At MetaGeek, we practice Personal Professional Development. It’s a somewhat very informal implementation of the idea of 15% from 3M, or 20% time at Google. As a small company, we…

Brian Tuttle, MetaGeek CEO

At MetaGeek, we practice Personal Professional Development. It’s a somewhat very informal implementation of the idea of 15% from 3M, or 20% time at Google. As a small company, we have a pretty small team, and we all find ourselves doing lots of different jobs.

A culture of experimentation

As a self-funded company, our team is made up of extremely responsible people, and most of the time that makes our appetites for experimentation tend to the conservative. Our shared sense of responsibility is reflected in our code of conduct that obliges us to, among other things, “achieve competence first.” So over the years, our version of 20% time has morphed into DIY Days, which I’ve previously written about, and individual Personal Professional Development Plans (PPDP).

What is a PPDP?

At its essence, a PPDP is a commitment to:

  1. spend meaningful time and effort learning something new, and
  2. focus on learning that new thing well enough to be able to actually do it when it matters.

It turns out that is actually a pretty difficult pair of commitments to wrap a uniform structure around, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all PPDP document or template. My own PPDP exists as a 4-5 bullet point summary updated each month at my 1:1 with my boss. I also usually have some tickets on my personal Jira ToDo board, or in a notebook, or on a whiteboard.

Just that little structure works, too! I’ve learned principles of accounting, spreadsheet jiu-jitsu, The Lean Startup methodology, Design Thinking, programming techniques, and lots and lots about Wi-Fi using my PPDP. I’ve read books, listened to audiobooks, listened to podcasts, watched video tutorials, been a member of a peer advisory group, gone to real and virtual conferences and had onsite training with the great Robert Bartz. Everyone at MetaGeek uses some form of PPDP to add to or expand their skillset, and we’ve found a way to make it work for a wide variety of skills and learning experiences.

My current PPDP objective is to become a better professional communicator. I want to have a more open dialog outside of MetaGeek about the experience of running a small business, a self-funded business, a software company, a hardware company. I want to share and get feedback on MetaGeek’s approach to strategy, product planning, human resources, finance, logistics and legal. In truth, I’ve asked everyone at MetaGeek to start doing this–writing about and sharing what we do at work each day. So, it’s time for me to walk the walk. To that end, I’ve shared one aspect of MetaGeek’s HR practice, the PPDP, with you.

Learning in public

This post also serves another purpose: the beginning of an open PPDP. As I said, my current PPDP is about becoming a better professional communicator. At present, my biggest challenge is that I’m slow. It takes me a long time to write (about 3 hours for this post, so far). I haven’t established good practice habits yet, so I’m committing to publishing a blog post every week, and tracking the time each takes.

Out of necessity I also recently started a PPDP around Wi-Fi 6. So, I’m going to be executing this “be a better communicator” PPDP by sharing my learning from the “Wi-Fi 6 in the wild” PPDP. How very meta!

What about you?

One of my favorite parts of being on the MetaGeek Community and attending conferences is hearing about the professional development of our customers. I have spoken to lots of Certified Wireless Network Administrators (CWNAs) a Engineers (CWNEs) whose first step into a career in Wi-Fi was downloading inSSIDer or getting a Wi-Spy. On the MetaGeek Community, people with a wide variety of Wi-Fi expertise are getting in on the discussion.

So let’s hear it. What are your professional development goals (Wi-Fi or otherwise)? How do you go about upping your game? What obstacles do you find most difficult to overcome?

P.S. This post settles a debt I owe this post from last week, so the first post of Wi-Fi 6 in the wild will land this week.

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Notable Replies

  1. Sounds good, and frankly because MetaGeek has seemingly been out front of others with its tools I’m surprised to hear you say that you’re conservative. But I read the newspaper interview discussion about how MetaGeek has been going through a down period in sales, and that situation can clip anyone’s wings.

    But I have a question: Who wrote this posting? Doesn’t say anywhere.

    Martt Harding

  2. Hi Martt - thanks so much for your comment! Oops… it looks like when this post was brought over from our Wordpress blog, it didn’t correctly identify the post author. @brian (MetaGeek CEO) wrote this post, so I went ahead and corrected that just now. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. I just thought I would drop an update. It’s been a tough couple of weeks. I have a 802.1ax kickoff post, and I set it aside to work on a Black Lives Matter post in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. That’s been a difficult post to write. And, yesterday my dog passed away, which has really thrown me off my game.

    Anyway, I’m still writing, and I’m still honoring this PPDP.

  4. Thanks @marttharding! What I mean by conservative is that we tend to experiment with things that we can ship quickly in existing products, rather than trying something completely new or different. The point being that makes it kind of hard to tell whether this experiment is 20% time or “just doing my job.” Without that clear distinction, 20% becomes 10% and eventually it’s all “just doing my job.” That’s a problem, because the 20% wasn’t just about trying something new, but more about learning something. Thanks for reading and for your feedback.

  5. For the sake of accountability to my PPDP, my most recent post took me about 25 hours to write. I rewrote it about 4 times, and did some fact-checking during those hours, as well.

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