Passing the Torch
Sometimes, change is bitter sweet.
I am not a sports fan. I might need to take my shoes off to count all of the current American Football, Baseball, Hockey, or Basketball stars’ names I know, let alone their teammates. Some of those might not play anymore. Usually I can’t tell you who won last week’s games, regardless of sport. But I do like minor league sports, particularly hockey, if there is a local team1. What I noticed about minor league sports, however, is that it is different than professional sports and (in the USA) collegiate sports2.
In college sports, a fan can expect to cheer for their team. Their favorite players will arrive on the scene and will be around for three or four years before they move on. There is a rhythm.
In professional sports, the stars come and go, but mostly stay for a while, especially early in their careers when the masters, I mean the owners, have the players locked in, until they don’t. So I am told3.
But minor leagues are different. Minor leagues are about development of the player. The good players move on, and the great players move on sooner. Fans root for the team, but if they focus too much on their favorite players, well sometimes, suddenly, their favorite player is gone, with a suddenness that can be jarring. Sometimes, these departures turn a team’s successful season into a mediocre or even a losing one. This likely makes the player’s departure all the more painful to the fans4. In my observations, some fans can not adjust to this difference.
There is a part of minor league sports that may be lost on some fans. One team is part of larger whole. When a player moves away from a minor league team, they will typically move up into another team within the same organization. I know many fans that root for the local minor league baseball team but their professional team is in some far away city, because that is where they grew up to love baseball. The fan loses the connection between the minor league team and the professional one, at least as it applies to themselves.
It is Happening Again
I’ve been a fairly active participant in the Smartsheet Community for nearly three years now, and a passive lurker for two years or so before that.
Now this happens again, for the third time: there’s a new Community Manager.
That means the current one will be leaving. Sure, they always promise to occasionally stop by to provide insightful comments. And maybe they mean it, but slowly over time, I see their profile picture less and less, their answers less and less, and then one day, they are gone.
The outgoing Community Manager has been slipping away for a while, having been tasked / promoted as the Release Readiness Manager5, so I’ve been mentally and emotionally bracing for the change, but it still stings. No, wrong word. Reverberates, that’s better. It affects me.
Sure, these Community Managers are primarily just people on the other end of the Internet. I don’t know them, personally. But … all of them have at one time or another reached out via private email to discuss something deeper than we can/should discuss openly on the Community. For that I am grateful. I also acknowledge that I can be needy, so I apologize for that and I am grateful for their indulgences.
I was able to meet current and past Community Managers at ENGAGE 2017. I am grateful for that too. It was nice to meet them in person. It was nice to see them in action, engaging with and helping the attendees.
They have all, in no small part, helped me, personally and professionally.
But, the role, like a player on a minor league team, is a developmental one. If they are any good at their job, then it is only a matter of time before they are recognized and they are moved somewhere else to have a greater impact on the Smartsheet org as a whole or decide to move on to a better place for them.
And so the torch is passed
I am very pleased that the current Community Manager is moving up. They deserve it. I hope and fully expect they go on to accomplish even greater things.
And I’m anxious (in a good way) to see what the next Community Manager brings and how they put their stamp on the role and the Community at large.
And this part of team building, developing the good players, and supporting them when they become that.
Every loss to a team is a bit of stumbling block, there is no denying it, but the team adapts and learns and moves forward.
It is cool to be able to watch it happen, when you know what to look out for. It is possible to root for both the player and the team.
- At least, I like going to the games. Don’t ask me the players’ names, I probably still won’t know. And don’t ask me if they won last week, if I wasn’t there, I probably don’t know that either.
- Or remember. A lot of what I know about sport comes from playing Playstation with my friend’s teenage son fifteen or twenty years ago.
- I assume, again, not a fan. I’m starting to repeat myself.
- Going on six months ago. Don’t think I didn’t notice.