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Personal Insights

SAP Community Members – Signal the Driver!

I am so excited by the recent SAP Champions announcement and seriously honoured and grateful to be part of this amazing group and program. I have made it my business over the years to encourage new members or to encourage older members that have not been visiting as much to get back involved. I’ve read a lot of material where people have generally been unhappy with the SAP Community so have exercised their rights to disengage. I personally find this very interesting, and of course disappointing and this is the topic of this blog post. The challenge and intention is to try and get them back into the conversation.

I remember back in Year 12 (a long time ago now 😊) studying a book called “Signal Driver” by Patrick White. I had to write countless essays on this book, about the themes/plot points, characters and whether it conveyed the main messages clearly to the reader. I have been thinking about this book for a while now and wish to draw parallels with what has been said and going on within the SAP Community. In summary, “Signal Driver” follows characters that wait at a public transport shelter over multiple time periods – first being a tram stop in the 1920’s and second being a bus stop in the 1950’s. Over this time of course the city has grown and changed – most things better but some things worse. In both time periods the characters wait at the transport shelter as a place of escape but every time they fail to signal the driver, they fail to get on board, they fail to take opportunities – while all the time watching the trams and buses go by. This of course is a metaphor I am using to summarise the SAP Community and more generally the involvement of all within it. The two different time periods in Signal Driver covers SCN and the current SAP Community we know. Yes, they are different but the world is also different now. The member base is different and so want different things from the SAP Community. I know there are some that used to be active in the SAP Community that are no longer – to me, they are watching from the same transport shelter and not signalling the driver like the main characters in the book.

This blog post is not a guilt trip by any means, it is simply a call to arms to say – how about engaging again to influence and have a positive impact on the SAP Community – basically trying to move the SAP Community in a way that you would like it to go instead of criticizing from the transport shelter and not signalling the driver to stop!

In this day and age, it is too easy to criticise, instead of getting involved and influencing – positively. Yes, I know this is the harder route but geez, the rewards for everyone within the SAP Community would be tremendous and this also means rewards for you as it would build a stronger, better community experience!

The other interesting concept from the book I feel is crucial is that two parties need to be involved although the primary focus of the book is with those not signalling. The characters in the novel need to signal the driver and contribute similar to the many ways in which SAP Community members can contribute. But the driver also needs to stop when they do so similar to the way Moderators monitor the different posts and the way those in charge are trying various ways to make the SAP Community experience the best it can possibly be. It is important to keep this in mind as the over arching objective.

In my brief research for this blog post on the book I found this to be a perfect summation (taken from http://www.complete-review.com/reviews/whitep/signald.htm) that described the characters in the novel.

Each time opportunity arises — whenever a tram or bus comes by — , they fail to signal to the driver, to get him to stop and pick them up. Much of life thus passes them by, as does opportunity, hope, the possibility of something new and different.

This to me perfectly explains those that have opted out of the SAP Community. To me the SAP Community is only as good as the people within it, the people that contribute both in answering questions or providing key technical information in the form of blog posts or those providing their personal insights into various topics. Yeah sure, there are some questions that are extremely basic or those from SI resources gaining knowledge when they should know it. Sure, there are blog posts from people trying to sell their own software or agendas but there are ways and means to down vote and comment on these types of posts. Just ignoring them then criticizing the community for accepting these posts is a cop out. To those community members that are not engaging due to this – how about trying to influence this by having your say instead of just doing nothing about it. How about you signal the driver in these cases so that you take up the opportunities presented. Don’t get me wrong I do see some providing this feedback to authors time and time again and it is a slow burn but in the end I believe the message will get through.

I’m sure some of these issues also existed in the old SCN as well just possibly shielded because of the member numbers within the SAP Community 10-15 years ago. I also know that in the most part people do not like change. In recent times there are more and more people using SAP and with this a differing level of skillsets and opinions as well as differing views on what the SAP Community is about. I know a lot of people comment on the type of content being included, suggesting some of it does not belong however I would suggest every Community contains information that either does not make sense or would not like to be included but for the most part the information within the SAP Community is spot on and helps a large amount of people on a regular basis. This should be the focus. Geez – every other day I am seeing posts on Twitter or Instagram that are just plain ridiculous, I would be interested to see how many people actually opt out of these apps due to this. I would think a low number yet they are super critical of the SAP Community.

So, how about we all work together and

  • Signal the driver on a regular basis. Flag the tram or bus down in order to provide a positive impact on the SAP Community.HOW: Like a blog post for a topic you are interested in or Upvote a good question that has been asked. There are plenty of blogs here.
  • Signal the driver so the tram or bus stops, so you can get on board and arrive at whatever destination you seek.HOW: Follow a tag so you can keep up to date with a specific topic or contribute to discussions.
  • Signal the driver in the hope of experiencing something different or something new.HOW: Check out the developer tutorials and learn something new. Follow new tags!
  • Signal the driver to actually contribute, have your say instead of letting opportunities pass you by.HOW: Write a blog post about your experiences, positive or negative to entice comments or feedback and to start a conversation about topics.
  • Signal the driver and identify when there is something you don’t like or when there is something that you do like to reinforce the positive behaviour or content.HOW: Downvote a question you believe should not be included in the SAP Community. Reply also to comments you believe are incorrect or comment on posts you don’t like but explain why.
  • Signal the driver and keep up to date with regular SAP Community updates.HOW: Sign up to the SAP Community newsletter here.

At the end of the novel the characters realise their missed opportunities and their futile gestures at not really being able to signal the driver and they are worse off because of it.  I would hate to think of the potential large amount of people out there that are also not signalling the driver and contributing to the SAP Community.

For those in the SAP Community that do signal the driver, keep it up! Check out the above proposals and SIGNAL THE DRIVER! on a regular basis. Maybe try something new or different?

Thanks for reading once again and feel free to leave a comment OR even better see if you can meet your #LikeSAPBlogChallenge or #AddCommentstoSAPBlogChallenge for today.

5 Comments
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  • Interesting thoughts, Phil. Thank you for taking the time to write them down.

    I’m not surprised when I see community members leave after major changes. Communities change over time, and so do community members. New members join, veteran members leave. They leave for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they just don’t care much any longer (and that’s fine; no reason to stick around, in that case). But when something has played a large part in your life, it can be hard to accept, that you have moved on. For members who have been going through the motions for a while, a major update to a community site (any site, not just our neck of the woods) can be the catalyst for leaving, that they’re consciously or unconsciously looking for. If I don’t like the changes (and there will always be stuff to dislike), my leaving is all about the site, and not about me having changed.

    • Thanks Morten Wittrock and as you would probably know I do like to write :-). Agree with your sentiments, I’ve got no problems if members decide to leave but to negatively comment on the sidelines is a slippery slope and if there are comments out there then they obviously care enough to provide feedback. In these cases I am suggesting they get more involved to positively influence the Community rather than being negative. As you said there is always stuff to dislike – especially these days where everyone is so precious amid the politically correctness nightmare we seem to live in.

      Thanks for reading anyway and thanks for joining in the conversation. This is my view only so am definitely interested in hearing others thoughts on this one.

    • An interesting comment indeed. I like it. I agree with it. I left for a few years and came back.

      I came back and was surprised at the different tone of the community. And wrote a fairly negative blog. <Sigh> But since this was the place I received many of my answers, I decided to stay and try to be a positive influence.

      Moving on is valid. There is more going on here than before. Right now there is a nice division between non-Hana and Hana.  (technical) There of course are more divisions than I can keep track of.  That was just an example.

      I think the interesting part is “why” are people moving on.  Actually some of them have written why in coffee corner.  Interesting reading.