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No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thing

By Andrew Pollack on 02/13/2012 at 01:17 PM EST

My participation in the various iterations of the "Design Partner" program started prior to the version 6 release of Notes and Domino. In those days, we had a multi-day invitation only event at the IBM Lotus campus in Westford where a serious discussion took place between the development teams and the design partners that had been invited. The program has changed over the years, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. In all that time, I've offered very pointed (as you can imagine) and straightforward opinions. You haven't heard much from me about what has been discussed in all those conference calls or meetings because it's under NDA -- something I've always taken quite seriously. In the past, the design partner program provided input to the process somewhat in balance to the input from the top few percent of licensed sites and the product sales team. Overall, the DP community would push for things beneficial to partner community and the SMB shops.

A side effect of being in the active DP program has been that I've been reluctant to talk much about the "Future" of the IBM Lotus product line or offer my opinions on that future. It would have been hard to separate out what I know is being discussed from what I think is going on.

Well, that's no longer the case. I received an email last night with the following statement:

"Recently, we have taken the opportunity to re-evaluate some of the participants in our Design Partner Program. Based on some recent activity, I believe the time has come to discontinue your participation in the Program. We certainly value your past participation and hope that you will continue to share your feedback with IBM through our beta programs or other means."
My first reaction, based on the sender and the timing, was to assume this was a direct result of my recent twitter comments about XPages (specifically, about how I believe the IDE may be the single worst atrocity I can recall ever being inflicted upon a development community). That certainly may have had something to do with it. Others have suggested that my favorite lawyer (Thomas Hagen) may have played a role, and while that's possible I somehow doubt it. In comparing notes this morning, I've learned that there were a great deal of other membership changes in the program made at the same time. While I've heard a few names, I don't know many and I don't know who has been told yet and who hasn't so I can't be any more specific. Maybe some of those people will discuss the change, while others may see it as a loss in status and may not want to.

I can only assume that my opinion on the product line and it's direction no longer has sufficient value to the IBM Lotus team -- or at least to those making the decisions about the Design Partner program. This makes some sense, given that in the last year or two I can think of only one case where a suggestion I made actually had an impact on the product. I'll miss the old design partner team, where actual communication and discussion led to real consideration being given to the partner community and it's input. In the last year, that hasn't been the case in my opinion. The meetings have become a place where decisions already made have been rolled out for buy in and at best small tweaks and real in depth issues have been far less welcome.

It is possible that the changes being made will rejuvenate the process in a more open and positive way, and the process will be better without me than it was with me involved. I hope that's the case and I wish those who still remain the best of luck with it. I'm skeptical given the recent (and continuing) exodus from the development teams of the products I care about most. For me, I've decided it's a mixed blessing as I'm going to feel far more free to share those opinions in a more public way -- even as I've begun the process of picking the next technology direction for myself and for Second Signal as it is increasingly clear that the direction the Lotus product line is moving matches my needs less and less with each revision.

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Peter Smith on 02/13/2012 at 02:07 PM EST
Very nice summary, especially the last line.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Andreas Imnitzer on 02/13/2012 at 03:43 PM EST
The Last line expresses my feelings very good. Yes. Lately, @ the developers
Lab I had to explain some architecture to that Young developer, who was Not
willing to learn notes history. That's why it gets worse with each release.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Andrew Pollack on 02/13/2012 at 03:59 PM EST
Yes, it's true that many of the people working on the new aspects of the
product line have no idea how large parts of the thing work. They don't
understand where the value came from and as a result they put in functionality
that could be great if it was it was better integrated.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy bruce lill on 02/13/2012 at 02:12 PM EST
It used to be we knew what is coming in the next major release and not just the
next point release.
I would love to see the Domino roadmap for 2012,23,14 and 15.

I see XPages development becoming more centered around Java, since RAD is
already there where is Domino going to be in a few years?

I have done more non-Domino lately then Domino. Currently doing WebSphere
portal and WEF portlets.

ours is not to question why just to do and say what the f**k.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Sean Cull on 02/13/2012 at 02:34 PM EST
Andrew, I'll be sorry to see you go. I always knew that when you spoke up on
those conference calls it would be worth listening to.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Henning Heinz on 02/13/2012 at 02:53 PM EST
The big disadvantage is that now IBM can even better say that they have been
listening. Well it is how it is. Thank you for trying to make IBM products
better.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Jen on 02/13/2012 at 03:36 PM EST
So why would you throw out or discourage participation from one of your biggest
chearleaders? Even when your criticism was harsh it was with a tone of "I love
this product and community BUT...". Your involvement did impact the rest of us
using this product whether its easily measured or not.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Andrew Pollack on 02/13/2012 at 03:50 PM EST
Most of the actual developers I know -- people who write code -- tended to
appreciate the feedback even when it was uncomfortable. The higher you climb
in the food chain, however, the less willing you seem to be to deal with people
unwilling to kiss your ass. When you fly around the world in first class, talk
with people all day long who are either serving you drinks or telling you how
brilliant you are, it can be very easy to forget who you are.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Anonymous on 02/13/2012 at 04:49 PM EST
Guess since they've gotten so "social", they don't need people anymore.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Andrew Pollack on 02/13/2012 at 04:52 PM EST
With all their talk of Social, the have been 3 responses from IBM people to my
rather strongly worded negative tweets:

Response #1: Run and hide - possibly bitch to someone else, possibly agree
silently.

Response #2: React negatively, ultimately take what limited reprisals are
possible (this is clearly the social training showing through)

Response #3: ONE sole IBMer reached out to try to figure out what caused the
crash I described. I'll be sending him sample code. (This is the correct
approach)

I guess nobody actually READ Sandy's book. :-)
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Andreas Imnitzer on 02/13/2012 at 04:56 PM EST
They only had to BUY the book. ;-)
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy ken on 02/15/2012 at 06:38 PM EST
lol...who's Sandy?

I'm surprised they didn't like your feedback either.
I do admit it was probably tiring to hear about ACLs when they architected a
new feature, but no one seems to think about them any more.
I bring up stuff sometimes (e.g., signing via web browsers and server installs
that require UIs to be installed on headless VMs) and I got responses like
"it's too hard" or "what? we've never heard of that" :-P

p.s., Ed posted in the R.next forum and said it wasn't any reprisal..just that
they replaced you w/ another DP....guess they didn't think you participated
enough :-)
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Andrew Pollack on 02/15/2012 at 06:59 PM EST
Fascinating (read insulting) to hear that I (as an IBM partner and Customer)
would be talked about in a forum to other partners and customers by an
executive, where I do not have access and cannot respond.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Andreas Imnitzer on 02/13/2012 at 04:55 PM EST
Hm. On sunday #ls12, somebody clearly lost a face up there in the food chain.
Reread, if you need.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy Jim Knight on 02/14/2012 at 01:31 PM EST
Get social. Do business. Stop criticizing.
re: No longer in the Design Partner Program, a good news/bad news kind of thingBy David Bailey on 02/17/2012 at 09:27 AM EST
It's a loss to Notes/Domino and IBM.


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