Innovating is successfully exploiting new ideas

This week I attended the inaugural Data Modeling Zone conference in Baltimore. This gathering was the brainchild of data modeling evangelist Steve Hoberman. It was an amazing three days packed with a diverse assortment of data modeling seminars and sessions.

What made the week special was the presence of a wide assortment of data modeling industry experts. Steve Hoberman, Michael Brackett, Karen Lopez, Len Silverston, Peter Aiken, and David Hay were there to name a few. I get few chances to network and see these individuals in person. This conference gave me that opportunity.

I am sure I am not alone in having a post-conference high that soon dissipates in the return to everyday work. For three days I was immersed in a setting where over one hundred data modeling geeks controlled the discussion and the agenda. Big data, modeling patterns, and agile modeling were the staple of overheard conversations.

These dynamics changed as I returned to work this morning. I have not overheard any discussions about data modeling. Beyond the eight data modelers and DBAs in my work area, hundreds of fellow IT workers are concerned more about applications, servers, security, networks and project plans.

A task all Data Modeling Zoners face is applying knowledge we gained to our everyday tasks. Some of the changes may be minor and some major. Tweaking tasks to with minor changes is a no brainer. If the change improves the quality of the work, do it. Major changes require more deliberation especially if they involve a change in corporate culture or established methods.

How does one go about influencing change in the office where your voice is one of hundreds, each one with a different perspective and take on what is important? I thought about this topic last night in the airport and on my flight home. I sketched out a game plan of weekly Outlook to-dos over the next month.

  1. Mind Dump – I will pour through my notes, slides, and tweets looking for the things that are important to me, my job and my department.
  2. Prioritize – Time to shuffle that list and find out what is really important and what dependence there may be on other items.
  3. Plan – Realistically, I will only be able to tackle a subset. The ones the floated to the top will end up on this list. I’ll document them and put together a plan to address them.
  4. Share – Time to share my plan with my management and fellow team members.
  5. Next Steps – Depending on the feedback from my sharing, I’ll proceed accordingly.

I always share my conference experience with my management and coworkers as soon as I return. It is important to demonstrate the value of conference attendance.  My company invested in my attendance as an educational expense. I need to show the value of what I learned. No doubt, this will include a short presentation at a team meeting, usually a summary of a conference session whose content will end up on my prioritized list.

You may note in my weekly plan that sharing occurs in week 4. It is important to share your experience early. It is important that you carefully analyze any changes you want to implement prior to sharing your plans for change.

One of my favorite quotes from the Data Modeling Zone came in Thursday’s keynote address by Chris Potts. “Innovating is successfully exploiting new ideas.” Think about that short and sweet message.  Making change is all about how we approach change and move forward in affecting that change. Having a thoroughly documented and well thought out plan for change drives success.

Modeling Global User Community President

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