Tag Archives: Chicago

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?

Manage your projects with more than GPS

Driving with GPSWe were driving from South Bend, Indiana, to Chicago, Illinois, in May. My son was alternating between reading a book and watching the GPS as we traveled West on Interstate 90. With about 15 or so miles to go until we were got to the Indiana/Illinois border, the road was under construction. As I drove, there were lane shifts to navigate, concrete barriers on the lane shoulders, and pot holes that looked big enough to break a tire if you hit them at full speed. My son, glancing up from his book to look at the GPS screen, announced that we were going through Gary.  


As I continued to drive, dodging potholes and shifting lanes as necessary, I thought more about my son’s comment.  Obviously, a GPS can give you useful information to navigate, but it was no substitute for looking out the windshield and in the rearview mirror. The GPS doesn’t tell you about other cars. GPS can’t tell you about approaching emergency vehicles. And, GPS will not tell you about road hazards that seemingly come out of nowhere.


Just as a GPS gives useful information for navigating, IT project dashboards, burn down charts, and iteration velocity provide information you can use to navigate. These can tell you about the direction of your project and give insights about the speed of the team. They may even help you determine if your project is likely to be late, or not. However, if you forsake meaningful team interactions and observations, you risk hitting a project pothole or barrier that was not shown on the information radiators you use.


On projects, use information radiators. In addition to those sources, make sure to look beyond the dashboards. Interact with the team. Ask questions. Assess the risks. Hold your retrospectives, and make sure you know what your alternative paths are. Whatever you do, don’t do the project equivalent of following your GPS off a cliff.