Category Archives: Conference Season

What I Learned From Conference Season II

In my last post, I covered the lessons proffered up to you by Jason “The Prophet” Busch of Spend Matters, Vinnie “The Deal-Maker” Mirchandani of Deal Architect, and Brian “Service Master” Sommer of Services Safari. Today, I’m going to share with you the top three lessons I learned from Conference Season. They are:

  • Big Names Definitely Don’t Mean Big Ideas
  • You Don’t Have to Go to that Many Conferences to Tap Into the Buzz
  • Kill the Left-Suckers!

The two worst presentations, and two I walked out on in disgust, that I attended this year were put on by … wait for it … representatives of SAP (at SCL Canada) and Infosys (at reSource). Just because you have ready-made decks, that doesn’t mean that you have a ready made presentation. First of all, the decks have to be good (they weren’t). Secondly, the presenters have to understand the material (and in at least one case, the presenter did not appear to), and, thirdly, the presenters have to be good (they really, really weren’t). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, only Pierre Mitchell can get away with cramming two-dozen concepts on a slide and still have it make sense. And Pierre Mitchell is also one of the few who can get away with, when he chooses, ignoring the slide completely, or saying the exact opposite of what’s on the slide. If you’re a (p*ss) poor presenter, you can’t. So please, please, please – DON’T TRY!

Any more than three conferences per season, and you’re wasting your time (unless you’re just going to meet up with colleagues and sit in the lobby and network). I’ve only been to two so far, and even before I got through the first, I was thinking “didn’t I just hear this”? Multiply that by three, and you get tired – fast. The buzz, which has a life of its own, travels fast, and you don’t have to go to that many events to be sure of getting it. The key, as Jason and Vinnie pointed out, is to make the most of them when you’re there.

Finally, the best piece of advice offered up this conference season was by Jim Tompkins of Tompkins’ Associates in his presentation on Bold Leadership for Organizational Acceleration where he came right out and handed out the best piece of advice for organizational success that I’ve heard a management guru utter – Kill The Left-Suckers. (Yes, contrary to popular opinion, the best piece of advice one can get is not to kill all the lawyers, because, even though the majority of lawyers are left-suckers, not all lawyers are left-suckers and, more importantly, not just lawyers are left-suckers.) For those of you who happened to miss the original post, a left-sucker is a person who can’t do his (or her) job, and pulls his (or her) manager away from doing what the manager is supposed to be doing to help the individual who can’t do his (or her) job. A left-sucker is bad because when managers are consistently pulled away from their jobs, they don’t get their work done and then their directors have to step in to pick up the slack. When the directors get consistently pulled away from their jobs, they don’t get their work done and then the C-Suite has to pick up the slack. When the C-Suite has to pick up the slack, they aren’t getting their work done, and then the CEO gets pulled into fire-fighting on a daily basis – and instead of the CEO leading the C-Suite in setting strategic direction, he’s bogged down in tactical execution while the company starts burning down around him.

So there you have it. As Jason said, the innovation is there for those who look for it, but as Vinnie would attest, it’s not always where you would expect it; the buzz has a life of its own and you don’t have to go to a dozen conferences to tap into it; and you shouldn’t be afraid of using the axe. (Alternatively, there are hired guns you can bring in if you’re too timid to do it yourself.)

What I Learned From Conference Season I

Last week, a few of my fellow bloggers jumped the gun in their rush to share with you some of what they learned during conference season. Jason “The Prophet” Busch of Spend Matters was the first out of the gate with his post on Three Lessons From Conference Season where he suggested that:

  1. You don’t judge a book by its cover (or an event by past reputation)
    as both ISM and SAP Sapphire (apparently) put on a good show this year
  2. Your attitude is everything
    and the key to successful networking and learning
  3. You really can find examples of innovation at many events to take back to your organization
    and CVM Supply World, SIG, and even Ariba LIVE had numerous examples of innovation

This was quickly followed by Vinnie “The Deal-Maker” Mirchandani’s post on What I Learned From Conference Season on Deal Architect where he echoed Jason’s point about networking and how it generates the greatest value from these types of events. He also noted that the expo floor, which allows you to see many solution providers in a compressed time-frame, is also valuable. But his biggest “aha” was that his clients should also have tickets to the conferences and events so that they could take advantage of the events together, and not be on conference calls when they could be learning and networking on the expo floor.

And then Brian “Service Master” Sommer of Services Safari decided he just couldn’t wait any longer and offered up his humorous post on Traveling During Conference Season where he asked the Lord to save him from the “expert” travelers. (Who are the “expert” travellers? Follow the link to find out!)

But if you want to get technical, David Bush of eSourcing Forum and Tim Minahan and Justin Fogarty of Supply Excellence beat them to the punch with their learnings from reSource 2008 and Ariba Live. These can be found here:

reSource 2008 by David Bush and Michael Lamoureux

Ariba Live by Justin Fogarty and Tim Minahan

And then if you want to get really technical, Jason Busch and I have been blogging about conferences for over a month now!

Spend Matters Event & Conference Posts by Jason Busch

Sourcing Innovation Event & Conference Posts by Michael Lamoureux

What I Learned From Conference Season – Prologue

The next Sourcing-Innovtion sponsored cross blog series on “What I Learned From Conference Season” starts next Monday – May 26, 2008. If you have not received an invite and would like to guest-post on this blog, please contact me at thedoctor <at> sourcinginnovation <dot> com.

Unlike previous cross-blog series, this theme is open. The goal is to have the leading bloggers and guest bloggers identify what they think are the most important topics, issues, and messages discussed and delivered in this years conference slate and pass those messages on to you, dear reader. Collectively, we’re going to define what’s coming next and what practitioners need to do to prepare for it! It’s become pretty clear to me of late, with the less than spectacular work coming out from some of the vendors and traditional publications, that us bloggers need to be the ones moving the space forward – and I’d like to think we’re up to the challenge!

As usual, I’ll be cross-indexing all of the posts that appear on the other blogs in the space for your conveinence.

For your reference, the last three cross-blog series were: