Can We Discover the "Best" Tridionauts?

In a chat with Ryan Durkin, an SDL Tridion MVP Community Award winner, we discussed expertise and the "MVP" (Most Valuable Professional) title, which sounds like appreciation for excellent projects and above-and-beyond type work. You're so elite, no one hears about you, the James Bond of engagements. You don't need no stinkin' badges, though a little appreciation would be nice.

We've heard things like:
The award isn't a competition (more on that later), but for sharing. It may discover well-qualified, but not necessarily the best Tridionauts.

The "best" should be recognized, rewarded, and celebrated. But three strong reasons prevent the best, long-standing Tridionauts from getting Global recognition for their work, you can't/probably shouldn't find the best through:

  1. Satisfied Customers
  2. Certifications or Expertise
  3. Directly through the software vendor (SDL in this case)

1. Most Satisfied Customer?

This assumes reference-able customers, who may not be eager to reveal their competitive secrets nor pick among all their vendors. They  may prefer to appreciate their own teams over vendors, and rightly so.

Customers could nominate the best only if they share engagement details, which is as difficult as creating those shiny joint press releases that need Marketing and CEO approval. Press releases typically recognize organizations and teams over individuals.

2. Most Certified Expert?

The "best" can't solely be determined by expertise or certification, though it'd be nice to offer levels like Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum levels for individuals or partners. Don't get too excited, I have nothing to do with that process.

It'd be nice to know who's the most certified (actually he might have already let us know--retweeting his Tweets and following is a great form of recognition, btw).
IMHO test scores and certification demonstrates your dedication to learn and apply specific knowledge rather than guarantee deliverables. Some of the best programmers I know don't have degrees and at the same time, some graduates struggle to find work.

3. Most Appreciated By the Software Vendor?

The software vendor probably shouldn't directly award resources (btw, the MVP Community selection panel includes a mix of internals and externals). I doubt partners or services company would want the owners of the software they implement to evaluate their projects and employees, then broadcast who's the best among the competitors. This seems as awkward as when the kids ask Mom who she loves the most.

Vendor employees should get rewards and recognition through their HR policies/benefits and management. Yes, you have valuable employees. Value them.

For ex-software vendor consultants (former internals)... well, just like any real world "ex-" relationship, I'm not sure you'd appreciate the wife getting flowers and a weekend trip to Portugal from her ex. I imagine it's hard to reward alumni that are now direct competitors, IMO (however, I do see camaraderie among Tridion resources and alumni, regardless of who they work for).
A company creates community programs to recognize individual contributions to something bigger than just awesome projects, expertise, or good employees
 We should recognize all of these.
  • Customers can issue press releases on great projects (excellent opportunity for "HR Marketing").
  • Experts should continue learning and possibly sharing their expertise for global recognition
  • All companies can reward and appreciate their own employees

Suggestions

Here are my personal, unofficial, non-sponsored recommendations for more Global Tridionaut recognition.

1. Share the Best Projects especially if you do have a great any customer willing to recognize a good project. Create a "best of" award and ask for nominations or anonymous suggestions their favorites. There are also non-CMS related awards we can all apply to. Make it a competition, offer a reward. These can be "Press Releases 2.0," see Zappos + Dynatrace for an example.

2. Recognize Employees. If you have sell services, by all means recognize your team. Award your employees by the criteria you want them to model. Want 12-hour a day workers? Community service? Community sharing (SDL has that one covered)? Are you results-oriented? Do you want perfect time cards? Create a reward or incentive, just be careful at motivating the wrong behavior (e.g. reward most lines of code or pages in documentation and see what happens).

For example, SDL CMT does internally recognizes top contributors at its internal annual kick-off, some happen to be community MVPs, but the focus is on contributions to the division.

3. Hold Real-world Competitions. This idea fascinates me, imagine a "bake off" over the weekend or into the late hours. Multiple teams compete to create some functionality, possibly earn prizes, and achieve Global Tridionaut recognition.

We could even borrow ideas from professional dance and do Professional-Amateur competitions (popularized by shows like Dancing with the Stars). My Midas Rule part in this: I'm brainstorming some hack-a-thon type events, an idea KnewKnow suggested at the MVP retreat. Maybe just internally, we'll see. It may take some time but leave a comment on what you'd be interested in.
Self-Selection. So, how do you discover the most helpful, consultants without needing to inspect every project, query every client, or get press-release approval? Easy. Just like SDL Tridion itself, we publish. Then the Global Tridion community can enjoy the appreciate the content we've created.
Publish anything good lately?

And to be clear about what the MVP program means, I'll personally mention community when I refer to the SDL Tridion MVP (community) Award.

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