3 Replies Latest reply on Mar 31, 2018 9:43 PM by Siraj Samsudeen

    You don't have time for last minute planning...

    Christopher Scott

      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.


      Visually yours,

      Christopher Scott @cgscottDVA

        • 1. Re: You don't have time for last minute planning...
          Andy Piper



          I could have sworn you were talking about me with your first few sentences -- for I too am a father of 4 (though not a newborn), running a user group while trying to hold down a full-time job, engaged in plenty of other activities each week/month (Boy Scouts, soccer games, regattas, church, etc.). However, I believe all TUG leaders struggle with the same primary needs -- hosts and presenters.


          The theme aspect is actually a work in process. I'm of the thought that if I can get the word out ahead of time about what we want to do at the meeting, then I can get people thinking about wanting to participate. While not all the presentation slots for our meetings in the first half of 2018 are taken, I have had more interest from potential first time presenters and have at least one presenter for each meeting until our Viz Contest in May.


          For those who don't have access to the ATUG LinkedIn site, some of our meeting themes this year include:  Women's History Month in March and Green Initiatives in April. We also hope to take a page out of Lee Feinberg's NY/NJ TUG book by having a viz contest at our local community food bank where we will use their data to create vizzes that might provide additional insights.


          One of our members had an idea of having 15 presenters in small group settings sharing vizzes that have been important to them or their group in learning or adopting Tableau at their workplace -- the thought is that the audience would split up and move from room to room where they would find a presenter sharing something for 10-15 minutes. Each presenter would thus only need to come up with material for 10-15 minutes and repeat the presentation about 10 times. He is trying to get 15 smaller conference rooms at their location some time over the summer; and if we start getting the word out about it now, we hope to be able to get more participation from members who may find it more difficult to present something for 45-75 minutes.


          Here's to trying out new things. May all our ideas be fruitful.

          Image result for cheers


          • 2. Re: You don't have time for last minute planning...
            Siraj Samsudeen

            Very helpful thoughts Christopher. I am gonna try the Google Docs approach to planning the whole year out . Thank you very much for sharing your frustrations as they echo mine .

            • 3. Re: You don't have time for last minute planning...
              Siraj Samsudeen

              Hi Chris and Andy Piper,


              Taking inspiration from both of you and just fresh from conducting a TUG yesterday, I put together a plan for the whole year - at least the dates. Sharing the link here so that I can get some more expert tips from you both and other experienced leaders:


              Chennai TUG Meeting Planner - Google Sheets