Sunday, April 15, 2012

Highlights of the Tech Reach program, April 12-13, 2012

I co-facilitated the Tech Reach program held at Hotel Grand Mercure, Bangalore this week (April 12-13). The participants had 7 to 15 years of experience as technical experts and had designations like: Architect, Principal Engineer, Senior Lead Engineer, IT Manager, Program Manager etc. The objective of the program was to learn 3 levers that increase your sphere of influence as a technical leader. These levers were: communication, innovation and mentoring. Here are highlights of the program:

Destination postcard: As a first step, each participant went through a self-assessment exercise to answer the question: “Where do I stand?” Next, he reflected on what he would like his brand to be one year from now. Here is what we got (click on the image to see each card):

Communication: Taking and communicating a position on a technical issue is an important attribute of a technical leader. In this session, each participant wrote a 300 word position blog and got it buddy-reviewed using a simple framework. For example, we checked if the problem definition is clear. To add a fun element, some of the ideas were presented through a 2 minute skit.

Innovation: We were privlieged to have Lakshman Pachineela facilitate the session on Design Thinking. Lakshman is the Head of Innovation at SAP Global Delivery and also a visiting faculty at School of Design Thinking at Hasso Plattner Institute, Potsdam, Germany. Design Thinking is rooted in the three core elements of systematic innovation: multi-disciplinary teams, iterative process and variable space. Participants got a glimpse of the design thinking process through an exercise of re-designing the wallet of their partner.

Mentoring: When a junior engineer comes to you for help – either as a sounding board for an idea or with a technical issue – how do you react? Through role plays we explored the 3 different helping roles we take on – expert, doctor and catalyst. And various traps associated with these roles. We also assessed what role Gokhale played in this meeting with Gandhi as depicted in the movie: expert, doctor or catalyst?

Panel discussion: As one of the participants has mentioned in the feedback, the panel discussion with senior technical leaders was “icing on the cake”. We had Dr. Sanjeev Krishnan, Founder Director of Magic Lamp Software (earlier a Senior Architect at Sun Microsystems), Balaji Rangaswamy, CEO of Sooktha Consulting (earlier Chief Architect at Nokia Siemens Networks) and Abhijit Tongaonkar, Director, Software Development at Cisco to discuss the topic: Role of technical leader in Indian technology industry – today & tomorrow. Questions that got clarified were – Does a senior architect code? How do you innovate in a delivery / offshore organization? What does a senior manager value? How to overcome fear of failure? How to find a mentor?

Registration has begun for the next Tech Reach program scheduled on May 17-18 at the same venue.

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