#A10 Lead Workshop 2.0
As head of our new, exciting Global Maintenance Team (GMT) team, I was excited to be invited to participate in a Lead Workshop, which took place during the Amazee10 celebrations in Cape Town in April 2017.
GMT was kick-started in January this year and our team takes on the job of supporting, maintaining, and extending the Drupal sites that the Amazee Labs sprint teams develop. This team lives at the intersection of Amazee Labs, Amazee.io, and frequently Amazee Metrics, as our customers frequently use services across the group.
Bright and early on our second Wednesday five of us shared an Uber to the beautiful Schoenstatt Estate in Constantia. On the way to the venue, our Uber driver explained his love of rap artists to us and his musings on the art and music set a strangely ideal tone for a day of reflection on the past, analysis of the present, and projection into the future.
We kick-started the day with 10-minute introductory presentations designed to get everyone to know a bit about each other. We each picked to talk on the topics “Your life in numbers” or “The unusual sides of your life”. There was a great mix of people in the room. We were mountaineers, cyclists, entrepreneurs, martial-artists, pilots, marathon runners, and comic enthusiasts! I really enjoyed the opportunity to see different aspects of people I've been working with for some time, and to meet people I didn't really know.
With introductions aside, it was time to get to work.
The Amazee Group Chairman, Gregory Gerhardt, ran us through the structure of the group and refreshed the history of the Amazee story so far. As leaders in a growing organisation, it’s good to have an opportunity to internalise the idea that organisations like the Amazee Group have such a rich history. The ins-and-outs and ups-and-downs of the past shaped the present and will shape the future as well.
Having perused the facts and figures for the last 10 years, we broke into smaller groups of two to dig into the details. The Amazee Group has driven significant growth over the preceding years. As the company grows it will become more and more important for the leaders of the various teams to both project and protect the culture that Amazee has worked so hard at creating.
Gender-equality (in the tech-industry specifically) is something close to my heart, and so it was really great that we discussed at some length the diversity of the Amazee Labs team, how we're proud to be working with diverse teams, and how we will go about striving to retain the gender and cultural diversity of the environment we get to inhabit on a daily basis.
Lunch at Schoenstatt Estate was a spectacular spread. Our hosts laid out a scrumptious lunch and before we returned to our workshop Josef (the Amazee Labs CTO) found a beautiful old piano to play for us!
After lunch, having looked backwards on past performance and taking a look at the present, it was time to project into the future. We broke up into two groups of three and each team was tasked with coming up with a version of a vision for Amazee in 2020. We quickly realised that the challenging thing about coming up with a vision for 2020 is that it is actually quite close by. This forced us to hone in on the details of our own vision and to make our goals quite tangible and measurable.
Both teams presented our visions to Greg who will take the feedback and vision points from all the CEO workshops and Lead / Product Owner workshops and use the data and thoughts to form a consolidated group strategy leading us into 2020.
On the plane back to England from South Africa, I got to thinking about this post, and I got to thinking about the value of these kinds of work events. When your day-to-day life is about creating and making, and deadlines and delivery, it is difficult to initially see the value of a day spent working and thinking about higher-order concerns. One doesn't necessarily feel or see the rewards immediately. But in my experience, the value is in the context-shift. If the time is used cleverly and if all the participants engage honestly, sincerely, and authentically, the privilege of a day spent blue-sky thinking leads quickly to learning and growing both personally and professionally.