2007/07/22

Fox Valley Tech Development Group

To be most effective, a tech development group, meaning a local or regional collaborative network of scientists, engineers and other technical people, will need to have certain benefits, objectives, characteristics and structure.

The challenge for anyone launching or building a tech development group is to do a good job of market research and defining what those benefits, objectives, characteristics and structure are. The purpose of this post is to explore these aspects of a tech development group. The points listed below are just discussion points and will no doubt be improved, deleted or added to as more people get involved with the proposed tech development group.

Benefits:

  1. Fun – due to little or no free time in most people’s schedules and generally limited discretionary spending to help support this type of group, if it’s not fun, the right people will not participate.
  2. Collaborative Assistance – much of the reason to have a tech development group is to enjoy the benefits of working collaboratively with others who have complementary interests and skills.
  3. Learn new skills & tools – in order to better succeed in chosen jobs and avocations, people need to continually acquire new skills and tools.
  4. Satisfaction of mentoring – group members who have advanced knowledge and/or extensive experience usually enjoy mentoring others.

Objectives:

  1. Build and grow the local tech community (and the regional tech community) so that tech people know others with similar and complementary interests and skills who live in the same community, or at least close enough to periodically interact with in-person.
  2. Provide clear benefits to group members.
  3. Explore the options for co-working arrangements or tech office suites in the local area.
  4. Contribute to and learn from the innovation and knowledge economy efforts in Appleton, the New North and the Midwest.

Characteristics:

  1. Focus on technology
  2. Wide variety of scientists, engineers, tech enthusiasts and others with related interests
  3. People who are passionate about some aspect of technology
  4. People interested in collaborating and networking with other tech people

Structure:

  1. Formal enough organization to facilitate potential co-working facility or tech office suite
  2. Core group of people passionate about building a tech development group meet regularly and develop an action plan for building and growing the group
  3. Good tools to help members meet each other, communicate with each other, and learn each person’s areas of passionate interest, training, experience and knowledge.
  4. Regular scheduled technology mini-unconferences focused on topics of interest to some of the group’s members; allows members to learn and share in a loosely structured setting.

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