Dare to Improve Your Conference

I have been talking about better conferences several times, but I’ve decided to stop doing that. A recurring theme at the DARE conference in Antwerp was:

Dare to be the change you want to see.

I want people to organize better conferences. Therefore, in order to find out what makes a great conference, I have decided to help the organizers.

An Event with a Purpose

A2g_dev_status_346550435798208512Many conferences are organized around a single method or movement, such as Agile conferences, Scrum conferences, Kanban conferences, or Lean conferences. But methods and movements come and go. I believe it makes more sense to organize events around a purpose. For DARE the purpose is clear:

Dare to do something in order to enjoy better work. (Increase organizational performance and individual happiness.)

ESviridenko_status_346349021029363712By organizing events around a purpose, we can invite representatives from any number of methods and movements, including Culture Hacking, Stoos, Design Thinking, Beyond Budgeting, Vanguard, Lean Startup, and many more… For DARE, it’s about the goal, not about the method.

It’s the Little Things

DARE-coffeeI am convinced that conferences can become great because of tiny little things. At DARE in Antwerp we had a barista making fantastic coffee. Instead of ugly conference bags full of sponsor crap we had a goodie mountain with valuable books and software licenses that people could choose an item from. And instead of boring badges we had brilliant buttons.

LeanKit_status_346382880987033602People also seemed to appreciate the regular newsletters, the conference app, the happiness doors and the great posters. But most important were the games, good wi-fi and fantastic catering. To top it all we had surprising speakers and controversial topics gathered together in an unconventional venue.

Faster Feedback Cycle

Peter_Moreno_status_346269945841213441Maybe it is no surprise that some people said, “Looking forward to DARE 2014!” But why should we organize a conference only once per year? An iteration of one year is a very slow feedback cycle!

SebastianRadics_status_346024835991875584That is why I’m convinced we should have more DARE conferences, in different parts of the world. There should be a shorter feedback cycle, which enables organizers to learn faster and make each next one better.

Support from Happy Melly

TrendinaliaBE_status_346065411609071616Each next DARE conference can only be better if the same team is involved in the organization. That’s why Maarten Volders, Vasco Duarte, yours truly and our fellow organizers at Happy Melly are turning our experiences into a new service. When you turn your conference into a DARE event, you get access to our services.

ZsoltFabok_status_346570223027118080This could mean: a great looking website, access to speakers and sponsors, a professional app, posters and other marketing materials, templates for contracts, game materials, newsletters, goodies, supplies, press coverage, and a direct line to Maarten, our conference wizard.

At least, that’s the idea! But this might change.

We’re just getting started. {8-)

Feedback on DARE

MaartenVolders_status_346568324525748224At the time of writing the average rating of the conference by participants is 8,5 (out of 10). No less than 88% percent of respondents say it is likely, very likely or extremely likely that they will recommend DARE to friends or colleagues. The Net Promoter Score of the DARE conference is 62%

Feel free to contact me if you want to know more.

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/vanderpal Linda Van der Pal

    I didn’t have any room in my schedule and budget this year, but if there is a Dare2014, I’ll make room for it!

  • http://www.serendipeddy.nl Eddy Bruin

    In addition to this post I’d like to add an other improvement: Adapt the program real-time.
    Conferences occasionally enable experiments during a conference with workshops and other tools. This is already supported by conference organizers. What is less supported, but I found very worthwhile doing, is enable this community to determine extra sessions on a topic of their needs. Last year at the Agile testing days a speaker touched a subject briefly the audience wanted to know more about. After a short lobby we managed to get our selfs a room, a time slot and an announcement done by the organisation that there will be an extra session on the topic.
    This might seem quite trivial and yes you an sit with a group of people in some corner on the conference floor or at the bar, but to actually embrace this kind of initiatives and embed them in the conference program does give it more attention. This will give other people the possibility to join in who were not involved at the spot were the idea for an additional session started. It is a simple improvement that often is neglected or paid less attention is my experience.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jurgenappelo Jurgen Appelo

    Agreed, good point.

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