Global Day of Coderetreat - Organizing

Posted by David Adsit on Dec 4, 2011

Yesterday was the first ever Global Day of Coderetreat. Using the closing circle format, allow me to share my experience as an organizer of the Salt Lake City event.


What, if anything, did you learn today?


The first lesson I (re-)learned as an organizer is that we have an awesome community both globally and locally. There were so many people willing to help out and make this a great day for coders. Of the many tasks required to make the day happen, I could only do a portion on my own.
  • Kay Johansen did an amazing job as the facilitator. I don't know how to thank her enough for all she did.
  • Mike Clement took the lead in communicating with the facility sponsor including making last minute calls to get doors unlocked so we could set up early.
  • The STG office staff, including Crystal, Kelly, Thayne, Marth, Ron and Chick, took care of our catering needs including correcting a communication error with the restaurant.
  • All of the attendees helped clean setup and clean up the room.

The most important lesson I learned through organizing the event is empathy for managers. The lunch mix-up is actually what triggered the epiphany for me. When you delegate an important task to someone else, you have to trust them to do it well. When lunch arrived and was only enough food for 6 people instead of 30, my very first reaction was,


"I should not have trusted anyone else to take care of this.

I should have done it myself!"

Fortunately, I have been working in agile development shops for years and I was able to focus on the solution rather than the problem. My excellent team members Martha, Ron and Chick sprang into action and got additional food ordered and delivered and everyone had a great lunch. Kay ran the prelunch session long so that people didn't realize they weren't eating. I think most of the attendees were thrilled for the extra time anyway.
So, the next time a manager tries to micro manage the team or me directly, I will have a lot more empathy for that behavior. Rather than resenting their lack of trust, I will try to remember the way I felt when lunch arrived. Then I will work in a way that inspires trust, so that they don't have to feel let down or the desire to micromanage.


What, if anything, surprised you today?


I think the biggest surprise was when lunch showed up.


What, if anything, will you do differently in the future?


I'm not really sure what I will do differently. I think that communicating expectations more clearly and communicating with my team more regularly will be part of it. The locked doors and lunch mix-up could have easily been avoided if we had communicated the needs of the event more clearly.


Conclusion


This was a great experience for me. I will not shy away from participating in the organization of future events.