Monday, October 25, 2010

Focus More on Birdhouse Less on Hammer

Mauro Cardarelli recently plugged something I said, "focus more on the birdhouse and less on the hammer." If Mauro hadn't used that analogy with me a few times before, I probably would have used a different one like, "focus more on the crazy noodles and less on the fork."

The birdhouse analogy refers to the focus of conversations and presentations at SharePoint related conference sessions, meetings, and discussions.  My underlying criticism is that it seems that the community has become more focused on what the SharePoint platform can do and not focused enough on the business solutions that we are building with the platform.  I think the community stands to gain a lot if more emphasis was placed on what we are building with the platform, why, and how we measure value to the businesses receiving these solutions.

I understand that we do need to know the SharePoint product well in order to develop useful business solutions with it.  However, I think it is easy for us become consumed by the SharePoint platform; and its capabilities and limitations and lose sight of the fact that SharePoint is merely a vehicle that helps us get to a destination.  The business solutions are the true end game, not the platform and tools we use to build the solutions.  Some of the design patterns and methodologies we find to be effective may even be transferrable to other technologies. 

As workers, we in the SharePoint community are responsible for ensuring that the solutions we develop will provide the outcomes that the sponsors and stakeholders expect. I think that if we spend too much time trying to figure out the best ways to get "there," and too little time on establishing complete and clear visions of where "there" is, then we are missing the target.  As a community, I think we may miss valuable opportunities to share lessons learned and best practices for solving common business problems using the SharePoint platform. 

When we only focus only on the hammer, we miss the point.  Let's have more conversations and presentations about the birdhouse, how we designed it, why we designed it a certain way, and what we learned from the whole experience.

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