Preview: The practical limits of people and SharePoint

I'm in Montreal for SharePoint Summit 2009, thinking about the session I'm delivering on Tuesday afternoon. The goal is to distill all the useful knowledge that you won't learn anywhere else, or at the very least, not all in one place. And none of it is in existing SharePoint books or articles. At least none that I know of, but I'd love to be surprised.

The abstract (Ctrl-End to the bottom of this page) follows the conventional Problem, Opportunity, Solution, Benefits, Agenda model, but it's probably better to lay the cards out and say "here's what you're going to learn" and the best way to do that is to give you all of my sources here, before the start of the session and long before the final slide cleverly titled "References." And the deck too so you can make notes right on it if you're there. And if you're not here in la belle Provence, well, some of it will make sense without a tour guide but I'll be honest, you'll be missing at least a third of the lesson.


  • Sense-making: How to differentiate between and design appropriate action for the simple, the complicated, and the chaotic.We start with David Snowden's Cynefin Analysis and then improve upon it for practical use.
  • The practical limits of people: Learn the sizes of effective teams, offices and lives, and because of Dunbar's number and related research, why those are the right sizes. 
  • The practical limits of SharePoint: Evolution and sense-making determine how we work. If you accept the premise that IT solutions support people processes through simulation, then it is now important to explore the constraints of the platform we're using to simulate and support the work of people.


My related blog posts


Architecture into Implementation - The practical limits of people and SharePoint (PowerPoint)

With only 15 to 20 minutes to cover each of the three parts, I'm tempted, but will ultimately reject an urge to completely reverse the session and cover the hard limits of SharePoint first. The numbers, the risks and their mitigation are simple, they're what many are coming to see, so we can cover them and move on. From these we can move into the limits and work styles of people, which may seem complex but given the research, we people fit into surprisingly simple buckets for the purpose of solution design. And finally the star of the show, an improved model for sense-making. What is it? It's one of those things where you'll never see the world or its problems quite the same way again. Is 10 to 15 minutes enough to get it? Like anything worth knowing, that should be plenty.

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