Conferences That Work http://www.conferencesthatwork.com Unconferences, peer conferences, participant-driven events, and facilitation Mon, 22 May 2017 10:01:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 22 great iPhone/iPad apps for event professionals http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/technology/2017/05/22-great-iphoneipad-apps-for-event-professionals/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/technology/2017/05/22-great-iphoneipad-apps-for-event-professionals/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 10:01:43 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10285

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App_Store

Two years have passed since the last update of my favorite iPad/iPhone apps for event professionals. Apps continue to be born, evolve, and, sometimes, die—so it’s time for my latest list of event professionals’ great apps!Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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Practice what you teach http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/learning/2017/05/practice-what-you-teach/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/learning/2017/05/practice-what-you-teach/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 10:09:23 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10151 No related posts. ]]>
When I’m presenting and sharing my conviction that experiential learning is far superior to broadcast learning, it would be pretty hypocritical for me to lecture. It would also be pretty ineffective. As Stephen Jenkinson says:

“…when expressed properly, teachings don’t function as symbols or metaphors…they are an incarnation of what they are advocating.”
—Stephen Jenkinson, On How We Deny Our Mortality, The Sun Magazine

“Teachings are an incarnation of what they are advocating.” I’m glad to see that this point of view is being championed in the educational community , under the rubric of recursive practice, and I hope to see a wider awareness of its importance as the years pass.

In the meantime, if you come to one of my workshops or presentations you won’t find me talking to you uninterrupted for more than five to ten minutes max. That’s how I practice what I teach.

Read the full article at Conferences That Work ]]>
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A new kind of association service — Open Collective http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/05/a-new-kind-of-association-service-open-collective/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/05/a-new-kind-of-association-service-open-collective/#respond Mon, 08 May 2017 10:44:45 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10266 No related posts. ]]>

A new association service, Open Collective, offers an intriguing way to raise funds and provide radical financial transparency to members.

I like to think of an association as a group of people with a shared mission, the incarnation of a community of practice. Open Collective supports communities of practice like meet ups and open source developers that can benefit from an open administrative and financial structure, but the service could be used by any association that wants to outsource fund raising and offer financial transparency on how funding is raised and spent.

Here’s how it works.

Fund raising
Open Collective makes it easy to request funds for specific activities or goals (example). You can quickly create a sharable link to the request, which can be one-time or monthly. Flexible donation tiers allow you to create named donation levels, like “backers” or “sponsors” and feature them appropriately on your website. You can also sell tickets to events (currently in beta).

One interesting feature allows an umbrella organization to empower local or networked chapters/projects to raise money and have their own budget, without having to open a separate bank account for each one.

Financial transparency
Unpaid expenses and available funds can be seen by all members (example). Definable (and changeable) core members can approve or reject submitted expenses (example). Anyone can see the money flow in and out of the organization.

Cost
From the website: “Open Collective takes 10% of the money raised by the collective for managing bookkeeping, taxes, and admin (fiscal sponsorship), as well as providing your Open Collective page and the software it runs on. We share this commission with the fiscal sponsor (legal owner of the bank account that holds the money on behalf of the collective). Additionally, our payment processors charge a fee, usually 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.”

This seems reasonable, though it’s not clear how the commission sharing works. The non-profit service Network for Good charges a 5% administrative fee (which includes payment processing charges) for donations, but Open Collective offers many more services than just accepting donations.

More information
As I write this, Open Collective is supporting over two hundred organizations with a combined annual budget of over half a million dollars, and you need to apply to join; it’s not automatically open to anyone who signs up. A two-part article by one of the founders (formerly cofounder/CEO of Storify.com) offers a useful summary of the history and philosophy of Open Collective.

What I think
For the first ten years of its existence, a non-profit association edACCESS I co-founded in 1991 was run informally under the auspices of another non-profit. Because the group was committed to transparency right from the start (our books were always open for anyone to see) Open Collective would have been very helpful for managing edACCESS’s finances.

While a structure like this isn’t appropriate for every non-profit, I think the service offers a novel approach to supporting communities that want to be financially transparent. It could be especially useful for localities that want to support citizen-created collectives using shared infrastructure (example: the city of Brussels). If it fits for you, Open Collective is well worth investigating.

