It's all about people, not about software

by Volker Weber

There are two interesting weblog posts today who talk about the Lotus community, one written by Thomas Duff, the other by Ed Brill. Go ahead and read them. They are both interesting and they both dance around a very important point without touching it. I gave it away in the heading:

It's about people. There would be no ILUG without Paul Mooney. And there would not be an accessible Lotus without Ed Brill. Period.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the product, with the brand, with the company. It's not about Notes, about Lotus, about IBM. It's all about people. Look around in your sports club, in your company, in your school, wherever. People make a difference, structure is all but an illusion. You can re-organize, elect new leadership, whatever. It will always be the same people who push things forward.

Keep yourself attached to people, not to products, brands or companies. I have been around when the OS/2 iceberg shrunk, but I am still attached to the same people. I have been around when the Fidonet iceberg shrunk, but I am still attached to the same people. If your particular iceberg is shrinking, do the same.

Why is Paul Mooney essential? He is such a humble and nice guy, that there is absolutely no way to say no to him. If he asks you to do something, you eventually will do it. Paul attracts friendship. You want to be his friend. And once you are, you get to organize conferences. As simple as that. Of course, behind every successful Paul, there is an Eileen who makes sure you deliver, but that's a whole different story.

Why is Ed essential? He divides the world in good and evil, and you want to be on the good side, right? RIGHT? Ok, ok, I fold my tent.

Ed makes an important point, btw. "we as a community did not do enough to recognize the leadership of Paul Mooney and Eileen Fitzgerald" If you went to ILUG, ask yourself what you did for them. I have organized one effort to recognize Paul and Eileen three years ago, and from that experience I know that there are tremendous differences between extremely generous folks and those who had a hard time chipping in ten bucks.

Everything eventually goes away. The graveyards are full of indispensable men. That is General Charles De Gaulle speaking. The graveyards are also full of indispensable software. Friendship and love last longer.


EXTREMELY well said, Volker... thanks

Thomas Duff, 2010-11-14

@Duffbert + 1

Bruce Elgort, 2010-11-14

Spot on Volker - well said - people are the only thing that matters.

Susan Bulloch, 2010-11-14

Volker, this is your best blog post ever. +2

john head, 2010-11-14

Perfect. The Lotus Community is what I miss the most about my old job.

Alan Lepofsky, 2010-11-14

After watching Paul/Eileen/Kitty/Warren/Matt/Coatsie/Kerr/Mike/(I am missing plenty) tirelessly run around ILUG again this week, they deserve the praise for running such an amazing event.

The user groups have become not only the mid-year technical events to get to, but a massive drive in community connectivity and involvement that has been missing.

Chris Miller, 2010-11-14

Thx for this. You are right "It is all about people".
Especially the "green shirts" and the speakers AND it is also about all the attendees coming from all over the world (we call it "Fußvolk" in german - is it "grass roots"?)

In one point I think a little bit different to you Volker: "It has absolutely nothing to do with the product..." I know what you are talking about, but I think you should delete the word "absolutely" because people especially communities have an second "focal point" and this point for the ILUG is the tool "LotusNotes/Domino" as it is LEGO (too) for Warren Elsmore and his wife, as we have learned at his presentation on ILUG.

Werner Motzet, 2010-11-14

There is nothing special about the product, the brand, the company, that makes a community special. It's people. It does not matter whether they pray to a god, admire a sports team or whatever. They don't have to have a faith. They have to be good people.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-14

Very well said indeed!

Johannes Wilms, 2010-11-14

Terrific post, vowe and I completely agree with your central point.

I do have one very small quibble on the edges of what you said. It is often very true that in a given community, especially one centered around the technologies provided by a vendor company, that the "face" of the vendor from the perspective of the community is distilled down to one person.

Ed Brill is hugely important as a major channel and interface for the Yellowverse with IBM, no question. He is a great guy, and (as you say) very approachable. Ed has done me numerous favors over the years, and I am glad to know him.

But let's also remember that there are others out there who also make IBM more "approachable" than it would otherwise be: Mary Beth Raven is a great example as are others such as Christian Holsing and Maureen Leland (I don't want to try to list everyone in this category, it would be too much typing).

Let's acknowledge everyone who makes the extra effort to help us out!

Bob Balaban, 2010-11-14

Bob, you are absolutely right. On the same token there are a lot of people who make ILUG happen.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-14

Thanks Volker , It is a very generous post, we always appreciate your support of ILUG and are proud to have you involved and associated with ILUG.

I was actually composing two blog posts in my head.. one for my personal Blog about the feelings of being part of such a community , and the extended family that is the ILUG team, the second for the GSX Blog on being a sponsor at such an event.
It is a team effort and the team ( green shirts ) and extend team ( IBM , Sponsors , Business Partners, Delegates ) all make it soo special.

I have to admit as the structuring ( clipboard , checklist queen ) in the background I have less to do every year as the team has it down. You are worried about mentioning individuals because everyone does soo much.

Its a very kind post , and I think you have it very correct about Paul being the driving force , the energy and drive that he gives the community is exceptional. And the wee lad is one of the nicest , smartest , most motivated individuals that I know. Proud to be associated with Paul , the team and the community in both a personal and professional manner.

Eileen Fitzgerald, 2010-11-14

I demand a new shirt for Paul: "Wee Lad" :-)

Volker Weber, 2010-11-14

Volker, you perfectly put down in words what's the essence of my understanding about the 'whole thing'. The only point I differ is, that I wouldn't say there isn't a 'structure' - it's just not what the people would call one ...

Jan Lauer, 2010-11-15

It's for posts like these that I keep on reading your blog (and the techno updates, and the funnies, and all the other updates... ).

Great post !

Alex Boschmans, 2010-11-15

Well said Volker - I'm proud to be a green shirt for ILUG and a blackshirt for UKLUG - It's all about the people for me.

Chris Coates, 2010-11-15

True, FTW!

Thomas Langel, 2010-11-15

I guess this is a recurring theme for conferences. Rachel Happe wrote "Finally, the best part of a conference like this is the people." about last week's Enterprise 2.0 conference (which I was at)

Alan Lepofsky, 2010-11-16

Thank you for making the point. It is all about the people and the equity that they bring to the organization cannot be measured in just mere numbers.

Sadly, most don't recognize the power of real connections. I can do more with a community 'leader' as opposed to $$$ in advertising.

Bilal Jaffery, 2010-11-16

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