Bahamas Software Development User Group, we hardly knew ye.
It’s been just over a year since I started the short-lived group but alas! It is no more. In this post-mortem, we discuss What Went Wrong by providing smug pieces of advice fueled by 20/20 hindsight.
Know what you’re getting into
As much as you’d like to keep the process lean, there is always work to be done. Initially, you may be required to give the majority of the presentation. There may be sponsors to solicit, presenters to organize, and government officials to appease when you try to explain that that box of lasciviously-shaped USB keys is for an upcoming “code camp”.
If you want to follow the Ozark Symphony Orchestra around on its whirlwind tour of Athens, Prague, Vienna, and Paris, you’ll need someone to fill in for you. A group run by a single person isn’t a group.
Be prepared for skepticism
Okay, this one surprised me when I made up my list. And since I recognize the perils of having unwavering optimism, it shouldn’t have. Many people I talked to came up with half a dozen reasons why it wouldn’t work: people are too secretive, it’s just another marketing tool for Company X, I work all day so why would I bother coming out in the evening.
The culmination of this was when one person accused me of using the group as a front to bring my “cronies” in to steal jobs from Bahamians and threatened to call the immigration department on me. Which is odd since I don’t work for a local company. Short version: some people will always look at what you aren’t doing rather than what you are.
I started the group as a .NET-specific one. In the group’s death throes, I broadened the scope to software development in general to account for the small size of the population and the wide variety of skills and interests. Many people are web designers who have had to learn programming to meet customer demands. And a session titled “Integrating Sharepoint with BizTalk” probably won’t have much relevance.
Know your public
This was, I believe, the one that effectively killed the group. I’ll have a follow-up post on it with more specifics when I’m able to keep my frustration at bay and can talk about it diplomatically.
In the end, whatever external factors exist, the primary reason the group didn’t work is because I didn’t have the fortitude to see it through. Maybe it was arrogance, maybe it was naiveté. Probably a bit of both. I wish this was only the first time I started something without anything more than good intentions. I doubt I’m the only one that starts things like this with an optimistic “let’s see what happens” without giving much thought into the work involved but it’s still kind of embarrassing that I folded up effectively because I didn’t feel like putting in the effort anymore.
I’d call it a lesson learned but we all know better…
Kyle the Unimproved