Reflections on AYE

I had the privilege to attend the Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference this year. Finally! I've mentioned that conference in several of my presentations and talks over the years, so I was pleased to finally be able to make it out to Phoenix, AZ, this year for the event.

There isn't much I'm going to say about the conference at this time. Browse the conference web site to get an idea of the kinds of sessions and discussions that happen there. Reading about it doesn't do it justice.

Everyone I know who has attended an AYE conference in the past has told me how wonderful it was and how much I would enjoy it. They were right. Even though I was told to expect it, and I hoped it would live up to those expectations, I felt a kind of relief and happiness in knowing that I wasn't disappointed.

In my experience, I've noticed that testers tend to start out only interested in developing their technical skills (e.g. programming/scripting language, automation tools, databases, etc.) - if they show any interest at all in professional development related to their jobs. If you take your career and profession seriously, there will come a time when you realise that the technical skills aren't as important as communication and people skills.

Why does learning happen in that order? Does it make sense? Build People skills upon/after your Technical skills? Shouldn't we start with a good base in communication, understanding and relationship-building, and then work to develop technical skills and expertise afterwards?

Should we focus more effort on teaching teenagers in High School how to understand and communicate effectively with each other to prepare them for developing good working relationships in adulthood? Why is it that the High School/teenage experience tends to do the opposite?

I've seen my children play nicely with other kids, even strange/unknown children in the playground quite nicely. So when do adults forget how to be nice to each other? To play nicely or fairly with others? When do they forget how to show respect and trust, and act with integrity and honesty towards others?

At AYE, those values were apparent. I saw kindness, respect, trust and honesty in abundance. It was overwhelming at times. I wasn't expecting that. I felt a sense of instant community at the conference.

Learning happened. Sharing happened. Discussions and conferring happened. It was fun.

It was everything that I hoped how a group of adults would act. I wish that was a more common occurrence. I wonder what we could accomplish if more people acted that way.

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