Monday, June 27, 2016

Problem Solving Leadership - Part 1 of N (N could be 1 too)

As you can see, it is an email I sent to Esther in 2010 asking for details about the Problem Solving Leadership. I kept trying year after year to check if the cost came down. The good thing is that they have not increased the cost more than 2800 USD. It looks like it has always been 2800 USD since 2010 and maybe before that too.

2800 USD + Flight cost to USA from India + Accommodation + Food + Local transportation = Huge $$$. I could not afford it. I had multiple opportunities where I had to give them 14 hours and I would be paid a lot of money. I kept rejecting them. I stuck to those jobs that let me go home after 8 hours and also let me practice my skills. The jobs that let me participate in workshops, buy me books, send me on week long leaves to conferences and be myself.

While some of my colleagues started earning more money but were unknown to the world, I got some good mentors and friends all over the world. I kept going to conferences, spending my money on workshops, courses, books, licenses, mobile devices. I was working on my reputation as a good tester. Slowly, I was invited to present at conferences, called to conduct workshops, advise testers and it was all going good.

I had taken workshops/courses from Rahul Verma, Pradeep Soundararajan, Matt Heusser, Peter Walen, Fiona Charles, James Bach, Jon Bach, Michael Bolton, Cem Kaner since I started my testing journey ten years ago. Many recommended Jerry Weinberg's books. I also liked them when i read them. In fact, I liked them to the extent that I used to quote his words in personal life too.

I wanted to meet him. I also asked him if he conducted PSL workshop online and his reply was a No. I changed jobs and thereby got an opportunity to attend the PSL workshop this June. Even though everything was in place, I had my own fears - will I be sent back from airport for some issue with the documents? will I have to travel back due to any emergency? Will my flight be hijacked and I take a bullet to save someone and many more such crazy stuff as I could not believe that I would be able to attend PSL without any issues.

Finally, I arrived and I went to the hotel and was very excited about attending the workshop the next day. I was ready by 7 am and the workshop would start only by 9 am. I kept waiting outside the wrong room for an hour before I confirmed the exact room and went there.
There were already few people waiting. I smiled at them and got myself a seat. Esther soon came to the room and my eyes were still on the entrance waiting for Jerry.

And once Jerry came and the time was 9 am, the workshop officially started.

There were five full days of intense workshop followed by half day of introspection and some of us went to a nearby peak and had an awesome time on the Sky Tram.


What did we do during the five full days?
We had many explicit exercises which tried to emphasize

  • Observation
  • Team work
  • Personality types
  • Leadership models
  • Running a startup
  • Problem solving
  • Consulting 
  • Fish bowl
  • Lot of sharing what we learned as individuals and as a team. 

Sharing the exact workshop contents would not do justice to both - the trainers and the readers. One has to experience the workshop to feel the lessons. It is also interesting to know that each individual comes to the workshop with different set of expectations. Some want to know more about themselves, some want to hone particular skills, some want to know where they can improve (and not necessarily improve in the same week), some want to just absorb everything and some come just to have a break from their routine.
I was someone who went to learn more about myself and I realized that I learned a lot about others and how my actions affect others!!! Some interactions were eye-openers in their own terms and I also had the opportunity to see others full of passion / raw emotion and bringing their true self in the open.
There were opportunities to dive deep and get what you want. There were opportunities that made you feel stupid temporarily and it seemed to follow the golden rule (according to me for any workshops): You get as much as you put in. You put in a lot of effort, you get a lot of learning. You just skim through the workshop experience and you can get just that - the top layer - you might like it or hate it.

So, the next few months to start with, should be interesting. The participants of the workshop have promised to support each other. Sometimes, the workshop enthusiasm dies down after few weeks but I have a strange feeling about this one. This kind of teaches skills for life as it focuses more on problems which never go away and then on people who seem to be the ultimate creators of any problem :)

Till next time, "We will deal with it!!!"