Improving Community

brick_building_sky I was recently working on another blog post (coming soon) when it occurred to me how much Improving (my employer) does in the .NET / Java / Agile and other technical communities. I thought that it would be nice to summarize some of that work here.

Why is community important?

There are a number of reasons that I value community.

Doubled my salary.

I’d love be all free love and harmony and all that, but the reality is that the connections that I made at my very first .NET user group (over 7 years ago!) doubled my salary the next week. I won’t go in to all of the details, but let’s just say that I was sold from that point on!

A different kind of COE.

This is something that I talk to a lot of our customers about. I see many organizations invest in “Centers of Excellence” (COE’s) with good intentions only to see them, far to often, fall flat. The problem is that most COE’s are set up to give “directions from on high” without actually building report or relationships with the developers that they are supposed to influence. They end up creating a barrier between developers (the have’s and the have not’s). They often end up with an “ivory tower” mentality that is often not based on reality and can create strife and hostility between the COE developers and the people that are actually getting stuff done.
I’m not trying to devalue COE’s, but I think that most are inwardly focused and doomed to failure, instead I talk to companies about a different type of COE. I like to talk about “Communities of Excellence” or “Culture’s of Excellence”. Instead of having an elite few, use that group as a spear that is outwardly focused and can help raise the tide or the bar for everyone. If a community or culture of excellence exists than it makes it easier for everyone to grow.

It’s good to give back.

After all … Improving everyone – It’s what we do!

I personally think that Improving does more to support the growth of technical communities than any other consulting company in the world. That might just be me, but seriously, check out this list:

we’ll be hosting the

Update: (7.22.2009) Several people from Improving and the commnity have reminded me of some of the events that I missed! So here they are:

* In addition to all of that, two of our Principals are national speaker’s for INETA, something that Improving has always supported (even though our business is really focused in the South Central Region). Tim Rayburn and I frequently speak at various .NET User Groups around the country.

I’m sure that I’m leaving a ton of our work out… but that’s not the point. The point is that community is important and it’s obviously important to Improving Enterprises.

About Caleb Jenkins

Caleb Jenkins is an international speaker, author and 6 time Microsoft MVP award recipient, he currently works for Solera as a Director of Software Development. An entertaining and informative speaker who approaches software from a fresh perspective that spans UX, agile practices and technologies for enterprise customers from across the globe. Leading UX product design teams, coaching multi-team agile transformations and architecting and mentoring at some of the largest companies in the world, As a long time community leader and former Microsoft Developer Evangelist, Caleb is well known for his engaging speaking style, depth of knowledge and creative energy. Founder and Principal Mentor of Proaction Mentors, former UX Manager and Agile Coach, Senior Architect for Six Flags Corporation, Product Architect on a Cloud Marketing Platform, Caleb has made a career out of empowering others while building products and teams that delight customers and solve business needs. You can follow him on twitter (@calebjenkins) or his blog, and if you're still reading this, then you could also subscribe to his blog RSS feed or sign up to receive updates by email