Tuesday, 1 December 2015

#DigCitSummitUK: Always Show Your Friendship First

This post is about the messiness of startups and how lurching from crisis to crisis is OK, if the culture is right!

If it is, as a team, you can figure out a solution. If the team is stuck with a tough choice but have the right core values and you make sure that your people come first... you should be OK, it'll work out well in the end.

I joined EdTechChat last night for the first time in ages, didn't want to miss having a catchup with a community that has helped me so much over the last few years on the first Connected Educator Appreciation Day.

#EdTechChat Modorator Alex Podchaski asked what were the right questions to ask when looking at assistive technology. 

There would be two pieces of advice I have regarding asking questions to assess the tool... but the questions have absolutely nothing to do with technology because:
And the "Pinned Tweet" on my account which is below. I try to determine what the culture is like by looking at the founders reason for establishing the business and if they have core values. I then try to see if these values are just a cat poster on the wall... or if you are able to use them to guide your day-to-day decisions, especially when there are hard choices to make. 

I'd like to tell you a story about this for three reasons:

1) How Tech Stories core values helped make a difficult decision very easy this week
2) Startups are messy, but major crisis create new opportunities
3) To show to suppliers that they in safe hands with #DigcitSummitUK

As this summit has come into everyone's lives unexpectedly, and has grown significantly it's been a challenge to prioritise everything while constantly putting the fires out.

This is something that startups understand but may be new to educators but the way that Marialice Curran, Julie Szaj and Craig Kemp have managed this WHILE STILL juggling their other commitments with their day jobs and home life has been impressive!

Tribal Leadership

Fire Fighting with Core Values
This summit is new. It's unexpected. The planning is two weeks old. The event is in 2 months time. We are trying to raise a lot of money to get 20-30 connected educators here. We are working with untried and tested ideas.

In the second week there were 4 of us working round the clock to make this happen. We have had a lot of plates spinning and we are not event organisers... But we're pitching in and getting stuff done!

I know the impact that core values have and how they should be used to make day to day decisions. It is my belief that if we are to achieve this massive #DigCitSummitUK goal that we need to do the following:

Identify what our Core Values are, then align them with a Noble Cause

I knew that the noble cause for me was to try to get Scotland Connected and to try to have as big an impact on Developing the Youth Workforce as possible. A condition for me getting involved with this event in the initial Skype call with Maialice was that the event took place in Scotland and, if possible, at Larbert High School.

I think that the proposed event will do will not be too far from what I suggested in my Developing the Youth Workforce and Circle the Schools post 12 weeks ago.

Delivering on what I felt was needed within a month of the Education Minister asking me to share details about the Digital Learning Scotland agenda with people in my PLN and 12 weeks since reading the DYW document and watching Chris van der Kuyl's keynote.

Venue Crisis
People were asking about a date for the event and things were getting critical as people were saying

"If we don't get a date soon, I won't be able to get time off work for the event"

The crunch came when Craig Kemp (@MrKempNZ), one of the four people working round the clock on #DigCitSummitUK last week said on Sunday 

"If we didn't have a date by the end of the day I won't be able to attend"

Another member of the team, Julie Szaj (@Shyj)j, would not be able to attend if the event was in February, so we had to decide a date by the end of the day without having confirmation of a venue.

Craig told us that he could be in the UK for no more than 6 days in total. We needed a date and didn't have a venue confirmed. But someone who had been key in getting things to where #DigCitSummitUK was at needed a decision.

Tech Stories Core Values Inspired by
Dave Kerpen's "Always Show Your Friendship First" 
Always Show Your Friendship First
I've "Shown my Friendship First" with all parties involved. I've spend a fair amount of time on the DigiLearnScot agenda, I've been in awe of Falkirk Council and their schools and I've pitched in with Marialices event.

What was the decision and the decision making process?

I am discussing how I went about the process of identifying my core values and testing how they can lead day to day decisions with Marialice. She is exploring this at the moment. Therefore, in this instance we borrowed mind and mashed it up with an email I had sent earlier in the day to make the decision.. 

