Guest Post: Following up on Business of Software Conference – Ideas With Actions

Guest blog post from Mark Stephens, CEO/Founder of IDRsolutions

I have always said that Business of Software is an unusual conference.

Everyone shuts their laptops to focus on the talks and speakers generally turn up because they want to hear the other speakers and hang out with the attendees.

And when you return from a BoS conference, things change.

I always find that I connect the dots (sometimes in very unusual ways) at a BoS conference. Last year the big theme for me was culture, especially the talks by Seth Godin and Natalie Nagele.

Seth Godin Jason Cohen Mark Littlewood Business of Software Conference USA

My first job was at Unisys. I learnt a lot there and IDRsolutions would not exist without it. I got my big break and the Sun/Times Newspaper Group as my first customer thanks to them (rather unintentionally on their part). But I am not a corporate guy and I would not want to still be there. I put my observations into my 2009 BoS Lightning talk – Asteroid Impact: are you a big lizard or small and furry? Seth and Natalie made me feel much more confident in embracing what we are, and comfortable saying we are not for everyone.

Nathalie Nagele Wildbit Business of Software Conference

There are plenty of Corporations for people who fit in there and they would frankly not be happy at IDRsolutions…

At IDRsolutions, we take University students each year to work for a year in Industry, and in an ‘unguarded’ moment, one of the University staff described us as ‘corporate misfits’. We loved it! It is a badge of honour for us. We are very professional, serious and passionate about what we do. Probably sometimes over-enthusiastic as well. Last month, I was at the Reprieve charity party and talking to Clive Stafford Smith, who is one of my heroes. We chatted about Guantanamo Bay, the US Death penalty and why PDF files are so hard to decode and convert to HTML5. Clive was very gracious in listening…

This year, the BoS crew asked us to name our takeaways this year and challenged us to say how we had followed them up.

So what was 2018 all about for me…

The big ‘aha’ for me was that I could to do a much better job of strategy. As a small Company I think we are super-reactive and very quick but sometimes missing out on a long-term plan. I attended a session on roadmaps and so everyone and every thing has a roadmap now.

For each of my team, we have a roadmap which feeds into their quarterly and monthly planning. If they have some personal plans they want to share with me, we also try to include that as well as their professional development. It makes it easier for them to hold me accountable when I keep changing their priorities. It is an area I needed to improve.

For the Company roadmap, I want to ensure that we are all learning and growing, so I am trying to ensure that all our conversations and knowledge are captured in Basecamp (which we started using after seeing Jason Fried show us how to use it at BoS in 2017). And I am a techie guy at heart (and can still be hands on in a 10 person Company). But anything I am involved in now needs to be written up so that next time the rest of the team could also do it. And I try to ask all the naive (but revealing) questions on what everyone else is doing.

I am looking forward to BoS 2019 (we have already bought tickets for Cambridge and Boston). I hope to update you there on how well I have been doing on this and have some new plans for 2019.

[Thank you Mark S. We appreciate your update and your ongoing support for the conference and the community. Keep being different! Mark L]

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