in the community - for several of the reasons that you have mentioned. Sometimes I find myself reviewing blog notes on things that I can never remember off the top of my head (your MTB blog for instance) and other times I come to help others out with whatever might be pressing. I enjoy helping but also in the end it helps strengthen my own skills - a lot of times simply participating for the sake of it while never having worked on such a thing before. Many times I find that it brings in new perspectives that I hadn't previously considered as well. Anyways, another community member that values your contributions.
Eng Swee, you have been one of the major contributors to SCN in recent times and for young learners like me, you are one of the inspiration. The way you answer the queries and your queries on the blog has helped me learn so much and inspires me to contribute like all of you out there.
I am privileged to known personally, two of the greatest and oldest contributors to SCN Bhavesh Kantilal and Shabarish Vijaykumar.
Will look forward to meet all the SAP mentors in the near future. There is lot to learn from you all and walk on the foot-steps left behind by you all..