On Brown Bags

I’m a part of professionalvmware.com‘s vBrownBag team.  I work with awesome people to bring in experts a broad range of topics, from virtualization, networking, datacenter technology, and more.  They are free, and recorded so you can watch them anywhere!  You can read more about it here.

This isn’t directly related to the vBrownBag community, but more the concept of the “Brown Bag” in general.  Wikipedia has a short-and-sweet article on the topic if you aren’t familiar.

Before I knew the wonder that is the vBrownBag community, I had started a Brown Bag series at my workplace.

In doing managed services, we have some knowledge separation between our network engineer (installation engineers) and the managed service team (helpdesk and NOC). Lunch is a perfect time to talk with subject-matter experts without getting in the way of daily work. What’s better than free learning? okay, free beer, but I digress…

This wasn’t just limited to technical topics, but also open to other departments (Sales–>Sales, Technical–>Sales, etc).

Fast-forward a year and a half; I have presented the majority of the Brown Bags. I made them interactive and fun, and was met with rave reviews. People initially sounded excited to both share and learn, but hardly anyone had follow-through for both presenting and attendance.

I’ve tried incentives like free pizza, reminders, spoon-fed ideas for others to present about (almost to the point of assigning topics), but I wanted it to be strictly on a volunteer-only basis.

The concept was well received and encouraged by management, but just didn’t have the traction I expected with any of the teams I had expected.  Low presenter diversity, along with a lack of attendance is really holding my spirits low.

Has anyone started something similar in their workplace?  Do I need to be more patient and wait for traction to somehow pick up?  Perhaps I need to understand that not everyone wants to grow or share their knowledge like this.  Right now, I’ve resolved to step back for an undetermined period and see if anyone else steps up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *