Welcome to #cipd11

#CIPD11 is the annual conference from the CIPD. It is Europe's leading Human Resource professionals event.

Over 3 days the Conference offers over 30 sessions covering five key subject areas including retention, talent management, learning and Organisational Development.

There are plenty of free seminars in the exhibition all for those on a budget.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

CPD for CIPD members and conference delegates

My main reason for attending the conference was my own CPD and this blog is forming a part of my PDP and record.

What did you learn at the conference? or what have you learnt from this blog or from articles about sessions from the conference.

Key learning

Key learning for me was that many of the speakers were highlighting the importance of engagement of employees (both current and future) to the culture of the organisation, rather than the traditional corporate approach of competence recruitment. This is particularly interesting as the six years I spent working with SME's I noticed that many entrepreneurial owner managers recruit to 'fit', in the company rather than skills as the priority. They would prefer to recruit to culture and attitude and then to train in-house. Although many did not recognise this as training. This has interesting implications for governmental initiatives like train to gain, as these are skill, qualification or competence based programmes

Press reports on the CIPD annual conference

It has been a few days now and time to reflect. One of the interesting things is the diversity and level of coverage the annual conference gets.

A round up
I thought that we were setting a new pace in blogging but Personnel Today did something unexpected - they transcribed the keynote sessions for example Jackie Orme keynote and Surviving and thriving through turbulence . These are useful transcriptions for the keynote sessions.

People Managements site offers us Keep cool and talk during tough times

John Philpot on the CIPD site blog - a scant entry as part of his overall offer.

On TrainingZone Annie Hayes provided an overview of the event.

It will be interesting to see the articles that arise in the coming weeks from the conference content.

Earlier press coverage
Earlier in the year the announcement of the CIPD's decision to move from Harrogate to Manchester caused upset as can be read about in the Yorkshire Post - but can the CIPD be blamed? Customers have increasing demands on suppliers and it appears that while the venue has adapted - the infrastructure around the conference centre has sat back and relaxed. The CIPD annual conference is the second largest conference held annually in Harrogate.

Experience the annual conference and exhibition

Throughout the event the CIPD had its roving camera crew. This caught up with a large number of people and this clearly shows that it was a stimulating event for them.

Unfortunately they appear to have missed:

  • The community regulars...
  • The community moderator...
  • CIPD staff...
  • The Apprentices
  • Yours truly
... maybe that was not a bad thing....

But I am sure YOU are there - have a look.... watch the vox pops video
What do you think of the video - does it inspire you to attend Manchester 2009?

For those that want to know more about vox pops at wikipedia, vox pops can be powerful tools for employee engagement, measuring staff satisfaction etc as well as for event promotion.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Presentations from the CIPD annual conference

The MyEvent secure social networking facility that the CIPD have been trialing throughout the conference now has some of the presentations used in the seminars. The ability to access and discuss handouts and presentations is a wonderful value added facility.

It appears that some presenters have not given permission... a shame as people have seen them and versions of the presentations were given out in a handout form (small & black and white). If the presenters did not want people copying them they could have been made available as a secure PDF. This is particularly true for some of the presenters who had far too much data on a slide to be visible in the conference session itself. A/V skills (the use of visual aids) of presenters is another topic for another day....

Towards the future
I would urge the CIPD in the furure not to engage with speakers for events that are not willing to share resources (be it PPT or PDF format). We are now firmly in the knowledge age and we should only be engaging with people that are prepared to share. The conference circuit is a wonderful sales opportunity for many of these individuals (they get paid to speak and they get the opportunity to 'sell' their services to many other potential purchasers) and the cost of sharing knowledge should be one they are prepared to pay...

Monday, 22 September 2008

MyEvent - is it or isn't it...?

Having returned from the conference I was keen to look at the presentation promised in the comprehensive session handouts. On Friday one representative from the CIPD sales team returned my call and left a message. When I spoke to the member of the team he told me that due to circumstances beyond their control the presentations from Harrogate would not be up until mid week at the earliest... not what was suggested in the notes from the conference session suggest that they were available immediately... but that is one the joys of being an early adopter.

It is a shame as the promised networking from this facility appears to be a bit of a pipe dream... at least at this stage. This may well be down to too few early adopters registering on the system and more down to the users than the system itself.

Some of the facilities are 'restricted by administrator'...maybe someone has forgotten to throw the 'switch' and I am sure it will all work wonderfully when this is corrected....

Update -
Having spoken to the Conference Producer, it appears that some of the functionality is available only to users with certain profiles - this was a challenge the CIPD community had last year - so looks like it is just teething problems.

The expectation of the presentations being available 'instantly' was an expectations management difficulty - the wording on the handouts saying one thing but realistically the conference organisers needing time to confirm changes with speakers - so with the reassurance that content will be available in a couple of days all is well in MyEvent land.

User Error
With any new system there are two types of error - errors in software.. and user errors.

