Archive for the ‘Personal’ category

New Blog Site! This will be my last entry on this one.

March 23, 2010

Great news! I will now be blogging at http://www.rharbridge.com which is my new blog site. This is a major move for myself as I intend to try and focus on blogging on other topics besides just SharePoint in the future, so I didn’t want to clutter this one.

I will be leaving this site intact with all of it’s entries (so it doesn’t break anyone linking to it), but I would love for anyone and everyone to come to my new site and let me know what they think. How can it be improved? What errors or issues do you see?

Looking forward to sharing and learning with you in the future,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Tips from Indiana Jones?

December 23, 2009

I just commented on Michael Gannotti’s latest post “The Adventure Begins… Productivity Adventures” about how Indiana Jones had a lot of good business lessons. I decided I could probably expand that into a short blog post in case someone out there finds this stuff interesting.

So what sort of lessons, or tips can Indiana Jones teach us that are related to achieving a successful SharePoint?

  1. You have to have the courage to take on something challenging.
    Indiana Jones never ran away from a Challenge (well not the ones that mattered). It’s important to first be ready and dedicated to accomplishing a goal. SharePoint is a very challenging thing to implement successfully, and the business problems it helps solve are even more daunting. Courage always helps.
  2. Know your limits and what your good at.
    Remember that scene when Indiana Jones is being chased by that giant unstoppable boulder? While courage is important you still need to know your limits and when it makes sense to ‘run away’. Or in a business sense cut your losses. Sometimes things are unstoppable and we have to be ready to admit it to ourselves to help us survive (hopefully with lots of lessons learned so we don’t do it again). Not every idea you come up with is going to work. SharePoint certainly has limits of it’s own and you also need to understand these.
  3. Simplicity is often the best option. (Gun vs Sword)
    There is a scene, Gun vs Sword, where a scary bad guy is waving his sword around and there is a build up where you expect a big fight. Instead Indy pulls out his gun and just shoots the guy. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DzcOCyHDqc) Sometimes the solution to something is simple and there is no need to make it more complicated. This is especially important for SharePoint as complexity often leads to bad choices being made, especially when it’s unnecessary.
  4. You need to know your stuff and be ready to learn.
    Indy is a super subject matter expert and professor in his field with plenty of knowledge about history, archeology and foreign lands. If you are diving into something like SharePoint you should hit the books first, and will need to learn a ton. Not only about the technical aspects but also about the business, and business processes you will be effecting by your SharePoint implementation.
  5. You don’t have to be a superhero.
    Indiana Jones was more or less an ordinary guy who did extraordinary things. We can all be just as extraordinary as Indy. Anyone can implement SharePoint successfully. I mean that.
  6. Some things never change.
    Indy uses pretty old fashioned methods, and techniques often and they work. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if something works. Think about even the traps he faces, most of these are extremely ancient, but still serve their purpose (albeit they aren’t up to the daunting task of taking out Indy). In SharePoint the challenges we face aren’t new. They aren’t unique either.
  7. Know what your are afraid of, or bad at and let other people help.
    Indy was afraid of snakes. He knew it, and we all knew it (because he shared that openly). As a result it is much easier to work around the fears.
  8. You can’t do it alone.
    He also wasn’t the best at everything, and without the help of other people could never have achieved all that he did. Implementing SharePoint successfully is absolutely a team effort and involves many people working hard and effectively together.
  9. You have to believe in yourself and it doesn’t hurt to be unique or have your own image.
    Indiana Jones has a very unique outfit and look. When you see it, it tells you a lot about him and his style, personality and attitude. Your own portal should also have a brand, it’s own attitude even. You also have to believe in it, and get other people to as well. If you don’t think SharePoint is a good  thing, then why should anyone else?
  10. You have to see things through and stay focused.
    Indiana Jones always stayed focused on the treasure or end goal. Constantly moving towards it regardless of significant obstacles. It’s a long difficult journey or adventure to that treasure of an effective SharePoint implementation, but when you get there it is absolutely worth it.

This was fun and I hope you enjoyed it or got something out of it,
Richard Harbridge

Indiana Jones teaches us a lot about important business things. As an example I will go through a couple here.

