Suffering from a SharePoint Site Identity Crisis?


We’ll perhaps you can start by asking yourself Athens or Sparta? Long before people defined society by the Stones vs. the Beatles, mankind teetered on the Athens vs. Sparta question and SharePoint is no exception.

For this argument I borrowed liberally from the first paragraph of Hendrik van Loon’s The Story of Mankind.

SETTING: Ancient Mediterranean
Athens and Sparta were both Greek cities and their people used a common platform, SharePoint. In every other respect they were different.

Athens rose high from the plain. It was a city exposed to the fresh breezes of open office structures and telecommuting. They willingly looked at the world with the eyes of a happy child.

Sparta, on the other hand, was built at the bottom of a deep locked down facility valley, and used the surrounding cubicle mountains as a barrier against foreign thought.

Athens was a city of collaboration.

Sparta was a city of read only access and permissions.

The people of Athens loved to sit in the sun and discuss versioned poetry files or listen to the wise words of open blog and wiki dialogues.

The Spartans, on the other hand, never wrote a single line of dialogue that was considered public. But they knew how to execute, they liked to execute in read only, and they sacrificed all human emotions to their ideal of permission driven preparedness.

Arguments can be made by both sides, but the environments and audience are what dictate the choice.

Athens rose high from the plain. It was a city exposed to the fresh breezes from the sea, willing to look at the world with the eyes of a happy child. Perhaps Athen’s SharePoint and knowledge strategy did not risk anything by allowing collaborations and free flow of information. Athens’s business model is to innovate, research, create, and sell. Web entrepreneurs and companies looking to be the first to come to market seem logical choices for the Athenian model.

Sparta, on the other hand, was built at the bottom of a deep valley, and used the surrounding mountains as a barrier against foreign thought. Sparta may risk too much by opening procedures to interpretation. As with soldiers, if anyone strays from the group plan in battle it puts lives at stake. In technology, hard coders or even banks would be a good example for the Spartan model. Code and client data must be protected, compliance measures must be kept in place, and brokers shouldn’t get creative and create mortgage backed products that are not sound…

As with any grand argument the answers certainly are to be found somewhere in the middle, after all Athens and Sparta had a war that costs the power and resources which left Philip of Macedonia and eventually Alexander the Great to combine a little of both models to conquer the known world.

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About mhinckley

Michael Hinckley MCSA, MCITP, MCTS, has over 10+ years specializing in solution architecture for organizations that span from small businesses and global corporations. He is currently the Sr. Program Manager at Tangram. Michael is a recognized speaker and evangelist for Microsoft SharePoint and Business Intelligence stacks. He organizes tech community events (SharePoint Saturdays) throughout Florida and runs the Tampa SharePoint/Office User Group. He is a contributing author for the book Microsoft SharePoint for Business Executives: Q&A Handbook.
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