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VTL Recap: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

January 28th, 2015

Since I was introduced to it years ago, I’ve felt that the Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a must-read for leaders and managers. It provides a simple framework to recognize and resolve issues in the forming of high-performing teams. Read the rest of this entry »

The Evolution of the Vancouver Technology Leaders

October 10th, 2013

Fellow technology leaders,

In its first two years, our little group flourished to over 300 members and hosted many great quarterly events. Over the last year, we lost a lot of momentum: I’€™ve been too busy with my young daughter and consulting practice to be fully engaged. I had a hard decision to make quit or change the nature of the group.

I chose change.

Today we launch the next evolution of the Vancouver Technology Leaders. We have a new leadership team in place with a shared vision and a passion for executing, a new home on, and a plan for 2014.

As this update will get long, here’s the summary:

Welcome to our leadership team€“ Tom, Nathan, Anand, Tom, Adrian, Mike
We have moved to Please join us at our new home:
Our next event VTL 2.0 Launch Networking Event has been announced on

The Leadership Team
I was really encouraged by the people who stepped forward, many of them without ever having attended a meeting, to help lead the VTL. We had 10 great candidates step forward. After meeting all the candidates and discussing with Nathan (one of our original members), we selected the following team:

Tom Giannelli –
Nathan Wawruck –
Ron Steeper –
Anand Deb –
Adrian Phillips –

The team has already met, come up with our initial plan and started to execute on it. Our next step will be to develop the plan for 2014, including our standard quarterly meetings, social events and new programs. We are also in the middle of preparing a survey to gather feedback and help the event planning process.

We will be making the minutes from all our meetings public on our discussion boards.

Goodbye Linkedin, hello Meetup
Last year Linkedin removed it’s event management features, making it much harder for us to manage our events and RSVPs. We decided to move the entire group over to as it has significantly more functionality and provides us the mechanics to run our events even more successfully. Please take a minute to sign up and join us at:

The Linkedin Group will become an open group, purely pointing people to the meetup group.

We are also moving to a model of having a small cost associated with all of our events. All fees will be used for the actual event covering any event costs, then will be applied to any meals or drinks.

It’s time for you to get involved and help create a great community. has features around discussions, mailing lists and member-managed events. Post up your leadership challenges and get feedback from our senior members. Tell us about your favorite leadership blogs to follow. The more engaged we are with the group, the more value we create for everyone.

VTL 2.0 Launch Networking Event
Our next event is a networking / beer and appies evening. Come out for your opportunity to meet with flow leaders (and leaders to be) and the VTL€™s leadership team. There’s a $10 fee to join us, which will be used to feed you!

Thank you all for being part of the Vancouver Technology Leaders and helping make our vision of developing the next generation of IT leaders a success. We’re looking forward to seeing you all in our new Meetup group and at our next event!

Mike Knapp and the VTL Leadership Team

Thoughts on the Surface Pro

March 15th, 2013

I’ve been using the Surface Pro as my primary mobile system for about two weeks now.  While I haven’t been as mobile as I normally am (it’s a little refreshing, actually), I still end up logging 4+ hours on it per day.  How do I like it? It’s pretty good.

Read the rest of this entry »

Syncing SharePoint Calendars / Contacts to your Mobile Device

January 17th, 2013

SharePoint is supposed to be the replacement for Public Folders in Exchange. Need shared calendars / contacts? Use SharePoint! While SharePoint works very well for most things, there’s a major gap in the functionality when it comes to synchronizing these folders to your mobile device.

Read the rest of this entry »

IT Consultants Networking Event – Feb 18 @ 5:30

January 17th, 2013

Talented IT consultants often find themselves in two positions: either not having enough work, or having far too much. One of the best ways to deal with this problem is networking with your peers.

Mike Knapp of GrowthPoint Group will be hosting an open networking event for IT consultants on February 18th. This is the perfect opportunity to meet other consultants, discuss what works, what doesn’t and possible opportunities to work together.
Read the rest of this entry »

Working with Lookup Columns in Workflows

January 7th, 2013

While building a simple workflow for a client, I found a head-scratcher – none of the lookup columns in the list are available in a SharePoint Designer workflow.

For example, try setting a workflow variable to a lookup column:

  1. Create a new action “Set Workflow Variable”
  2. In the Value section, click fx and select Current Item
  3. Look for any lookup columns – they’re not in the list

The workaround for this is very simple (and makes me shake my head, it’s a bizarre behavior):

  1. Data Source: instead of Current Item, select the List by name
  2. Field: Your look up column
  3. Return Field as: Lookup Value
  4. Field: ID
  5. Value: Current Item:ID

I hope this relieves someone else’s headache!

SharePoint Online Workflow Cannot Be Edited in SharePoint Designer 2010

January 4th, 2013

Earlier this month I ran into a couple major issues with a client’s SharePoint Online (Office 365) site.

First, one of their custom sandbox applications stopped working. It wasn’t a great application, so we removed it and everything worked properly again.

At the same time, we suddenly weren’t able to edit workflows on their site. When you try to open the workflow in SharePoint Designer 2010, it times out. You can open / edit the rest of the site with no problems. Read the rest of this entry »

Office 365 E3 Plan Details

March 19th, 2012

I think Microsoft made a major mistake with the E2 and E3 plans in Office 365. While they’re right-on with the E1 plan, but the E2 and E3 plans aren’t quite right – the punch is lost. Read the rest of this entry »

The Economics of Cloud Computing

March 14th, 2012

In the last couple months I’ve been dealing with a number of projects where moving to a Software-as-a-Service solution was an option. With SaaS solutions, it’s very important to do a proper analysis of the technical, financial and risks for solutions.

While most SaaS solutions claim to be significantly cheaper than their on-premise solutions, doing a full analysis over the life of the product might surprise you. For commodity services such as email, it’s often safe to assume the hosted solution will be cheaper. For specialty products, this changes significantly. At first it may look cheaper, but be sure to look deeper. Read the rest of this entry »

SharePoint Online Workflow Error “User cannot be found”

March 7th, 2012

While on paternity leave, I’ve been having some fun playing with SharePoint online. I’m a big fan of Office 365 and the features it gives (and the price point). GrowthPoint Group is starting to use SharePoint Online internally for document management, project management, super-light CRM and more.

I started playing with workflows and have been getting an interesting error:

User cannot be found

Troubleshoot issues with Microsoft SharePoint Foundation.

Correlation ID: 519442d6-a684-9456-4d94da871808

This happens when I do a number of things:

  • Click Workflow Settings in a document library
  • Try to enable SharePoint 2007 Workflows in the Site Collection Features Read the rest of this entry »