Road to European GDG Leads Summit – Setting the purpose

GDG Summit Purposes

If you know me, you know I love to start with why. In addition, as Priya Parker wrote in her book “The art of Gathering“, “by having a clearly identified purpose for the event, participants will have more chances to actually connect, and not be disappointed”. So, once our European DevRel team decided this year to shift from several regional GDG Leads summit, to a European-wide summit for 500+ attendees, we set down together, to define the main purpose of the summit, the North Start that would have influenced all the other event-related decisions. How we made it is the topic of this post.

(This post is part of a series about the European GDG Leads Summit organization. Partially to give to GDG leads some behind-the-scenes of the event, partially to share with other community managers lessons learned, partially for personal fun)

Get inspiration from the past

To warm-up our brains and create a common ground for follow-up discussion among the 12+ people in the team, we started with a retrospective exercise. We looked at the regional summits we run in the last two years, wearing two hats: one that considered attendees feelings and emotions (community is all about emotions), their comments and their feedback; another that considered our goals and impressions as organizers. We used the Start / Stop / Continue model, adding a fourth “Best” element to it. And this was the result.

Start / Stop / Keep doing / Best of past regional GDG Leads Summits

An incredibly dense wall of insights! We briefly discussed the points and, unsurprisingly, the ones that emerged more often were about knowledge and experience sharing, the sense of community, networking activities, training on community-related topics, feedback and discussions, intimate conversations, fun together. We also smiled a lot at your past, because was full of great and heartwarming memories.

We added into the mix the results of the interviews we did during Google I/O to several community leads there, asking them the most valuable activity they wanted to have during a GDG Leads Summit.

Identify the core summit purpose

With all these information in mind, we started to think, individually, about a desired purpose for the summit. With these key characteristics:

• Represents the sweet spot between what attendees want and enjoy, and the event organizers goals, with a slight preference for the attendees side.
Tangible and inspirational at the same time. Able to leave a feeling in between “we made it” and “there is still road ahead”. The “we made it” to positively justify the time spent, the “there is still road ahead” so attendees feel it’s already time for another summit, to continue the journey together.
• Offers a high level narrative that could be addressed during different events, using different angles and themes, but still part of the same, consistent, story.

And we put ideas together, obtaining another “surface” full of great insights:

GDG Summit Purposes

That flip chart fed an intense follow-up discussion that, after setting priorities, voting the different proposals and adding other elements into play, left us in agreement about the following GDG Summit purpose:

Empower GDG Leads connecting them and with them at a personal level, fostering a European identity and celebrating their successes, while providing tools to growth in their community manager role.

Skills and tooling, identity, connections, appreciation. Four areas we’ll work on to draft the agenda!

Stay tuned for the next post on the European GDG Leads Summit!

Team management practical wisdom, Codemotion Milan

Being a team manager is a big responsibility, regardless of team size. What are the best practices to make the most out of this role? Where and how management and leadership converge? How to manage difficult moments and decisions? A brief history about what I have learned, errors included, with an eye to technical teams.

Slides

(Codemotion Milan, 29 November 2018)

Job opportunities for community managers and builders

** UPDATE ** All the positions are now closed, thanks for the massive interest!

You know what does it mean to be part of Developer Relations, and you I’ve felt in love with communities long time ago. In special, with in-person communities with a focus on technologies. Google technologies. And you’re thrilled by the opportunity to make them even more successful thanks to your help.

Well, have you ever considered working with my team? We have some free seats now!

The positions

Community builder for Central Eastern Europe area (external collaboration): based in Warsaw or Prague Google office, you’ll be responsible for supporting and empowering the developer community ecosystem in Central Eastern Europe using the active programs we have.

Developer Students Club program manager (external collaboration): we’re planning to bring Developer Students Clubs in Europe, and we need a hand to make it possible. Any European capital with a major Google office could be a good location, and you’ll support in execution another team member responsible for this project.

Senior European Community Builder (job posting): how can our community programs be even more successful across Europe? What are possible next steps? Help us executing them with direct ownership of some European ares, while also crafting their future. Location preferably in Milan, but we’re also open to few other European capitals with major Google offices (Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin, Prague, etc)

What does external collaboration mean? While for the last position you’ll be hired as a Google FTE (Full Time Employee), the others are temporary collaboration (24 months max, depending on the hiring country), because we need support to manage a special and unusual workload. To be totally clear, these positions don’t have the same characteristic of an FTE role and don’t grant any future FTE conversion.

