How can you keep up with Power Platform?

Survival skills for working with an ever evolving technology stack

This article should have started with the classic “people often ask me…” phrase, had I posted it on LinkedIn. This time there is some truth to it, though. The main ingredients that I’m about to share here were initially my response to a direct message from a LI member, asking me for guidance on how to keep up with Power Platform. The problem as they described it was:

“I find it extremely overwhelming to follow up and keep up to the constant, almost daily updates and news regarding each component ( Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Pages etc.) from Microsoft and others.

For someone who is starting, what should be the roadmap to learn Power Platform? I feel my head breaking in keeping up to date with the new updates. I am constantly jumping from one topic to another without mastering or thoroughly understanding it, because of the self imposing obligation to keep up-to-date.

I am finding the frequency of this product changes chaotic and overwhelming.”

This sentiment is very common, based on my observations of what people say out there in the community. It is also the way I personally feel quite often. I’d argue that it’s one of the biggest sources of anxiety for folks working with Power Platform technology on a regular basis.

We’re not alone. Not only does everyone in the MS business apps ecosystem suffer from it. The impostor syndrome is a disease that cuts across the entire tech industry. With everything around us turning digital, that awesome confident feeling of “I really know my sh**” is becoming rare in fields outside of technology, too. It feels like everyone needs to run faster & faster, just to maintain their current position in this information filled world.

What can we do? How to not get trampled by the growing herd of products and features that are tirelessly coming at you with updates and changes? More importantly, how could we spend less energy worrying about not knowing as much about Power Platform than our peers, colleagues, competitors, community members out there?

My answer to information overload

The most important tip would be: don't try to keep up with the actual information itself. Instead, manage a network of just the information sources and topics in your head, so that you'll know where to look for when you really need the details.

You’re better of just skimming through the headlines and introductions of what is shared, rather than reading full articles. Remember to pay attention to who is sharing it and where. This is key to building the mental search index that will help you A) recall you’ve seen the topic covered online and B) narrow down the potential information sources.

You need this index only when the topic becomes relevant to you. This may happen via external stimulus like a question/requirement from someone, or an internal signal activating related synapses in your brain when processing a topic closely related to it. That is the right moment to dive deeper, when you can actually put the new information into context and hopefully practical use. Those moments should be defined by you - not the other party publishing new information on social channels.

Everyone is just faking it

No single individual keeps up even with a single product area like Power Apps in a way that would cover all the latest announcements, feature availability, best practices, bugs and so on. When working on something alone it may sometimes feel like "so many other people out there have the knowledge". This isn't actually true. Only the community collectively has that knowledge, individual nodes of the network store only small parts of it.

People who talk a lot about the things they happen to store on their local wetware hard drive may be perceived to possess greater amounts of knowledge. This often doesn't translate into broad platform knowledge, instead they may have deep knowledge on the specific topic that they talk about.

In everyday life, solving real business and technology problems usually requires broader understanding. So, the loud folks aren't necessarily "ahead" of others in any practical way. However, they can gain access to information from their wider network that is created as a result of their activities. Sharing creates interactions create networks create abilities. I just came up with that formula as a type, btw, but I do believe it is very real.

We all struggle to maintain balance in life, which is not helped by the ever present achievements and experiences shared by others on social media that we follow (or more precisely, the algorithms feed us). The main thing is to stop comparing oneself to others and just work on things that for you personally are either 1) interesting or 2) relevant to the day job. It allows you to skip the vast majority of the noise around Power Platform by reacting to it either by "whatever🤷‍♂️" or "not now⏸".

In the long run, these are the logical reactions to most pieces of news. Things that are shiny and new feel exciting today, yet when I sometimes look at old articles from 1+ years back, it's very liberating to notice that so many of them were either features never delivered/finalized or things I never needed in actual work projects.

Planning the learning path

Upfront planning of specific learning targets might help in achieving meaningful progress in professional life. Then again, I've personally never been able to concentrate on doing just one thing consistently. I find that trying to combine some new random tools and capabilities into existing processes that I need to actually work on is a good way to satisfy my urge for learning about shiny new things. I don't have to push things to be production ready, which is excellent. A consistent slice of my time is spent on experimenting with things, then often writing to others about my discoveries.

Others may follow certification paths and go through structured learning modules and labs, whereas I get bored with them really fast. A more freeform combination of technology, problems, opportunities and ideas suits my learning style better and keeps me motivated. Analyzing them, writing about it and sharing my lessons learned is the biggest reward to me - rather than a diploma or a badge. That's the key really: doing what feels right for you. If something is overwhelming or boring even after repeated attempts, see what happens if you stop doing it and try another way.

If someone is telling on LinkedIn how they personally are building up their skills in Power Platform through a specific information diet and training program, the best reaction to that is: "good for you"👍. Learn to not build up any pressure for yourself to keep up with what others say they are doing. It's not healthy to try and be like the 1% of folks who sacrifice everything for this. It's a lot better goal to try and be in the top 30%, for example. Even then you'll be further ahead than most folks.

As time goes by and your experience builds up, you can move up these virtual rankings just by doing your thing. The key is in ensuring that it's fun enough that you want to keep doing it. And at the same time: if it stops being fun, actively look for ways to gain a fresh perspective on things that could recharge your energy level. Don't just add more things into your working and learning habits, remember to make room for new things to get excited about.

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