And then there were 10…

This post was somewhat hard to write, to find the right tone, to express my feelings succinctly enough without seeming ungrateful for what I’ve just been awarded.

Yesterday, I received the official news from Microsoft that I had been awarded with an MVP Award for the 2018/2019 period, my first “renewal”. Leading up to yesterday, there were a tremendous amount of messages, emails and social media threads among the various channels that MVPs communicate in (some official, some not) where people were announcing they weren’t getting renewed. Included in this were several within my own award category, Business Solutions, within my own peer group of those focusing on Dynamics GP.

Several*

It’s not unusual are renewal time to see *someone* not getting renewed. After all, renewal is not automatic and most of us certainly don’t assume we’re entitled to it nor are we doing what we do *for* the award. It’s not like that at all. It might be for some people but I’m pretty comfortable saying that isn’t the case for the GP MVPs I know.

However, the “culling of the list” became more evident when multiple people chimed in on the email thread that they, too, were tapped on the shoulder and informed they were not getting renewed.

We only had 15 GP MVPs to begin with, as of the end of June. One of the 15 indicated shortly after our March 31st deadline for submitting our community activities that they were bowing out on their own without submitting anything. Their role has changed and it no longer was possible to keep up with the level of voluntary contributions required to even be considered for an award.

The other 4 were shockers. Two of them have written blogs about their non-renewal, Mark Polino and Ian Grieve. The others haven’t so I won’t “share” their news for them. My MVP page has been updated to show who *is* still an MVP and you can figure out the rest from there if you’re familiar with our little #MSDYNGP community.

Is this a sign?

Inevitably, the conversation around the GP group morphed into “is this a sign?”, another unspoken message about Dynamics GP? Surely we can’t lose 4* MVPs in a year and have it mean nothing. (Because one non-renewal was voluntary, I’m careful not to include that person in this portion of the conversation). As a group, we’ve been very vocal with the GP product team about the unspoken messages that are being “sent” by not having updated product documentation, by not updating help files to at least display the proper version and other things that speak volumes. They don’t see it the same way we do, we agree to disagree but remind them of the unspoken messages from time to time anyway. This discussion went down that road, again.

By the numbers

I checked the MVP page on June 30th because I wanted to have some numbers to compare to for this post, sensing that there were lots of significant cuts coming across all categories.

Overall MVP count:

  • On June 30th: 3,813
  • On July 2nd: 3,029 (including 37 new awards, so 2,992 renewals)
    • 21.5% cut, or 821 MVPs not renewed

Interestingly enough, in March I pulled the numbers for a post I never wrote and there were 4,015 MVPs at that time so the number of MVPs cut is even higher. I can’t account for the 202 drop from March to July though, as that would even be masked by some new awards on Apr, May and June 1st.

MVPs in Business Solutions:

  • On June 30th: 221
  • On July 2nd: 185
    • 16.3% cut, or 36 MVPs not renewed

To be fair, it might not be 36 non-renewals, as at least one, Belinda Allen, was moved from Business Solutions to Data Platform. Category by category changes are tricky to be precise with for this very reason. It’s likely there are others who moved categories.

Canadian MVPs:

  • On June 30th: 201
  • On July 2nd: 159
    • 20.9% cut, or 42 MVPs not renewed

Again, not speaking for Canada specifically, there could be cases where an MVP moves, but the likelihood is this would account for a small number of country to country changes.

If I compare our “4” cuts then we lost 26.7% of our “team within a team”, for what that’s worth.

What does it take to be an MVP?

Honestly, that is the question in my mind now. I don’t do what I do to *get* the MVP Award but I’d be lying if I don’t think about what targets I should be aiming for if I want to be in consideration for it. It’s turned into a metrics game, so it’s all about targets.

Now that so many weren’t renewed, many of whom contributed more than I have in many ways, I can honestly say I have no f***ing clue what I’ve got that made me successful compared to any of those not renewed.

My first award would have been based primarily on my blogging volume, and some amount of answering questions on various GP-related forums. I wrote a certain # of blogs that year and I’ve always figured that got me 1, so it must be a reasonable target to aim for each year, at a minimum. Maybe I was a “quota” MVP, since the female representation is super low? Who knows.

During this past 21 months since receiving my first award, I have done a ton of presentations, which undoubtedly counted significantly towards this renewal. I also kept up the blogging volume, but perhaps that fell a little, if I am averaging it over 21 months not 12. The “cost” of those presentations was quite high in terms of real dollars, as I was self-employed for all of them. That cost me in terms of lost revenue and out of pocket expenses as the conferences in the GP world don’t cover the travel costs for presenters.

This next year, my guess is this will be my last MVP Award. I am no longer self-employed and will no longer be attending every conference. To be fair, those two things are not even related. I realized pretty quickly the financial hit of doing so many conferences was unreasonable had I stayed self-employed. However, I now have to think about the value to my employer of me attending a conference, as they would be footing the bill if I were approved to go. I *personally* get a lot of value out of attending if presenting counts towards my MVP renewal application but that has pretty much zero value for my employer. It’s not like we sell widgets and the more people hear about my company, the more widgets we sell, where there is a marketing benefit from me being out there. I am now selecting what conferences to attend based purely on what I will learn that I can then use to do new or better things at work, period. That will come at a cost, and perhaps that cost ultimately will be not meeting the “algorithm” for a future MVP award. If that’s the case, so be it!

Am I grateful for having received the award twice so far? Absolutely.

Am I confused as to what it may take to get it for a third time? Absolutely!

Time will tell. I hope the MVP team does some announcements clarifying if they have changed direction on what’s important to them so we can make sense of what happened on July 1st.

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