IBM Champions

Most people reading this might already have heard it but earlier this week Ed Brill announced the 2011 IBM Champions list and much  to my surprise my name is on it. Knowing the names on that list I can only feel very humble to be in their presence.

This was a big and frankly unexpected honor, especially as lately I’ve really been struggling with my role in the community. As a Business Consultant I’m neither a hardcore developer nor a hardcore Administrator and it caused me to wonder what my contribution to the community actually is worth. I don’t often have great development innovations to share or killer Admin tips so what do I have to contribute?! In general, I felt I didn’t really have much to contribute at all lately…..

I had that doubt before. In 2009, while working on the Redbook for DomDoc migrations, I entered with the same trepidations. Why did they choose me and not my coworker who was much more the technical DomDoc specialist? What do I have to offer? This really bothered me and I put the question to the table. The answer I got was: We have technical specialists, we need people who can think from the business perspective and can relate to how the user thinks and use that to work on a solution.

That was a real eyeopener to me as for the first time I really understood that in IT technical skills alone aren’t enough to create great software and that understanding your users, business problems and usability is equally as important. Still, being in a community of mainly technical people, it’s easy to feel as if you don’t have anything to contribute and I think that happened to me these last few months.

Seeing my name on that list earlier this week therefore really shook me up and made me think again about what it is I am and what I can contribute.

I came into the Lotus community 12 years ago after I made a remark about the usability (or lack thereof) of a FAQ database at the company I was working at. The answer I got was “if you think you can do better than make it better“. I hadn’t a clue how to, but I did think I could do better conceptionally. So I bought a book taught myself Lotus development, and took the challenge…

The decision to take that challenge 12 years ago made me become a member of this great community. Now its time to set myself a new challenge and proof I’m worth being part of this illustrious list.

Congratulations to all IBM Champions and and a big thank you to the election committee, IBM and the people that took the effort to nominate me.