Conferences are great. In fact, the SunView Software team is about to participate in the Pink 13 conference in Las Vegas. At about the same time, our UK partner will be working the Service Desk IT and Support Show with great attendance expected. Following these shows and others, IT professionals feel energized and ready to change their IT organizations for the better. It’s a great time to be part of a business that is ready to embrace change and make a difference.
Unfortunately, what tends to happen more often than not is the “high” from attending a conference quickly fades away. Often against the most stubborn of bureaucracies, passion can escape a motivated workforce incredibly fast and sets the struggling IT team back further than before attending.
Prior to attending a conference many individuals, or whole teams, are set in their ways. They have accepted their fate, maintaining the status quo. However, after attending a conference and sitting through several valuable learning sessions, attendees return optimistic – ready to raise the bar.
Naturally, optimism following a conference dedicated to the IT professional is an expected outcome. So, how does an IT organization capitalize on the enthusiasm built at the conference after the staff returns to the day-to-day? Timing is everything. If you choose to ignore the opportunity, the optimism will be much harder to recapture. With the right encouragement, you can build a level of motivation for future IT projects that continues right through to the next conference. Wash – Rinse – Repeat.
Of course, building on the conference enthusiasm, can be easier said than done. You need to figure out how to strategically extract knowledge from the attendees, while keeping them optimistic. Below are five tips for building on the conference momentum.
You sent your best staff members out to an event so they could learn as much as much as possible in just a few days. At best, you have just a few days before they forget most of what they heard. You will want to make sure they are debriefed promptly in order to extract as much information is as possible. As with any diversion, the goal should be to “return them to their regular role as soon as possible.”
Everyone loves the booth goodies and giveaways. This year SunView Software is giving away Gift Cards, a Kindle Fire and more. Before they depart for the conference, ask the attendees to collect a few more promo items than they really need. When they return to the office, they can share some of the fun stuff with the team.
At the same time, make sure the responsibilities for post-conference vendor research is shared as well. Attending a conference should really feel like a shared experience. It is also a great idea to send a new individual or group the next time around.
Process improvement and new tools are almost always the focus of an IT conference. You should look at the post conference debrief as an opportunity for ITIL continuous / ongoing improvement. Using the attendee debrief, as well as the team’s follow up research, look at areas of process improvement. Some improvement will be long term, but some can begin right away.
This is a great time to take an objective look at how technology is changing and determine how the changes will impact your IT Organization. Of course, what’s new also includes the bleeding edge – not usually the direction to take. It is often better to wait for the newest tools to become best practices before joining in.
Now is the time to gather the team around a common goal. This will help to demonstrate that the organization places value on sending employees to events that build optimism and encourage education. In order to keep the momentum going, start a project, even a trial will do. This is your opportunity to capture the energy that attendees typically have after they return from conference sessions.
Don’t isolate the project to IT. Perhaps the team saw an innovative way to use the Service Request Management workflow that would make life much easier for the Finance team. Whatever the case, a small project that is focused on interdepartmental collaboration will go a long way towards realizing the ROI associated with sending employees to a conference.
Now that you have completed the conference debrief, shared the findings with your team and brought the learning to life with a project, take it all to share with the enterprise. If the executive level sees demonstrable value in employees attending conferences, it will happen more often. Again, Wash – Rinse – Repeat.
Use the experience of the conference to drive innovation, discover new process improvements and build on the positive energy of your returning team members. Good luck with the 2013 convention circuit and the SunView Software team hopes to meet you in person soon.