This short blog is a real world example of a dad with 4 kids (1 precious baby daughter ), a full time job, running the User Group, and participating in lots of other activities throughout the week/month. I am extremely grateful for all of those things in my life BUT have learned, the hard way, that failing to plan is planning to fail. I know it sounds trite and overused BUT cliches are popular for a reason...they contain a HUGE element of truth. I realized that our group was not getting the best possible meeting/community/etc possible because I was always scrambling to find locations and sponsors and food and presenters. Well NO longer...I stumbled upon my good friend and fellow Tableau Ambassador Andy Piper ATUG LinkedIn page a few weeks ago and the sirens and alarms literally went off in my head! He had all the meetings for 2018 written out with spaces for companies/people to sign up to host. I thought this was brilliant BUT I wanted to take it a step further, so I created a Google Doc and invited some of our leaders/sponsors to be a part of the collaboration and start helping to fill out our schedule for next year. There are 4 main criteria that I thought were vital for every meeting (even if you only plan quarterly like we do):
Location: critical! our group can push over 100 people and trying to find space to comfortably seat that many people, even in a town like Raleigh/Durham can be a challenge
Sponsor: all our events, as you know, are free so finding sponsors willing to help out with covering cost of food, venue, and other unforeseen expenses is a must
Speakers: while we LOVE hearing customer stories it felt like that was ALL we were doing...so we try to incorporate at least one "best practice" or viz tip session along with Customer Stories or any other topic that people want to present on
Theme: this was new for this year, and once again thanks to Andy, March is National Women's History Month so we wanted to take that opportunity and combine with our local Data+Women group and have at least one session focused on women/diversity/etc. This is also a great way to really stretch and see what else impacts the world of data visualization: things like color theory, IoT (Internet of Things), Machine Learning, Linux, the list goes on. I am excited about all the possibilities here.
So let me encourage you to start a simple Google Doc/Sheet or whatever platform you want to use (Excel, Apple Sheets) and get planning. You don't have time not to.
Christopher Scott @cgscottDVA