The title of the email was "The Three Most Important People to me at the Moment" and detailed how much they meant to me and was in reference to Julie and Craig totally and utterly "Stepping up" in #DigCitSummitUK to commit some time to it and with providing breakthrough ideas this week, and Marialice for her Herculean effort over the last 2 weeks.

So if anyone was to make this event it was these three people. We identified a date that all 4 of us could make. By focusing on their needs we found that there was an iteration to Product Market Fit... But it would involve a painful "Pivot" for me.

#DigCitSummitUK - Pivot & Product Market Fit
I was stuck on this event being used to assist with Developing the Youth Workforce and to do that the #1 venue was Larbert High School. But we didn't have a date.

Product Market Fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market

Maybe Scotland wasn't part of #DigCitSummitUK's Product Market Fit, maybe it was time to "Pivot"

By deciding to look at a UK wide venue, it made more sense not just for Craig and Julie but it dealt with other objections that we were getting from other potential speakers.

1) A week day event was a challenge: As Connected Educators do a lot of speaking and the short notice of this event it meant a weekday event would exclude them from coming over

2) We wanted to have people over to take advantage of the cultural conditions that existed in Scotland at the moment. (Conditions that are fading fast, so fast that I am now moving onto other projects...But it's been a blast! Thank you for the memories!)

3) We wanted a date where people could attend three events: #DigCitSummitUK, BETT and The Learning Technologies Conference.

The three events would span a 16 day period and wasn't something many people would be able to get time off for and trips from London to Scotland would add to the costs.

DigCitSummitUK & BETT
Having an event in or around London would:

1) Allow educators to attend two events at the lowest possible cost and with having to request the least amount of time off work

2) There would be no travel costs for sponsors to factor in

3) There would be a ready made audience as BETT delegates would only need to pay for an extra nights accommodation.

The Unconnected Meets the Connected
We had a date, we had a pivot, but we didn't have a venue. I had a look at people in my network in the South East to see who we could ask that might be able to give us a quick decision.

I got an immediate "Yes" from two people who, like Marialice, Julie and Craig, were once members of my PLN but, through collaborating on various projects, have become true friends.

Friends who would under no circumstances let their friends down...or anyone for that matter!

John McAlaney and Mike Gaston, words escape me at the speed of your reply and your willingness to step in... and that's a first. Thanks also to Martin Doel at the Association of Colleges

Ask Your Users
I can't begin to tell you how disappointing this pivot is to me personally, or the criticisms from some quarters that "There is not enough representation of this group or that. Why the focus here or there?"

I contacted EVERYONE in my PLN, as the Education Secretary asked me to do. I cannot help it if I got a bigger, better and more enthusiastic response from one group compared with another!

That's the entire reason I took the action I did. It's the reason I got so excited about the summit 2 weeks ago and say yes to helping out.

I felt this action would be the quickest and easiest way of doing this... to bring Connected Educators here for an event to help put the "network effects" in place and provide the "positive feedback loops" that would see the early and late majority engage.

Larbert was the most developed with this, so US Connected Educators coming to Larbert for an event that was praised for it's diverse voices and included educators and industry professionals could help with Digital Citizenship AND Developing the Youth Workforce!  

Today we have a number of venues to choose from and we could add to the travel costs and host in Scotland and assist with Developing the Youth Workforce, or we can keep costs and logistics down to a minimum and host in London.

Startups should "Ship Early" and achieve Product Market Fit by co-creating with their community and users, so... it's over to you! If you're interested in speaking or attending this event please fill this survey out by 5pm on Friday 4th December.

Supplier and Sponsors
We have had a difficult week... they happen... they happen in Startups and they happen in education.

This is a small team in the 3rd week of planning this event. We hoped to have a date, venue and sponsorship information with you by now. Due to circumstances beyond our control there has been a delay.

We are on this! All the information you will need regarding sponsorship and the value proposition will be available by Monday 7th December at the latest.

To the critics: Thank you! This may well fail like so many other ideas that I've tried to get established but I know that myself that a few others are "Daring greatly" with this. We are a little behind and more people are needed in the arena. Just say hello to Marialice Curran (@mbfxc) and pitch in where, how and when you can.

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