1. You have to have the courage to take on something challenging. Indiana Jones never ran away from a Challenge (well not the ones that mattered). It’s important to first be ready and dedicated to accomplishing a goal.

2. You need to know your stuff and be ready to learn. He is a super subject matter expert and professor in his field with plenty of knowledge about history, archeology and foreign lands. If you are diving into something like SharePoint you should hit the books first, and will need to learn a ton.

3. You don’t have to be a superhero. Indiana Jones was more or less an ordinary guy who did extraordinary things. We can all be just as extraordinary as Indy.

4. Know what your are afraid of, and work around it. Indy was afraid of snakes. He knew it, and we all knew it (because he shared that openly). As a result it is much easier to work around the fears.

5. You have to believe in yourself and it doesn’t hurt to be unique or have your own image. Indiana Jones has a very unique outfit and look. When you see it, it tells you a lot about him and his style, personality and attitude.

6. You have to see things through and stay focused. Indiana Jones always stayed focused on the treasure or end goal. Constantly moving towards it regardless of significant obstacles.

So I think the photo-shopped picture is perfect Mike! Looking forward to seeing more from your adventures soon,
Richard Harbridge

SPC09 and The Mississauga SharePoint User Group

October 27, 2009

Well the SharePoint Conference 2009 in Las Vegas is over. I will be watching the many recorded sessions I didn’t get to see (which was quite a few of them) and really enjoyed the opportunity of talking with so many familiar faces in the SharePoint community as well as a bunch of ones I had not met before. I even got to be on camera a couple times thanks to Dux’s great “what would you do if SharePoint never existed” videos (http://duxquax.com/what-rharbridge-would-do-if-sharepoint-never and http://duxquax.com/what-wonderlaura-would-do-if-sharepoint-never) and photo happy SharePointers.

I also have to admit that this was the first large conference where I relied on twitter for my updates and direction and it didn’t fail me once. Knowing where everyone was, what they were up to, their opinions on content, as well as reading some of the live blogs really made the entire conference experience much more enjoyable and engaging for me personally.

On Live Blogging

Among many others I did some live blogging with EndUserSharePoint to help share the experience and if your interested I can be found in group two here: http://www.endusersharepoint.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/SPC09-AllStreams.htm

Some simple lessons learned on live blogging:

  1. Get to the session early so you can score an electrical outlet. There aren’t many of these and they go pretty fast.
  2. It’s probably easier to record everything and add thoughts to points after the session is over than it is to articulate those thoughts while still maintaining concentration on the presentation.
  3. Don’t transcribe everything. Just grab the important points (if everything seems important only the most important or the points that stand out to you personally).

Do you have any thoughts on how I can improve?

I was a little sad that all the sessions I have seen so far were so high level, but considering 2010 was new to almost everyone there it did make sense. For me personally my favorite parts were the discussion group sessions (especially the social computing one) with the Microsoft teams as well as the IT Analyst session where I got an opportunity to talk a bit more in depth with Tom Rizzo and many industry analysts about SharePoint, the economy, partnerships, and Microsoft’s direction.

Be sure to check out things like Joel’s thoughts on the conference/2010, the videos at http://www.mssharepointconference.com and the many blogs that covered the event and are now talking about SharePoint 2010 features and changes.

User Groups and SharePoint Camp!

Upon returning to a much colder Canadian climate I could see the excitement was still very much alive. In fact just last night (Monday October 26th) the Mississauga SharePoint User Group had it’s first meeting at Microsoft! A huge congratulations to Ray Outair for his passion in getting this going as well as Eli, Bill and everyone else who has supported this and came out to the first meeting. For me personally this is really important as it offers many people who are unable to get downtown Toronto for the Toronto SharePoint User Group sessions a chance to still talk, share, and support one another.

As a reminder there will be another SharePoint 2010 session hosted by the Toronto SharePoint User Group this wednesday (October 28, 2009) which will also be shared via live meeting. I will post the linkage onto twitter as soon as the live meeting address is confirmed.

