IABC World Conference 2015: former board member attends and reports back

Tracie Bettenhausen

Tracie Bettenhausen, IABC Great Plains member. She took this selfie as part of a game, which was included in the IABC World Conference app.

Tracie Bettenhausen, who formerly served on IABC Great Plains board as president and director of professional development, attended the 2015 IABC World Conference in San Francisco, CA, in June. Here is a summary of what she learned.

I wish for all IABC members to be able to attend at least one world conference. This was my first. My recap follows my tweets from the event, at @tracielee. If you’re interested in learning about anything more in this summary, IABC World Conference 2015.

Day 1
First keynote: Aaron Dignan
1. How can we organize our companies and work groups so that we are not spending our time making plans (which Dignan refers to as “crap with good intentions”) and instead respond to changes and emerge with solutions.
2. Networks are important in getting work done. He used the examples of the immune system, the Internet, and colonies of ants, that we can use as examples in our own companies.
3. Learn more about “holacracy,” which is a way of running an organization so that the authority and decision making is pushed out to the very edges, away from management hierarchy.

Second keynote: Liz Wiseman
1. What you know is less important than what you can learn. Don’t let what you know get in the way of what you don’t know.
2. Try to bring back your rookie mindset. When was the last time you felt like a rookie? What did you do at that point to succeed? Wiseman helped us understand how those processes and the qualities that brought us to them can be useful all the time. When you know enough to see a pattern, you start to fill in the blanks and assume things. That is not helpful in growing and developing new and better things. And when the leaders of an organization think they “know it all” they don’t hear the feedback coming from their employees.
3. She also got into a discussion on the difference between multipliers and diminishers. Multipliers are the kind of leaders who make everyone around them smarter. Diminishers do the opposite. And there are people who are diminishers even though they have the best of intentions.

Breakouts: Allyson W. Neal and Chuck Gose
1. Allyson W. Neal of Conoco Phillips presented on how to keep your organization’s website relevant in today’s world of social media. She says you must always design with mobile in mind. At ConocoPhillips, Neal’s team is 4-5 people handling content, with one of them also handling social media. 1) Visual appeal is most important. Eye-popping images are what will keep people on your website. Image colors should match your web colors. 2) Simple architecture is extremely important. 3) Your top level navigation needs to be limited to five to seven tabs. Writing must be clear and short, just a headline. 4) Less graphics, more photos and video. Content maintenance is important. Be consistent. 5) Infinite scroll: dynamically created, generating like content as you keep scrolling.
2. Chuck Gose does not work for LinkedIn, but presented on how he uses the network. I’ve never been much for LinkedIn, but Gose’s insights (and what Dignan said earlier about networks) got me thinking I need to pay more attention to this social network. 1) LinkedIn is about data, not numbers. Once you have 500 connections, they don’t even show your number any more. Once you’ve had 99 people endorse you for a particular skill, they don’t show that number any more. The reason being by that point, you’re proven to be connected, with skills. 2) Gose recommends accepting LinkedIn connections from anyone where there could be value and not just limiting it to those you know or have met in person. He says the point is to have a network of connections, and you want to be connecting up and out. 3) What is your digital curb appeal? What do you see when you Google yourself? LinkedIn will help you build and maintain that, because the content there is trusted.

Day 2
First keynote: Bill McDermott
1. Bill McDermott is CEO of SAP.
2. The focus of his presentation was the power of storytelling and the importance of reading a room.

Breakouts: Shane McLaughlin, Shel Holtz, Chuck Gose, and Dr. Laoise Murchu
1. Shane McLaughlin of Walmart talked about WalmartOne, Walmart’s extranet for employees. It’s both on desktop and an app, and it’s password-protected, but outside the firewall, meant to be accessed off-the-clock. Some of the content is duplicated on the intranet, which is accessed during work. WalmartOne has employee’s paycheck information, benefits, vacation days, all of that. But it’s also meant to help build Walmart’s culture.
2. During the panel with Shane McLaughlin, Shel Holtz and Chuck Gose, we learned about technology’s part in today’s workforce. 1) WhatsApp can be used to reach remote employees to send information and photos to those who don’t sit at a desk. 2) Internal vs. external communications no longer exists thanks to the digital world. 3) Employees will go around the IT department to find the solutions they know are out there. Bring your own device (BYOD) is more popular than ever.
3. Dr. Laoise Murchu talked about helping employees in times of change. People seek out connections in times of change. She brought up the CAFÉ process, in which leaders focus on positive: what are we good at and how can we do that better? Consistent communication between managers and employees increases productivity. As part of an example, the Irish rugby team spends 30 percent of their time working on being a team.

Day 3
First session: Gamification
1. You can use gamification to engage and motivate employees.
2. Gamification is part of most of our daily lives now: Fitbits, fantasy football, frequent flier miles, etc. (lots of Fs…) Something to chew on.

Second session: Rapido
1. Rapido is a line-up of presenters, each presenting for less than four minutes, on a common topic. Any IABC member can apply to be part of Rapido.

In the middle of Rapido, I had to leave to get on my plane.

I did follow the tweets of the last two sessions of the day: a panel on the Boston Marathon bombing and a session on social media with Guy Kawasaki. The Kawasaki tweets were so influential I changed my profile pics on every one of my social media applications.

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