Everyone has thoughts.
Writing them down makes them powerful.
As good as the Institute of Design's 2006 Strategy Conference was, I can't help but continue to be amazed at how the most memorable content always seems to be the lunch time table conversations. It is almost as if every conference I attend is only in place to plop me down at lunch in the midst of a table of smart people with an interesting topic so that we can make the event our own. This is, of course, not to say that there isn't a lot of value to be had with the main speakers. In fact, I think everyone at the table conversation I attended (titled "Shifting Expectations" and hosted by Steve Sato of HP) referenced some speaker at least once during the conversation. We must be getting something out of the main program.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that we get to share opinions on important topics in person with relevant souls (try saying that fast ten times) so rarely that we seem to value it even more highly than the regular program. I've been party to managing these types of tables for the last two years at several conferences and I can attest that attendees get outright fanatical about them. People are so keen to share their opinion and be part of a relevant conversation that I am thinking of presenting a whole new model of conference. Just imagine...
A new conference is held where there is only two speakers per day: one in the morning and one in the early afternoon. "Lunch table conversations" become just scheduled conversations throughout the day on various topics with, perhaps, speaker level hosts so that nearly all of the content is in this format. Just think of what you could get out of it! Yes, you may miss out on some content but the deepness of the conversations had combined with the networking which takes place would probably justify the lack of absolute continuity... a "conference of conversations".
I just may have to propose something like this to one of the conference organizers I know.
Bl'ah. Just as I write about discipline lock and a different type of conference thinking I was very smart some colleagues of mine are actually DOING it. Overlap, organized by friends John Zapolski, Steve Portigal, Tom Mulhern, Scott Hirsh, among others, happened this past weekend and it sounds a heck a lot like this "conference of conversations" idea. I got invited but had a wedding to attend that weekend so I pretty much ignored it. Too bad because it seems like it was a good step in a new direction. Check out Steve's write up on it here: Chittah Chattah. Cheers to the Overlap crew. I look forward to taking part in the future.
For those of us who carry a personal notebook around, and even more so a Moleskin, it is remarkable what we end up keeping in these things. I have on more than one occasion felt pangs of horror and fear with the thought that my Moleskin may be lost and on the loose. My discovery of nice mid-sized Moleskin at the end of the Strategy Conference lacking an owner made me mighty curious to whom it may belong and what could possibly be found within. There were some pretty heavy hitters in at Stratcon so the information inside could be particularly valuable to its owner.
It was with much anticipation that I opened the cover to reveal who was listed as the muse of the book. It ended up not only being owned by someone I know quite well but from one who is currently in a position of some authority in my life. It was owned by a professor at the Institute of Design! Needless to say, I was curious what secret notes, thoughts, and personal insights may be found within it. Should I look inside? Is it within one's rights to view a few pages considering I would be returning it? That's fair isn't it?
Well, I didn't look inside and the notebook will be in its rightful owner's hands soon. That said, I for one am going to try to do a better job of documenting the thoughts I develop in my Moleskin as they develop rather than leaving myself open to losing my very best ideas with one moment of inattention.
Institute of Design Strategy Conference 2006
Thus far it's only Carol Colletta and I blogging about the event but I am sure by the end we'll have a slew of interesting conversation, commentary, pictures and more. Check it out here: