We had our first Tech Lead Workshops – Silicon Valley session today. This is what we talked about.

Didn’t mention it here (yet), but a few weeks ago we launched another Tech Lead Workshops Meetup in Silicon Valley. Today we had a brief noon conference call to introduce the workshops to a few of the earliest adopters.

This was the invite, in case you’re considering launching your own meetup somewhere, which I hope you are:

Traffic sucks. Before investing your time away from your family, your work, and braving traffic (or the train) to this new Meetup group, first dial into an easy lunch time conference call from wherever you are to discover what Tech Lead Workshops are, why it might be useful to you, and how to participate.

Conference bridge will be provided to RSVPs the morning of the event.

Tech Lead Workshops are unique, intimate discussions centered around open sourced case studies intended for those who want to increase their tech leadership skills. But there’s a lot more to know!

So, talk to you soon….

The following is what I presented, reproduced from my speaking notes (not necessarily what I actually said!).

What are the Tech Lead Workshops?

The idea behind the tech lead workshops is that most tech leads, at least in my experience, get thrown into the role without any training and without many good role models. While we could help alleviate the problem by writing books, blog posts (like on Tech Lead Daily!), the only way to really get good at something like leadership is to practice it.

So the Tech Lead Workshops are sessions — maybe large, maybe small — where people who want to improve tech leadership skills can do so in a safe place.

What’s the format of the workshop?

It’s a conversation, not a presentation.

The conversation is guided (but not bounded) by two things:

  1. The open source case studies, which we’ll explore a bit more later.
  2. A three-point framework for tech leadership.

The three point framework is something I’ve been working on over the past two weeks and hope to publish here soon, but it’s basically a three step process.

  1. Seek out leadership moments and help define the vision for those moments
  2. Evangelize that vision to the team
  3. Coach the team as they execute the vision

There are two ways we might run the workshops. First, if there’s a big enough attendance, you could do it the way I attempted to run our first Santa Monica session — a panel to serve as the discussion leads and (hopefully) audience participation. In retrospect, this should probably be something to strive toward — not the first step.

The second way, which is probably how I’ll run the workshops in LA and Silicon Valley in the near future, is to host intimate sessions of not more than ten people in a comfortable setting like a coffee shop, secluded space of a restaurant, or maybe a quiet bar.

The case studies and the open source tech lead workshop site

The workshop should be focused on a specific case study to neutralize the conversation and drive connections to participants’ real lives.

Ideally, workshop participants will read the case studies beforehand and come prepared (you know, like you were always prepared in school). The case studies are open sourced on techleadworkshops.org and at github.com/techleadworkshops. I hope we can get a lot of participation on this eventually.

I took the initial stab at putting up some case studies and hope to do more. However, my case studies are written from my experiences — largely with big enterprise development shops where, shall we say, the culture is rarely ideal.

So I could use your help to increase the quantity and diversity of case study options.

  1. Contribute new case studies!
  2. Improve the ones we have.
  3. Submit your ideas as issues.
  4. Improve the UI of the website.

When and where to have the Meetups

I’m thinking, as I wrote up after our Los Angeles event, that evening events might not be the right way to do this. A morning coffee conversation or lunch get together might be better, especially for the smaller, more intimate format I’m planning for the near future.

I can imagine (e.g., dream) that someday we’ll be big enough that we’ll have someone like Patrick Kua or Michael Lopp come give a presentation, in which case we’ll do a more traditional Meetup-like, one-to-many lecture format. Until then, I think we might want to focus on the small, intimate sessions.

Also, if you are reading this and want to run an event at your employer, let me know. I have a sense that this could be a great way to spread the tech lead case study method forward dramatically. Ping me at me@michaelrice.com.

We closed the call with some great questions and comments.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at a Tech Lead Workshop in Silicon Valley or Los Angeles soon (well maybe after the holidays)!!!

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