Read the full article at Conferences That Work ]]>
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How to become one with your association’s strategic goals http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/05/how-to-become-one-with-your-associations-strategic-goals/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/05/how-to-become-one-with-your-associations-strategic-goals/#respond Mon, 01 May 2017 11:03:14 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10200

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No, I’m not suggesting you rise at 5 a.m. and recite your association’s strategic plan as your daily morning mantra. But I’d like you to try this simple test:

How many of your association’s strategic goals can you recall right now?

(No cheating! And not the easy bits about your vision, mission, who you serve, or your programs and services — just your goals!)

I’ll wait…

Was that a little embarrassing? You’re not alone — when I tried this recently, I was pretty embarrassed too!

Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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How to change an organization’s culture http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/facilitating-change/2017/04/how-to-change-an-organizations-culture/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/facilitating-change/2017/04/how-to-change-an-organizations-culture/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 12:10:07 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10176

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  1. Face The Fear—Then Change Your Conference Design! Want to see my 6 minute 40 second Pecha Kucha presentation Face The Fear—Then Change Your Conference Design! given at EventCamp Twin Cities on September 9, 2010? If so, download...
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Is it possible to transform dysfunctional corporate culture like that of United Airlines into the employee engagement of Southwest or the indifferent customer service at Kmart into the customer-first approach of Wegmans?

After over thirty years working with organizations, I think that it’s possible to change organizational culture — but it’s far from easy.

First, many organizations are in denial that there’s any kind of problem with their culture, and getting leadership to think otherwise is an uphill or hopeless battle.

Second, if an organization does get to the point where “we want to change our culture”, there’s rarely an explicit consensus of what “needs to be” or “might be” changed.

Third, culture is an emergent property of the interactions between people in the organization, not a linear consequence of deeply buried assumptions that can be challenged and “treated” in isolation. Prescriptive, formulaic approaches to culture change, are therefore rarely if ever successful.

Finally, organizational culture self-perpetuates through a complex web of rules and relationships whose very interconnectedness resist change; even if you have a clear idea of what you want to do, there are no uncoupled places to start.

So, what might we be able to do? For concise advice, I recommend Chris Corrigan‘s excellent article The myth of managed culture change. Read it!

In particular, this excerpt caught my eye:

“Culture is an emergent set of patterns that are formed from the interactions between people. These patterns cannot be reverse engineered. Once they exist you need to change the interactions between people if you want to change the patterns.”
—Chris Corrigan, The myth of managed culture change

This is why process tools like those included in The Power of Participation are so important. Imposed, top down culture change regimes attempt to force people to do things differently, a process that Chris describes as “cruel and violent”. Participation process tools that allow people to safely explore interacting in new ways allow organizations to transform through the resulting emergent changes that interaction tools facilitate and support.

Image attribution: Animated gif excerpt from “Lawyers in Love” by Jackson Browne

Read the full article at Conferences That Work ]]>
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Children shouldn’t sit still in class — and neither should adults http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/learning/2017/04/children-shouldnt-sit-still-in-class-and-neither-should-adults/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/learning/2017/04/children-shouldnt-sit-still-in-class-and-neither-should-adults/#comments Mon, 17 Apr 2017 11:30:37 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10015

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It’s amazing that established research on ways to improve children’s learning is ignored when designing adult learning environments.

Some examples. We know that kids shouldn’t sit still in class. Short bursts in physical activity are positively linked to increased levels of attention and performance. Watch Mike Kuczala’s TEDx talk “The Kinesthetic Classroom: Teaching and Learning through Movement.” Michelle Obama’s 2010 “Let’s Move” initiative works to increase movement and healthy eating in schools. Classroom movement programs like GoNoodle are now used in more than 60,000 elementary schools in the United States. [More links to research can be found in Dr Ash Routen’s and Dr Lauren Sherar’s article “Active lessons can boost children’s learning and health“.]Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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Associations exist only in the mind http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/04/associations-exist-only-in-the-mind/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/associations-2/2017/04/associations-exist-only-in-the-mind/#respond Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:21:06 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10119 No related posts. ]]>

Professional, trade, and public interest associations are significant businesses. In the United States alone, associations employ more than 1.6 million people, and generate an annual payroll of ~$50 billion.

Yet, ultimately, associations exist only in the mind.

