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Today we’ll go ‘Behind the Scenes’ with patrick.flanders(aka Pat Flanders) who is leading the SAP Community Network Content Strategy Team. Pat is a long time community man and educator who believes in the power of listening.

Please share some personal details about yourself: I am a native Californian, and while originally from Los Angeles (go Dodgers), I’ve lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m a father to three kids, and enjoy doing everything I can to spend time with them. In my spare time, I’m a youth sports coach and volunteer for a variety of community organizations.

Could you share a bit about your title, group? I’m currently working in the Content Strategy team for the SAP Community Network, which is part of the SAP Digital, Social Media and Communities team. My team is responsible for ensuring that SCN users can easily access high quality content that helps them become smarter about SAP solutions.

What do your daily responsibilities entail? There are two questions that drive my daily activities: 1) how do we get/find great content? and 2) how do we make sure that our users can find that great content? From there, I operate my day in an effort to ensure we’re answering those questions with positive results. That means a lot of discussions with stakeholders to find out what’s important in the SAP community and discern what topics are important for the company, and for our users. I also spend a lot of time with my team, other Digital, Social Media and Communities teams, and our technical group to look at ways to create a better experience for our users.

Every day is different, but I rarely go long without a chat about SCN process and/or SCN users.

How has your role recently changed? Our migration to a new platform 18 months ago dramatically changed the nature of the work I do. I get to spend more time thinking of how to use social functionality to encourage community participation, and that’s allowing me to look at content and community with a completely new perspective. The functionality of the new platform also means that I have much more direct connection with SCN users – THAT, probably more than anything else, gives me insight to user behavior that allows me to think about solutions in a much more impactful way.

Most satisfaction and why? I don’t need a lot of positive reinforcement, but when I see an SCN user write something along the lines of, “My job was made easier because of something I learned in SCN”; it really helps me see how my role has an impact. It’s easy to get heads-down in spreadsheets and PowerPoint, and forget why we’re doing all the work we’re doing. But when I learn about someone who is inspired or helped because of SCN, it’s a huge reward and great affirmation of what we’re doing here.

Share about an interesting project you’ve worked on: Mobile has been an interesting product area for SAP, and I’ve been fortunate to see it evolve as a major force for our company over the past few years. Helping shape how that’s presented on SCN has been rewarding, and seeing the community that’s formed around it is inspiring.

Favorite SCN space or feature and why? Favorite space? ...on SCN? Just like my mother and her children, I love all my spaces just the same! Truly, each one is a small community of stakeholders, users, influencers and enthusiasts, and each in their own way, irrespective of how much traffic they get or content they create, bring color to SAP and provide people with a way to learn more about what we do. How could I not love that?

What would the community be surprised to learn about you? That I have to mentally think through “I before E except after C” many times every day.

Please help us grow from your personal experience; share one tip/resource/guide/experience that you recommend after finding it helpful from personal experience.. When in doubt, go to the “Getting Started” space. I go there myself whenever I have questions about how to do things effectively in SCN, and I send people there almost daily.

The next four questions are taken from the Actor Studio interview questions:

What is your favorite word: kind
Least favorite word: aplomb
What sound do you love: babies crying. That’s unabashed life being lived and it’s beautiful!
What profession other than yours would you love to attempt: Private investigator. In Hawaii. With a mustache. You get the idea…

In your Blog it Forward you spoke about the power of listening.  How do you ‘listen’ to the community and what have you learned from doing so: I’m in forums every day, and read comments on blogs and documents. I love reading the meandering discussions that go off on tangents. That helps me best understand what’s top of mind for the community. What have I learned? Where to start…but I can tell you that from what I’ve read, if you could monetize our community’s brainpower, you’d find that SCN is a billion-dollar economy.

Any tips on how the community can improve their listening skills?  Take a deep breath before responding to something you disagree with. You may be surprised at what others are really asking or getting at. Remember, that the person reading your blog/document/forum post/comment is another human being who also wants to be heard. Allow yourself to disagree while putting yourself into the other guy’s shoes. You’ll be the better for it, and so will the community.
As his last response highlights, Pat personifies respect towards others. He listens and aims to provide the best content on SCN to help educate our community and help them reach their goals. Read more in the following quotes from the SCN team:

• "My first impression of Pat was his fun sense of humor. He's pleasant to work with and I appreciate his support, honesty and responsiveness to projects/issues. "
• “Pat Flanders is a collaborative manager who cares about fairness for his project team and SAP. He is great to work with regarding projects, personnel and strategy.”
• “He's got a great positive attitude and has a really nice way of making you feel valued.  I also admire the patience he demonstrates even when things get tense and complex, as they usually do.”
• “Pat’s background as an educator influences his approach to managing his team and helping users in the community in a positive way, as he is keenly aware of different learning styles.”

Speaking to Pat on work life balancehe provides the following thought provoking tip: Perspective. Anything short of death is a pretty good day. Here’s something that Nicholas Nassim Taleb wrote, and I love this: "...Missing a train is only painful if you run after it”

Follow Pat on twitter @bpxpat

You can visit ‘Behind the Scenes’ with additional SCN Team members.