ASPA 2012 Conference Las Vegas Day 2 at the Flamingo Casino

ASPA Conference Day 2 Review: Thinking about the process

The traditional conference chair arrangement for the audience does not really support people who are using laptops. Unfortunately, dude to personal preference I do not use my Dell Studio 1535 without a flat surface to rest the device. Therefore, during the conference I have decided to go old school and take notes using pen and paper. In this case, I have elected to test out a Sharpie brand pen. The pen works very well. I’m still a fan of 1 mm ink flow bold pens, but I will probably get over it at some point. Taking notes using pen and paper requires two steps to get end up with a digital product. I am definitely on the lookout for a good deal on an ultrabook. The following are my notes. My notes typically include all kinds of caveats and asides that are intended for further review.

Here are my notes from the opening keynote presentation from the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) 2012 Las Vegas conference staring Justin Johnson who was standing in for John Berry Director of the Office of Personal Management who was under the weather. Some people have a type of that personality and can fill a room with warmth energy and some people have a disposition that clears rooms. For those of you who have never met John Berry, for the purposes of this story you should know that John is an engaging speaker that can easily win over a room. I’m glad that Justin was able to speak at the ASPA conference, but the speech lacked a certain degree of empowering rhetoric. Apparently, about 1200 people attended the conference this year.

The conference is live on Twitter, Four Square, and Facebook. Academics have typically ignored fleeting communication tolls in favor of making contributions to the academy. History remains grander than the moment. Academic journals, manuscripts, and books provide a near permanent record of academics thoughts that make a contribution to our written records. I will concede that social networking can help bring people together by increasing the speed of communication, but the academic world does not generally require speed.

First time conference attendees should attend business meetings and try to get a feel for how ASPA works. Tonight the welcome reception will be held on the UNLV campus. ASPA rented buses to take conference participants from the Flamingo to the UNLV campus.  Apparently, visitors to Las Vegas make an average contribution of $120 per day to the economy. I instantly wondered if that number includes hotel costs and food or if the number only includes gambling losses.

ASPA 2012 Conference Las Vegas Day 1 at the Flamingo Casino

ASPA Conference Day 1 Review: Feedback and or notes on logistics

First things first… let’s talk about the food. Allegedly, I purchased a 24 hour pass to the Buffet of Buffets in Las Vegas. Including the Paradise Garden Buffet at the Flamingo a total of 4 of unlimited pass buffets are within (what I would consider) walking distance of the Flamingo Casino. Yes, I have a plan to visit as many of them as possible. At some point tomorrow, I plan on walking across the street to the Emperor’s Buffet at the Imperial Palace. Convenience alone cannot drive me to eat at the same restaurant buffet for more than three consecutive meals. Assuming the weather is nice on Monday, I plan on walking from the Flamingo to the Spice Market Buffet at the Planet Hollywood or Harrah’s buffet, “flavors.”

I do have one major complaint so far. The check-in process (including the airport shuttle) at the Flamingo Casino was brutally painful. Everybody in the VIP total rewards check-in line seemed very happy. They had short lines and a VIP check-in area. Regular visitors (aka conference guests that are not casino regulars) are intentionally forced into cattle call style lines. Additionally, the Flamingo Casino does not provide any shuttle services to or from the airport. Without any shuttle service, I was forced to catch a cab for about $20 bucks from McCarran International Airport to the hotel. The cab driver did not attempt to engage me in any conversation during the ride. Oddly enough the cab driver would not even make eye contact with me. After arriving at the Flamingo the first 35 minutes of my trip were spent standing in a cattle call line waiting for a customer service agent. In terms of first impressions, I was not very impressed. The check-in process was very transactional in nature. The process lacked any attempt to develop a relationship. The transactional nature of the process became very clear. Overall, the staff was friendly and they certainly have no shortage of employees working throughout the property. I’m guessing that the workforce manager is trying to minimize the number of customer service staff.

I’ll review the Flamingo in more detail at the end of the week. The conference floors seem to be nice and I did not have any trouble finding any of the meetings. I’m pretty excited about the keynote address tomorrow. The 2012 American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) conference is off to a great start. Joni is already looking forward to the 2013 ASPA conference that will be held at a hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first thing I did after checking into my room was place a small wager related to who will cut down the nets at the conclusion of this year’s round of March madness. I’ll try to take good notes tomorrow during the conference sessions to provide an accurate recap.

Reading the February 2012 Project Management Journal cover to cover

During the flight from Denver, Colorado to Orange County, California, I had the time to sit down and ready the February 2012 edition of the Project Management Journal (PMJ). My preferred method of consuming academic prose happens to be reading hard copies of long form journal article. Throughout the year various academic journals show up at my mailbox. I try to keep up by reading them all cover to cover as they arrive. Airline flights provide a nice opportunity to read academic journals cover to cover without interruption. Improving and growing as a scholar requires reading tons of articles in different journals (normally across a variety of disciples) and focusing on dissecting poorly written abstracts, rushed hypothesis, and further research sections. Analyzing scholarly articles requires breaking down the differences between the abstract and the article before carefully considering how the findings within the article supported the further research section of the article. Typically, academic articles do not ring true with a degree of clarity that makes them definitive. Research begets more research for either confirmation (validation through replication) or iteration. Overall, the articles in the PMJ were very readable and the degree of complexity seemed to provide adequate scholarly coverage. In particular, I enjoyed the article by Papadopoulos, Ojiako, Chipulu, and Lee about customer relationship management (CRM) system implementation risk factors. I was hoping that the authors would have introduced a criticality index for CRM systems that would help practitioners score current and future implementations based on potential risks.

Working on finishing my Mastering the Project Portfolio class

After a full day of work that started at 5:00 AM mountain time, I have decided to push forward with completing the test for my  Stanford Center for Professional Development “Mastering the Project Portfolio” class. Overall I would have to say that my experiences with Stanford University have been gomod. All of the course material has directly translated to things I am doing at work. Well finishing that class was not so bad. The new computer setup in the basement almost worked. For some reason that still remains a mystery the Windows 8 powered computer would not sync right. I had to grab my laptop and get it setup in the basement.

My third Stanford University class marathon weekend study session

Working late into the night can be very rewarding. Few people on the planet truly enjoy a good marathon writing or studying session. An even fewer number of people have the drive to sustain a single minded purpose long enough to drive a true marathon event. Strong intellectual performances can be incremental and follow a plan. Projects that involve strategy and planning will almost always trump spontaneous operational decisions. As part of the advanced project management program, I started working on completing my third class from Stanford University. Overall, the Stanford Center for Professional Development class “Managing without authority” has been enjoyable and thought-provoking. The wild card weekend NFL games are definitely a little distracting. Who would have predicted a Houston Texan wildcard matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals?

The move to streaming online content various subscription cable and satellite television services has hit the mainstream media. Check out this weekend’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article Cutting the Cord on Cable.