When I experienced errors when searching I was searching from the wrong page - so the results I obtained were not what I expected - at the right page it was working fine... DOH!

The future
It looks like the CIPD are continuing to invest in this platform and it will provide members and event attendees with some very useful facilities in the future... Next test HRD 2009

When the teething difficulties have been sorted (common with all new IT systems) and users educated (it is very different from traditional forums) and integrated with the existing CIPD community forums, this will be a tremendous facility for all members - taking membership facilities to a new level.

MyEvent... is it or isn't it....
Well that is not a CIPD decision, this is down to users to make use of the excellent facility made available to event delegates. I would encourage CIPD branches to consider educating members in the use of this technology so that when members attend events they can make the most out of it.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Welcome to my CIPD conference blog

After the success of the CIPD annual conference blog (www.cipd2008.blogspot.com) I have decided to blog my attendance at all of these and future events.

This page will be a generic page for all future posts on CIPD conferences and exhibitions. There won't be much here for a while but watch this space...

Reflections on the CIPD annual conference and exhibition

What were your reflections on the CIPD annual conference and exhibition? Were you attending as:
  • Delegate
  • visitor
  • Exhibitor
  • CIPD Staff
  • or the Press

Will you attend Manchester next year? Why?

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Final round in the exhibition halls

The sessions had finished for the conference and the final keynote delivered.. what else was an HR professional to do but take one last walk around the exhibition stands. Many had started packing up early, but as homage to those that 'went the distance' and smiled as us weary 'punters' paced the halls, here are a few that caught my eye...

Management Pocket Books Management Pocket Books

Dove Nest Group (DNG)
Dove Nest Group (DNG)

Training Foundation & TAP Training Foundation & TAP

DPG and MAP (Goldilocks with the three bears?)

Success-Stories Margaret ParkinSuccess-Stories



People management
People Management

On your feet and ready for action... ever ready?

Being on an exhibition stand is one of the hardest roles and times.. your feet are killing you, you are attempting to engage with people that do not believe they want to talk to you, the relentless rejection - unless you have lots of freebies to give away.

I hope that all the exhibitors obtained the amount of business they deserve based upon the amount of effort each person on each stand delivered... go home.. put your feet up and soak in the bath..... World of learning, HRD and learning technologies are just around the corner.. hope to see you again in 2009 in Manchester.

The Apprentices & other celebrity's in Harrogate - Raising the bar

The Apprentice at the CIPD

Kristina Grimes and Jennifer Celerier... raising the bar Performance Excellence eventKristina Grimes and Jennifer Celerier

The Apprentice at the CIPD

Did you meet Alan Sugar's former apprentices Kristina Grimes and Jennifer Celerier?

They have been in the exhibition representing their company kgjcp, meeting people and promoting their event "Raising the bar" a performance excellence event featuring Jack Black.

What other celebrity's did you meet?

Who else was among us but did not have a stream of press following ?

CIPD celebrity's

Other celebrity's I met included many of the CIPD staff who were quietly ensuring that the event went well and delegates and visitors found their way around - I won't mention everyone by name - but you know who you are - well done and thank you.

Yes you are HR heroes too.


Talking talent (in turbulent times)

Closing Keynote

The Panel

Vicky Wright - President CIPD

Liane Hornsey - Google

Satish Pradhan - Tata Sons

David Smith - ASDA

Alex Wilson - BT

This panel session was introduced by Vicky Wright , President of the CIPD. Wright in her introduction directed us to the fact that all four of these organisations had one thing in common - they have all experienced and are experiencing transition currently.

Jon Snow facilitated the session featuring;

  • David Smith - ASDA
  • Liane Hornsey - Google
  • Alex Wilson - BT
  • Satish Pradhan - Tata Sons

Snow's opening words were "in the 20 years of Channel 4 news I can only think of two major events that have impacted all of us. One was 9/11 the other is our current economic challenge "

Snow posed a number of question to the panel and this was followed by the opportunity to ask questions. Below is a summary of key messages from each of the panel:

David Smith -

"you have to have an employer brand.. and mean it"

"it (business) is not just about making money, we must make money ethically and stability"

"one of the roles of HR is to say the unpopular messages/ news to the CEO"

"HR & Business strategy are the same thing"

"we recruit to the culture more than skills - all staff including hourly paid staff have to complete a 1/2 day assessment centre as part of the recruitment process. If they are gregarious, we will hire them, if they are shy or difficult we don't want them."

"we set out to befriend our people, managers are expected to know their people at an individual level"

Alex Wilson

"The further staff are away from the front line the more we (and other organisations) need to remember that customers are important."

"This is our (HR) time, now we need to shine in the tough times"

"our first choice in tough times is always redeployment rather than redundancy" - The alumni of people that have left the organisation is bigger than that employed - we do what we can for the majority to remain advocates"

Liane Hornsey

"HR is about picking the right people for the job. Google will not compromise - we only hire people that will add value to Google". Hornsey mentioned one example of this where she has a vacant head of HR post for over 18 months as she has yest to find a suitable candidate.

