Twice annually, the entire Playfair Data team gathers together to innovate, grow, and elevate our team as a whole. As individuals, our team represents award-winning experts who are each making a splash in their own communities and professional circles, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in our first six years, it’s that we are #bettertogether. We began using this hashtag during the pandemic when, while we may have been physically distanced, we found strength and inspiration in working together.
This in-person event has enabled our team members to make connections across cities and reinforce virtual relationships. They offer a casual but intentional opportunity for team members to get to know each other on a more meaningful level and better understand their colleagues’ work styles, personalities, and preferences. Facilitating familiarity with each other has fostered better communication and increased collaboration, which has translated to a better work environment and better work product.
Team Summits also offer opportunities to learn more about the individual strengths of each team member, their personal values, and professional goals. This helps inform the projects they’re best suited for and assignments they’ll find rewarding. We find time and time again that team members who are heard and engaged are better positioned to manage and complete projects successfully.
This past week, 2023’s first Summit event was hosted by our Orlando, FL, team at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort. With activities centered around innovation, goals, growing together, and fulfilling our purpose of positively impacting the world by improving how data is translated into valuable insight.
Our first day began with breakfast (and plenty of coffee) as our entire team came together for the first time in six months. For some, it was their first time meeting each other in person. The energy in the room was thrilling as we dove deep into a brief history of data encoding and visualization through the millennia before beginning our day with an update and planning presentation led by Ryan Sleeper.
Shortly after this, our design team presented all of us with a hands-on UI/UX workshop based on hands-on data gathering, engineering, and visualization. Split into teams of two; we were charged to gather data from around and outside of our meeting space. After gathering data ranging from flower petal numbers, colors, and smells to the variety of shoe colors and types around us. The challenge then took a twist, as we were encouraged to swap data sets with other teams within our group with no translation or communication in between.
After exchanging data sets, we set out with markers, pens, scissors, tape, and paper to develop and design our analog dashboards. With parameters set out by the design team, our team was given less than one hour from start to finish for the entire project, with hilarious and enlightening results. After reviewing our data sets and visualizations, we enjoyed a lunch-and-learn based in the ethics of data visualization and human-centric dashboard design with a purpose.
Following lunch, we entered a brainstorming period centered around our personal goals and their development since the previous Summit and the months to come. This small-group brainstorming time is based on reflection, encouragement, and accountability and has become one of our most highly anticipated working sessions within our semi-annual events.
We finished the day with a sunset meal together at Four Flamingos restaurant reflecting on the day’s events and making new memories as a team.
Our second day started out with an all-hands objectives review based on our individual goals. As we went around the room sharing our wins and our learning experiences since our previous Summit, it was enlightening to see the similarity in goal and purpose alongside the diversity in execution throughout our team. We feel so grateful for our incredible individuals and their desire to constantly grow and develop with the collective purpose of passing on those skills and innovations to others.
After this, we learned from our data security and organization task force concerning new initiatives to ensure we are growing and anticipating the changing threats to data security. Our ever-evolving data-handling procedures are a constant area of focus as we grow and continue to offer our partners industry-leading visual analytics.
We then shared another lunch-and-learn based on the incredible, life-saving history of data visualization by Florence Nightingale. The grounding theme of creating meaningful and accurate visualization within these presentations has provided a fantastic foundation for our team as we move forward. We are so thankful for the innovative and game-changing speakers we had the pleasure of learning from.
After wrapping up our presentations, we traveled together to Lake Nona, FL, for a walk-through tour of our brand-new office. Hosted by our incredible team of contractors and architects, we were welcomed to our almost-finished space and encouraged to envision the exciting projects from this amazing space. With two conference spaces, huddle rooms, shared offices, and even a dedicated production studio for future training content, we cannot wait to call this new space our second home.
After our office tour, we were presented with a unique team challenge. Directly opposite our new office, overshadowing the iconic “Disco Dog” sculpture, the awe-inspiring “Code Wall” art installation provides an inspirational view representative of the growing technology industries found in Lake Nona. Designed by local artist, Jefre, the binary code on this 264′ installation represents a data set that has yet to be translated publicly. Our team immediately jumped on the task! We had only 90 minutes and were given only paper and pens to translate the code based on the key provided by the artist. After exercising our analog data handling and visualization skills, we spread out and began the challenge.
To our collective amazement, our small groups had each developed a data-handling method, translated their portion of the wall, and reconvened next to Disco Dog for a debrief within the hour.
We finished our Orlando Summit by sharing a celebratory meal together just a short walk from our new office at Boxi Park. After exploring the various offerings in this venue built from upcycled shipping containers, we gathered together at one table to enjoy the many laughs and memories shared through the week.
As the world repositions to offer more remote and hybrid work settings, we can’t forget the value of human connection and how sharing a meal or a memorable experience with our colleagues can help us be more thoughtful, efficient, and committed to each other and our work.
Whether virtually or in-person, our team represents a unified purpose and direction as we constantly improve and innovate from the inside out. We are so grateful for the opportunity to gather, but as we return to our respective home cities, we are returning energized and ready to implement the innovations developed at our Team Summit, and we can’t wait to host our entire team in Kansas City this Fall.
We truly are #bettertogether.
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