All Hope Abandon

conference phoneI must have attended more than twenty of David Gurteens Knowledge Cafes over recent years and the feedback is always the same “I had a really good time”, “It was great to talk to other strangers”, “I made some great new contacts”, “what interesting conversations”. David has built up an awareness of what makes a good participatory event as he explains in his current newsletter in an entry entitled ‘Nothing new about the knowledge cafe‘.

Now, I have attended several quite large conferences recently and the amount of time, which could have been used to participate, engage and connect has been tragically wasted.

Over at Knocko, Nick Milton unscientifically, but in my mind convincingly, calculates ‘Why knowledge transfer through discussion is 14 times more effective than writing‘.

So, in a similar vein, if a conference of 102 attendees:

  • holds two panel Q&A session each of 30 minutes duration, only 2 people are fully engaged at any given time, meaning that 100 person Hours of Opportunity for Participatory Engagement (HOPEs) are wasted.
  • allows two coffee breaks of 30 minutes, and an hour for lunch, each described as ‘for networking’ but without instruction to “meet and greet new connections”, at least 50% simply meet up with the people they arrived with or work with or check their phones wasting a further 100 HOPEs
  • endures five minutes of all 12 of the presenters telling us about “the number of people who work for us”, “my qualifications include”, “I know there there are too many words on this slide but …”, this results in the wasting of another 100 HOPEs

300 hours of participatory potential energy wasted just for a few words of instruction “ find someone you don’t know and introduce yourselves” or advice to presenters “ Please don’t include slides just for the sake of it”, “stories not bullets” and replace question time with “At your table or with your neighbours, reflect on what you have heard and discuss”.

Are all our efforts to improve conferences hopeless? Reflect on this and discuss.

Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. – from wikipedia

Bob Hope had a PGA Golf tournament named after him which had a recent refocus and is now designed to bring the idea of “participatory wellness” to life for people of all ages


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