In answer to a question about retention strategy for Google...

"We make the environment a place people want to be

We develop people relentlessly

We give then the work (and challenge) they enjoy"

Google also recruit to the culture not the job - often recruiting people without offering a particular role and then work with the individuals to find the right role for them.

At Google they use people and their hobbies and encourage people to run workshops and short training sessions on their hobby - this helps to create a culture of learning and people are free to attend anytime - they do not need to ask permission to attend - the business trusts that this action will encourage loyalty and a drive to work harder.

Satish Pradhan

"always use the best people to solve the biggest challenges"

"communicate what you are doing.. why you are doing it and most importantly in an authentic way. You must do what is right for that business, not just for the stakeholders."

Diversity is not a universal formula, and what is relevant for one organisation and context. Successfully businesses cannot work to a mathematical formula to diversity. What is right for one is not necessarily right for another.

Tata is an organisation that is run more like a federation rather than a traditional hierarchy, so they enable and empower people. Tata believe governance and culture is critical. Often staff that were employed under previous owners can do and deliver given the right context.

You cannot and must not see unions as adversaries... you must see them as advocates, if you don't take this approach you lose before you start.

The Close

Wright summarised the week and reminded us that this week is the changing face of business. Wright reminded us that Orme had earlier said in the week that the CIPD is changing to provide "relevant help to you".. just in time.

Wright had the belief that the conference had provided delegates with "relevant things you can take away... something new that you can do... HR and the role of HR is changing"

  • Wright reminded us that Harrogate had been the home of the annual conference for 60 years (IPM, IPD etc..) and that they needs to change. The move to Manchester in 2009 would provide:
  • Better exhibition space on one level
  • The conference would be different - more relevant and provide more opportunities
  • Smaller groups
  • Select master classes
  • More events within the exhibition space (this has worked well for the last two years)
  • A more intimate environment

Wright also reminded us that the CIPD annual conference and exhibition 2009 would take place in NOVEMBER 2009... see you there...


This was an engaging and fitting end to the conference, we have had the Academics, the CEO's and finished with the HR directors. It was a shame that the audience by this session was somewhat depleted, many traveling back home and not fully engaged with the whole event. There were so many messages that would benefit many HR team members.

Now to travel home, to reflect on the weeks events and the overall impact of the exhibition and conference.. but that I will leave for another day.

Be a hero - a HR hero

HR Hero

The theme of this years event has been HR individuals as organisational heroes. Each session has commencement with a short, yet punchy video showing HR professionals doing a wide range of activities. Key messages were:

  • Challenge
  • Drive performance
  • Predicting the future
  • Leading change

All around the exhibition have been references and activities promoting the "individual practitioner" as a hero.

Delegates have had the opportunity of video blogging their thoughts, have their photo taken in a seaside style cut-out and several other fun and lighthearted activities. I suspect much of this will make its way into People Management and the CIPD site in the coming months.

At the begining of each session a short video was played - this was based on the theme of the HR hero... No version of this appear on Youtube or the CIPD site - so appologies for the quality.

What's driving the business context

Liam Fahey @ CIPD 2008

Bob Morton from Ciba introduced the session and Liam Fahey

Bob Morton from Ciba speciality chemicals opened the session and during his opening he reminded us that while many other speakers at the event had highlighted the current financial situation we should look beyond what is happening in the financial sector and look at the wider picture. His implication being that if you only look at the end of your nose you miss the real issues and more importantly the opportunities.

Liam Fahey (from the leadership forum) 'launched' himself on an unsuspecting audience with the opening line "good afternoon (it was 0935), those of us not in HR are used to an earlier start." - not a ripple from the some what small audience in the large auditorium. Fahey carried on regardless.

Fahey started to set the scene of what is happening in the world and how this impacts on our future strategy development - not just for hr but HR and business. He asked the rhetorical question "what COULD happen in the future that can screw your organisation?..." "what are humanities greatest needs" Indeed big questions for early on a Thursday morning.

Fahey drew our attention to what he calls the 10 needs of humanity (foci of change):

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Environment
  4. Education
  5. Poverty
  6. Food
  7. Disease
  8. Terrorism/ war
  9. Democracy
  10. Population

And asked us how many of us applied this to our organisation when looking at strategy? In conjunction with this he highlighted a range of change domains: Products/ Services, Plans/Strategies, Region/ Global etc.. all of which interact with the global drivers of change. These can create and destroy significant business opportunities. To put these factors into context he pointed out that it did not matter how big or small our organisations were, nor what products or services we offer - regionally or globally, these factors would impact us and our decision making.

We were taken on a whistle stop tour of data and impacts of these ten factors, and shown that it is not difficult to get data on these factors - indeed many of the governmental agencies around the world provide this data for free - all we need to do is use it! This started to make the whole proposition real. No longer were these factors that would impact big and international organisations but each and every one of us.

