I'm a little surprised I haven't blogged about a Global Finals since 2009.
In any case, I made my now annual pilgrimage to Knoxville for Global Finals. This year was a little different, as while in the past I'd worked with the Events Team, this year I was a lead. I think in the past, I've generally taken a leadership role, trying to help out with events wherever I could, but this year I officially had the title (and black polo to go with it). This also meant being involved with the planning up front.
So, highlights and lowlights from this year:
- Remote, diverse teams are hard - as most folks do these days, we leveraged email and conference calls, but this one had a number of obstacles
- Non-profits tend to be bad at tech - we had a lot of information that was in so many different places, and everyone had different versions. Crazy that this isn't centralized better, wiki, database, Sharepoint, etc.
- Conference calls without agendas - this one drove me batty. People would schedule calls to "touch base." What the hell? Who does that anymore? If you need to sync, at least let people know what your questions are. If you've got a properly functioning team, the sync shouldn't be necessary, and can likely be done in email. If it's something you need to talk out, let people know what you want to address and talk out ahead of time so they can have the proper materials and information. Part of this is exacerbated by the fact that I'm definitely an engineer, and appreciate that kind of structure, while many of the other folks are the touchy-feely types who want to explore and discuss.
- Poor communication - I'm in a weird spot as a volunteer for a non-profit who's contracted with the University of Knoxville for the event, and need to interface with both groups. UTK is in a weird spot that I'm not the one who's paying their bills, plus it's in their interest to have more control of the events (so they can make themselves more involved, thus making it harder for DI to hold Globals elsewhere). I'm not a fan of politics, tend to be pretty candid, and dealing with these groups drives me batty at times.
- Too much last minute stuff - Di's got a lot of folks who just want to add things, thinking it's no big deal. And they're right, from their perspective, it's no big deal, as they don't see how much scrambling everyone else is doing to make their requests happen. Heck, one of my co-leads was sending out emails at 2AM to people for when/where/what they needed to be doing for the Closing Ceremony in 17 hours or so. I'm pretty sure not everyone had smartphones/email, so there were people who didn't make it.
- Losing my cool - I tend to see myself as the level headed, voice of reason, but lack of sleep and exhaustion made me get terse. Most notably, while setting up for the Welcome Ceremony, when two folks said they needed a different path to the stage, I threw my pen and got very, very frustrated. It was around 10 PM, and our team of 8 or so had just spend the last two hours taping the arena floor to accommodate the parade and seating, and while we could adapt and change, it was clear everyone was frazzled, and I didn't think I could really ask people to redo things. We eventually sorted it out, and I didn't have to ask our team to do too much more, but not one of my finer moments. There were also a few times I got aggitated with one of our team members, when really, he was doing his best, and his inability to do what I was asking was most likely due to my ask not being clear enough to start with.
- Not pulling my weight - I definitely felt like my co-leads, Cathy and Diana, definitely pulled more than their fair share. I get that I'm the new guy, but like I said, Cathy was sending emails at 2 AM, that I didn't even know needed to be sent, while I was out socializing with our team, having a beer (or two).
- Closing Celebration - I love the closing. I've managed the queue before teams take the stage for their medals, and it's so great to see the excitement and emotion of teams as they come up to the stage. This year seemed to start off slow, but there was one amazing team, where the elementary age boy is running up, stopping in front of me, and I can seem him full-out crying and weeping because he's so excited and overwhelmed.