This is Not a Conference: Why the Open Source Community Sprint is Different

By Mark Adcock | January 15, 2018 | Higher Education, K-12 Education & Youth Development, Nonprofit

The next Open Source Community Sprint from Salesforce.org is coming and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Sprints are a common term in the world of software development; you hear agile teams talking about sprints as part of their regular workflow. In the open source space, sprints are often a confluence of people to produce code and improvements. In the Salesforce.org space, sprints are a place where people from all over the Salesforce community, developers and administrators alike, come together to tackle important items and make change.

If I had to use one word to describe the sprints, that word would be “magical.” If I got to use three words, they’d be “amazing and magical.” I attended my first sprint last year in Baltimore, Maryland. Going to that sprint changed my definition of Salesforce Ohana permanently. Before that sprint my perception of the term Ohana was yet another marketing term; it sounds nice and puts a pretty face on things, but there wasn’t substance.

These sprints are tangible events that represent the partnership between Salesforce.org, the partner ecosystem, and the community to provide the best solutions possible for as many scenarios as possible. The sprints are, at a fundamental level, linking people from all over the extended ecosystem to combine their shared passion, acumen, and talents and solve problems common to so many organizations.

That passion combined with leveling the field across the board as execs, product managers, community members and partners sit together around an Arthurian style imaginary round table is where the magic really starts.

This is not a conference.

Community SprintIt’s a workspace more collaborative than any you’ve ever seen before. People come together to share their different passions, skills, and knowledge around various self-organized topics and over the course of two days work on items with an impact that ripples out for years to come across countless organizations.

This is an open space where people share experience, identify requirements, share best practices, and talk data models and code structures. That would be pretty amazing by itself, but over those two days, they produce solutions with documentation, and data architectures and code. These solutions are rough around the edges and need work, but every single team, whatever they produce, glows with the satisfaction of giving back to the community and contributing to making the entire ecosystem better for everyone.

There are few experiences I’ve had in life that rival the memories of the sprints I have participated in, of the camaraderie, mutual respect, talent, knowledge and sharing that happens at a sprint. In every sprint I have attended, my knowledge of Salesforce, the ecosystem and possible solutions have grown in exponential fashion. I have participated in two projects and thinking about either brings back that same glow. In both cases, I have been around people I didn’t know before the sprint, who are close friends and Ohana family forever afterwards.

I could tell you about the projects I contributed to, which, I think are amazing and wonderful; but, I don’t think any individual project that comes out of the sprint stands above the others. Any individual project you contribute to at a sprint – whether that be providing ideas, offering critique, designing solutions, sharing problems and solutions – none of these individual projects is as big as being a part of something that lays the groundwork for growth and impact across so many different areas. Best practices documentation on donations, lead management or data migrations, trailhead modules, grants management, student solutions, reports & dashboards are all just part of the amazing tapestry woven over the two days at the sprint.

Most of the people go to a sprint because they have a specific problem or two in mind, however, I can guarantee if you participate in a sprint, no matter whether it was a project you worked on, or one at the other end of the workspace you only hear brief updates on, you will feel a sense of wonder, of happiness, of pride and of gratitude to have been a part of it.

The next sprints are set to be even more amazing as individuals from both the Nonprofit and Higher Ed spaces and those who drift between come together. These two communities share so much overlap beyond the data, the energy and enthusiasm for what they do, for the impact they have in their respective areas and quite often the individuals working in one space have overlap into another. A perfect storm is coming to Orlando, Florida this March, but thankfully for the citizens, it’s a hurricane of ideas, of needs, of problem solvers — of Trailblazers — and like a large storm, the effects ripple outward and things will change all over as a result.

This is why I sprint. This is why after my first sprint I went from thinking “it would be a good opportunity to connect and learn more” to “this is something I need to do every opportunity I get.” This is why I look forward to the announcement of every upcoming sprint, eagerly await the open of registration and book my hotel room ASAP. I have friends, Ohana Family to meet, there are problems to solve, there are new things to learn and there is magic to behold, participate in and carry with me for a long time to come.

Want to join the fun? Register today or learn more about the Community Sprint experience.

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About the Author
Mark AdcockMark Adcock (@techforecastis) is a Salesforce Consultant specializing in Nonprofit and Higher Education technology solutions. He is passionate about equality and the use of technology to educate, communicate, connect and transform our world for the better.

Photo credit: Ryan Ozimek of Soapbox Engage