As an example of using this data Fahey gave a brief case study looking at the mobile phone sector, he showed how the first 1/2 billion users are now changing their phone on average every 12 months, that the second 1/2 billion users have different requirements - and that the further down the user population you go the challenges faces - to the extent that the business model that works for the first 1/2 billion users is completely inappropriate for the second billion users etc... so as organisations we need to adapt to market needs greater than anything we have done before.

Lehey outlined the 10 factors and the potential impacts. He stated that 15% of the worlds population live with an abundance of water - that leave 85% with a water shortage - so their needs will be different, both in terms of services and application of technology and products. In this context he discussed two US based organisations that are pulling their manufacturing out of India and China and relocating them to the US on the basis that the water situation in the two countries will have a significant impact on production capability. So these 10 factors are being used by organisations for strategic decision making.

Food - demand is outpacing supply, and this is an area that needs to be looked at - both use and waste if we are to have a sustainable business model.

Terrorism - this was an interesting one, he asked us on a scale of one to ten of impact on us as a world population and economy where terrorism would be.... then he asked the same of human based viruses...... his answer was that terrorism was -10 and human virus was +100 in terms of impact. he cites SARS which only lasted for a few months and to all intents and purposes only really hit one region - he then asked us to imagine what would happen if a disease really spread and to thing about the impact..... He then asked what sort of effort and priority our governments were putting into protecting us from these factors - he mentioned that the UK only has enough vaccine for 5% of its population for a flu pandemic....

In Disease he looked at the increasing cost and impact of diabetes, both to the health of a population, health care implications and on product R and D. fascinating stuff.

Fahey skirted at a rapid pace on so many areas that I could not do them justice here.


He closed with challenging HR. HR needs to drive these things (the 10 factors) to influence senior management. We (HR) need to be both overt and subversive, we are potentially hold the key for success for our organisations... no one else is doing it...

Where ideology meets human circumstances ideology always loses.... this is as true in business as it is in politics... so values are all very well but just how far will the organisation go to support them? ( what would you do/ not do for £10m ?).

In the Q&A section in response to a question... You must remember the following two rules:

  • Rule #1 you cannot predict the future
  • Rule #2 ... remember rule #1

He said it was not about predicting the future - but running scenarios based on the information he has shared to forcast possible situations, he said that incidents like 9/11, the financial crash have been identified by scenario planning and some organisations are better position BECAUSE they had CONSIDERED the possibility... not because the 'predicted it'

He intimated that people are THE strategic asset and as managers we need to ensure that this asset and resources is utilised effectively - whatever that means in a given context.

Summary thoughts

It was a shame that there was a small audience and a a 'reluctant' applause. For me this was one of the most powerful and enlightening session of the conference. For an HR manager or director to be truly strategic we need to look beyond the policy and procedures and develop contingency and strategy to deal with the possible future scenarios. One colleague Fahey mentioned said that in an exercise looking at 'worst possible situation' - over 90% of them had already occurred - so strategic and scenario planning is of critical performance.

Fahey did not 'sell' his own books in fact they were not mentioned in the presentation - I for one will be buying some of them - a highly recommended speaker - in fact I would say mandatory reading/ listening for all CPP and other HR 'students'. I hope the MP3 of this session will be widely available.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Surviving and thriving through turbulence

After showing two high energy videos (one showing HR hero's which has started every session of the conference) the keynote for day two was introduced by Linda Holbeche, Director of Research and policy at the CIPD.

The theme of surviving and thriving through turbulence was 'split' into people and change focus and leadership focus.

Carolyn McCall, CEO from the Guardian media group started the session looking at people and change. After outlining the changes that her company had faced through the emergence of the digital age he positioned here experience of leading an organisation through significant and unpredictable turbulence.

McCall said that in challenging time like we are experience requires challenging people. McCall highlighted the challenges that the print media had faced, in that for the past 200 years the business model has hardly changed, however the past 10 years has changed everything. In the past you knew where your competitors were coming from... but who would have predicted that a technology (software) company would be the greatest competitor... Google.

To survive we need to keep our 'experts', however they need to be able to be adaptable and work collaboratively.

In times of change and turmoil McCall says that we need training, coaching and mentoring more than ever, and this is the time to increase this activity - not cut it back.

McCall has a clear view on HR, and that is that HR must not work in a silo or be purely functional. HR needs to be a true business partner. As strategic partners they need to be strong enough, work transparently and be honest to the CEO. It is the responsibility of HR to tell the CEO the truth, not to hide the facts. This can prove to be the key information source to the CEO providing information that cannot be obtained other ways.

We were then show a video showing the views of HR people from the GMG company. This clearly showed the commitment the HR people get and give.

The key seven factors for success.

