August 07, 2012 - 8:53 AM
This past weekend I had the privilege of attending The Great New England Airshow, at Westover ARB in Westover, Ma. Whenever I attend something that runs as well as this event, I try to pay attention to the things that make it work and I think about how I can adapt those lessons to my projects. Producing an airshow is all about keeping the audience satisfied, not unlike the underlying goal for our SharePoint project. I was happy to see that our approach was in many ways similar, but I was reminded of a few keys to success that I sometimes forget.
Don’t forget the fun stuff – A military airlift wing is serious business, and the men and women stationed at Westover ARB are 100% professionals, but the airshow also featured a 300 mph school bus and the world’s fastest (jet propelled) outhouse. I don’t think either of those vehicles were deployed in the recent wars, but they were fun to watch, and there aren’t many venues that can handle acts like these.
We do some fun stuff in SharePoint, from football pools to supporting a Wellness program, to the Daily Dilbert, but as we have ramped up our support for several business process solutions, we have neglected the solutions on the lighter side. Maybe it’s time to add something new and fun.
The right people in sales – In addition to the fly-overs, the base was decked out with numerous ground displays. One of my favorites was this B-52 that is almost as old as I am. I have seen a B-52 on display before, but this was special because the flight crew was on hand to tell us about the plane and their combined mission. Hearing that story from the crew of that plane was so much better than reading about it, or hearing about it on the History Channel. This same technique can be used to help sell SharePoint. Rather than show people demonstrations, have the users of actual solutions talk about them to their peers in other departments.
Flexible plans – The show was supposed to officially open at 10:00 am when the Black Daggers parachute team was to deliver the American flag as only they can. Unfortunately, the cloud cover remained in place until closer to 11:00. The producers put that school bus in motion, and then staged an extra fly-over by the resident attraction, one of Westover’s C-5 Galaxy cargo planes.
I have found that we have to be a little extra flexible when building SharePoint solutions. Unlike the desktop applications we have been building for years, people don’t always know what to expect from SharePoint. As projects start moving, we often see opportunities to change the plans and deliver an even better solution.
Deliver – One of the main reasons to attend the show on Saturday was to see the promised fly-over of the B-2 Spirit. It was a hot and humid day and the tarmac magnified that heat, but when that awesome plan started its turn over the base, the temperature seemed irrelevant.
We have made some pretty big promises regarding the things SharePoint can do. So far, we have been able to deliver, and each time we do, it gets a little easier to sell the next solution.
If you want to see all of the pictures from the airshow, check out my set on Flickr. There’s also one other video, a V-22 Osprey transitioning from vertical to horizontal flight on YouTube.
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