Pre-AYE 2011 Thoughts

This year will mark my 3rd consecutive trip to AYE which is just awesome.  Even better is that I’m going as a “resource/FTE/headcount” instead of a consultant which will give me a new perspective to approach the conference with.  I was talking to my boss about Agile recently and it was interesting to hear his interpretation compared to mine.  That’s reasonable to expect, “Agile” is going to mean something different to everybody.  Some will see it as a placebo, some as values and principles and some as tools and processes.  None of those opinions are wrong and it’s crazy to say one view is ‘better’ than another.

This year I haven’t figured out what I want to get out of AYE.  There are so many great sessions and so many areas of personal improvement I see that I haven’t widdled it down yet.  Blogging is therapeutic for me so I’m hoping I’ll figure it out before the end of this post.   As a consultant, I’d end up in more ‘coaching skills’ type of sessions to help me be a more effective coach.  This time around I’m going to be a bit more selfish and find sessions that are more personal to me.

I think the biggest area of improvement I want to make this year is figuring out how to be a more effective communicator.  I have a tendency to bottle up my thoughts until they explode and sometimes I won’t really say what’s on my mind because I’m worried how the message will be received on the other end.  Then, of course, the blow up happens. PSL helped a lot with that, I feel I want to do some fine tuning though.

Jerry’s session on handling “awkward situations at work” also looks interesting because as a “resource” I have to integrate more deeply into the existing culture which I do not do very well sometimes.  As a consultant it was much easier, you kind of expect to be fired at any point and you’re being hired to disrupt the status quo.

As I was typing this, my co-workers wanted to chat about what to expect since it’s their first time going.  I told them a couple of stories from the last 2 I went to and hopefully didn’t spoil anything.  I remember not knowing what to expect and being nervous and excited at the same time so I hope they experience that same feeling.   It was funny when one of them asked about the credentials of the hosts and what he should expect to learn!  I think he’s in for a treat!

I think that helped me shape my goal this year.  There are a couple of great sessions about change, organizational mapping and navigating organizational currents which I am fascinated by.  We’ve been going through many big changes over the last few months and anyone who knows me knows I’m not shy about stating my observations so it’s nice to be a real employee and see the outcomes of some of the jiggles that have happened here.  Usually as a consultant you try and help and organization, they do or don’t listen and you’re gone before you really see the outcomes of the change(s).  I have the benefit of seeing this change and experiencing it.

I’m rambling.  Shocking, I know.

This year I want to bring back skills for better integrating into existing cultures, for me personally and also to help others understand culture and temperaments and how to adjust to complex adaptive systems.  I strongly push back against the status quo which isn’t always the right thing to do and sometimes come across as a know-it-all because I am never satisfied with doing things the way they’ve always been done.  Historically that approach has alienated me as an employee and I get fed up and leave feeling like I don’t fit.  Perhaps what I’ll learn is that sometimes I should just shut-up!

Either way, I’m really looking forward to going back and catching up with some old friends and meeting new ones!  Look for the usual post-AYE, uh, posts and check out my other posts from previous conferences if you’re interested.