The Concise Macquarie Dictionary (1982) defines one as ‘being a single unit…single through union, agreement or harmony…a single kind, nature or character’.
Often, in our work environment, we find ourselves in situations where this is not our experience. All our endeavours to develop a unified approach just do not seem to work. We need step back and re-consider our purpose. What specifically are we trying to achieve, with whom and how?
In the case of a professional association, it steps back and reflects on the objectives of the association. These goals become the guiding framework for policy, procedure and practice. There are many and varied ways that a professional association can address its objectives through active participation of its members and its executive team.
Critical Success Factors
The success of any initiative is dependent on addressing Critical Success Factors.
Farida Hasanali (2002) states, ‘critical success factors can be categorised into five categories:
Even though Hasanali has attributed these categories to Knowledge Management, they are just as pertinent to any situation, for example, a conference.
A conference program is an ideal opportunity for the sharing of knowledge. Presenters are able to model leadership behaviour through the sharing of their experience and promoting their content. Leaders tend to develop themselves first and then inspire others to join them.
‘Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained…’ (Proverbs 29:18) A shared and inspired vision can promote a common perspective, especially when the heart and intellect are combined with passion and persistence to facilitate the establishment of communities of practice. Conferences provide the tools and environment for knowledge sharing and engagement that can stimulate the evolution of changed behaviour.
Structure, roles and responsibilities
The scheduling and planning for conferences should begin 2 years before the actual event, and involve the dedication and commitment of personnel within the conference organising committee.
Conference Co-coordinators/Convenors initiate, direct and guide the development of the conference event. Conference Organising Committees support the initiative and action the program and related activities. The presenters are stewards of relevant knowledge and experience, and often volunteer to present and participate. All these people act as change agents within their profession.
Information technology infrastructure
Not only is this important in the lead up to a conference, but it has become an essential during the actual conference program. The tools of information technology allow for the storage, retrieval and dissemination of information and documentation.
For an online conference the stability and robustness of the infrastructure is crucial in order to transact registrations, access to papers, and engagement in discussion. It is imperative that ‘simple’ technology is utilised and support is provided so the user can feel confident, competent and comfortable within this unique learning environment.
The business jargon of ROI (return on investment) needs to be contextualised within the objective / purpose of the conference as well as considered in a financial sense.
After the actual conference, time needs to be committed to reviewing and evaluating the outcomes of the conference, and collating participant feedback. This information is crucial to the success of future conferences and making sure that the needs and desires of all conference stakeholders is addressed.
Listening is an important attribute to creating a sense of oneness! When seeking evaluation feedback from delegates who attend the conference be sincere in the process and revise the conference guidelines to reflect this response.
Hasanali, F 2002, Critical success factors of knowledge management, viewed 2 May 2003, http://www.kmadvantage.com/docs/km_articles/Critical_Success_Factors_of_KM.pdf