Common background for all the positions

Even if all the positions have their own peculiarities, there are some common ground for all of them. In particular:

  • Love to connect with people and empower their passions toward a common goal
  • Know, by heart, the art of community management
  • Be able to manage relationships with, and foster creation of, local developer communities, both formal and informal. Meet with local developers and businesses, promoting Google technologies to them
  • Identify community needs, key trends, insights and proactively develop strategies to best satisfy them
  • Be able to analyze, measure and report what’s going on in the community ecosystem and the personal contribution on that
  • Know how to plan in-person community meetups, from 20 to 500 people
  • Advocate for developers internally, and influence Google developer product strategy by working with Product Management, Engineering, PR, Marketing, Business Development and other cross-functional teams
  • Be knowledgeable about Google technologies
  • Be able to speak and write in English fluently and idiomatically
  • Have good project management skills

In all the cases, you won’t be alone, as we work as a team. Distributed, but as a team. So help and mentorship will be at your fingertips.

Interested in applying?

Reach me. My Twitter DMs are open and there are plenty of other ways to get in contact with me. But please, before trying, put aside imposter syndrome and check if you really are the right person: we need proven expertise in community management, and be a social media manager of an admin of a Facebook group is not enough.

Bonus position

Dev conference partner manager (external collaboration): I’m also scouting for a person able to manage Google DevRel participation to the most important developer conferences in Europe (Codemotion, Devoxx, Droidcon, WeAreDevelopers, etc), from identifying these conferences to understand where Google DevRel can have the higher added value, from curating relationships with conference organizers to organize a booth at the event, involving speakers, communities, etc.

Less community manager, stronger project management skills, but still in love to work with the tech ecosystem. Reach me, as usual.

Conferences for Community Managers in 2019

Chairs in a conference room

As per every job, it’s important to be part of a network of like minded and professionals with similar skills. What are the conferences for community managers, leaders and builders worthwhile attending in 2019?

** Note: this is a work-in-progress post, with new events added over time. Last update June 3rd **

Confirmed events

FOSDEM Community DevRoomFebruary 3, Brussels, Belgium: Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels. This year I was part of the Program Committee ;)

DevRelCon Tokyo, March 9, Tokyo, Japan: a conference about developer relations, developer experience, developer community, APIs and developer marketing. Part of the DevRelCon circuit.

DevRelCon San Francisco, June 6 and 7, San Francisco, California: This is THE annual San Francisco Bay area conference for Developer Relations and Developer Experience practioners! This is the conference where you can meet and learn from your community of dev advocates, community managers, team managers, dev marketers, and people in many roles that share DevRel and DX responsibilities in support, docs, engineering, product, partner engineering, BD, marketing, customer success, and more. Part of the DevRelCon circuit.

Swarm Conference, August 20-21, Sydney, Australia: Founded in 2011, Australia’s flagship community management conference connects local builders, thinkers, managers and makers with top international talent for two days of learning, collaboration, inspiration and outcomes.

CMX Summit, September 5-6, Redwood City, California: Over 2 days, CMX Summit seeks to expand discussions, techniques, and tactics applied to community building for businesses and support communities and their CEOs, CMOs, and builders at scale. (That’s you!) You’ll gain insights from the best in the industry and make lifelong friends

TheCR Connect, September 23-25, Boston, MA: TheCR Connect is exclusively for community practitioners – those engaged in the development, implementation, management, and measurement of community initiatives. You might be a community manager for a 5,000 person internal community, the community specialist at a start-up, or the director of community for a Fortune 500 brand. TheCR Connect is a vendor-free event to ensure that open conversations can happen between community practitioners.

DevRelCon London, December 10-11, London, United Kingdom: The fifth edition of DevRelCon London focuses on how developer relations, developer marketing, community management, and developer experience can learn from each other and from other disciplines. Part of the DevRelCon circuit.

Are you Italian?

If you’re a community manager, living in Italy, join the Italian Community Managers group, as we organize several event across the year, included 1 main conferences in Milan on November 15th, to discuss about these topics.

Other resources

There is also a list of upcoming DevRel-related events maintained by Mary, with big conferences and smaller meetups. And DevRel often crosses with community management, you know ;)

Any other important occasion missing in this list?

Blog winter cleaning

I started this blog somewhere between 2005 and 2006, when the blogosphere movement spread in Italy. It was a space to wrote about my unfiltered thoughts in random order, to remember my vacation places, to share my discoveries as developer and GNU/Linux lover, to narrate the story of the first Italian conference about mobile development (the unforgettable WhyMCA), to sparkle what has been born as CLSxItaly and now is the Italian Community Manager Summit, the only Italian event for community managers, builders and professionals; to calm down from everyday rants, to talk about community management and much, much, more.
I’ve started with Joomla, then moved to WordPress. I used Italian, and then switched to English.

In short, over 12+ years, this blog has became a wonderful example of creative chaos, reflecting pretty much accurately these 12 years of my life. And I’m proud of it!

