Saturday, April 26, 2008

Workshop Organizing - Learning New Skills

Well I thought they were new skills, they really aren't.

There's a dog trainer in Southern California that I've been wanting to take Yoshi to as the training techniques ("Control Unleashed") are proving to be very effective. I made an appt for him in March and had about a month to work on the exercises presented in the book. As the appt got closer my dog started getting behaviorally a lot better and then I realized I didn't know what I wanted to work on so postponed the appt.

In the meantime, I had joined a Yahoo group of people also working on the techniques and found that there were about 4 of us in the Bay Area who were interested, so it started to look like it might be easier to bring Kienan up here instead of a group road trip. To get an idea of interest, I asked the Bay Team list and got an avalanche of responses. I decided that it was time for this to happen in the Bay Area and on the spot decided that we should organize a Control Unleashed Workshop (even though I'd never done something like that before). My life hasn't been quite the same since.

The cool thing is that I was able to get The Bay Team to sponsor it and thus I had both insurance (the big part) and, also important, the advice of our Trial Secretary which helped huge amount.

Technology made a huge difference too. I created a Yahoo group and invited people to it and had an easy way to talk to people and get suggestions and feedback from them. I kept the simpler documents on Google docs, and used Open Office for the more complicated ones that used special fonts (like the flyer and the completion certificate). Even Google Street Views got into the act as a view of the parking entrance was really helpful to put in the directions of the confirmation. And my monocrum of graphic design skills got dusted off as well in designing the flyer and the certificate.

Even though we used the mail to send checks, I used email heavily to confirm receipt of the checks, and made liberal use of my cell phone. The cell phone was invaluable the day of the event so last minute things could be taken care of easily.

What helped a lot was that I've taken several seminars and I know what generally happens at them. I knew what I liked and didn't like and actually had the power to do it differently this time. I hate it when people can't use cameras, so I allowed them. I don't like having to pay for lunch separately so I just included it in the seminar price which also meant that we didn't have to manage who paid for lunch or not (a huge win in my view). Though the biggest win was to offer an auditor spot to someone who would be the food service manager. She bought and brought all the snacks and breakfast items, laid it all out and dealt with the caterer. Phew.

I guess this is all about how to delegate which is what the management gurus always talk about.
Though I was stepping outside my usual sphere, I never felt lost and actually didn't realize that I was doing it. I think I kept waiting for reality to hit and I was standing in it the whole time. The funny part was that I got to sign my own completion certificate which was a schizophrenic sort of feeling.

One of the more fun things was the opportunity to publically thank my dog for bringing us all together on that particular day as he was the reason it all happened in the first place.

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