Does your conference education drive attendees’ business performance?
Or are your offerings more a roll of the dice, leaving it up to chance that they impact the attendees’ job performance.
The most effective and successful conferences focus their learning opportunities on sustaining attendees’ critical strategic skills, building evolving organizational capabilities and linking conference education to business performance.
Five Business Improvement Conference Education Trends
Executives want to focus their employees’ learning opportunities on issues that really matter. They seek education that provides a real value to their company. As a result, business strategies and learning opportunities are becoming more closely aligned.
Here are five trends in aligning conference education with business improvement efforts.
1. Building Organizational Capacity
According to McKinsey Quarterly March 2015, half of the 1,400+ global executives said organization capacity building is one of their top three strategic priorities.
Capacity building is the process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes and resources that organizations need to survive, adapt, and thrive in the fast-changing world. – Wikipedia.
Some conference planning teams are intentionally choosing education programming that helps their top membership companies build organizational capacity. That means they reach out to the talent management, executives and human resource contacts in those organizations to identify their top employee learning needs. Then they design and choose speakers that can meet those needs.
In doing so, they are improving their conference’s relevancy, credibility and effectiveness. When an attendee’s boss becomes more confident about a conference’s contribution to their business performance, they start thinking about additional capacity gaps that the conference education can fill.
2. Increased Focus On Institutional Capabilities Instead Of Individual Capabilities
Frequently, much of the conference education programming centers on helping individuals gain certification or move up the career ladder. Instead some conference planning teams are spotlighting institutional capabilities—the skills, processes, tools and systems their top attendee organizations use to drive meaningful business results. Then they can market that the organization should send a team to the same sessions to improve organizational learning that leads to change. Consequently, education session learning objectives align with their attendees’ employers strategic business interests instead of individual wants.
3. Conference Planning Teams Become Better Business Partners
Savvy conference organizers are ensuring that their conference education programming is better aligned with their top attendees’ business needs. They are becoming more consultative when choosing and offering topics, speakers and learning opportunities. They are making sure that the learning offerings are specialized, aligning with attendees’ organization’s specific business unit needs. They allow the organizations’ talent management team to co-own the selection of specific conference education offerings.
4. In-Depth, Integrated Conference Education
The number of hours an attendee spends at a conference does not make any difference if the education sessions do not add value to the attendee’s organization. Some conference planning teams are responding by building deeper-dives with specialization of skills instead of shorter sessions. They also offer connected conference sessions that allow attendees to better understand specific strategic business issues. Conferences are offering fewer, targeted topics as well as connecting learning to education before and after the event.
5. Designing Better Learning Metrics
Executives that responded to the McKinsey survey identified that a lack of credible metrics from education and learning programs is one of their top challenges. They want to review both qualitative and quantitative metrics to assess the impact of education programs and whether they are improving the employees’ performance. They are no longer satisfied with employee satisfaction from attending a conference or that they now have knowledge of a topic. They want to know about the effectiveness of the conference education and skill improvement. Ultimately, they understand that credible metrics are a prerequisite for building sustainable capabilities.
What additional business improvement trends have you seen regarding conference education? What does your employer require from you after attending a conference?