IBM Systems Lab Services

Improv and IT: A recipe for success

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My kind of town… Chicago is where I landed for my next appearance at an IBMTechU Comes to You event. As a New Yorker originally from the Chicago ‘burbs, I immediately made a beeline for my favorite Chicago hot dog and Italian beef restaurant, then found my way to the historical and factoid-filled Palmer House in downtown Chicago. Did you know the Palmer House invented the chocolate brownie? The home of the brownie is exactly where I want to be for an event.

A commuter’s delight

Many event attendees commuted from the suburbs donning jackets and backpacks each morning. tracy5, IBMTechUThey walked from the “L” or Metra Rail trains for three days of no distractions, straight technical training and discussions with the gurus. Local events tend to allow for more teammates from a company to attend with little to no extra travel costs. Plus, the reduced travel time means the whole work week isn’t jeopardized. Cake (or in this case brownie) and eat it too? You bet!

Finding the right ingredients

Events need to run seamlessly, know their audience and bring value to attendees. I don’t have to show you an infographic of a mapped-out system structure, its locations and its software to illustrate that planning and management can be complex. Connecting the various data sources and keeping it all up, running and secure—all while enabling new features and functions is not a “fake it ‘til you make it” environment. Neither are these technical events. Attendees expect to walk away with a deep and sound understanding of the latest coding, functions, facilities and tips to take back to their company and implement or incorporate that understanding into an IT strategy surrounding IBM z Systems, IBM Power Systems and IBM Storage. Attending the sessions and combining that with face time with IBM developers becomes an invaluable recipe for knowledge and networking.

Yes, and…

Chicago is a popular location for comedic improvisation (also known as improv), so it was quite fitting to attend a session called, “Yes, And: What Performing Improvisation Has Taught Me About Collaborative IT.” The dynamic session was presented by an IBM z Systems guru named Glenn Anderson from IBM Systems Lab Services. To my surprise, Glenn is active in the Chicago-area theater community as a member of an improvisational acting troupe. In the session he went through some history and techniques used in improv to help the story play out and evolve.

tracy6, IBMTechUOne of the key takeaways had to do with the use of “Yes, and” instead of “No, but” in conversations, especially as it relates to IT. The use of “No, but” limits the continuation of a conversation and it can provoke defensiveness. I would compare it to a parent saying “Because I said so.”

Active listening and the use of the simple phrase “Yes, and” leads to more open discussion. The positive flow creates agility in changing, morphing or leading to new conclusions and solutions. Collaborating with others in any circumstance is a give and take, so why not try “Yes, and” in your next conversation!

Next stop…

tracy7, IBMTechULook out Boston, my teammates and I will be driving from Poughkeepsie, New York to attend the next IBMTechU Comes to You three-day event held at the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor. Check out the Boston agenda and attend to see special presentations from Dr. Seshadri Subbana, IBM Corporate Strategy Director of Innovation and Technology, about collaborative innovation in IT, along with Connor Krukosky, the 19-year-old who bought a mainframe online, repaired it and got it to work! Hope to see you there.

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