Atlassian User Group (AUG) Leader - A look under the hood (Part 2)

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As AUG leader I always wanted to share my experiences to motivate other users to become AUG leaders. This post has a Part 1 where I was able to address: Why I am an AUG Leader?, Working with Partners, Swags and Venues. In this part 2 I will be sharing some experiences and lessons learned.

 About the Content

As I mention at the beginning of this blog-post it is not a requirement that you have to be an expert on Atlassian products, being just a good facilitator is good enough. The community will take care of you and will help with the content. We have AUG leaders, book writers, Atlassian experts, industry experts and more. Below are some ideas to get you started...

  • Remote presentations: If you know experts from the industry you can invite them to do a remote presentation. Recently I had a presentation from Claudio Ombrella from Autodesk and he was able to share with my group his expertise and good practices. Our attendees were impressed with the quality of his presentation despite of the time zone difference.

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  • From experts: As you attend to the Summit or Atlassian roadshow you will be interacting with community experts, some of them book authors like Rachel Wright. With her we added a segment that we called “Meet the Author” and our group was able to learn more about her book and enthusiastic for another presentation from her later on.

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  • From local AUG members: know your attendees, be active participant of the networking period and find out more about their interest and skills. They can be great presenters from their own perspective and also recommend other topics for upcoming meetings.
  • Best Practices: I really enjoy when I can be part of presentation when the presenter share their experience, best practices, common mistakes, add-ons selected, expert experiences, etc. A presentation like that saves a lot of time for participants that are ready to move to the next level or facing issues with some requirements.
  • Brainstorming and Lean Coffee sessions: It was a very good experience when we invited our participants to write a topic on a piece of paper, then arrange it on the wall and assign a time based on the final voted interest. Remaining topics are part of pending topics for upcoming meetings. (For this particular exercise is good to have some advanced and experts users so they can assist with the voted topics to be discussed)
  • Topics variation: Don’t get stuck with the same topic for all the meetings. I noticed that the audience change based on the theme and as you continue with the events you will identify your group main interest. Eventually, you will get a request from the attendees to find a presenter about a particular topic, that is common and it will help you addressing the community and to invite key presenters for them.
  • Engaging Atlassian Community: Atlassian recently launched the site community.atlassian.com that currently have more 1 million members and more than 650,000 posts. Visit the site frequently and you will be able to identify community experts there. Also, it is a good resource to mention to your meeting attendees

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  • Be creative with the content. Users will register if they see a time for networking with other experts and good presentations. Some ideas below:
    • Meet the Author: this was a short segment, probably 15 minutes where Atlassian experts that have related books share their story, the book and answer some questions
    • The Add-on of the Month: The Atlassian marketplace has thousands of add ons that complement the products. Users can share their experiences good and bad with them and help each other with recommendations and solution research.
    • Best Practices or Case Studies: Atlassian partners can help with this particular one, they know customers with success stories, good and interesting projects that can be shared with other members.
    • Show and Tell: Once your group is established,  you can do a session called Show and Tell and those that are interested can present their own case. Set the time and get ready for a good experience. (This activity can be combined with another type of presentation)
    • The Voice of the Customer in the Box: it is an interesting excercise  that you can use during your meetings. I tried with a small group and it was very interesting.

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Food and beverages

Don’t get too complicated but be sure it is a good one. Atlassian will reimburse a certain amount per participant. However, estimating what to get can be a challenge and you will get better as you know your users group members. Encourage them to RSVP prior to the event so you can have a good headcount but do not  estimate for 100% assistance. The best approach is to do a 70% (counting with those that will attend without prior reservation).

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Sport bar dinner

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Ice Cream Break (afternoon event due to timezone of remote presenter)

 

To make things more interesting you can get special meals for some meetings depending of the time of the day. We used ice cream day for an afternoon meeting, empanadas, pizzas, mexican food, sushi, etc. Due to facility restrictions we do soft drinks, but some groups are able to provide beer. This is an area where involving partners sponsoring the event can make the difference.

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Argentinean empanadas before Warfigther Made training session

 

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Snacks provided by a Partner - Argentina, Cordoba

My current Atlassian User Groups

  • Temecula Valley, California. As I previously mentioned, it was hard to find users in this area. I work remote from my home in Lake Elsinore and I don’t have a stable place for meetings or co-workers to help as co-leaders. But I found a way to train new users and involve user group members. We launched a collaboration effort to build a collaboration environment for a local non profit organization that assist injured veterans (www.warfightermade.org ). I am doing workshops on their place to teach about Atlassian tools. Basically we are creating not only the User Group but also adding new members to the group. For our meetings we use the city Entrepreneurs place as well as the organization facility. During December we combined our AUG meeting with their Open House and we were able to recruit 25+ volunteers ready to learn about Atlassian and to start with the project.

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Volunteers helping the Temecula AUG

  • Palm Beach County, Florida: DSS, Inc. is sponsoring us by providing their conference room during weekdays and weekend. As they were implementing Atlassian for more than 500 employees we were planning and executing multiple meetings and workshops. The interaction with other local users was amazing and we found great opportunities to alternate the location of our meetings, including two social events at a local sport bar. Most of the project with Warfighter Made was developed by members of this group during our training workshops (after hours and Saturday morning)

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Palm Beach User Group members during the workshop. With the hat, Carl Allen - co-Leader

Atlassian AUG and Community Leaders support

We are in the same boat and all the AUG leaders and the Atlassian Community Team are always trying to help to each other. If you are in another country or city, check if a local AUG member has a meeting planned during that time. Attend and interact with them, we all try to share our experiences in our internal space in confluence. You will be amazed about their willingness to support you. The community team is always looking for better ways to support your you, they are adding tools, providing materials to minimize the stress during the meetings and pre-canned content that you can use anytime.

Lessons Learned

  1. Finding AUG members: when I started Atlassian had billing and  technical contacts only, so it was hard to actually find and motivate the actual users of the tools. Despite of that, I was able to engage some users by involving existing Meet Up groups, LinkedIn professionals in the area, etc.. Some of them interested on the features of the tools and other already using the tools. Currently, the Atlassian Community  and Marketing team have found new ways of locally promoting the meetings in social media. Your event will be noticed.
  2. Engaging co-leaders: They are helpful on the organization of the event as well as support during the execution, assisting with the logistics and  helping with the capture of feedback and topics of the interest for future events
  3. Consistency and frequency are important but what is critical is to identify what is best for the area and your user group members. Do not overload with multiple events, find the right balance to keep them interested.

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  1. You don’t need to be an expert at all, you can find presenters and local or remote experts to provide content. Atlassian partners can provide business cases or customer experiences and other AUG leaders might help us well
  2. Don’t get discouraged by failure or lack of assistance, it is just the beginning and, if you are persistent you will be successful. Keep in mind quality is as important as quantity, a concept still hard to grasp but it could be a foundation of a solid AUG.

 

And finally, a Piece of Advice

If, after reading this post, you are still interested, jump in and do the next step: apply to become a User Group Leader, follow the welcoming message and instructions from the team and get ready for the first event. Just keep present that you only need 4 events per year to be considered an active AUG leader.

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The only thing I can say now is just “Welcome aboard and enjoy the journey”, you have now a look under the hood, you are part of an amazing community and you are not alone! Let’s do it!

The Atlassian users of your area will appreciate your work and they will be part of your adventure!.

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 Enjoy this message from Atlassian co-founders.

 

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