The “You” in User Group

Posted in: Technical Track

Time for my user group rant again. Every time I am poised on the edge of taking another pilgrimage to an Oracle technical event, I descend into this user group smoke screen ( a good thing) and spout rhetoric about how amazingly valuable they are. User groups are frequented by the salt of the tech user community. Attendees at meetings are tomorrow’s presenters – a life repeating cycle that relives itself many fold once user group members morph into user group leaders. The transformation from attendee to presenter/leader is not unlike the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Many giants out there at the user group tech shows started their journey years ago as, guess what, a user group meeting attendee.

My own and favorite user group fairy tale involves Sally. She works for a large multi-national and is the most senior lead on a team of 11 DBAs. Sally has struggled with this, overcome that, wrestled with many tasks, and always seemed to come up with her head out of the water and the problem solved. She is the consummate techie. She lives and breathes the Oracle database software and loves Oracle with a passion. Who wouldn’t, if they were lucky enough to be in her shoes?

She recently encountered a repetitive problem with shared memory and exhausted just about every resource she could think of and then some. She had made some progress, gained some insight, and started to come to grips with solving her insidious problem. She was making every effort possible to get to the local user group meetings that seemed to be happening with increasing frequency as the movement take hold of her colleagues. Somewhat like the Ugly Betty of IT, she was the one that could not get the approval or find the time to attend meetings and rub shoulders with new found personnel in the Oracle space.

Guess what’s happening this week in Sally’s town! The regional user group is doing a road show that is touching down in her city. How enticing, but alas, until the final solution is found for her pressing problem, she will not be attending. I think you know where I am going with this. Guess what is being covered (unbeknownst to her) at the meeting this week. You guessed it: someone who has been through what Sally is experiencing AND has come out the other end is presenting a paper documenting and solving THE EXACT issue confronting poor Sally. So, four weeks later, Sally is still playing out the same old series of steps trying this and that when she could have had the solution delivered on a silver platter had she been able to attend that event.

Need I say more? Want to stand a better chance of getting your lingering problems solved? The user group is the best place to go. Why do you think Lewis, Gorbachev, Nanda, and so many more giants hang there?

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