I have now had a few days to reflect on the past week and the learnings gained from the event. There were so many magically moments and little ‘aha!’ moments, but for me there were two main stand-outs.
More so than ever the lines between IT, SLT/SP, OT and Special Education need to blur. There needs to be fewer silos between the groups and more understanding of how each of the professional groups can contribute and benefit from the other. The session that really crystallised this for me (again) was Mystie Rails teleAT presentation. For years IT have used the type of technology that they have started using but from the ‘oohs and ahhhs’ around the room it is clear it is all new and shiny to those not in IT. And at the conference dinner I had the pleasure of talking to a couple of people that have been struggling with IT restrictions in schools that are preventing teachers from backing up Proloquo2go. As an IT professional I can understand that the business risk needs to be managed, that certain guidelines and policies need to be in place to protect the organisation against intrusion, knowledge loss and inappropriate use of company property. The flipside of that is the need of the users to be about to work effectively. Yes there is risk to opening up iTunes, Dropbox and social media to everyone, but if it is down with appropriate policies and training the risk can be minimised. Manage by exception – if someone breaks the rules, help them play by them again, but don’t punish everyone.
The other key message I took away was the now-famous quote from Kevin Honeycutt – ‘Perfect is the enemy of… done’. The point being made is we can either sit around trying to get something perfect and then deploying it, or we can get it underway and then just do it and make changes as it is progressing. But in the meantime they are effecting change and taking steps to address the opportunity presented. This is a very similar approach to most technology companies; they do alpha testing internally then release a public beta, knowing full well there are still issues but replying on consumer feedback to guide the rest of the development process. Interesting side-note: Siri has technically been in beta testing since May 2003!
People and organisations need to stop having committees and gaze into the minute details of a body of work. Whilst they do that the purpose of the work remains unfulfilled. Sure the risks need to be understood and appropriately managed, but at some point someone (and it is usually the crazy one) needs to say enough is enough lets just do this thing!