  • Make people strategy an integral part of business strategy
  • Make change early to set the tone
  • Never compromise on getting the best
  • Foster networks, coaching and mentoring
  • Plan for succession (needs to be live not just a document kept in a draw)
  • Keeping investing for the upturn (training, development marketing etc)
  • You can never communicate enough

David Robinson - CEO of richersounds.

Robinson started with the statement that when under stress it is easy for leaders to revert to command and control , but that it is important to keep an eye on the people involvement.

The key five leadership qualities that make the difference Robinson's believes are:

  1. Communicate - richersounds do weekly and detailed updates to all staff
  2. Integrity - better to tell the truth early and if belts need tightening - tighten at the top first (and not just bonuses)
  3. Accessibility - not just platitudes during induction but to really be accessible
  4. Bravery under pressure
  5. Single mindednesses

Robinson said that it is important to admit to mistakes and show that you learn from the mistakes. Honesty and integrity.

Motivating staff is vital in times of challenge Robinson's 'magic' includes:

  1. Fun
  2. Recognition (just in time)
  3. Flexibility
  4. Rewards (reward the behaviours that you want)
  5. Loyalty (inc long service)

Finally Robinson outlined that to have a winning team we need to look at the successes of the Olympic team GB. To create a team he believes the following is required:

  1. Clear objectives
  2. Manage failure
  3. Have the best ingredients (people and resources, products etc)
  4. Work harder (and smarter) than your competition
  5. User trigger words or phrases to engage with your people
  6. Lead by example
  7. Value rest - pausing can make a big difference - take a break.
  8. Celebrate success.


All of the three speakers were coherent and very listenable. Messages were blindingly simple, it was down to the belief, trust and integrity of the people at the very top of the organisation - total commitment to a leadership approach. It was about CEO's starting to spend as much or more time with the HR professionals than they do with the Finance Officer.

A wonderful and engaging close to the second day of the 2008 CIPD annual conference.

Networking.. networking.. networking

Lunch time
Having not seen the labels identifying what sandwiches were what in yesterdays 'crush', today I was more careful, and then went to meet with other CIPD community regulars in the CIPD lounge in Hall M, After an enjoyable informal set of discussions and solving the world problems I had a short meeting with Martin Sloman about L&D and future opportunities.

Not having a session to attend after lunch I met up with fellow CIPD and TrainerBase members in hall Q in the 'breakout area. Eight of us made it so thanks to Christine for organising this - a good opportunity to meet informally, swap business cards and exchange thoughts about the conference and exhibition. generally people were happy with their experience.

While walking around I was 'accosted' by a topless young man carrying a tray of chocolates, a short while after I was talking to some lady exhibitors and asked what they thought of this - they said it almost put them off the chocolates!! Now I am all for getting attention, but if a woman was in a swimsuit at this event what would people have said? Is all fair in marketing?

Strategic talent management

The session was started by Emily Lawson of McKinsey who started by saying that the company had been engaged with talent management for over 10 years and that approaches to talent management are very different now and will be different in the future. Lawson drew our attention to a raft of research that they had been undertaking, looking into what would make talent management more effective, she then followed this by asking us not to be disappointed in that they do not yet have any definitive answers... yet.

Through an array of diagrams Lawson showed us models of talent management programmes and highlighted that many of the most successful approaches did not limit talent management to senior levels, but to strategically important parts of the organisation. She also drew our attention to the importance to looking at talent in the 'indirect workforce' rather than just in the traditional hierarchy.

When organisations do have talent management strategies she said that in a significant percentage of firms, HR was not involved in the development of talent management strategies - a scary thought. Lawson showed that no single model would work for all organisations, but that using diagnostics and OD a unique strategy should be developed for each organisation. One area she did highlight that is often overlooked or misunderstood is that of EVP - Employee value proposition and how this was identified, managed and communicated to relevant populations.

At this Point Lawson handed over to McKinsey colleague Matthew Guthridge.

Gutheridge indicated that the EVP was particularly important as more and more generation y employees hold key positions. Many organisations in the past 20-24 months were starting to wake up to the fact that they need to have a different proposition for this population and the strategies that did work simply do not function effectively for this population.

After highlighting a number of research based graphs he highlighted one key point and that is about accountability for talent management - research shows that HR think they are responsible - yes Operations also think they are - this is an area for organisations to explore and develop clarity and ownership.

Scott Hobbs from Amey

After a brief overview and introduction to the Amey company, Hobbs took us through the steps and programme they undertook in the recognition, identification and implementation of the need and application of a talent programme. He demonstrated how they achieved senior commitment from the beginning.


The management of this session was not good, at the allotted starting time we were not even allowed into the room. then when the front of the cabaret style room was full the session started, it was a full 10 minutes into the session before everyone was seated - most unfortunate. The slides from all of the presenters contained way too much data (I think the presenters need a presentation skills 101 course) and the house lights were so low that we were unable to follow the detail on the small handouts. Why the session started late I do not know, but participants should have had the opportunity of taking their seat before the session started. Matt clearly overrun leaving little time for Scott. A case of attempting to get three presentations into one session - it doesn't work!

