More classes planned and clearing the air…

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Hi all

I have a couple of important community service type announcements to make.

How do I know I’m attending a legitimate Seven Sigma Class?

Sometimes the training marketplace can be confusing with various organisations offering various courses. Ask any attendee of the SPGov+IA class and they will attest to the uniqueness of our course. Both myself, and some of my trusted local partners have been contacted by people about other SharePoint courses in the Information Architecture space, wondering if we endorse or are in any way associated with them. This has happened again recently, so it’s probably worth clearing the air here and now.

Ahem

Seven Sigma has a number of relationships with like-minded organisations around the world. In the UK, we have a terrific relationship with Andrew and Ant at 21apps. In New Zealand, we work with Chan at 3Grow and Debbie at EnvisionIT. In the US we work with Erica Toelle at FPWeb, as well as Ruven Gotz and in Brisbane recently we worked with Alpesh Nakar from Just SharePoint.

Aside from myself, Ant Clay of 21apps is the only authorised trainer of our courseware. Essentially if Ant or I are not running the class, then it’s not my class!. Visit the trainer section of www.spgovia.com for our details.

Furthermore outside of Australia, if the course organiser is not Andrew Woodward or Ant Clay (Europe), Erica Toelle or Ruven Gotz (US), Chan or Debbie Ireland (New Zealand), then it is not the SPGov+IA class.

www.spgovia.com is the official site for the SharePoint Governance and Information Architecture Master Class. Here you can find out about the class, feedback from past attendees, schedules and registration information. This is the authoritative source for all information related to all classes. Each of the above partners will publish location specific information about classes that they plan to run.

More SPGov+IA classes for 2011 (and Issue Mapping Class is a go…)

I am proud to report that the first ever Issue Mapping Master Class, co-developed with CogNexus and run by Seven Sigma happened in my home town of Perth last month. This has been a long time coming, and the feedback from the first attendees was immensely gratifying.

Definitely one of the best courses I have ever attended…I have already recommended to many people that they should get on the next course if possible. Jon Gorton

This course was brilliant. The technique itself is a valuable tool for any business with multiple applications. Leisha Velterop

So now on top of the SharePoint Governance and Information Architecture Class, we can offer a specialist course on the craft of Issue and Dialogue Mapping – something that regular readers of this blog may be familiar with. For all alumni of the SPGov+IA class who put their hand up for a dedicated IBIS class, you now have your wish. The Issue Mapping class will be taken onto the road for the first time too and the plan is to run both classes in each location.

To that end, we have classes locked in for Auckland and Wellington. But Melbourne and  the US East coast are also being earmarked in the latter part of 2011. Here are the planned classes so far.

We will publish more details of the new class as soon as we can.

Thanks for reading

 

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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A different kind of SharePoint Governance Master Class in London and Dublin

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The background

Over the last three years, my career trajectory had altered somewhat where I spent half my time as a SharePoint practitioner, doing all of the things that us SharePoint practitioners do, and the other half was spent in a role that I would call sensemaking. Essentially group facilitation work, on some highly complex, non IT problems. These ranged from areas such as city planning, (envisioning and community engagement) to infrastructure delivery (think freeways, schools and hospitals), to mental health, team and relationship building, performance management, board meetings and various other scenarios.

Imagine how much of a different world this is, where a group is coming together from often very different backgrounds and base positions, to come to grips with a complex set of interlocking problems and somehow try and align enough to move forward. We cannot simply throw a “SharePoint” at these problems and think it will all be better. By their very nature, we have to collaborate on them to move forward – true collaboration in all its messy, sometimes frustrating glory.

As a result of this experience, I’ve also learned many highly effective collaborative techniques and approaches that I have never seen used in my 20+ years of being an IT practitioner. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to work with (and still do), some highly skilled people who I learned a huge amount from. This is “standing on the shoulders of giants” stuff. As you can imagine, this new learning has had a significant effect on how Seven Sigma now diagnoses and approaches SharePoint projects and has altered the lens through which I view problem solving with SharePoint.

It also provided me the means to pinpoint a giant blind spot in the SharePoint governance material that’s out there, and what to do about it.

The first catalyst – back injury

In January this year, my family and I went on a short holiday, down to the wine country of Western Australia called the Margaret River region. On the very first day of that trip, I was at the beach, watching my kids run amok, when I totally put my back out (*sigh* such an old man). Needless to say, I could barely move for the next week or two after. My family, ever concerned for my welfare, promptly left me behind at the chalet and took off each day to sample wines, food and generally do the things that tourists do.