Here is the session abstract:

Presented by Savash Alic (Microsoft Canada) Principal Specialist, Ent Sales – SharePoint (MOSS, WSS, MCDBA, MCSE certified, MBA)

Join TSPUG for a special meeting on the last Wednesday of October where Microsoft’s Savash Alic will present Canada’s first look at SharePoint Server 2010. Savash is a SharePoint loyalist who is dedicated to the product since its’ very early days in 2001 implementing solutions.  He has been selling SharePoint in a technical capacity for the last 4 years at Microsoft Canada however he is a technologist at heart who started his professional career in ’94 and worked at several Microsoft Gold Partners delivering and managing projects.

Don’t forget that SharePoint Camp is coming early next year as well at the end of January or start of February (which is a free and incredible SharePoint mini conference) so the SharePoint community should be very exciting for the next while.

See you around the SharePoint community,
Richard

SharePoint Saturday Success

July 13, 2009

My presentation/session was called SharePoint Success and that is exactly what SharePoint Saturday in Toronto was. From all the incredible people I spoke with at the event it seemed like everyone learned new things and made some great new friends.

I want to make a special thank you to my fellow speakers for making me feel extremely welcomed and for providing some really great discussions throughout the event, feedback after, and for joining me for a delightful SharePint (twice! :P). Here are some pictures: http://picasaweb.google.ca/ruveng/20090712SharePointSaturdayToronto?authkey=Gv1sRgCNGiyoaDhuuVFg&feat=directlink# as well as a short video: http://video.msn.com/video.aspx/?mkt=en-us&vid=bef78262-0bba-4fbe-beba-ce9c2f5ad02c&wa=wsignin1.0.

My Presentation:

For my presentation slide deck I have added it to SlideShare here: http://www.slideshare.net/rharbridge/sharepoint-saturday-sharepoint-success – It should also soon be available on the SharePoint Saturday website.

Clarification “The Importance of Having All the Right People in the Room”:

I received quite a few questions at the end of the presentation and quite a few emails that I have been responding to. So thank you for all the wonderful contributions you have made (SharePoint Audience). I wanted to clarify a response to one of  those here:

The question was on whether it was a good idea to get all the developers in the same meeting as everyone else. At the time I responded that you need to be cognisent of who is in a meeting and who needs to be (as it’s costing money for everyone to be in that meeting when they could be doing other things). However I think I might have given the wrong impression. Sometimes it absolutely makes sense to have the developers in meetings when working out requirements and things like that. Especially if it saves time, money, or ensures everyone has a Shared Understanding (my whole point of the presentation pretty much).

I actually use a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model that I took out of the slides before presenting because I was afraid I would go over time as well as a slide on meetings in general (related to SharePoint which was under Governance), but basically just think about those four words and use them to help determine who should and shouldn’t be in a meeting. Always ensure you have “All of the right people in the room”.

I hope everyone who went enjoyed themselves and learned something and met someone new, I know I did and I am better for it,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Saturday Toronto Schedule!

July 7, 2009

Check it out! The schedule for SharePoint Saturday has been released!

http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/toronto/Public Documents/SharePoint Saturday Toronto Schedule.pdf

Excited yet?

The hardest part will be choosing between such incredible sessions. I know I am going to have some trouble picking anyways.

Speaking of sessions I intend for anyone coming to mine to take away at least 3 new things. This is my challenge to myself. So if I don’t succeed I want you to hold me to it (with a knife if necessary) and I will owe you more new things.

Don’t forget about SharePint at the Drake and Firken after!

Excited,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Saturday in Toronto (Speakers and Sessions)

June 29, 2009

http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/toronto/default.aspx

SharePoint Saturday is July 11th in Mississauaga
(This is right beside Toronto in the province of Ontario, in the country of Canada, it also happens to be where I live :)).

If you read this blog, then you are probably someone who will enjoy and learn a TON from the wonderful speakers at SharePoint Saturday. I know I learn new things from many of the speakers on a regular basis. It’s a FREE event. Think about it, these speakers are experts. Many have done talks at things like the best practice conferences. Those are expensive conferences and this one is free. It’s like getting the value of a couple grand, and all you have to do is drive to the Microsoft building in Mississauga. It’s also a great opportunity to network and build your professional skill set as well as personal skill set.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up now!

Register Now

Looking for more information or even more amazing reasons for why you should go and you should bring all your friends? Check out the speakers that are presenting (http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/toronto/Pages/speakers.aspx) and the great sessions (http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/toronto/Pages/meetings.aspx) I am excited to attend quite a few of these sessions.

