Sunday, April 16, 2006

Be A Lotus Evangelist...Start A Lotus Notes Power Hour!

Hi again...Happy Easter! Hope everyone got lots of chocolate goodies! :-)

Today, I wanted to briefly introduce an idea that is starting to really take off at my company, at least at the location that I work in. Even though my company is international in scope and has a quite large and mature Notes infrastructure, many of our locations only provide a minimum of training around Notes. In fact, I think training only really happens when we do a major upgrade and we're probably lucky if we get that. Miss a session? Well'll probably have to read the little pamphlet that someone puts together. New employees who have never used Notes are probably the most unfortunate. They're just thrown into the pool and left to sink or swim.

You've probably figured by now that I'm really big on helping users. Now, don't get me a developer, users drive me crazy too. :-) BUT...I try to remember that what seems so obvious to us can be really challenging for the lay person. I mentioned in a previous post that I found almost all of our users were unaware of how to create a basic table. We routinely see people composing an e-mail in Word and then attaching it to a new memo since they are so unfamiliar with the Notes UI that they cannot do simple rich text editing. After seeing this time and again, I decided to do something about it. I talked to our director of IT and the manager of our training department and in a short time announced the commencement of the "Lotus Notes Power Hour".

The Lotus Notes Power Hour is our now monthly 'lunch and learn' session that focuses on one particular aspect of the Notes client. It's completely voluntary and takes place at lunchtime to make it convenient for most people. Users can attend either physically in our training room or remotely using (I'm sorry to say) LiveMeeting.

So here's the thing...instead of being run by the training department, I do all of the Power Hour sessions. This is, I think, a big bonus. Since I am a passionate user of Notes, I can convey my passion and excitement to the users. I try to not make it like a normal training session. Instead, I have fun with it. I come up with funny scenarios, but situations that are real world. If I use any slides or supplemental material, I use images and text from pop culture (like Jack Bauer turning off mail notification...cause no one tells Jack Bauer when to do mail!). Think training along the lines of the 'Head First' series of books. Playing and having fun with it makes the material go down so much easier. Our first session focused on tables and was a great hit. Recently we did advanced mail functionality and I received many good comments from that session too.

I've been very pleasantly surprised with the turnout of the Lotus Notes Power Hour. People really do want to learn how to effectively use the software they spend so much of their day in and attendance has been growing for each session. I'm trying to convince some of my colleagues overseas to consider doing something similar. Since we are all Lotus Evangelists, we're in a unique position to spread the word. Maybe you can consider starting a Lotus Notes Power Hour at your company. Besides the excellent exposure for your career, you'll get great practice at being in front of an audience. Best of all, you'll be helping your users be more productive and maybe they'll start to enjoy using Lotus products as much as we do. It may be a small step, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. Give it a try...your users will thank you for it!


Thomas "Duffbert" Duff said...

EXCELLENT post! I do a Cool Notes Tips and Tricks database populated mostly with tips from Alan Lepofsky's blog. People who are interested can subscribe and get email notification when a new tip is placed out there. I also have a standing article in the weekly electronic company newsletter covering the same subject.

Evangelism is something ALL of us need to be doing...

Ed Maloney said...

Great post! Actually... how about posting on some of the lesser known Notes table features? This is an area where my users are constantly complaining.

Chris Blatnick said...

Thanks, guys! I think that after I get a little more content in my Power Hour database, I'll make it available to everyone here.

You are totally right, Tom...Evangelism is one of the best things we can be doing. Heck...Microsoft actively employs "product evangelists". Anything we can do to help counter the FUD from Redmond will always help!