Networking: A 21st century definition
Networking is about creating a community that fits your values and your interests. It’s about sharing ideas. It’s about manifesting ideas in the real world. It’s about becoming the best person you can become and putting forth that which is most good in you into the world. It’s about making your favorite things real.
As I reflect on the past year during this holiday season, I feel gratitude for and humbled by my membership in our collegiate Agile community. I also feel amazement at how I find myself a part of this network.
My reflection began with an email mid-November from Jason Tice of St. Louis. Jason and I met in April 2013 at the Agile New England Agile Games Conference. We had several interesting conversations that weekend, and Jason bought two of my books. Here’s what Jason wrote me:
“Since April, one of my copies of The Agile ABC Book has traveled with me for more than 100,000 miles and I’ve used it in countless games, coaching sessions at all levels, retrospectives, and as coffee/lunch chat with Agile groups and training classes…..”
Jason also told me that he’s successfully used The Agile ABC Book for coaching and team activities supporting agility within the Department of Defense, large healthcare systems, biotech firms, and other organizations and had recently mentioned it as his top pick as a job aid for Agilists during a podcast interview out of St. Louis.
It so happened that at the time of his writing, Jason was on his way back to Boston to attend another Agile New England (ANE) event on the topic of Creating a Culture of Quality. He and I had breakfast together that Sunday in the atrium of NERD overlooking the Charles River. We discussed many things during breakfast, from the pragmatics of manifesting positive change in organizations to preschool curriculum. It seems that Jason’s rather precocious 4 year old quotes the axioms from The Agile ABC Book to the great amusement of her father and the befuddlement of her teacher. I’d like to bribe her to make me a YouTube of her reading my book. Jason and I are working on that.
At lunch the same day, I had another marvelous conversation with Patty Dillon, a woman who started out as a teacher, singer and puppeteer and now finds herself traveling the country as an Agile Coach. Patty and I first met through our participation in the Agile Coaching Institute founded by Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayd. Another Lisa, Lisa Crispin, co-author of Agile Testing, joined Patty and me during our lunch. Lisa was the headline presenter at the ANE conference and is one of my favorite authors. Lisa marveled at the diverse background of the members of our Agile community, and we all three agreed that that diversity is part of our strength.
In the past few weeks, I’ve had conversations with colleagues in Colorado, Scotland, London, Germany and all around New England, sharing ideas and discussing pragmatics. I’ve begun reading books and explored websites they’ve recommended, and like the Grinch, I feel my heart, as well as my mind, swelling 5 sizes from these contacts, from what I have received from this network of professionals.
That these contacts are possible, that our networks can grow so quickly, and that these relationships can be maintained over great distance is a function of the dynamic nature of today’s world. The following are a few of my favorite things that support and grow our Agile Community, the infrastructure of our network:
- Conferences: Professional conferences are a fantastic opportunity for folks to share ideas. Although an old world concept, conferences are becoming more vibrant with the electronic enhancements of the 21st century.
- Podcasts: Blog radio is a surprisingly effective way we grow our networks. It gives us an opportunity to explore concepts with people from all over the world. The synchronous dialogue engages our mind on a variety of topics.
- Blogs: Blogs provide us with quick access to great “how-to” instructions. Some of the leading practitioners in our field have been very generous with their postings
- Twitter: Twitter is a great way to connect with people. I find that when people I respect post a link on Twitter, it’s worth my time to check it out. Twitter is transient, but so is every moment of every day. That transience has the benefit of not creating a “to do” list for us, like our email queue. Many of us have figured out how to use Twitter as a clarion call to action.
- Virtual Events: In October, I participated in the Stoos in Action worldwide event with the goal of promoting self-organizing and transformative teams that break through constraints and achieve positive change.
- My Favorites: Stoos
- Self-Publishing: Self-publishing options are evolving all the time, giving many excellent practitioners an opportunity to share their expertise. LeanPub has a particularly interesting model that many Agile authors use to “crowd-source” or beta test their books.
We all struggle and often feel alone with the weight of the world resting on our shoulders. But today, perhaps more than ever before, we have opportunities to participate in communities, to give and take, to be part of something greater than ourselves.
My Christmas Wish for all of us is the continued strengthening and and growth of our Agile Community in 2014. I truly believe that by making work a more sustainable and humanistic experience, we can change business, family life, and even the world for the better.