Recipe for Success

By: Paul Moorman, IT Strategist, Catalyst Paper

Technology First is blessed with several successful special interest groups including the CIO Council, Women 4 Technology, Infrastructure and Data Analytics. It’s a simple recipe, but does require a lot of hard work, strong leadership and the dedication of quite a few people. So, while the following ingredients can set you on a proven path, it’s never a slam dunk.

First and foremost, each group is committed to delivering relevant content within their area of interest, and that’s the most difficult thing to get right. If content runs along too narrow a path, topics quickly run out, and if it’s too broad, too few topics will be of interest to enough people. Finding that tricky balance takes time, listening to the group and making mid-course corrections. For example, the Data Analytics group has struck that balance very well, morphing from a business intelligence focus to the more cutting-edge data science, a wider topic area which in the last few years has exploded with topics in machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud-based services. Topic ideas are collected and voted on, with each group owning its own agenda and collectively deciding the frequency and timing of meetings.

With topics identified, each group solicits volunteers to lead sessions or help identify someone knowledgeable on the subject. This is normally a huge sticking point for most groups, but the group-directed agenda significantly increases people’s desire to share their knowledge and they have the industry contacts helpful to identify external speakers. These sessions are informal and very interactive, a friendly environment to seize your chance with the mic. Further, the opportunity to network with your peers, share advice and gain their perspectives is equally valuable.

The final keys are the group’s leadership and the behind-the-scenes support. The leaders are those individuals with a passion for group’s purpose and are skilled in keeping the ideas, voting and topic presenters flowing, always aiming to have the next few meetings locked and loaded, but also handling the inevitable last minute complications. They work closely with the Technology First staff that skillfully handles all the logistics, marketing, communications, and most importantly to this frequent attendee, the food and beverages.

Simple, yes. Easy, no. Nothing this good is ever easy.


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