So, Let’s Test 2014 is over. Much like Elvis, almost everyone’s left the building, only a few of us remain as we wait for our respective flights home.

I’m tired, and for those who have attended Let’s Test before you’d know why. But, although I’m tired, my mind is on fire going over all the events that took place over the past 3 days. Wow, was it only three days? Definitely feels like more! So instead of resting, I’m here writing this post (first of many I’m sure – I couldn’t possibly synthesize everything in one post) about conferring the context-driven way.

I arrived here on Sunday (May 25th) and I had a plan, I wanted to live blog some of the sessions I attended (following on Michael Larsen‘s footsteps), instead of just taking my usual notes on Evernote and keeping them for myself. Why not let others impart a little about what was going on here – after all last year it was me seating at my desk at work, following on Twitter what was going on in Sweden, hoping that people would keep tweeting and blogging about it. This year I was one of the lucky ones here and wanted to pay it forward.

Well that was the plan until I attended the first workshop of the conference on Monday morning: Steve Smith‘s on Managing Change: Knowing When and How to Intervene based on the Satir Change Model. Thanks Martin Hynie for the tip to attend this workshop, there were so many great workshops at the same time, chances were I was going to miss this one if you didn’t tell me about Steve’s presentation skills magic. One of the first things he did (after making everyone stand on their feet and make groups to introduce themselves) was to write this on the whiteboard:

20140528-234948.jpgWhich means: forget about where and how you are going to use this later, or anyone else – you are here now with the rest of us for a reason. Make the most of it. It may not sound like much, but the way Steve delivered it made me re-think my strategy at conferences. I often take lots of notes so I can refer to them later, which I often do. But sometimes I can do that to the detriment of actually participating fully on the session and taking it all in.

So, in true CD style, after I was presented presented with this new information I changed my previously designed script and decided to go the completely opposite direction: I decided not to blog live – or to take any notes for that matter. I was fully present at Steve’s workshop and entirely engaged in the activities instead. It was liberating and I learned so much about how to navigate through change, and how to be better at helping others too. I met a ton of amazing testers in that session that I’ve got a feeling I’ll be friends with for a long time.

The workshop was about change and how to cope with it. I learned lots about that. But I also learned from Steve that by being fully present and engaged on whatever you are doing right now can have a major impact in what you experience. I used to think that notes were going to help me remember what I learned, but what I realized was that by experiencing something fully I’d remember them just as much.

I still plan to share some of the learning I took away from Let’s Test, I still want to pay it forward. But I just had to adapt to a much better plan, instead of blindly following the plan I had set. Not only projects unfold over time in ways that are often not predictable, but also many other things in life too!