Hogmanay is a Scottish word for the last day of the year and is used in connection with New Year from the Gregorian calendar. It’s a very old term and customs associated with it vary from one area of Scotland to the other, but often Hogmanay includes gift-giving and visiting the homes of friends and neighbours.
As a child of multiple cultures, I’ve grown up with the Hogmanay term and I felt the word is very appropriate for our community. More on that in a bit, as I hope you’ll indulge me in a bit of rambling as I collect my thoughts about some personal experiences that make me reflect on where we are today.
Some of you may be aware that 6 months or so ago I began a new hobby — not my first hobby of course but one I’ve wanted to start for many years. Living in such a digital world I often think that we’ve lost sight of many skills and I get surprised and excited when I come across other technology-driven folks who have similar hobbies. Growing up with one grandfather who was a Master Mason and the other that was a Master Machinist I’ve often been drawn to the world of craft. In the past years with events from RedMonk (such as Monki Gras and Monktoberfest), the desire to engage in a craft has done nothing but increase.
I started a few years ago with calligraphy, handmade paper and ink bottles. I was very excited, and I used to write letters sealing them with wax seals and mailing them via snail mail. I usually got an email response letting me know the letter was received and that it looked very nice 😕
Fast forward to a few months ago and I finally decided to dig out my old pewter casting equipment and I began casting again. I had a specific goal in mind but I severely lacked the specific knowledge around it.
I watched a few videos on YouTube and figured I was a pro now.
I mean that looks perfect!
The other side not so much. However, I was not deterred. I wanted to push forward and I still felt I knew enough and was skilled enough to succeed!
Quite simple according to YouTube: grab a drill and put a hole in the center, then stick it on a metal rod and start hammering.
The goal of course was to open it up to match my favorite ring, the one sitting right on top of the rough bit of metal, that I wear on my pinky. If I was good, I’d even try to replicate the Celtic knot design as well! This is when the first mistakes starting really impacting the process. First was the fact that it was a tapered metal rod not a straight one. The second is that you have to actually reheat metal to make it weaker but not too much because that apparently hardens it 😕
After a few hours of hammering and destroying my rubber-headed hammer, I realized that just a couple of YouTube videos an expert does not make…
My attempt was at the top and existing ring at the bottom. Brute force and simply evoking your will upon something is not always the best course of action. You need to think things through and decide on the right approach, and sometimes you need to make mistakes along the way to see what parts work and what parts don’t.
“I never lose. I either win or I learn.”
- Nelson Mandala
So, my journey really began at this point. I went back to YouTube and expanded my searches. I used what I had learned to help to refine my searches and figure out the next best step. I realized that a challenge I had as a child existed in my hobby as well — which of course has existed in everything I’ve ever tried to learn about to begin with: terminology.
Let’s be honest – terminology is our enemy! It’s the single biggest barrier to entry that all people face when they begin to learn something new. My tapered rod is actually called a “mandrel” and there are many different types. My rubber-headed hammer is a Jeweler’s mallet and there are dozens of different types. That heating of metal to make it softer is called “annealing” and to make it strong is a process of hardening then tempering all of which involves heating the metal.
As I began to follow more channels (including Instagram accounts) and entered different online communities, I had a better understanding of the various terms for the activities I was attempting, so I was able to ask more precise questions and get better responses. This led to my next casting being a bit of a different approach.
Here I used a ring mold and sand casting. From there I was able to quickly clean things up. In a fraction of the time I had a ring blank ready to begin crafting.
I decided to learn more about engraving and to start “smaller” than trying to go for a full-blown Celtic knot right away.
I did engrave it but I went simply with a groove (and because I can’t ignore my geek side, I filled it with a glow powder).
The past months have been an amazing experience that exposed me to many different community environments, and in all honesty the experience has shown me many parallels to our own SAP Community.
I’m certain those parallels are obvious to everyone and I’m also extremely certain that many of you will have different ideas of what those parallels are. The reality of being a member of SAP Community — a community of 2.8 million people from all over the world — means that interpretation, perception and perspective will always be different. The only way to move forward effectively is to ensure we keep channels of communication open and do our best to consider our choice of words and how we respond to each other. There are often preconceived notions of what inclusion or diversity means or how you may interpret actions we at SAP chose to make. A round metal rod could be a round metal rod, but it could also be a mandrel and really depends on the viewpoint from which you are observing it. Just like we’ve had our back and forth on what is a bug and what is not, our goals are to provide everyone the ability to connect, share knowledge and engage.
At this time of the year I can’t help but reflect. It’s a personal process of mine and it applies to all aspects of my life . So as you indulged me by reading about my personal journey of ring-making, I hope you’ll also take a moment for my reflections on the professional side.
The SAP Community has been part of me and my world since it began in 2003. In some cases it was more prominent than in other cases and now it’s all-consuming and the last months have been spent working to figure out the best ways to communicate with, advocate for, and enable all of you. Few of you are in the same boat as I am. For you, you’ve made a personal choice to spend some of your free time participating in the community. For me this is my full-time job. In many ways, I think I am much luckier because I get to focus 100% on working to bring the SAP Community to where I believe it can be. However, the downside is that as I spend more time helping others get information, I am no longer working daily with SAP technologies and can no longer often participate directly like all of you, which makes you luckier than I.
What I have discovered these past months is that no matter how often I look, I am constantly amazed at the wonderful new things and people I discover in our community (like when I am looking for pieces of stone to use in the next ring project). All of you make the community what it is and although not everyone is 100% happy or satisfied with how things are progressing, your input is always valuable and desired.
I’m still working to “follow” back everyone who follows me so they can send me direct messages if they want, and we are of course monitoring the “SAP Community” tag for any questions posted — especially [BUG] reports, so please keep those coming.
