I’ve spent the last two days at an IT Leadership Conference. I have a love hate relationship with these events. I love learning all the ways that I can move my team forward — and I hate that I only have 24-hours in the day.
The reality is, if you can execute one tangible improvement (and have it stick) after one a conference, you’re ahead of the game. Everyone has challenges with conferences. Here are the prototypes I’ve seen:
- The Idea Vacuum. Someone who goes off and indiscriminately picks up every possible idea. They don’t put any idea through a filter, it is all good. And like an actual vacuum, the ideas are trapped in the bag unable to become progress.
- The Unique Unicorn. Someone who hears everything and says, “We aren’t like that — we couldn’t do that.” Nothing is ever a good fit, because their team is bigger, smaller, more centralized, more decentralized, further along or behind.
- Mr. Already Perfect. Someone who seems to already be done with growing. Based on what they have to say, you can’t help but wonder what they do everyday and why they came in the first place.
- Barely There Boredom. Someone who clearly would rather be elsewhere — although it is unclear whether that place is work or home. Whenever I see these guys, I want to ask them whether there boss made them come — and why they didn’t respectfully decline.
I’ll admit, I am a reformed Idea Vacuum. I have grown out of it, mostly because I know that I can’t possibly move the needle as far or as fast as I would like. So, if I can capture one or two things out of each session, that is my first filter.
After that, I try to determine who my allies might be in making progress. If I can’t think of at least one person who would be an obvious ally in change management, *poof* that gets eliminated, too.
What’s left — two to three concrete actionable ideas — is usually still a stretch, but it is enough return on the investment of my scarce time to keep me from feeling guilty for being away from the office. If I can show some tangible benefit to the team (something beyond an opportunity for ‘big thinks’ and networking) it feels right.
Not that there’s anything wrong with thinking big. But doing, that’s where the action is. And doing for the benefit of others — that’s the best there is.