Avoiding Post-Ignite Flameout

Or should it be “Post Ignition Charring”?
We all know the feeling. You just spent a week or so at a major conference (we’re looking at you, Microsoft Ignite), getting your head crammed with new and exciting tech things. Now you are back at work and you have to digest it all and decide what to implement, how to implement it, what to investigate further. It can be overwhelming and rather than letting this surge of creative ideas fade, here’s some suggestions on how to ride the wave and not be drowned by it.

  1. Divide and conquer – Grab a sheet of paper or open your favorite note taking software and make a list of all the interesting new things you heard about. It doesn’t need to have a great deal of detail at this point, we’re just capturing the first glance for now. Now that you have a list, go down it and split it into two lists.
    • The first is “Learn for (Insert employer)”. This is stuff that is now, or will be soon part of your daily work. The stuff you have to stay on top of to keep those paychecks flowing. Also this is probably the reasons they sent you to that big conference in the first place, so it’s probably smart to show that return on investment for them.
    • The second list is “Learn for career”. Here’s where you put all the stuff that you know is going to be relevant for some time but your current employer doesn’t use or doesn’t use yet. For example, Desired State Configuration, Azure cloud services, etc. These are the things that you have to learn on your own to stay relevant in a rapidly changing tech world.
  2. Triage – Go through each list and separate each of them in to two or even three lists. These are based on order of implementation or time frame of implementation.
    • Currently Available – these are the things that are actually available now. You could install or buy this today and start working on implementing. Of course there is a testing phase and all of that, but these are things that are ready to go now.
    • Coming “Real Soon”™ – these are the things that are currently in beta/tech preview that will be important, but can’t really be used now in main production. Do not neglect these because you want to be ready when the final version is released. Ideally you would have already been playing with the beta in your lab. (You do have a lab right?)
    • Interesting – This is that catch all for things that you aren’t sure if it’ll really catch fire like Windows PowerShell did a few years ago or if it will just smolder on then eventually fade away like the Microsoft Zune.
  3. Ranking – Now take the first two lists and put them in order.
    • The first list – the one for work- should be ranked in order of fastest to deploy and adopt. It’s better to roll out something smaller and show some ROI rather than spending 6 months deploying a huge megalithic project first. It’s a snowball effect to get and maintain momentum. Not to mention that a few visible wins will help garner buy-in from other teams.
    • The second list should be in order of release. If something is due out the summer of next year you have some time to get ready. Things due out this summer, not so much.

Now that you have your items at least roughly organized, start working on the details of the first item on your Work-Currently Available list. Go back and watch the video of the sessions related that you missed. Then get a test environment going and do all of your normal “new project” steps.

Once that’s underway take the first item off your “Career – Currently Available” and start boning up. Do not neglect this list! Arguably this list of things that are currently available and relevant to your career but not your current job is the most important list. It’s the list of things you are behind on. Run it on your home lab, watch video sessions, whatever it takes but get up to speed. You don’t particularly have to be a world class expert. You should just be familiar enough so that you can confidently jump in and quickly get up to pace in the event that the tech in question jumps from the “Career” list to the “Work” list.

So just a few tips to help corral the stampede of information flooding in after any big conference. Enjoy!