Taking a Risk

A couple of months ago I read Seth Godin’s blog about hard work. I love the 15th item on his list:

Putting on a conference or – Taking a risk and making the conference interesting

This is exactly what Judith and I aimed to do when we started planning the first Cambridge HR Summit six months ago. We asked ourselves why a place like Cambridge shouldn’t have a world-class HR conference. Then we decided to make it happen. Seth’s point is well made and seems absolutely obvious – but if so, why doesn’t everyone do it? Perhaps its not so easy to do. There’s no single correct way to achieve excellence – but we chose the one we’re most comfortable with. Every element of this conference is one that we can get excited about. Here are a few examples of what we think is interesting:

  • Our keynote speaker is a lady who not only changed the world – she did it without shouting about it. Early in her career Dame Stella Rimington DCB, former head of MI5 didn’t believe that women couldn’t be field operatives. That was the beginning of her transformation of the organisation that most people associate with James Bond (007).
  • We’ve chosen workshop speakers who are different and push the boat out. For example:
    • Steve Boast, head of organisational development at HM prisons who says he has some of the most challenging customers in the world. I can’t wait to hear his approach to dealing with his ‘difficult customers’.
    • Richard Ellis head of CSR from Alliance Boots will lead the workshop which will uncover whether its possible for an organisation to be carbon neutral. And he should know – Alliance Boots have been leaders in the environmental awareness stakes.
  • The venue is amazing. Magdalene College, Cambridge has managed to combine state of the art facilities, beautiful design, fantastic spaces for informal networking and intimate workshop rooms. And along with all of this modernisation, they’ve still managed to retain the traditions and ethos of centuries of imparting knowledge.
  • And then we became a little self-indulgent and booked these guys to perform at lunch time. We chose them partly because music enhances learning, but also because every time I hear them perform (and that is one of the perks of living in Cambridge), I can’t help feeling utterly inspired.

We’ve got a few more surprises up our sleeves as well. But if I told you now, that would spoil it.

There’s no guarantee that just because we’re passionate about these things that everyone else will be too. But we sure as hell wouldn’t be looking forward to sharing all these aspects with delegates if we weren’t inspired by them. In my view, that’s a pretty good first step towards moving into the right hand column in Seth’s list.

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