Hi there! It’s Don here, DevFacto Consultant from the Regina branch, bringing you a “consultant’s perspective” on our semiannual DevFacto Summit event.
“What’s a DevFacto Summit?” you might ask. In a nutshell, it’s a laid-back, one-day event designed to fill the DevFactonians in on what’s currently going on in the organization and what’s being planned. In addition, we typically have an interesting keynote address and an opportunity to get some hands-on training.
The Winter – 2018 edition delivered on all of these, in spades!
The first item on the agenda was an inspiring talk by our keynote speaker, Mr. Bruce Kirkby. If you’ve not heard of Bruce, he’s what you’d call the adventurous type. He’s ridden across deserts, led his family on a round-the-world tour (without electronic distractions of any kind), and tackled more challenges than any ten of us combined will probably ever face.
Bruce’s talk was all about change and overcoming the inevitable obstacles that crop up when you want to, or are forced to, make a transition from where you are now to where you need to be in the future.
This subject is especially relevant to us in the IT consulting field, because our world is ripe with change! Whether planned or imposed, we face it constantly and understanding how to deal with it can make our lives a whole lot less stressful and our work much more effective. Through stories of his family’s adventures, Bruce explained what challenges to expect when we work through the process of change, and how to overcome them with understanding and by taking care of our minds and our bodies.
I found Bruce’s talk to be extremely relevant and enjoyable. As I was listening, it struck me that this wasn’t the typical keynote address that one would expect to hear at a technology company’s event. Instead, Bruce’s content addressed the personal – rather than technical – well-being of everyone in the room.
Next on the agenda was our own David Cronin, co-founder and CTO of DevFacto, who led us through no less than 19 initiatives that the leadership team has planned for 2019. I’m not going to go into detail on each, but as a summary I can tell you that many of the planned initiatives will directly impact the experience of our employees in a very positive way.
One item that particularly stood out for me, is the planned implementation of employee sabbaticals that will include not only time-off but also awards funds to be used during the sabbatical. To me this goes well beyond the clichéd “employee appreciation.” Rather, it proves that when our leadership says that they care for the happiness of all employees, well, they’re not just saying it because it’s a nice sound-bite but because there is a true intent behind those words.
David’s address finished up the morning of our summit and brought us to a fine lunch where we had a chance to recharge the batteries and socialize a bit with our DevFacto family.
After lunch, DevFacto’s Taylor Reese, our in-house illustrator supreme, User Experience expert and all around great-guy (no, he didn’t pay me to say that – honest), led us in a hands-on learning session on the topic of Ideation. It went something like this…
First, for those of us who don’t really get what this whole “Ideation” thing is all about, Taylor explained that it’s our process for getting to the bottom of what the end user needs really are and which of those needs should the client be focusing on.
The task laid before us was thus: brainstorm a solution for how to implement a dress code, given a limited budget and stiff business criteria to meet.
The group was divided into teams and we quickly got to work.
Now, I have the honor – perhaps dubious – of being the oldest DevFactonian, and I’m not talking service-years. Along with me, there are a few others in the company that, while not quite as ancient, can still remember when the words “dress” and “code” rarely appeared in the same sentence so, for us, the stated problem didn’t really look like a problem at all.
As one of my teammates pointed out, “What’s to think about? Shirt, tie and suit. Simple! Problem solved.”
Indeed, I wore a suit to my first job interview those many moons ago. When I was hired, I wore a suit, and every day for the next 5 years, I showed up to work in a suit. Even though I rarely dealt directly with customers, it was understood that that was the way I was supposed to dress, and I can’t even tell you how I knew it! The dress code, though never explicitly stated, was universally understood. It was a given, not a problem to be solved.
Facing the ideation challenge reminded me of what Bruce Kirkby was talking about in the morning. Life is all about change and working around, through or over the obstacles standing between where you are and where you want or need to be. That process involves overcoming fears, uncertainty and resistance and coming up with a way of moving past those barriers.
As consultants, we need to be able to embrace the concept of change and help our clients to do the same. We need to be equipped to guide them through the process of achieving a solution to the challenges that inevitably come with change, and we need to be able to do this in a manner that makes an impact.
In my mind, Ideation isn’t just a service offering that a few of us in the company are designated to deliver. Instead, it’s a mind-set that each of us must embrace in order to deliver real value to our clients.
As was apparent in the solutions that the teams presented, the challenge was met with creativity and innovation, and while some ideas stood out more for their comedic value than their practicality, it appeared that the entire room gained the insight that Taylor intended.
It was a great ending to a day full of knowledge sharing and fresh ideas leaving us all inspired and ready to hit the ground running in 2019.