Speaking Truth to SharePoint

By Marc Solomon posted 07-18-2011 22:41

  

We all know the first signs that our politicians are not being entirely candid -- when their lips move. We all know that banks get robbed because that's where the money is -- even by their own bankers. Our powers of BS detection are tested and strengthened each day when elected officials, corporate leaders, and attention-starved celebrities keep two separate ledgers: (1) their words, and (2) deeds.

The journalism industry may never recover but exposing hypocrisy is as much a winning business model as a self-protective impulse that keeps our 'honest' doubts in line with our 'reasonable' expectations.

So how do we keep our BS detectors in working order during SharePoint deployments? After all, there's so much to sift through -- even in our gated AIIM group of bloggers -- that the volume of pros and cons overwhelms those vows we make to stand our middle ground. To see the trade-offs from false choices. To map the platform to the business. Period.

It always helps to lower the degrees of separation from trade show evangelists to the unassuming PMO types. BS levels drop when we're dealing with working stiffs like me. That's because we don't seek the victory of a sales closing. We crave the solace of living within our system choices. That doesn't mean every Microsoft Gold Partner is a slick car salesman with an ECAL sticker. But it does mean that back office cost centrists care more about war stories than case studies.

The war bit informs our BS detection settings. Just because a fact-finding mission is about reaching a sensible decision doesn't mean we only buy into level-headed rationales. I'm much likelier to believe a SharePoint partisan who alternatively both loves and hates the product with the passion of a user, and producer ... AND implementer.  

That contempt earns a lot of cred -- even integrity -- because the cost of guessing wrong is an investment beyond the terms of any licensing deal. I too have been prone to overextend  the merits of FAST Enterprise Server. The READ ONLY column values in MOSS flew the coop in SharePoint 2010. I have the scars. And no expert blog can shield us from our own naievete.

But that insistent hope is not delusional. It comes from a D-I-Y perspective that we don't need Gold Partners or even internal IT to work around those missing pieces. To put my fervent hot and cold SharePoint spells in perspective, McKinsey Management Consulting recently published a thought piece entitled: Seven Steps to Better Brainstorming. In it authors Kevin and Shawn Coyne argue the case to bake in the constraints of creative problem-solving before the group holes up in some windowless bunker retreat:

A bank we know wasted a full day’s worth of brainstorming because the session’s best ideas all required changing IT systems. Yet senior management—unbeknownst to the workshop planners—had recently “locked down” the IT agenda for the next 18 months.

What these organizational capital guys didn't add to the mix is the fact that SharePoint changes the game completely. The habitual rigidity that comes with ECM planning is now a fluid, open, and potentially solvable series of incremental tweaks. We're no longer rulebound to legacy systems or hostage to outdated architectures.

If the message was coming from Apple, the clarion gladiators at Steve Jobs' sandals would herald in this liberation across the parting clouds.

But Microsoft is ... well ... ummm ... agreeing that the cloud is the way to go!

Like I said, it's a love, hate thing.



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