Stay with me, and I’ll tell you a story that may convince you of the value of this strange point of view.

Fifty years ago, every business that wanted to offer credit to its customers had to have its own independent system to do so. Individual banks were trying to encourage merchants and customers to adopt newfangled things called “credit cards”, but they failed to solve the chicken-and-egg problem that consumers did not want to use a card that few merchants would accept and merchants did not want to accept a card that few consumers used.

Then in 1966, a man named Dee Hock had the vision, determination, resources, and a little luck to break this logjam. Dee described his journey in a fascinating book he wrote after his retirement in 1984, intriguingly titled: Birth of The Chaordic AgeDee was the first CEO of what became the mammoth multinational financial services corporation VISA, a company with a current market capitalization of over $200B.

What has this to do with associations? Well, you may be surprised to learn that VISA has never issued cards, extended credit or set rates and fees for consumers. The company is, in structure if not in capitalist terms, an association of tens of thousands of member banks who offer VISA-branded credit, debit, prepaid and cash-access programs to their hundreds of millions of customers. These banks, while competing with each other for customers, agree to honor each other’s trillions of dollars in transactions annually across borders and currencies.

At its core, VISA is a set of agreements between its members. The company’s value to its owners and customers is created from the mutual agreements its members have made. Without those agreements, VISA would not exist and we would return to the pre-VISA world when every financial entity had to have its own independent system of offering credit to its customers.

Although VISA is an atypical kind of for-profit organization, its core purpose is essentially identical to that of trade and professional associations. Associations are society’s instantiations of communities of practice, groups of people who share a common interest, profession, or passion and agree to actively engage around what they have in common. That leads us to Dee Hock’s (and my) view of organizations like VISA and associations:

“…organizations exist only in the mind; they are no more than the conceptual embodiments of the ancient idea of community.”
—Dee Hock, Birth of The Chaordic Age

This perspective is extremely important because it’s easy for associations to forget their initial and continued reasons for existence. Every association is created when at some moment in time a group of people with something in common wants to further a particular profession and/or the interests of those engaged in a profession and/or the public interest. Typically, the community already exists informally, and its “members” want to create a formal, legal structure to support, deepen, and widen its reach.

Associations can, however, lose sight of this primal and ongoing purpose. When this happens, they concentrate on self-perpetuation and/or expansion at the expense of supporting the community of practice for which they were created. Remembering that an association is, at its core, a set of agreements in people’s minds about the instantiation of a community that is important to them is key to keeping the association relevant to the community it serves.

Read the full article at Conferences That Work ]]>
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The architecture of assembly http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/04/the-architecture-of-assembly/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/04/the-architecture-of-assembly/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:49:20 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=10038

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“Architecture sets the stage for our lives; it creates the world we inhabit and shapes how we relate to one another. In a time in which democracy is under increasing pressure in different parts of the world, it is time to rethink the architecture of assembly.”
Max Cohen de Lara and David Mulder van der Vegt, “These 5 architectural designs influence every legislature in the world — and tell you how each governs, The Washington Post, March 4, 2017

How do room sets imply and influence what happens at meetings? Can room sets affect the quality of democracy, sharing, and equality experienced by participants?Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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Dealing successfully with event complexity http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/03/dealing-successfully-with-event-complexity/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2017/03/dealing-successfully-with-event-complexity/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:45:43 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=9194

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In 1975, I was stricken with viral meningitis while attending a conference in the former Yugoslavia. While spending ten unexpected days recovering flat on my back in a Split hospital, my only reading matter was an English translation of Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching. Perhaps it’s not surprising, considering the circumstances, that Taoism stealthily and permanently insinuated itself into my psyche.

Reading Atul Gawande‘s unexpectedly excellent book The Checklist Manifesto recently, reminded me of Lao Tsu’s advice on dealing with complex issues:Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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Charles, Lawrence, David Bowie, and me http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/uncategorized/2017/03/charles-lawrence-david-bowie-and-me/ http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/uncategorized/2017/03/charles-lawrence-david-bowie-and-me/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:53:18 +0000 http://www.conferencesthatwork.com/?p=9958 No related posts. ]]>

My first public gig as a musician was at David Bowie’s Beckenham Arts Lab.Read the full article at Conferences That Work

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