Great conversations at the first Tech Lead Workshops!

On Wednesday night we ran our first Los Angeles Tech Lead Workshop! Here’s what happened.

riot-entranceFirst of all, we were lucky to have an amazing venue at the Riot Games campus. I showed up just after the sun down (damn you Westside traffic!) and the campus felt like I just walked into Myst. What a great setting to go with my own feelings of uncertainty, apprehension, and excitement for how to night would go.  I wish I could show you more pictures, but they’re a secretive company.

This was the first Meetup of its kind as far as I know, and going first is always uncomfortable.

Second, I was super pleased that what I intended worked. That is, the Tech Lead Workshop case studies are supposed to trigger conversations — not be the full conversation. That’s exactly what happened and we had a great back and forth discussion about lots of things, including the differences between Riot’s culture and tech lead roles and those of myself and other members of the community.

The Next Workshop

Wednesday really changed my ideas about what I think will make these workshops work. When I usually think of successful Meetups, I think size — the more people who show up, the more sponsors, the more valuable it must be.

Wednesday’s experience made me to refocus on impact and value. I never thought a Tech Lead Workshop would ever be as big as a Node meetup. Wednesday’s experience suggests it shouldn’t be. Keeping these events small and intimate is key to having valuable and impactful conversations.

I started the Tech Lead Workshop Meetup to raise awareness about the importance of tech leadership in industry, so size was something I was certainly thinking about when I set it up. Now I think keeping the events intimate encourages tech leads to feel safe and to share.

Second, I’m not really sure an evening event is the right time to host these, even though that’s basically the Meetup default setting. For example, I remember once going to a DevOps conversation for breakfast at Elabrew in Santa Monica and it was far more impactful to me than, say, a huge Angular meetup.

Finally, I think the workshops are such a new format aimed at such a small audience that I for the next few months I’m going to focus on hosting conference calls to share the purpose of the workshops. That way people can dial in, get mentally engaged, and then run an in person workshop. Stay tuned for an update on that!

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