Category Archives: Business

Technology Networking Opportunities in Michiana

I realized that, for me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in the technology field is having the opportunity to exchange ideas with other technology professionals. A rich dialog with other professionals helps me become introduced to new ideas, new techniques, and possibilities that I may not have encountered had I simply relied on my own personal experiences. Networking is also a great recruiting tool to identify talented folks that you might want to join your company as openings are created.

I wanted to share just a few groups that I am personally aware of because I have attended.

Michiana Agile Practitioners

This group was started as, and continues to be, an informal gathering to discuss Agile. Beyond that, there is no single focus or formal agenda. The meetings are typically on the first Monday of each month at 5:30 PM. For September, the meeting will be on the 13th of September due to the Labor Day holiday, but still at 5:30.  We meet at Hacienda on Miami Street. The Michiana Agile Practitioners group resides on LinkedIn.

Michiana Area .NET User Group

This user group, obviously focused on .NET, is currently in the process of planning a “Tech Fest” to be held on September 18th. The day will be broken into two tracks, one focused on development, and the other with a focus IT. You can view the agenda for Tech Fest on the MADNUG site. Press Ganey was generous and is going to host the tech fest in their training center.

Chicago Agile Project Manager MeetUp

If you’re up for a road trip, this MeetUp is worth it. Meeting in downtown Chicago at 5:30 Central, you can get most of the regular work day in and still make it to the meeting on time. The attendees typically have a broad range of experience with Agile, from “exploring” to people that many would consider “expert.” The meetings are held on a monthly basis, and the topics are advertised at least weeks ahead of time. The number of attendees is limited to 30, so an early RSVP is required. Most months, I attend with at least one other coworker or guest. Carpooling makes the drive go by quickly, and most times we are back to South Bend and off the toll road by 10:30. If you’re interested, feel free to contact me and join the carpool.

What others are you familiar with?

I used Google to look for additional groups, and pretty much came up empty. Are there other technology user groups that you are familiar with and would recommend?

K.I.S.S.: Keep it Short, Stupid. 5 Thoughts on Meeting Times

Have you noticed that a significant majority of the meetings you are invited to, or perhaps that you initiate, are an hour long and start and end at half-hour boundaries during the day? If you have days like mine, where you can get invited to several back-to-back meetings throughout the day, it is nearly impossible to make it to all of them on time. This results in delayed starts, interruptions as people join the meeting late, and you have the potential to waste a lot of time for a lot of people if you are not careful.

Here are five ideas to help combat the conflict that the hour long meeting can create:

  1. Shorter by default – In your calendaring software, change the default meeting time from an hour to something shorter. If you shorten the default time, you will have to intentionally make the invitation for a longer meeting. I have my default meeting time in Outlook set to be 30 minutes. I think you will find that needing the extra effort to extend the meeting will keep you from setting up so many hour-long meetings that are not necessary.
  2. Less is more – Truly consider your meeting agenda (you have one, right?) and how much time you will need to cover the outlined topics. Be conservative on the time allotted. You can always schedule a short follow up meeting to cover additional territory if you don’t cover everything you need to in the first meeting. Consider setting up 25, 35, or 45 minute meetings.
  3. It takes time to travel – Schedule your meetings to end at five to seven minutes before the hour or half-hour boundaries. Until that teleportation thing gets worked out, people still need time to get from point A to point B. Even if teleportation is invented some day, there is a good chance that people will still need to use the facilities. Do your attendees a favor and end a few minutes early.
  4. Plan to start a few minutes late – It’s rather inconsiderate to make those that are on time for a meeting wait for others who are late. We all have better things to do than to wait for other people to show up. Assuming that not everybody you work with will adopt item #3, why not plan to start at five minutes after the hour? Plan that your meetings start at 9:35 instead of 9:30, and start on time.
  5. Stand up – One of the things I love about Scrum is the daily standup meeting. It is a 15 minute meeting and yes, people stand up for it. Consider having other meetings that are “stand up” meetings. Just having people stand can keep them from getting too comfortable and wanting to wander off topic.

Let’s face it, an hour is a pretty arbitrary increment of time. Experiment with using a shorter duration, changing the start time, and ending a few minutes early. Let me know if you have any other suggestions related to scheduling meeting times.