Left to my own devices, and not overly mobile I had little to do but ponder – and ponder I did (even more than my usual pondering – so this was an Olympic class ponder). Reflecting on all of my learning and experiences from sensemaking work, my use of it within SharePoint projects, as well as the subsequent voracious reading in a variety of topics, I came to realise that SharePoint governance is looked through a lens that clouds some of the most critical success factors. I knew exactly how to lift that fog, and had a vision for a holistic view of SharePoint governance that at the same time, simplifies it and makes it easy for people to collectively understand.

So I set to work, distilling all of this learning and experience and put it into something coherent, rigorous and accessible. After all, SharePoint is a tool that is an enabler for “improved collaboration”, and I had spent half of my time on deeply collaborative non IT scenarios where to my knowledge, no other SharePoint practitioner has done so. Since sensemaking lies in all that ‘softer’ stuff that traditionally IT is a bit weaker on, I thought I could add some dimensions to SharePoint governance in a way that could be made accessible, practical and useful.

By the end of that week I still had a sore back, but I had the core of what I wanted to do worked out, and I knew that it would be a rather large undertaking to finish it (if it ever could be finished).

The second catalyst – Beyond Best Practices

I also commenced writing a non SharePoint book on this topic area with Kailash Awati from the Eight to Late blog, called Beyond Best Practices. This book examines why most best practices don’t work and what can be done about them. The plethora of tools, systems and best practices that are generally used to tackle organisational problems rarely help and when people apply these methods, they often end up solving the wrong problem. After all, if best practices were best, then we would all follow them and projects would be delivered on time, on budget and with deliriously happy stakeholders right?

The work and research that has gone into this book has been significant. We studied the work of many people who have recognised and written about this, as well as many case studies. The problem these authors had is that these works challenged many widely accepted views, patterns and practices of various managerial disciplines. As a result these ideas have been rejected, ignored or considered outright heretical, and thus languish (largely unread) in journals. The recent emergence of anything x2.0 and a renewed focus on collaboration might seem radical or new for some, but these early authors were espousing very similar things many years ago.

The third catalyst – 3grow

Some time later in the year, 3grow asked me to develop a 4 day SharePoint 2010 Governance and Information Architecture course for Microsoft NZ’s Elite program. I agreed and used my “core” material, as well as some Beyond Best Practice ideas to develop the course. Information Architecture is a bloody tough course to write. It would be easy to cheat and just do a feature dump of every building block that SharePoint has to offer and call that Information Architecture. But that’s the science and not the art – and the science is easy to write about. From my experience, IA is not that much different to the sensemaking work that I do, so I had a very different foundation to base the entire course from.

The IA course took 450 man hours to write and produced an 800 page manual (and just about killed me in the process), but the feedback from attendees surpassed all expectations.  This motivated me to complete the vision I originally had for a better approach to SharePoint governance and this has now been completed as well (with another 200 pages and a CD full of samples and other goodies).

The result

I have distilled all of this work into a master class format, which ranges from 1 to 5 days, suited to Business Analysts, Project and Program Managers, Enterprise and Information Architects, IT Managers and those in strategic roles who have to bridge the gap between organisational aspirations and the effective delivery of SharePoint solutions. I speak the way I write, so if the cleverworkarounds writing style works for you, then you will probably enjoy the manner in which the material is presented. I like rigour, but I also like to keep people awake! 🙂

One of my pet hates is when the course manual is just a printout of the slide deck with space for notes. In this master class, the manual is a book in itself and covers additional topic areas in a deeper level of detail from the class. So you will have some nice bedtime reading after attending.

Andrew Woodward has been a long time collaborator on this work, before we formalised this collaboration with the SamePage Alliance, we had discussed running a master class session in the UK on this material. At the same time, thanks to Michael Sampson, an opportunity arose to conduct a workshop in Ireland. As a result, you have an opportunity to be a part of these events.

Dublin

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The first event is terrific as it is a free event in Dublin on November 17, hosted by Storm Technology a Microsoft Gold Partner in Dublin. As a result of the event being free, it is by invitation only and numbers are limited. This is a one day event, focussing on the SharePoint Governance blind spots and what to do about them, but also wicked problems and Dialogue Mapping, as well as learning to look at SharePoint from outside the IT lens, and translate its benefits to a wider audience (ie “Learn to speak to your CFO”).

So if you are interested in learning how to view SharePoint governance in a new light, and are tired of the governance material that rehashes the same tired old approaches that give you a mountain of work to do that still doesn’t change results, then register your interest with Rosemary at the email address in the image above ASAP and she can reserve a spot for you. We will supply a 200 page manual, as well as a CD of sample material for attendees, including a detailed governance plan.