Scott was the most engaging of the presenters but the others were of an average quality and clarity, not what would be expected at an event like this.

The session contained a lot of research with little tangible application, I did speak with another person after the session and while they disliked the challenges of the presentation (they were near the front) they found the content valuable.

Leading through turbulence

Masterclass - The power of courageous leaders,

Noel Hadden from Deusche Bank opened the session and set the scene, I almost wished Noel had the session to himself.. he was engaging and humorous in his positioning of the session, it was a particularly difficult introduction for him as his very sector is under the worlds spotlights in terms of what is happening in the investment banking sector. By far the bets and most engaging introduction of any session so far.

This session was led by creator of Ming Gym Octavius Black.

Black started the session again by putting into context the challenges that are being faced by our organisations on an almost daily basis. He posed the statement - "we know the economy is in a mess, that is not the question.. what is the question is How bad is it?"

This is very much a theme running throughout all of the sessions I have attended, an indicator of just how quick and deep we are being affected by current changes.

Black did a quick poll of the audience and of the 400 people in the room only 19 had been managers in 1980 - the last time we were managing a time when it was not consistent growth. This clearly demonstrated that we do not have the experience or resilience within management or HR and need to learn to adapt quickly.

After a flurry of examples of how psychology at a micro level can impact individual and organisation performance. Black cited research and activities that he and his associates and colleagues in the world of psychology have been doing to look at effective leadership, particularly through turbulent times. He highlighted a model he uses which is called the seven heads model. This looks at seven factors:

  • Authenticity
  • Bravery
  • Hope
  • Vitality
  • Humility
  • Curiosity
  • Persistence

Black then went through each of these giving some details as to what each of these factors meant.


Throughout the session Black attempted several interactive exercises, sure these were of some value but each could have been provided in the handouts to undertake later - this was a masterclass not a workshop after all. Throughout the pair work (and a simple psychometric style instrument) Black paced the environment 'checking' that individuals understood the task and were making progress. This would have been fine for 30-40 people - but in my opinion was not particularly effective for a group of this size. Black quoted lots of names of psychologists and books, however often too fast for people to take note and not referenced in the presentation notes in context - although to be fair there is a list of books Black has provided for recommend reading.

I have seen Black before and this was not his best performance, I had the feeling he was attempting to cover too much for the allocated time. However some interesting points for delegates, including references to the 'leaders behaviour' 'hope' has been a regular feature of other presenters this week.

Attended a workshop or seminar that is not listed here?

A number of people have approached me and asked if they can contribute about sessions I am not blogging about - well here you can. If you have attended a workshop and want to share your experiences and key learning please do so here.
Thanks for reading (and commenting)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Delegate Drinks Reception

An audience with L Vaughan

We arrived for the ‘delegates drinks reception where red and white wine and orange juice. The session started calmly with networking tables with subject topics on stands on the tables. I met up with one professional who is now based in Frankfurt in the banking world, He described the whole event as a “HR love fest” – bizarrely I knew exactly what he meant”. Then the music filled the room and this ‘man’ in a yellow suit come out singing and clapping, he ran around the room shaking hands and giving hi-fives. This character turned out to be a cheesy motivational speaker – a good act – but I am not so sure that the ‘three victims’ enjoyed the show as much as others – and Tracey. if you are reading this were you his ‘fox’?

Entertaining yes… easy networking…no….

Keynote - Jackie Orme

Jackie Orme - CEO CIPD

Jackie Orme
Jackie Orme is the new CEO for the CIPD and opened the session. She shared some of her views and goals for the years ahead. In the context of the breaking news about the financial markets Orme highlighted that we (the HR function) now have the best access to boards and CEOs for many years, that CEOs are starting to be proactive and approach HR for advice and guidance. She called for CIPD members to stop navel gazing and to focus on delivering results for the business.

Orme said that she was changing the priorities for the institute. Much of the research completed by the CIPD is academic and pure research based. Orme’s vision is for 50% of all CIPD research within the next 12 months to be topical and relevant to the ‘practitioner in the street’.

Changes are to be expected in the delivery of qualifications for HR too.. in that the people coming into HR are changing, HR needs to adapt and to be more relevant to the practitioner. She said that changes to the CIPD qualification structure and method of achieving would be announced by the end of the year. The new CIPD pathways would focus not only on qualification but application of skills and knowledge.

The future of HR is changing due to organisation leadership being more values based than ever. She said that we need to move from being staff advocates to being more of a business and customer service advocate, that is building an organisation that has talented people fighting to join.

Orme has a vision for change and did not appear to be shy of announcing it. Orme then introduced the main Keynote speakers.

