Mobile Camp Atlanta at King Plow

Saturday, July 18th I attended Mobile Camp Atlanta 2009, an barcamp-style event held at the King Plow Center on Marietta Street. The topic of this unconference was development of applications for mobile platforms with most sessions focused on iphone. The King Plow center, a renovated plow factory (1902-1986) is a fantastic venue to host an event. Sponsors including Georgia Tech Research Institute provided a great breakfast spread with the best selection of fruit I’ve ever seen at any event. I appreciated the unconference hours, 8:30am until 12:30pm, so it was a good way to start off the weekend without taking up too much of the weekend. Perfect timing.

Web Entrepreneurs – The Next Wave

The July meetup of Atl Web Entrepreneurs was quite an event with around 110 attendees stuffed into the Hodges room in the Centergy Building at Tech Square. With so many warm bodies the Hodges room heated up to uncomfortable levels…which is another story in itself. The subject of the meetup was How Google Wave Changes Everything (or not).” In spite of the large crowd I managed to snag a great seat in the back next to a wall plug for my power cord. I spent my time divided between listening to presentations and following #awe posts on twitter. We saw a short demo of Wave, several presentations, and heard lively discussion about what wave is and isn’t which I believe is yet to be determined. An unforgettable moment occurred half way through the meeting when @stephenfleming the new Vice Provost of Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute showed up in shorts and t-shirt with fans from his garage to help cool down the room. Overall was a great meeting and I’m looking forward to the August meetup. July will be hard to beat.

Finding time to adopt tech innovation is Catch 22 for many people

I’m having a problem. I keep running into people who just don’t have time to adopt new technology innovations like social media. I recall years past when I was selling the idea of preventative maintenance systems to plant maintenance managers. Often they would listen to my pitch then say something like, “Well that all sounds good except I’m just too busy putting out fires every day to find time for implementing a PM system.” I can’t count how often I’ve heard those words. To their way of thinking it was simply a catch 22 situation where there’s no time to prevent future fires while today’s fires are burning. But then sometimes I would come across a plant maintenance manager who whole heartily adopted a PM strategy and system. Faced with the same daily fires they somehow found the time and energy to adopt the new technology and often came out looking like heroes as a result. I have often asked these “hero” maintenance managers how they found the time to adopt and implement PM and the answer I heard most often was “I didn’t have the time NOT to adopt a PM program.” How can this completely opposite viewpoint be explained? And it’s not that the managers who couldn’t imagine having time to adopt new ways of working and managing were lazy. Most were very hard working and put in far more than 40 hours each week just trying to keep their heads above water. I can understand why the idea of piling something else onto their plate seemed insane from that perspective. But then how to explain the maintenance managers who had the opposite view, successfully adopted the new PM system and revolutionized how their organization operated?

Today I run into managers who when faced with the idea of adopting social media will say, “I’m just too busy to pile even more work on top of what I’m already doing.” And they really are busy emailing, sending out revisions of attachments via email, going to meetings, and returning phone calls to even think about piling on even more responsibility with Twitter or Facebook or a blog. The problem I think is they can’t imagine how social media will reduce and in some cases eliminate their old style of communication and collaboration. In their mind the new technologies will simply pile more work on top of their current load. It’s funny how the same patterns of behavior and thinking just keep cycling round and round no matter the endeavor.