By the time this post is finally published, many of us will know the results of whether our renewal (or new award status) has been successful (or not). While I have only been the recipient of the award since Jan 1st, 2016 I had previously been nominated on many many occasions yearly since 2011, so I almost feel like a long-term veteran of the award cycles, and only know too well how rejection feels – so if you are one of those today, trust me when I say “You are not alone – I understand your pain”.
When the changes to the award program renewal cycles (to move almost everyone to a July 1st renewal) were announced in now what seems like an eternity ago (perhaps over 15-18 months ago now), I confess I had mixed feelings about such a change. On one hand it gave some MVPs more time to get their “house in order” for an extra 3-6 months longer (assuming they needed to “up” their contributions) due to their moving to a new renewal cycle, but on the other hand, it meant an awful lot of MVPs would go into the same bucket for consideration, thereby potentially increasing the risk of you being overlooked. One observation I had (and I’m not entirely sure if this is correct or not) was that post cycle change, the numbers of awardees increased significantly month on month. And if that is the case, it could have contributed to raising the “bar” for renewal this time around.
Over the past couple of weeks there have been some high profile casualties announced privately, including several who I consider being the epitome of what an MVP is all about, and others who openly admitted that their priorities have changed and not had the time, resources, or inclination to keep up with their contributions over the last 12 months. For the former category, I truly cannot express how gutted I am for you and hope that you make it back onto the program as soon as possible. For those that haven’t hit the bar, then I’m sure you know what to do to make it back.
For those that have missed out on their renewal, I am happy that Microsoft has the new MVP Reconnect program in place, which I think is an excellent way for people not renewed to stay connected. I would like to see this program elevated in importance over the coming years -and especially for it to be easier for current MVPs to communicate with rMVPs. That way, missing out on renewal will feel less like you are losing lots of friends and professional contacts and more like hanging out in a different forum, with an easier (potential) route back should you increase your community contributions.
I would also like to see a similar program for potential MVPs (people who are almost “there”), which would allow Microsoft to substantially increase their pool of talent, but without the cost overhead that running the MVP program incurs. This would provide an initial route into the full program and allow people to be less overwhelmed, understand what is expected to become an MVP, make them better prepared, and more useful as Microsoft evangelists (should the MVP email finally land in their inbox). Given the sheer amount of talent out in the community, I see this as a huge win/win for Microsoft and community contributors. Perhaps Microsoft could initially adopt and formalize their various “Advisor programs” into an MVP stepping stone?
I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few months about what I’m actually specifically delivering to the MVP Program, and the general community at large. Whilst it is fair to say I am really happy with the level of community contributions I make (the unhappy wife and kids are a fairly good barometer that I am investing *a lot* -perhaps too much of my time in this area), I do think I can (and need) to add more value to Microsoft. In this last 12 months, a couple of particular stand-outs would probably be my SQLSaturday and SharePoint Saturday events (in which we always have lots of early adopter sessions – which actively promote the use of such technology), delivering a Microsoft and GDPR session at short notice to Future Decoded (which obviously pushed on-premises and Cloud solutions in a very hot topic), and feedback to product team regarding SQL Server on Linux (my motivations were also helped having been working as the Technical Editor for the book of the same name). However, there are lots of other areas I either need to improve or to add to my list. Those specific things are (in no particular order):
- Focus my energies towards learning and presenting on several emerging Azure technologies.
- Diversify even more (i.e. start investing more time in Business Intelligence and Machine Learning).
- Get involved in the Microsoft Docs program (where possible) to improve the quality of MS Documentation.
- Increase my blog output (for it has dropped somewhat of late) – and also try to blog on things I learn in 1 and 2!
There are of course a million and one other things that I could probably do better, but for the sake of time and your patience, I will leave it there for now.
Thank you very much to everyone involved in the MVP Program, congratulations to all awardees (and re-awardees), and commiserations if you have missed out on this occasion. Your efforts are still appreciated by the community with or without those three letters so keep up the good work!