The value of Viz Club

I’ve been very interested in pursuing a concept I originally saw in my twitter feed, a picture of Chris Love at a pub with a blurb about ‘Viz Club.’  Following it further, I want to say that there were some additional details about the logistics: but the concept was simple. A few people get together and collaborate on data viz.

Fast forward to the past 8 months and this has been a concept that has wracked my brain. The Phoenix TUG has space once a month on a Saturday. This had originally started as a “workshop” time slot, but as things evolved it didn’t feel quite right.  There was an overwhelming expectation to have curriculum and a survey of how effective the instruction was. Now let me say this: there is absolutely a time and place for learning Tableau and I am all about empowering individuals with the skills to use Tableau.  However, a voluntary community workshop should not be a surrogate for corporate sponsored training and isn’t conducive to building out a passion and enthusiasm filled community.

Anyway – the workshops weren’t right. They weren’t attracting the right types of people and more importantly it was isolating folks who were more advanced in their journey.  Essentially it needed a format change, one that could be accepting of all stages of the journey and one that attracted the passion.

Thus the idea kept echoing in my mind: Viz Club.

So coming out of April, the leap was made. I’ve been facilitating a series called “Get Tableau Fit” where I reconstruct one or two Workout Wednesday challenges during the first half of the TUG.  People were starting to see the value in the exercises (crazy that it took them so long!) and were getting more and more interested in trying them.  Interested, but still with a small amount of trepidation to participate. The final barrier for folks to participate?  Perhaps it was finding structured time.  Being officially assigned a task and a time to do the task.

Hence Viz Club.

So we held our first club session on Saturday, and I have to say it was very successful. I was very curious to the types of people who would show up, what their problems would be, and how the flow would play out. I couldn’t have been happier with the results.

From a personal productivity standpoint, it was well worth the time investment.  There’s something about being in a collaborative and open environment that eliminates potential mental blocks.  Within the first hour of Viz Club I had done one of my catch-up #MakeoverMonday vizzes.

More important than my productivity was the productivity in the room.  Throughout the day questions were being asked and answered.  One specific community member took a concept all the way through to a dashboard – significant breakthroughs within the time box of our 5 hours together.  I know everyone involved felt the power of the time we spent together and it’s something we’re going to continue.

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