On a minor note I am also presenting for this event. It will be focused around tips, tricks, and takeways that will make user adoption, maintaining buy in, and governing SharePoint significantly easier. I intend to record the session so people can download it after and hope to release a teaser for what I will cover soon.

I would love to meet with everyone, and welcome everyone to come out to SharePint after the event. We don’t have the details quite yet on where that will be, but let me assure you I am totally up for having some great and in depth conversations after, during and before the event as I am sure there is lots I could learn from you.

Hope to see you there,
Richard Harbridge

Simple (AMAZING!) Resume Tips and Tricks

June 23, 2009

I received a fair amount of verbal feedback/discussion on my post about mind mapping your resume and using IBIS maps etc on cover letters (http://sharepointkb.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/mind-map-of-resume-ibis-map-of-cover-letter-do-it/ ) and was surprised by how few people used alternative ideas like this to provide more impact to their existing resume. (Google searches has some pretty poor (but funny) results.)

We live in a competitive world. We are currently in an economic recession. Now is the time to make sure you are presenting yourself effectively if you want to get that specific job. So here are a couple simple tips, and tricks for improving your resume:

Make a PowerPoint Presentation available of why you should be hired, or of who you are.

Everyone at this point understands presentations, slides and PowerPoint in business. It can be a great way to story board who you are, or what you bring to the table and is really easy to make. So why not make one?

Make a video of why you should be hired, or who you are.

Even if this is youtube quality it can still be a HUGE step over the competition. It’s easy to do. So do it.

Make a podcast or audio version of your resume.

It’s easy, and it makes you different. It also makes it much more personal when you hear a voice instead of just reading the worlds.

Mind Map your resume.

It can be much easier to read, and as I said in my previous post visual mapping can help people remember you and make you stand out.

Make a version in Excel with CHARTS, GRAPHS, and fun stuff!

This one is the most surprising to me. If you are a finance person, or an individual who uses excel all the time and are applying for a related position why not use graphs and data points to clearly indicate why you should be hired? Use examples of how much money you saved a company, or metrics on how productive you are, or rate usefulness of your skills and show how strongly skilled you are compared to something else etc etc.

Make a Silverlight or Flash version of your resume.

If you have the development skills, or design skills, then show them off!

Finally to sum it up:

  1. Make sure it’s online, everywhere. (Monster, Workopolis, your blog, LinkedIn, VisualCV, etc)
  2. Make sure you have alternative versions/formats. (If it’s in flash, have it in HTML too, make a PDF of it, make a word format.)
  3. Be creative with extra formats!

Hope this helps someone,
Richard Harbridge

I Use Twitter

June 4, 2009

So the other day I got an email from someone asking me why I don’t blog as much as I used to (historically). The reason isn’t because I have been too busy (although I have been plenty busy), rather it is because I use twitter now religiously through the week.

Twitter fulfills most of the reasons why I began blogging. It allows me to share ideas, thoughts, and opinions easily and allows me to also keep a record of them for me to review and use at a later date. Since one of the main reasons I created this blog was to serve as a knowledge base for myself and help me articulate and consolidate many of my thoughts twitter just makes sense.

Not to worry, I am still going to blog periodically when thoughts or ideas don’t fit in the typical 140 character limit of twitter, but I don’t expect to be blogging as much as I used to (when SharePoint 2010 get’s released this might change :P).

I am not going to join the masses and tell you why it’s so good for business, professional development, staying up to date, and collaborating with peers or people with a similar interest. There are thousands of great articles that already do this. Instead I am simply going to say:

