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Who Helps You Play The Game?A recent CSAE National Conference in Ottawa provided three intensive days of learning and connecting as well as an option for delegates on the mobile app to play a game. (High fives to all involved behind the scenes for delivering a stellar conference and hats off to Ottawa Tourism for being such amazing hosts!)

As a former conference architect, I know how intense the strategy sessions are to ensure delegates connect and engage. When presented with the opportunity to ‘play the game’, I opted to play hard! At first it was fun. Then as the game progressed the level of competition elevated, as did my commitment to be ‘all in’. By the end of Day 1, I was on the leaderboard in the first position.

On Day 2 I had to remove myself for the entire morning to get some really important timely work done. When I returned after lunch, to my surprise, I had slipped to eighth place. Eighth!?! OK. Decision time. Was I going to ramp it back up or concede?

Well if you know me – wink – this setback simply bolstered my enthusiasm for a come back. And so I did. By the end of Day 2 I was back on top and, on the morning of Day 3, still in the lead.

The challenges we were presented with to earn a passcode were simple ones and things that come naturally to me: connect with folks and learn about what they do. I noticed was that while I was making more connections, they were lacking in depth. The conundrum of quantity vs quality connections lurked. However, the game was making me meet more folks than I would have normally. PLUS I began engaging with the folks who were on the leaderboard through the messaging area in the app.

It made me wonder if the game enhanced my conference experience or diverted my focus away from the content? I concluded that while it was great fun to play, I felt my singular focus on the game was a distraction to the other possibilities which surrounded me.

In the end, I finished in a respectable sixth place, knowing that I had played hard and fair. It was fun. Games are meant to challenge us. Win or lose, there are always lessons to learn. In this case, the best takeaway was seeing the folks who wanted to help once they saw the level of commitment I was investing. A friend’s fully charged battery pack saved my finish which reinforced the lesson that getting to the leaderboard in anything we do is never a solo journey. It truly takes a village for all the boats to rise!

Timely yours,

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