3 Habits Conferences Need to Stop

As part of my daily commute, I ride the train for around 50 minutes each way. Most commuters take this 50 minutes to nap, blare their MP3 player, stare off into space, or people watch. A rare few take that time to read newspapers, kindles, books, Sodokus, etc. I’m one of the rare few.

In just over 2 months I have read over 20 books during my commute. One of the books that I’ve read (thank you Cindy Kane and/or Niki Rudolph for the recommendation, I know one of you rec’d it!) is Leading Change by John P. Kotter.

With any book I read, I fold the corners of pages over to go back later and type out great thoughts, ideas, charts, graphs, whatever made me pause and go, “Hmm” within the book.

In Leading Change, Kotter (1996) lays out the 3 habits of ineffective communication and to me they sound eerily close to what is standard procedure for many conferences.

1. Sending out memos with no follow-up or person-to-person interaction.
2. Making speeches and nothing else. 
3. Memos, speeches, materials but no buy in from senior leaders. (pg 9)

Do those three habits sound familiar? I can check my e-mail now and see random e-mails broadcasting call for programs, conference save the dates, (point 1), advertisements of “look who we have speaking!” (point 2), SSAOs creating their own conferences in their vision (point 3).

We are doing conferences wrong with no good reason as to why. (Yes, I should sound like a broken record by now.) 

The #conf30 agenda is to declare an effort to right these inefficiencies and bring the conference up to par. For more about the Conference 3.0 effort, check out the latest discussion here.

Agree? Disagree? Opinion? Let me hear it. Welcome to the conversation.
Cited: Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

2 thoughts on “3 Habits Conferences Need to Stop

  1. I’m guessing it was Cindy on the Kotter book – she had me read up on that for a presentation with her, too – good stuff! And good insights for how it applies to conferences, too.

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