It was disappointing that there was little time to ask any questions, however I am sure we are likely to see a more responsive institute in the coming months….but it may not be what we are expecting”

Keynote - Becoming a resonant leader

Becoming a resonant leader
This session featured Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee.

McKee started the session and gave us an overview of what it would take to become a resonant leader.

A strong beginning McKee stated that we are in the mist of the greatest change in human history.. with that she was referring to the changes to social structures and the dramatic changes to the economy and business world as we sat in conference. (the announcement of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers organisation). She said that there was an almost universal acceptance that the old models of leadership just don’t work anymore and we need to find and engage with new and appropriate strategies. She said that great leaders (resonant leaders) move us to change, that is they get us motivated, excited and engaged with change.

Curiously McKee turned the situation around pointing out that most stories about leaders are actually about the followers rather than the leaders themselves, this is certainly true for ‘natural leaders’ such as Mandella. McKee said that her research pointed to the fact that as leaders we have the power to touch and move people, that the wisdom of ‘resonant’ leadership lies within each of us..

McKee introduced the concept of ‘hope’ that hope was often a trigger for possibilities and that effective leaders inspire us to find meaning towards hope for the future. McKee explored the reality that resonant leadership may well be common sense but not common practice – that is we may know this but do not apply it. Mckee also introduce the concept of mindfulness – a subject and ‘competence’ that was introduced earlier by Ben Bryant. This may well be a concept that survives beyond the conference!

McKee set the scene for Richard Boyatzis. Boyatzis started his section with some rhetorical questions of the delegates… How can we tap into hope?, How can I manage the cycle of sacrifice and renewal? How can I become more resonate?

Boyatzis stated that his research into neurology suggested that as humans we are ‘wired for hope’ and that people like change… IF it is tied to hope and will make a positive difference to their lives. He highlighted a wide range of long term research looking at graduates and how they adapt to and accept change. Using Chaos based theory he suggested that for change to work it needs to be discontinuous. He used metaphor to explain that for many of us we will change when the reason is great enough and indeed as humans we find it difficult to cope with continuous change – but cope with and welcome ‘step change’.

Through a highly animated and engaging session Boyatzis explored the neurology of positive and negative ‘attractors’ factors which are important but which is more important is the ratio with which highly effective leaders use positive and negative factors. Leaders of effective teams were said to use positive to negative attractors a ratio of 3:1, however in time of stress these could be as much of 9:1 – a consistent factor in the identification of highly effective leaders.

He left us with the questions:
When you are on your way home, think about who's lists you are on? Are you on their positive or negative list?
Hoe can you ensure you use positive attractors more often?


At one point in the presentation the antivirus software notification 'popped' onto the screen - tech guys corrected this quickly without the presenter reacting in any way, sitting near some of us was an individual that had fallen asleep and was snoring loudly - a shame as this was one of the best sessions of the day - the snoring did have a number of us in giggles, I was sat next to a member of CIPD staff at the time and we did joke about putting a photo of the poor individual here on the blog - but that would not have been fair... would it?

Richard was one of the most engaging and inspirational speakers I have seen for some time – a natural and funny man that not only understood his material, but the audience. A natural motivator and story teller (not your usual American motivational superficial speaker) An academic that understands how to apply solutions in the real world.

How to get engaged at work

This session was led by Beverly Alimo-Metcalf of Bradford school of management.
In this session we were introduced to a range of research projects around leadership, culture and engagement .

Traditionally people have been recruited into leadership roles on the basis of competence . This has been shown to be ineffective and a risky strategy. What is important for future leaders is the ability to create a culture of engagement and to reduce stress within the organisation . Research was highlighted that showed that 65-75% of employees cite their boss as the main source of work place stress. Something we all need to address.

Some of the questions posed to us include;
How important is engagement for your organisation ?
Do you really know how engaged your colleagues are?
How can you influence the creation of an engaging culture ?

A good speaker but the session was a little too focused on the placement of their products, rather than tangible actions delegates could undertake, indeed much of the content was about out with the old - yet seemed to put weight on 2003/4 research when the speaker said times were changing.

Lunch - 'brown bag' networking

A paperbag lunch with sandwiches, fruit, chrisps and water was provided. The location of which was at the opposite end of the venue from the main sessions. This gave us ample opportunity to see some of the exhibiters on the way there.

I sat with two teams of HR professionals from the City of London police and Cambridge constabulary. It appears that there is a fair representation from the uk's police services here at Harrogate.

Freeing up organisations

Ben Bryant from the IMD led this session.

Using an engaging and interactive style Ben introduced us to the concept of organisational culture as being like an Iceberg - in that we tend to concentrate on what is above the waterline, but what impacts an organisation is what occurs below.

Ben outlined some interesting case studies around culture and used the examples of the "hotel coat hanger" as one example of the hidden message sent to staff from the corporate HQ - our guests are thieves and will take anything not tied down... you can see how small subtle actions like this can have a massive impact on peoples behaviours. He also highlighted the culture in Silicon Valley in the US where the accepted culture is that of taking risks and failure is an acceptable cost. That meetings are often only 30-60 minutes duration. Factors like this.. under the waterline send subsconscous messages to staff and customers alike.

