Our First Sprint

We are industry people, not educators. We don’t really understand all the ins and outs of education. But we do understand how to innovate. And how to learn.

The agile culture of our tech industry continually challenges us to do something audacious, an Audacious Aspiration. Fast. Six weeks was to become the ‘timebox’ for many of our sprints. Now I just had to figure out what Tech for Tomorrow was and how to pull together a team to launch it.

I organized a group of industry professionals and teachers whom I knew into a meeting at the Portland Development Commission’s offices. What could we pull off in six weeks that would give these seniors a taste of the opportunities to be found in this new creative economy?

We recognized quickly that most of these students had never seen our passion. What excites us? Why it is that we are not just working for a paycheck, but, for most of us, something much more. We realized that, to begin with, we needed to tell our stories so they could see and feel our passion.

Over the next six weeks, we mapped out a series of lunchtime presentations by passionate leaders from a wide variety of companies in our community.

To promote these lunchtime talks, we would partner with the students. We were, after all, organizing this program because they asked for it. My daughter stepped up to lead this effort.

The school administrators told us, based on their past experience, we might have, at best, twenty or so students show up. So we reserved the largest classroom in the school, one that could fit thirty, and hoped for the best.

The days ticked by. But I saw no evidence of any communication at the high school. No signs, no mentions in any publications or calendars, nothing. I had committed an amazing group of professionals to pull off this series of talks and I began to worry that no one would show up.

The night before our first talk, my daughter came up to me and said, "Dad, I think we have a problem." I turned to her and said, with no small amount of irritation, "I know, I am really worried that no one will show up." "No," she said, "that's not the problem. That room isn't going to be big enough."

I explained to her that we had booked the largest classroom in the entire school. The only other room that was bigger was the auditorium. “Well,” she said flippantly as she went back to her room, “you’re going to have to talk to the principal in the morning to see if you can book that.

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