We are in the process right now of making sure we have all items captured and logged, and those that have been fixed we are cleaning up and marking them as closed. This is an activity that had fallen down a bit on our side, but we are determined to ensure all reported [BUG] entries are responded to and acknowledged.
My focus last week was to go through the “SAP Community” tag and work through everything I could find there. I thought it best to also explain that work in the Coffee Corner for those wondering where and why all the updates started taking place. The 10 open [BUG] reports I’ve responded to that we are working with the platform team — we will be responding with updates that we’ll be reviewing and prioritising those reports on the 21st of Jan. I’ve set a recurring meeting every other Monday for the sole purpose to review any reports that come in. This does not mean though that we will not be responding or engaging faster should issues arise. Critical issues will of course be addressed quickly.
Now what about improvement or change requests? After several numerous updates the past months I personally feel that we are once again in a position to address requests. Also while reviewing bug items submitted via Q&A (tagged with SAP Community), I noticed some improvement suggestions were submitted there as well — so I wanted to share details here with you now on how we envision things working.
Our current roadmap is planned out for the next 6 months, so yes things are planned or somewhat planned out for the first half of 2019 and many of these items are items we feel are critical to ensuring a stable platform and a solid foundation to move forward. Before you ask, no, the whole roadmap is not going to be shared publicly yet. At some point we will be sharing it but right now we are still working to get things on track, and as a result of the nature of the changes, priorities are still shifting somewhat, and we do not want to promise things that may not happen.
We also want to ensure that there is flexibility should something be brought up or come up that we feel needs to happen sooner than something else. So how can you share your own thoughts, suggestions or requests? There is one single channel dedicated to this and one that we have spent a lot of time reviewing the past month or so. It’s the “SAP Community – Customer Influence site.” You can find it here.
There are 119 requests marked as already delivered or already offered. These were marked based on the idea that the majority or a significant portion was delivered or provided. The age of some of these requests made things difficult to be honest as things had changed over time making some of the requests no longer valid. Each request was evaluated and the elements that worked with our strategy were what we focused on. Here’s a short list of examples:
- Suggestion: More user friendly video tutorial to SCN guide must be develop and shared.
- Need a mail notification feature when the question raised under tags
- Sharable profile page URL
- Restrict changes to the question after answer is provided
- Detailed User Profile
- Alternative flat list view instead of threded view structure
- Insert picture while writing blogs
- Ability to find list of questions posted by me
- How to better communicate with Moderators for Blogs
- Display icon for answered questions (or similar)
- Change Community URL community.sap.com
- Add Primary Tag and filters against the blog, questions and answers
- Providing statistics by primary tag
- Email notifications
There were also 62 items that were decided that we would not pursue. In most cases these were items that simply did not match our priorities. In some cases, the request is something outside of our own environment. Some examples were, setting up of peer reviews for the blog posts. We offer that functionality already but with a smaller focus group and private reviews do not help the broader audience learn or grow. With over 68k authors and almost 300,000 members logging in daily, it would be difficult to manage. Another one which may come back onto the list was about navigating questions: Next / Previous question buttons when in Q&A. The challenge though is that this one in particular focuses on a specific subset of the overall audience and we really need to make sure that we are addressing the broader audience at the moment. Some of the requests were not easy to go through and make decisions on so we had to make tough choices. Finally, there was another request about blocking users from asking more questions if they had too many open. It’s a tough one and there are multiple arguments in both directions looking at the stats — though the overall average of open questions was fairly reasonable.
There are also 22 items in the system we are evaluating for inclusion into Q1 and Q2 of 2019. Any new requests you happen to submit now we will begin evaluating in Q2 for inclusion in Q3 of 2019. There is even the first one that we’ve applied to the 2019 and released just yesterday, Bookmarks.
We are committed to the SAP Community and the SAP Community is a priority for SAP, both now and for the future. I’m still answering as many mails, dm’s and communications I receive, and the phone calls and the chance to actually talk to you have been amazing. I look forward to further collaboration and communications in 2019! There are a lot of things coming in 2019. It’s shaping up to be a fantastic year!
We’ve a bigger focus on our Community Calls. We want to scale those up and bring more valuable information to all of you. We have a huge focus on our reputation and recognition elements (more on that in the near future), and our topic pages are still scaling up and being added. SAP TechEd planning is already starting as is planning around new programs in the community around diversity, recognition, communication and knowledge sharing.
We’re working to add more tutorial style content like our tips and tutorial videos, podcasts, and a continued focus on all of you. We’ve set an aggressive pace to kick off 2019 with a lengthy list of activities focused on content, guides and communications.
Our community and reputation advisory boards are relaunching this month, These are groups made up of various members like yourselves that are designed to help guide us as we lay out our roadmap, strategies and decisions for the future of the SAP Community. Confirmations from the various members we have approached have already been coming in, so we are excited to connect with them and discuss things.
I’m personally excited about 2019. I hope all of you are as well and I look forward to engaging and interacting with as many of you as I can over the course of the year. We’ve continued strong and steady with not only all of you but with continued growth, contributions and interactions.
And speaking of interactions…you don’t have to limit those to blog posts and Q&A. Don’t forget we have the Coffee Corner, the off-topic area where we encourage all members to start and join fun conversations. It’s the perfect place to get to know members better — and to share a little about yourself. If you’re not sure how to jump in, start by letting us know what you’re planning for 2019. If you’re a LEGO fanatic, tell us about your creations. Better yet…start a whole new conversation about your favorite hobby or craft (as I did in this post). It’s a great way to connect with other members with common interests — a vital part of any successful community.