Just returned from DRJ's Spring World 2010 at Walt Disney World (WDW) near Kissimmee FL. (No, it's not in Orlando; not even in the same county.)
It was an interesting several days.
FINDING the conference location was a challenge. WDW signs leave a lot to be desired, but then even my GPS failed to find a direct route. (MapQuest did better.)
Most of the General Session speakers were good although most managed to pitch a book (or several) before stepping down from the podium. That's not a complaint, just an observation.
The made-in-advance DVD that came with the welcome goodies suffers because the presenters are not heard, nor are attendees' questions. The DVD includes the presenters' slides, but looking at them yesterday evening I realized that slides by themselves lack the sparkle they have when accompanied by the speaker - moreover, most of the speakers - proving they were good presenters - generally talked to the slide rather than wasting our time by reading it to us.
There simply is no way to create a DVD of a presentation before the fact. Bottom line: the DVD is "better than nothing." Again, not a complaint, just an observation.
What's the difference between a "complaint" and an "observation?" If I complain about something I should offer a remedy; if I just make an observation, I let myself off the hook.
My main interest was in developing skills and techniques to exercise - never "test" - my plans. There were a couple of titles that caught my fancy. One, presented by Steven Goldman, included some exercises that not only had us thinking, but working in pick-up groups of folks we'd never met before and finding out that group dynamics really pay off - and the bigger the group, the better. My little 7-member group came up with good stuff, but when the entire two-room assembly put heads together there was real quality "stuff."
I missed Sunday's workshops and a Norm Harris presentation . The first presenter I heard on Monday was Steve Gilliland, a professional speaker (vs. a BC or DR person). I heard why he's in demand; if he's on anyone's agenda, go hear him.
I had the opportunity to meet some folks I see on the lists; Regina Phelps - who has more initials after her name than a popular alphabet soup - was one. As an RN (among other things), her interests tend toward the medical. She presented twice; once in a General Session on the pig pandemic. Regina's always worth hearing.
There were the usual software and IT exhibitors, but very few (one or two) consultant houses represented. Since I am looking for a staff consulting job that will let me work in, or from, southeast Florida, I was a little disappointed. Still, visiting with the vendors always is interesting and I now have enough pens to last until at least Spring World 2012.
Ethics was a topic at Tuesday's General Session. Bob Chandler of University of Central Florida - Orange County Community College has come a long way - managed to make us think twice about putting our business cards into a bowl to win a vendor's prize . . . would the value of the prize violate our corporate ethics standards? (Just what IS the limit on gifts in your company? Do you know? That was one of Chandler's challenges.)
Social Networking - Tweeter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like got a fair share of attention, both as a means to communicate with the troops and as a way to get feedback - sometimes less than flattering feedback - from customers. The bottom line for organizations: watch the media and be prepared to respond quickly. (We have scripts for spokespeople to use in the event of; why not scripts at the ready to respond on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et al? We DO have scripts at the ready, right??)
I got to meet some people with whom I've had email exchanges over the years, and I managed to spend about 15 minutes talking with my mentor, Norm Harris. I also met some new folks, some both new to me and new to the business. Lest I forget, I also met jon @ drj.com and bob @ drj.com.
Would I recommend a DRJ conference. For someone with 0 to 5 years experience, there is a lot of knowledge that can be gained in the professional sessions and in the general sessions as well. For the long-time pro, the networking (especially if this is an annual or semi-annual gathering) and the vendor presentations are worthwhile . . . and even an expert - are there any? - can pick up some new ideas or revisit old ones by sitting in the presentations.
One thing I would ask Bob and Jon to consider for 2011 "and beyond" - if you must have specialty tables (e.g., Insurance, Financial, Manufacturing) for the various meals, have a table for consultants and generalists. I met some interesting folks when I pretended to be in a specific industry (such as manufacturing) so I'm not complaining, and frankly, I learned a little about some things I had not considered before (and I have worked in manufacturing).
Actually, I was looking for a table that was for Out Of Work Enterprise Practitioners, a/k/a consultants looking for work.
Hats off to all the DRJ folks that worked to put together Spring World 2010.
John Glenn, MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management - Business Continuity practitioner
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Florida
JohnGlennMBCI at gmail dot com