I was invited by Telecom to spent the past weekend at the TelecomONE Innovation Unconference - a unique event in the fact the schedule is set and completely run by the participants (similar to Kiwi Foo Camp).
The unconference was something I'd never participated in before. Each session was a open discussion between people rather than a traditional speaker-audience format. Topics were far reaching from should carriers provide content, how to best filter the Internet with the less geeky question should NZ go completely organic? Information within discussions were protected by the FriendDA - participants were free to discuss anything, with those of us listening agreeing not to pass on any information without asking permission first.
We were a mixture of Telecom employees from the different divisions, suppliers, plus "externals" such as myself. Impressively, all the Telecom internals took leave on Friday and they were giving up their weekends for their employer, unpaid. This is not to say Telecom didn't go to considerable expense: they put on plenty of food, kept us well watered and organised a great venue with lots of separate rooms for sessions.
There are some very smart people at Telecom. Some of the sessions really challenged my technical knowledge, giving me good insight on why particular decisions have been made and what the future holds. Some of the best discussions were those over meals, or held in-between sessions.
The weekend has drastically changed my perception of Telecom. I no longer see it as a slow, confused, and lumbering behemoth - Telecom contains some clever and passionate people who are working hard everyday to make positive changes to NZ's biggest telco.
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