Many years ago I launched a web site called Lotus Legends that recognized the contributions made by many people inside and outside IBM to the Lotus Notes product. I retired the site after IBM announced its IBM Champions program. While both sought to provide recognition of the many contributions made by our community the two programs differed in three distinct ways:-

  1. Lotus Legends focused on contributions to Lotus Notes the product, not to IBM;
  2. Contributions from both inside and outside IBM were recognized; and
  3. It recognized contributions made over a sustained period of time rather than a single year.

A lot of Lotus Legends were later recognized as IBM Champions. Today I am adding one more recognition for somebody special who I know would have been recognized as a Lotus Legend if I had kept the initiative open – Pete Janzen.

In some ways Pete is a Martian… one of a small number of IBMer’s for whom we could genuinely say have green blood. Green, because they have the ability to simultaneously bleed yellow like many in the Notes community and still meet their obligations to support their employer Big Blue.

In recent years Pete has taken over as custodian of the Lotus Notes product at a time when the emphasis has switched within the Lotus Product Division, aka Collaborative Solutions, aka Enterprise Social Software, aka Collaborative Solutions again. As a product manager Pete has taken it upon himself to attend as many User Groups as possible to keep us all informed of where IBM is going with the Notes, Domino, and XPages products. So much so he has become synonymous with the IBM Notes roadmap. Pete has consistently proven himself to be a great listener, always prepared to hear from business partners and customers about thoughts on where the product is heading. I have worked with Pete on several ideas for product enhancements. He always kept me in the loop on where these stood in navigating their way through the various levels of triage that take place before they become part of a release. Yes, I can still remember the time when Notes had new releases.

Back in the days of Lotusphere Pete organized what I considered the single best Birds Of a Feather (BOF) session, bringing the entire XPages team together to answer questions directly from developers and take in feedback. I do not know of any other product team that would have all its members rise at 6am in the morning (perhaps just a few brief hours after some had finished their “community outreach” activities) to face what was sometimes a pretty hostile crowd. But these were simply great sessions all the same. The passion of the community and the dedication of the team Pete assembled usually left everyone taking something positive away from these sessions.

As a community we need product managers prepared to get out into the community and engage. We need product managers who will actually take the time to respond to e-mails or voice messages. We need product managers humble enough to accept they don’t have all the answers and are willing to seek them from customers and business partner alike. We need product managers prepared to take products and services offered by business partners and integrate them in their own sales and marketing material. We need product managers who actively support the open source community pushing to get more and more IBM code placed into the public domain so that the community itself can get involved with its development. Our community needs needs more Pete Janzens, not less!

As I prepare for this year’s MWLUG conference I am sad that Pete will not be there this year. There will be not be a Notes Roadmap session for me to pin my hopes that a few urgent issues may finally be about to be addressed. There will also not be the chance to catch up with one of the true legends in our community.