A Winter Warning!

This is a Christmas Fairy tale. As we all know, that means bad things happen which may frighten the reader, but fear not for there will be a happy ending!

Let us begin our story of woe, misunderstandings and assumptions, saved by fellows’ gumptions!

Please read on in the spirit of enjoyment, lessons learned and bear in mind that this was written up just after seeing “&Juliet“, which is awesome, but is based on a Shakesperian tragedy…

It begins

First we have the prologue to set the scene.

Our Community Group Leader cast members are:

  • Kathryn – member of our crew, recently departed for ventures anew!
  • Andre – possibly the level-headed type, he has organisation skills full of might!
  • Paul – planner, visionary, but sometimes he misses a step or three
  • Justyna and Tanya – brand new in their role; has onboarding achieved its goal?
  • Contributions and support from other members of the cast (WIT, Non Profit, Marketing, Developer, Den Haag and Salesforce Saturday), all true and fast

What’s going on here?

So in this Netherland, far away, it’s Christmas time, people want to come and play.

Not as one Community Group, or Salesforce Saturday.

But as DutchSFCommunity, the land which experiences a lot of gow-itivity.

So we’re preparing for our Winter Social Bash.

It’s been done before so, Paul thinks, we’ll have it off in a dash.

He gets the old planning sheet out

and doesn’t give this shopping list a second doubt:

  • Venue for 125
  • Microphones for some short speeches
  • Food and Drink, including peaches
  • Accessible for we never know who might show, and don’t want to turn anyone away
  • Funding lined up from good quality sponsors, not the type who turn out to be monsters

Off he sends the list to Andre who achieves the very best; within budget too.

There’s some confusion over whether tax is included, but we manage to resolve that – phew!

Then Paul has a think

and here’s the problem – he forgets to speak.

It’s a surprising truth, but he doesn’t like pure socials, he’s always thinking of the newcomer and wanting them to feel at home.

Some speed networking games, a trailblazer panel of 3 journeys, a bit of swag and a video. That’s the way to apply meat to this bone.

Then comes the run-through and cracks begin to appear. Justyna and Tanya are concerned there might be too much content here. Paul charges on, no thought to revision.

He’s done this before, this is the normal mission.

The day itself

On the night, it starts off great.

Community members rock up to meet and associate.

Andre looks at the running order and has a chat with the bar staff.

There’s been a misunderstanding, and it’s not a laugh.

The bar has just added up all the speaking slots, they’re concerned it will put other punters off their food-pots.

Andre also realise this isn’t the best venue, the ambience isn’t question right, for so many presentations tonight.

Too late now, though, let’s plough through.

Then we test the mics (for the first time), and we hear all isn’t right. The sound is oddly low and that gives us a blow.

We do the greetings and the speed networking, but shouting makes us hoarse and it’s all quite frustrating. It’s even getting rather grating.

Then the bar staff have an idea.

“We have a microbrewery as a separate room” they say, “we can all fit in here!” Hurray!

They point to the brewery itself and say that we’ll all fit inside. Here’s a place to do a Trailblazer Journeys talk, we see the room is quite small, but we don’t baulk.

“Oh no” cries Guido, a hidden member of the cast. “There’s not enough space,

for health and safety we have to about-face”.

So the crowd, redirected and slightly confused, ended up back in the bar; luckily the food hasn’t gone far.

We socialise some more and continue to swag and almost to a close,

what our community members don’t realise is that Paul is morose.

He had some amazing, inspiring, stories lined up, but now they aren’t going to happen.

Paul puts a on a brave face,

and resurveys the space.

So what’s, and gone on here, he thinks, and for this he cannot rhyme – there has almost been a crime.

To recap with a little less patter

This was the DutchSFCommunity Winter social, our largest gathering of the year. It is also a “one-off” in that it is not run like any other community event due to the size and nature of the evening.

The usual organising team was busy with other meetings and financial year end. Paul consulted but not as his ideas evolved (or in any event he wasn’t articulate enough in specifying the thoughts going around in his head). Our venue manager Andre found the perfect place, but they didn’t liaise once the initial requirements drifted, e.g. the request for hellos and welcomes became a full 30 minute slot.

Justyna, Tanya and others were there, and all the individual elements were checked off, but until 24 hours beforehand there was no “run through” to see if all the elements would fit together holistically.

The bar also forgot that microphones would be in use on the day and had booked in other diners. We had concerns about the dual use of the venue at the back of our minds, but didn’t sanity check and address those concerns. If we had given the full plan to the venue we may have been told “no” but then we would have had the option of choosing a different venue. Or we should have just listened to our misgivings, rather than to a bar keen to take our money.

Kathryn is mentioned at the very start. Kathryn used to be a Community Group Leader and had recently stepped down to pursue other goals. So far, so fine, but she was the glue that made sure that Andre and Paul were properly listening to each other, rather than understanding different things! A vital, experienced, piece of the safety-check mechanism had gone and its absence was under appreciated. With such a change to the organising committee, perhaps it should have been “less haste” while we got up to speed as (effectively) a new team.

The upside is that the Trailblazer Stories have been rescheduled for January at Amsterdam User Group, but Paul’s ambitions to stretch the community and move slightly beyond the normal content, were temporarily missed.

P.s. Judge from the photos as to whether anyone apart from the organisers spotted that anything was amiss 😅


This (new) blog is devoted to all matters Leadership, and it’s even better if there’s an Ohana-tinge to it. Whether you’re coming at it from a Community Group, Salesforce Saturday or Community Conference perspective, the aim is that we can all learn from each other. Subscribe here.

This particular article has been written by Paul Ginsberg (Twitter / LinkedIn) of the Amsterdam User Group. Want to contribute your own article? Just contact us! (proof reading and mentoring available)