London

SamePage-Rect-BannerMed

In London on November 22 and 23, I will be running a two day master class along side Andrew Woodward on SharePoint Governance and Information Architecture. The first day is similar to the Ireland event, where we focus on governance holistically, shattering a few misconceptions and seeing things in a different light, before switching focus to various facets of Information Architecture for SharePoint. In essence, I have taken the detail of the 4 days of the New Zealand Elite course and created a single day version (no mean feat by the way).

Participants on this course will receive a 400 page manual, chock full of SharePoint Governance and Information Architecture goodness, as well as a CD/USB of sample material such as a SharePoint governance plan, as well as IA maps of various types. Unlike Ireland, this is an open event, available to anyone, and you can find more detail and register at the eventbrite site http://spiamasterclass.eventbrite.com/. In case you are wondering, this event is non technical. Whether you have little hands on experience with SharePoint or a deep knowledge, you will find a lot of value in this event for the very reason that the blind spots I focus on are kind of universally applicable irrespective of your role.

Much of what you will learn is applicable for many projects, beyond SharePoint and you will come away with a slew of new approaches to handle complex projects in general.

So if you are in the UK or somewhere in Europe, look us up. It will be a unique event, and Andrew and I are very much looking forward to seeing you there!

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.sevensigma.com.au

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Announcing the SamePage Alliance

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image

This is really great, and something that’s been a long time coming. On behalf of my partners at Seven Sigma, I’m announcing the formation of the SamePage Alliance. A strategic partnership with Seven Sigma and 21Apps, founded by Andrew Woodward, as founding members. SamePage is a commercial relationship where we will be pooling the respective talents of our organisations together and expanding our service offerings to clients.

I first met Andrew in San Diego in 2008, the SharePoint Best Practices Conference, where I was a very nervous first-time presenter, wondering if all of my wicked problem stuff would resonate with the US audience. Andrew was there, presenting on TDD and Scrum, and apart from having someone in the US I could talk about the cricket with, it was immediately clear that we had a hell of a lot in common. It was like he held a big piece to a puzzle, and I held another piece. The irony was that I never got to see his talk as, if I recall, we presented at the same time. But back then (Feb 08) I made a rather prophetic statement at the end of my report of that conference.

“I feel some future collaboration in the very near future.  Andrew Woodward will definitely be a part of it (although he doesn’t know it yet…Hehehe).”

Funny how things turn out. We have collaborated on a number of different things since then, both within the SharePoint realm and beyond it. The common interests run deep and between 21apps and Seven Sigma, there is a lot of experience there. During the SharePoint Evolutions conference, where a certain volcano prevented me attending, Andrew ran my wicked problems/SharePoint/IBIS talk for me and did a tremendous job (I watched all the tweets from Perth).

In terms of practicalities, we will be reselling each-others products and services. Seven Sigma entered the training space this year, writing the SharePoint 2010 Governance and Information Architecture course that 3Grow and Microsoft New Zealand use to certify gold partners for SharePoint prowess. Seven Sigma also developed a unique 1 and 2-day SharePoint Governance f-Laws course, with content drawn from our sensemaking work that we ran in the New Zealand and Sydney conferences. When it came to who could possibly teach Seven Sigma courseware, the obvious answer was Andrew Woodward, given our shared interests and his sterling job at Evolutions.

21apps released their first SharePoint product into the marketplace this year – 21scrum, and 21apps authors and teaches workshops and training for development teams looking to improve their quality of development around the SharePoint space.

Further to this, we will be co-developing products as well. Seven Sigma has been brewing some things in the cauldron for some time and 21apps will be part of this development effort.

In general terms, we offer great SharePoint competencies across training, governance, infrastructure, development and delivery. Our combined offerings means that we can offer:

  • Global software development and round the clock SharePoint managed services and support
  • World-unique strategic advisory services and collaborative facilitation services, incorporating goal alignment, shared visioning and performance framework development, large group facilitation, user and community engagement, enquiry by design, risk analysis, critical thinking and decision methodologies, process improvement
  • Beyond SharePoint, we can provide full enterprise architecture and analysis services over the program life cycle
  • The first output of this new arrangement is a two-day course to be run in London in mid November. Andrew will be there too, and we will cover my SharePoint Governance f-Laws course as well as material from the recent Information Architecture course in New Zealand. If you have SharePoint competencies and find yourself having to bridge the gap between organisational aspirations and SharePoint as the enabler to that aspiration, then this session is for you.

    You can find out more about this event and register at the 21apps site.

    Looking forward to seeing you all there!

    www.samepage.co

    www.21apps.co.uk

    www.sevensigma.com.au

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