Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Why Enterprisey Types don't participate in unconferences...

The OC Unconference East is fast approaching and would be a great event for many who are employed by large enterprises to attend.

The interesting thing is that nowadays, enterprise behavior isn't so focused on individual learning and has even more big upfront planning than software development. Consider the fact that it is getting more difficult for your boss to approve you to go to conferences and even when he/she does, it usually involves an arduous heavyweight process. Likewise, others will desire the opportunity to see the agenda in advance and make recommendations as to which sessions you attend.

The unconference agenda isn't so well known in advance and allows for better sessions to emerge over time, which is great for attendees but only if you can overcome the upfront hurdle. For speakers, this also presents a challenge in that many of us will put up a facade of altruism in that we want to be community oriented, but reality says that events where we get quoted and our employer gets some press tend to get priority.

The biggest challenge to hit corporate America is the notion that you can send one individual instead of a team whom can simply take notes and others can learn from it. Instead of attending a conference to learn, one will attend and lurk. It is simply too difficult to engage in meaningful dialog and to scribe at the same time.

One thing that I haven't seen tried yet is for enterprisey types to convince their boss that someone else will take notes as many conferences have bloggers in attendance so that you can actually pay attention and meet others. Likewise, if you know that some sessions will be videotaped, then this may be an opportunity to eliminate the nebulous practice of conference trip reports.

Of course, there are a handful of folks that have managed to get to these events and it would be appreciated if they can help others overcome enterprise conference attendance obstacles...

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