How the Goat was a Successful Failure
(Or How we tried to bring a Goat to TechEd and failed)
In adjusting to the latest chapter in my life of insomnia being replaced by sleep-deprived sprints of feeding a newborn I started to think about my time with SAP Community. Nursing bub at 3am did not really require much mental gymnastics so the creative side of me took over and I concluded that it would be awesome to bring Goats to Tech Ed in Vegas this year. Now I must admit that I’ve never been to a Tech Ed and yes, I’m talking actual living goats. Fortunately, with time zone difference, Sue Keohan was a simply chat session away. She was on board and suddenly we found ourselves researching how to bring a goat to TechEd and brainstorming what that goat would do.
The goat would be randomly walked through the halls of TechEd with anticipation of people pausing mid-sentence and looking around them room to check that there really is a goat and wonder why it’s there. Curious and confident people would approach the goat herder (picture a person with a big bell calling our community sessions) and ask them why the goat at TechEd. Conversation and discussions would ensue about how the history of the goat and then who knows where the conversation would lead to – perhaps a chance to talk about community or anything as random as a goat. Well that’s what our rose-coloured glass had us envisage. We even thought to continue the community goodwill and throw in a few collection boxes for Animal Welfare (we were assured that these goats were social and would not be distressed by a few thousand humans scratching their heads).
There will be no goat at TechEd.
Fortunately, our scheming hadn’t gone as far as a financial commitment of hiring the goats, purchasing the stickers and the plush toys – oh yes, you’d be surprised what procrastination and boredom could lead to. We even had design concepts in the pipeline! And of course, we’d hope to trend #sapgoat, #hannathegoat and #sapgoatpic. There was a moment where we both let our imagination get well and truly ahead of logic and practicalities.
I’ll admit that my activity levels have been almost non-existent these past few months. I’ll also admit that bub isn’t the only reason my motivation to login and interact has taken a nose dive compared to how obsessive I had been with community participation over the previous few years. Attempting to bring a goat to TechEd brought back memories of when I was last motivated and passionate with SAP Community. It made me smile and go looking for the status update of where the goat existed.
Our attempt to bring a goat to TechEd resulted in me searching through my inbox to find evidence of the goat’s existence. He (though we did call him Hanna) became lost in the land of the Interwebs as status updates were not migrated and Internet Archive didn’t collect them but fortunately I had been lazy in cleaning out my inbox and so I could piece together a few of the status update banters that started in June last year. Coffee Corner regulars may have also come across goat references and wondered what they were about.
It motivated me to write this blog. It reminded me of the most important part of the community: our people. It made me realise that the platform will continually evolve but we need to find a way to support each other before we lose anymore content quality.
The goat started as an attempt by Sue to use an analogy to explain to a beginner what the difference between a status and a question/discussion was. In this analogy, Sue tried to explain that a status update is like writing ‘I just got a new goat and he’s awesome’. Well, a few of us loved that idea and turned it into a status update and suddenly the goat came to be used as in several analogies and would randomly crop out from time to time. I have tried to piece together as many of these conversation threads based on emails in my inbox and have put them as individual comments below this blog.
Failing to bring the goat to TechEd made me realise that we can all rebuild community by bringing back the people who made it worth it for us. Failure brought me back: it inspired me to write this blog (a challenge to find the time) and want to log back into community and participate. We can bring back other friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and random strangers by investing a small amount of time on a regular basis to do at least one of these:
- Encourage our colleagues to get back to community – sign up; login; post a question; reply to a question or like something. Explain to them the benefit of a strong community that shares knowledge freely.
- Show appreciation for the content producers’ efforts – press like or upvote/downvote content; add a comment or a reply to a thread; and advertise someone’s blog or intelligent replies via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, other social media, internal work emails.
- Continue to be constructive in feedback to SAP Community Team – keep raising Ideas and calling out issues of the platform. Go to the Ideas Place and vote for the Ideas in there; Read the release notes and roadmap blogs and add your two cents. Both negative and positive feedback are always needed!
- Contribute to the content quality – follow the rules of engagement answer questions; mark your answers as complete; write blogs or even alert moderator to poor content. Get out of the shadows and actively involved.
- Remember the goat
This investment – a cost of your time and willingness to share your thoughts and knowledge – brings a renewed interest in community. And with that,
Would love to hear from you about the times you have been passionate about community and how you think you can bring the people connection back – and not just about the platform issues (although I acknowledge them). And what do you think you could bring to TechEd to help connect with people and inspire the community rebuild?
Finally, what could beat a goat for an out there, random idea that would have everyone scratching their heads? If you could bring anything to TechEd what would it be?
Colleen, Sue and Hanna the Goat.
P.S. I’ve added some of the status update threads that I was able to piece together in the comment threads. This is based on email notifications that I received on the Jive platform (one of the reasons I see notifications as important). Feel free to add comments for the gaps or fill in the story gaps based on what you remember. Hey, feel free to re-continue the banter.