October 27, 2014
Last week in Raleigh, North Carolina, the All Things Open conference wrapped up with great success. I was impressed by the quality of the presentations, the attendance level and engagement. As we know, content is king, and #ATO2014 definitely delivered.
Pamela Vickers was also a stand-out with her talk about company culture. The tech industry is in the midst of a grand experiment in “getting it right” when it comes to culture and diversity. Why is “culture” mentioned in so many job posts, and what does it mean anyway? Do you motivate people to be productive, or do you inspire them and get out of their way? She talked about what seems to have become a meme – the ubiquitous ping-pong table in job postings. While I didn’t choose GeekHive based on the presence of a game table, a quick search reveals that “ping pong” seems to be an important perk in the minds of some tech recruiters. It’s thought-provoking and a great conversation-starter.
Pamela also spoke at length about women in the tech workforce. In fact, several panels and presentations addressed it. I’ve written here a few times on the topic of diversity, and it’s nice to see others tackling the issue with grace, pragmatism, and dedication.
One my personal take-aways is the focus on rapid prototyping and iteration. I work with a bunch of very smart people, and there’s a trap smart people fall into sometimes: we imagine the finished system. When I talk with clients, I take scalability as a given. I want battle-hardened tools and techniques from the start. Clients, however, want to see results quickly. When they see results, they can participate in the process. In essence, they become more engaged, even happier when they see a prototype, even if it doesn’t ever see daylight outside of meetings. We as developers need to be willing to take a step back and not rush to the finish line in the name of making a better project and a better client experience.
My final thought? I want to attend again next year. Conferences aren’t just about free beverages (those are pretty nice though!). They’re about community, perspective, and inspiration. #ATO2014 had that in spades.
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