Fish out of water doesn’t begin to describe the experience. The itSMF and HDI — two professional services organizations focusing on information technology people — held their annual conference this week, Fusion 13, and I presented the AMMO method to about 50 attendees.
The speaking part went very well from my perspective — the people in my session were great — upbeat, positive, involved — and they really seemed to get a lot out of putting the Audience-Message-Method-Objective method to work. With just an hour to work with, it was a crash course, but judging from the visible reactions and the comments, they found it valuable.
The trick for them now is to put AMMO to work — that’s always the conference imperative, right?
I attended some sessions as well as two of the keynotes, and confirmed my earlier assessment that every staff function — IT, Marketing, PR, HR, whatever — has the same strategic issues. Namely, how do we increase our perceived value in the strategic sense?
Change management was a hot topic, and Paul Wilkinson of the Dutch company GamingWorks and Sharon Taylor of Canada’s Aspect Group evangelized on the need to articulate the value to the business, the desired business outcomes, the costs and risks of a change initiative in order to have any shot at success. These are the four key words that describe a service. Wilkinson mentioned that he’d asked about 6,000 IT professionals, 90% of whom had completed their ITIL coursework (the framework for service management), what those four key words were. A large majority got them wrong.
One participant mentioned that this had been the case in IT for 30 years — if we asked the question of communicators “what are the keys to getting budget and people in your department?” what would they say? I hope they’d say that success depended on articulating value, cost, risks and business outcomes!
Barb Dombrowski of Progressive shared a case study of their knowledge management program. This KM stuff involves creating specific content that the service desk (including multiple levels of support) uses in the course of working with callers. The goal is “production readiness,” and adopting a standardized template for the “articles” enforced search criteria and ensured the right material got to the right support people for the right issues. Progressive went from 3,000 KM articles just three years ago to more than 19,000. Now, Dombrowski and team are working on the quality of those articles, seeking to measure extent of use and weed out the weak items
We communication folks think we’re the resident experts in communication in the organization. Maybe reaching out to the IT people, in particular those in KM, will make us smarter.
I’ll also mention the terrific keynotes I caught – Cindy Solomon burned up the stage with a high-energy, often hilarious talk about the four types of courage — blind courage (just leap!), crisis courage (expressing calm when the world is blowing up around us), role courage (the confidence of knowing your authority in a given role) and core courage (the courage that comes from servant leadership, being unafraid of admitting you don’t know something, etc.)
Josh Linkner talked of creativity — of being willing to let go of the past and look to the future, to fail well and often and learn from the experience. He says we can learn from jazz — how to be creative and a great teammate. He’s the founder of ePrize, which he sold for a boat load of cash, and now a venture capitalist based in Detroit. He, too, was an entertaining speaker who’d have been at home at a marketing, PR or HR conference.
I had client meetings to run home to, so I missed the Tuesday night party, but the Monday receptions and jam-packed Gaylord Opryland Hotel (vast, huge, capacious) made for a fun environment. If they are interested in having me back, I’d gladly go!