Today, I decided to clean-up things. I moved the majority of the old content on a separate archive, rainbowbreezearchive.wordpress.com, leaving here only English content and redirecting to the archive the top visited Italian posts of 2018 (thanks to Redirection plugin).
I’ll also talk more about community management and team management, as these two topics are the ones feeding my passions (and my job) nowadays.

Continue reading “Blog winter cleaning”

The Community Canvas for GDG

GDG Community Canvas

When a community movement is worldwide spread, like Google Developers Group is, maintain a good balance between a common identity and local differences is essential keep the “sense of belonging” among the chapter leads, while leaving them the freedom to be successful interpreting the local context. But what defines that common identity? I created a GDG Community Canvas to explore and understand that.

The Community Canvas by Fabian Pfortmüller is, for a community, what the Business Model Canvas is for a company. While the latter is a visual chart with elements describing a firm’s or product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances (Wikipedia), the former is a framework to describe the underlying structure of a community, focussed on 3 main section: Identity, Experience and Structure. More info in the Community Canvas site, alongside with very useful guidebooks to understand each section and questions to drive its creation.

The process

Similar to the Community Commitment Curve exercise, I’ve asked to 70+ GDG leads to create their own Community Canvas, to check if a common picture about what a GDG is would have emerged and, if yes, what it would have been. In short: yes, there is one, and it’s very well defined!

We did the exercise during the annual community summits and, because defining the whole canvas could be overwhelming, we used a short version of it, called the Community Canvas MVC (Minimum Viable Community), still by Fabian, and working only on the “Identity” part, the most useful to provide an answer to my assumption.

The benefits of running such exercise in person with the community leads were multiple: first, it was an introspective journey they took, together, to better understand the reasons they do what they do. Gather around the same table younger and more experienced leads, to share and reflect about one passion that connected them all (they were there because they all run a GDG), fostered a stronger Sense of Community. Finally, it wasn’t Google telling them what a GDGs should be, they told each other, and based on their experiences.

We used simple design thinking techniques to co-create the GDG Community Canvas: first, we invited the leads to reflect about one of the element of the identity section, individually. Then, in group of four, they shared their learnings and discussed. Finally, they wrote down the main points on a template I provided them, to group all the thoughts emerged. We iterated for each of the identity section element: purpose, audience, values, goals. Finally, I went thru the findings, doing a little bit of summarizing. The whole exercise, in total, took a couple of hours.

The result

The follow maps describe what a Google Developer Group should be, and I pretty much agree with it.

Purpose: GDGs exist because they are local platforms for peer-to-peer sharing and learning of tech knowledge, expertise and ideas, for everyone and without discrimination. They create a space to socialise and get together with likeminded people interested in tech, enabling personal and career growth. They also aim to increase diversity in tech, creating a welcoming and safe environment. All with fun.

Audience: GDGs are for tech professionals with different level of expertise, interested in learning and sharing about Google technologies, and in giving back to the community. They’re also open to students, tech entrepreneurs and, in general, to all the people working with developers and / or with a technical background or passion about technologies. They host audiences of different ages and people close in terms of geographic location. They also welcome people interested in diversity and inclusion topics in the tech ecosystem.

Values: the most recurring values of GDG communities are about a social, technological and cultural inclusiveness, a continuous learning attitude of the members paired with a love for new technologies and a culture of sharing, a desire for personal growth, all enclosed in mutual respect and support. Diversity is present in many dimensions, from members background to knowledge level, including reasons to be part of the community to technologies, all to create a psychologically safe environment for everyone.
I particularly liked one of the point made: “learn, earn, serve”.

Goals: most common success factors for GDGs are the positive feedback from satisfied community members about the activity organized, the ability to share in an efficient and effective way knowledge and positive values of the community, being recognized as a valuable community and the reference point for Google technologies in the local ecosystem. Also the “creation factor” was mentioned: in term of new projects and ideas, community contribution to technologies: bugs, pull requests, feedback, etc. Success is also defined by more diversity in the event attendees, in term of gender and cultural background.
One group mentioned the increase of Community ROI, seen as Return of Interest, in term of more attendees to the events, more retention among attendees and more bonding capital among members.

Here the detailed results.

Next steps

It would be great to run the GDG Community Canvas exercise across different cultures, as my cohort was mostly from Europe. I suspect main points will be the same, with some interesting secondary differences. In addition, I left to the leads the pleasure of filling the other two sections (Experience and Structure) once home, with the rest of their community core groups, but it would have been interesting to go thru the whole canvas together. Nevertheless, several told me they’ve done, and it was very useful to better shape and share their idea of community and align their minds.

And you, GDG member or lead reading this article, do you find yourself and your community in this canvas? Please let me know, as I’m interested in every single feedback!