Note: Wrote this on Saturday's flight home....sounds a bit ASW-ish but I am definitely interested in discussing perceptions.

I had a great week in Germany, once again.  My 26th visit (I think) was just as good as the previous 25, and I start to feel more and more "at home" in Germany every visit.  I still would love to learn the language some day, though oral comprehension seems like it would take a very, very long time.  At least for now I consider my "restaurant German" to be very solid, and hey, for a foodie that's probably the most important skill anyway :-).

However, after appearing at four Lotusphere Comes to You events during four days, I am starting to feel slightly overexposed in the German market.  I measure this more by what didn't happen than what did.  The sessions went great -- in Munich and Dusseldorf I did a modified version of the Lotusphere "Oral history of Lotus Notes/first 20 years" session, and in Hamburg and Cologne I delivered a Notes/Domino family strategy update.  All events were well-attended and feedback from the organizers was extremely positive.  However, other than an excellent (and at times, apparently comedic) question/answer session in Munich, moderated in "good German" by Herr Weber, I encountered relatively little direct interaction with customers who attended these events.  I try -- at least I think I try -- to engage, by hanging out during coffee breaks or meals, and saying that I am available for questions.  However, both at these events and otherwise, I did not have a single sit-down customer meeting all week.

There could be any number of reasons for this, but it is hard not to examine whether the issues lie within.  One factor I am acutely aware of is that I have had several different roles within Lotus over the last several years, and in many cases am better known as a "Lotus blogger" than for my business accomplishments anyway.  I was introduced on one email a couple of weeks ago as the "Lotus competitive guy" (which hasn't been my full time assignment since early 2004).  Even this week, I saw several references to my previous title as Director, End-User Messaging and Collaboration -- which changed five months ago to Director, Notes/Domino Product Management.  Maybe the right title for me is as vowe says, "Mr. Notes".  With all these different, admittedly sometimes too-vague external descriptions, maybe it's not clear which customer discussions would be useful and which ones would seem more like courtesy calls.

At the conclusion of my German winter tour, I am wondering if I have done something either very well or too much.  Do my sessions communicate all the answers?  Does my blogging and tweeting mean that customers and partners feel they already have the vehicles needed to connect with me, outside of the formal face-to-face meeting?  Do I need to "work the crowd" more in the social/offline times of these events?  I am not sure what the right answer is.  Of course there is a balance issue as well.  This past week, I did not stay at any of these events for the entire day.  Why not?  Well, I don't speak German, so sitting in other sessions would only be pretending, and of course the reality of a globally integrated enterprise is that there are plenty of conference calls available at all hours to dial into, with physically location less relevant than ever.

When I travel out to these events, I am doing so precisely because I want to learn what is going on in local markets.  I could clearly stay at home, sleep better, do e-meetings, and worry less about "Up in the air" status cards. Instead, I have committed to Spain, St. Louis, Toronto, and San Francisco in the next 60 days.  The key is to make the next set of travel worthwhile.  I am open to your ideas on how to do this even better going forward.  In Germany, I believe the next such opportunity will be DNUG, in June in Berlin, followed by Pavone's Powersphere event in September.  There is no question -- I will be back, but I want to make all those upcoming trips as useful for all as possible.  Your input as to what I can do differently would be very much appreciated.

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