  1. If you haven’t made a twitter account then make one. (https://twitter.com/signup) – Piece of advice, be smart about your name. Think of what you are representing and why you want to use it. Professional development? Personal? Business?
  2. Download a twitter application like tweetdeck (http://tweetdeck.com/beta/) You need something like this because twitter.com is unmanageable.
  3. Find some people you have a common passion, interest, or thought style with and follow them. (If you like SharePoint, Social Media, or Project Management feel free to follow me: http://www.twitter.com/rharbridge. I also really enjoy @LLiu, @MSDN_Office,  @sharepointbuzz, @gannotti, and @EUSP for SharePoint and social media information if you want some suggestions for other people to follow. You can also find the people I follow on my twitter page.)
  4. Determine how comfortable you are with the number of updates you can handle. You typically can’t read every update from everyone. You can pick some people to pay particular interest to however, and using filter and search techniques in tweetdeck you can control how many tweets you see/want to read. (Don’t just blindly follow everyone, or you’ll have a very hard time digesting it all.)
  5. Be smart about what you post, but post a few simple things. This could be article recommendations, blog recommendations, or simply introduction statements. This gets you used to adding tweets and sharing. Remember everything you say must be PUBLIC and you shouldn’t post anything you might later regret. Over time you will begin wanting to share with people and it will come effortlessly. Just remember every time you post it tells a bit more about you and what you find interesting or important enough to share. This means over time the people you follow and who follow you will be more and more helpful and responsive. (At least I think that’s the theory.)

I still have many friends and colleagues who have not yet joined twitter and know quite a few businesses that aren’t on it. It’s a difficult thing to understand and has a lot of noise and confusion around it. So hopefully this can help get you started.

Looking forward to what comes next,
Richard Harbridge

Imagine Interactive Visual SharePoint Wikis, and Discussion Boards

May 7, 2009

So earlier this morning I twittered at how terrific I thought http://debategraph.org/ was. This is one of those things where I expect it to become a normal thing in the future.

As information continues to grow in organizations and across the world it becomes harder and harder to search and more importantly consumer that information. A ways back I talked about Corporate Memory (http://sharepointkb.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/corporate-memory-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/) and how it’s best as an organic thing. Constantly growing, with constantly changing and evolving expectations. This kind of visual wiki (which uses IBIS like methodology and looks similar to a mind map) is a perfect example of how I expect in 4 years many of us will consume information and make business decisions, and maybe even navigate around our intranets.

Think of how useful this kind of visualized relationships can be in a Site Map, for a SharePoint Wiki, for presenting the arguements and replies of a discussion board. It’s a more evolved way of working with these common things and this is only scratching the surface.

Anyways figured I would share some thoughts on it and hope everyone is doing well,
Richard Harbridge

SharePoint Knights and Award/Recognition Programs

May 6, 2009

I decided to blog about this because I figured I might as well give my two cents on this and clearly illustrate why I completely and wholeheartedly would support almost any program such as the one called SharePoint Knights proposed by community members and Joel (http://www.sharepointjoel.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=218#Comments).

To me the concept represented by the SharePoint Knights order, and any other award/recognition program designed for and based on community contribution is a wonderful idea. The reason I believe it’s a wonderful idea is because these programs DO increase community contribution and provide extra motivation for people to help and contribute to the community.

I understand that we don’t want to mar, muddy, or confuse the power and importance of the MVP status (which personally I think is a well run program considering the challenges this kind of program typically runs into). I think the entire advantage and best part of this idea/concept has been harshly criticized without people taking a step back and seeing it for what (in my honest opinion) the idea represents. (I could be mistaken and I apologize if I am.)

The primary focus of a program like this should be/is to provide more awards and recognition for community contribution.

That’s it. It’s not about what the rules are for this, or how this will be facilitated or handled (BTW great post by Jeremy on this outlining a lot of the challenges a program like this needs to consider: http://wss.made4the.net/archive/2009/05/05/sharepoint-mvps-vs-sharepoint-knights.aspx). As far as I am concerned there is no substantial reason (if we ignore personal/emotional reactions) that seems to indicate more programs like the MVP program (hosted by ANYONE in my opinion) aren’t good for the community.

So in my opinion I really hope that more of these programs and ideas pop up, not less. I want us to get saturated with them. I want everyone to feel like they are awarded for contributing to the community. It will strengthen the community not harm it. It will also cause the best programs to make their way above the others in the same way award systems have a ‘top award’ or ‘most respected award’ in their respective communities. We will have that too, and yes, there is the possibility that maybe the MVP award (in the long run) won’t be the top/most respected one. Personally, I think it will and that this healthy competition will enable it to grow and become an even better program than it is right now.

Keep it coming guys and it’s great to see people trying to make new change and empower the community further,
Richard Harbridge


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