In today’s interconnected world, we have unparalleled access to ideas and concepts without leaving the safety of our cubes. If we want to explore a topic, we can pop out to the web and find articles, websites, podcasts, blogs and webinars. So, what do we gain from attending professional conferences in person?
The 2013 Scrum Gathering in Las Vegas that I recently attended was an eye-opening experience. It is very easy to get comfortable with ideas that we already have, that are working for us. The Scrum Gathering delivered an incredible array of new ways to think about how we work to deliver value to our organizations, whether we are developers or change agents.
Shifting outside of our comfort zone, a state of mind without a sense of risk, makes it easier see things differently. Our comfort zone can be limiting because it insulates you from perceiving change. Dr. Bill Joiner, in his keynote at the Scrum Gathering, suggested that today’s managers must have the ability to achieve sustained success in a rapidly changing environment or they won’t survive. I translate that to mean that comfort zones are a thing of the past.
The gathering was a tool to challenge the attendees intellectually, while providing a platform for changing how we think about our professional challenges. For example:
- Presentations that challenge orthodoxy that wouldn’t draw as mass-market webinars.
- Free form programming, such as Open Spaces, that opened the lectern to anyone with an idea or a question (my favorite part of the conference).
- Access to experts for formal and informal conversations.
Regardless of your profession, not challenging ourselves to move outside of our comfort zone will make us intellectually lazy. Without challenges, we can’t hope to raise our game to meet the future. Attending conferences like the Scrum Gathering and benefiting from not only the presentations, but also from the interactions, is a powerful tool to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s workplace.
Vice President of Consulting