What I Found at the ACMP Change Management 2018
For the past few years, Brio has made it a point to attend the annual Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP)conference. This year, from March 25 to 28, Christine and I got our opportunity to represent Brio at Change Management 2018 in Las Vegas.
Reflecting on my personal experience upon my return, the first thing that popped into my head was to ask myself what we brought back from this conference, and how is it useful to organizational transformation consultants.
THE BIG ANNUAL GATHERING FOR TRANSFORMATION PROFESSIONALS
Participants and speakers came from 29 countriesEvery year, the ACMP conference brings together around 1,100 participants. I was impressed with some of the numbers from this year’s edition:
- 487 companies were represented, from 28 different industries
- 65% of the participants dedicate 100% of their time to change management
Despite this strong worldwide contingent, the conference still made room for the Quebec Chapter of the ACMP to introduce itself and build relationships in order to follow the organization’s activities throughout the year. One thing that struck us was the ease with which we could discuss our reality and the issues we face, without having to explain what we do for a living. This is even more applicable to internal consultants who work in the private sector, because they don’t necessarily have access to a vast network of colleagues in the same field. This opportunity to discuss and share our challenges proved to be an enriching experience.
SPEAKERS AND THEIR CONTENT
The conferences allowed us to set specific learning goals based on our level of experience. In fact, the presentations were of such high quality that despite our proven experience in organizational transformation, we managed to learn a lot of new notions and tools – even in conferences that were intended for beginners! Another interesting fact is that most of the speakers are also participants in the conference. One day you’re listening to their presentations, and the next you’re sitting beside them at another seminar. This gave us even more opportunities to exchange views and build relationships throughout the three-day event.
But the presentations weren’t just interesting – they were also jarring. In this place of discovery, two things really stood out for me:
- A conference about the use of improvisation techniques to learn how to deal with change and the unknown. Based on her book Go With It: Embrace the Unexpected to Drive Change, Karen Hough invited us to familiarize ourselves with the notion of “comfortable discomfort”.
- The use of the “hit song” metaphor to implement long-lasting change. Inspired by his book Rock’N’Roll With It – Overcoming the Challenge of Change, singer Brant Menswar explained how to draw inspiration from successful music and song-writing techniques to establish a connection between head and heart, i.e. between employee emotions and an organization’s fundamental values.
A WORTHWHILE ANNUAL PILGRIMAGE
We’re often called upon to intervene in projects where we’re the sole expert in our field, especially if we’re working freelance. In this context, the conference is an opportunity to reboot, refresh and nurture new ideas. After having gone through this experience, I would draw a direct correlation between the conference format and the plenary meetings we organize at Brio, where everyone dedicates an entire day to exploring new transformation approaches, sharing work experiences and – as I just said – rebooting and refreshing. Change Management 2018 was like a giant internal training session for everyone who doesn’t have that platform set up in their workplace.
In conclusion, let me quote keynote speaker Peter Shankman: “I don’t need you to be awesome; I need you to be 1% better.” After three days at Change Management 2018 and upon reflection as I write these lines, I think I can say “mission accomplished” in my case. At least until next year!