My Sun-set


A few people (well more than a few) have been asking me what prompted me to leave Sun and Colorado for a new job in a new city.


I’ve always been a Sun guy, in fact I took a pay cut to join the company 8 years ago.  I love their products, I love their innovation, I love their culture, and I especially love their commitment to doing the right thing.  I had a great career at Sun and it was hard to leave that all behind but there’s something special in this job at Amazon that I couldn’t resist.


At a high level, I’m a program manager (which is an uppity way of saying I’m a project manager with a big scope).  And while I have great passion for Project Management that alone wasn’t enough to lure me, after-all I was one of the leaders of project management in Sun IT.  It’s what I get to program manage that’s so awesome.


About 2 years ago I began hearing a buzz about “Web 2.0” and “social media” – this was new to me and I began poking around the space to see what it was about.  What I learned was that the social/community aspects of these so called “social media” tools were really about taking the static “go-read-a-web-page” experience into an interactive place where you gain value not just from the content the provider puts out but from what the community builds around it. 


I’ve played with blogging and micro-blogging, wikis and twikis, document repositories and collaboration tools of all kinds all with an eye toward helping PMs manage their projects and teams.   As I shared my thoughts with the PMs in Sun IT I found the usual bell curve of reactions from the team:  from enthusiastic to interested to skeptical to “why the heck would anyone do that?!!” 


Interestingly those reactions were more varied tool to tool than they were person to person.  It wasn’t that Bobby loved the tools and Sally hated them, it was that some of the folks who couldn’t see the point of micro-blogging got totally into wikis and some of the people who loved micro-blogging didn’t see the value in a more traditional blog.  The lesson to me is that social-media isn’t a single tool, single type of communication, or even a single idea.  The whole point, like the content itself, is that social-media is whatever you WANT it to be.


So… what’s the job then?   I’m responsible for knowledge management and social media programs for Amazon’s technology workers!  What was a hobby area for me at Sun, a place where I played with new ideas and how they fit in with project management, is now my day job!  I will be running projects to deliver those tools, and more importantly, the communities around them for Amazon’s employees.


I’ll explain more about what “knowledge management and social media” mean in the coming weeks but for now I need to get back into the routine of blogging.  I wouldn’t be much of a leader if I said “hey Amazon, you should be blogging” if I wasn’t doing it myself! My posts might be spotty for a while as I get established in a new job and a new city, and I’ll be busy getting my family ready to move here too, but I’ll be writing more as time goes on, thanks for sticking with me!

~ by brianherman on May 4, 2009.

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