Ben's key messages were about the various 'pathways to change' - i.e. structured left brain and intuitive right brain. He said that while both were EQUALLY important he would focus on right brain approaches as many of us are more than competent and experienced in the left brain based approaches.

Intuitive approaches to change are developed on four strategies:

  1. Sense giving & sense making
  2. Shadow Sensing
  3. Mindfulness and awareness
  4. Inner Freedom

Sense giving & sense making

Traditionally top management and HR have focused on Sense giving, Bryant argues that we need to spend more time on sense making - that is enabling our people to make sense of the situation, our goals and strategies.

An important strategy in sense making is the use of stories and metaphor, he said that research had shown that 40% of stories were about leaders in an organisation and the decisions they had made. Bryant went on to look at the type of metaphors we use - organic or inorganic and some of the 'hidden messages' we send while attempting to use these powerful communication strategies.


Using stories around Nelson Mandela and the cultural changes that tool place 'below the water line in South Africa, Bryant highlighted some of the actions which let to below water activities turning the tangibles above the water.

Shadow sensing

This was about the impact we leave behind us as leaders - not what we say but the way we say it - very much the shadow that follow us. Our reputation and the management of our reputation.

Inner freedom

Here Bryant talked about the tension in leadership which in many cases inhibits freedom for us. He focused on the tensions between innovation, numbers and systems.

In a summary he highlighted that as humans in change we are instinctive defensive and we should pay attention to these factors and address them first.

He left the delegates with these questions:

  • As HR are you controlling the message or letting go?
  • Are you caught up in the action or standing back and being mindful?
  • Are you known for talking the truth or colluding to play it safe?

Mikes summary -

An interesting and thought provoking session. Bryant cleverly interleaved techniques from TA, NLP and many other 'schools' top form a coherent message and approach. - one to watch.

What to me was very interesting was the number of people in the audience that spent the majority of their time on their Blackberries - the ones in eye shot were managing emails, not taking notes.. why attend?

In the session Bryant told an interesting motivational 'true story' about a consultancy firm - I have tried to find the company but without any luck.. one to follow up post conference.

The first two hours at the CIPD annual conference

Having registered and had coffee with several other community 'regulars' I went to visit the exhibition.
The exhibition is in a maze of halls attached to the main conference centre While the halls are very quiet (it is early on day one) there is a pleasurable atmosphere , unlike HRD at the Excel centre. My first walk around any exhibition is just one of orientation , to see who is here and who I may want to talk to. Unlike many, I rarely plan my visits to exhibitions, preferring a more gestalt approach.

Networking has started well meeting Margaret parkin (she does great use of story telling), Adrian of the training foundation as well as Cheryl and Martin from the CIPD. Cheryl asked me not to publish a photo of her having coffee.

Conference bags.
This year are a black satchel style bag containing much the same as the joining pack sent last week.
Missing items appear to be paper and a writing implement. Missed sponsorship opportunity ?
Its near to 11 so off to my first session.

update - it appears that there should have been a pen in the bag - and the handouts are provided at each session for note taking - but something hard to lean on would be appreciated.

Registration at Harrogate

Well after trying three entrances I have finally registered . At the registration desk I meet Harvey B and Peter c. On the way to coffee we met with Jacqueline C. Comments to date have been good coffee, but the show has hardly begun. Here is to a successful conference . If you are here please say hi here on the blog or in person.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Administration and joining instructions for the CIPD annual conference 2008

Have you booked to attend this years CIPD annual conference and exhibition in Harrogate?

What were your experiences of the administration of booking onto the CIPD 2008 annual conference or exhibition? easy... hard... problematic... simple?

What are your reactions to receiving the joining instructions? clear?... concise?... short on detail... too much...?

You can contribute to this Conference Blog too...

A number of people have emailed me asking if they can contribute too - as this is a private Blog (not a CIPD run one) , the most sensible thing is the following:

I will set up a post for each session and a couple of generics for the exhibition etc then please feel free to post your comments, views thoughts and most importantly your learning to pass to others - this way more people can gain from this blog. So feel free to contribute.... Keep it clean and useful please.


MyEvent - annual conference networking facility

Having received a reminder of this facility in my joining instructions I logged again to see 'where the action was'.

There appears to be a few more people sign up - but few have added much in the way of a profile. The search facility is still turned off - so it is difficult to find people you know (a real shame as most people will be looking today as the last time before they travel)

There does not appear to be any 'forums' set up other than one called "sample forum" - maybe I should post a 'hello' post... OK so while composing this post I have in fact put up a 'hello' post - lets see what happens next...!

It appears to be very early days of MyEvent and I suspect that if this is to be used at all it will happen post event, it looks like it needs to 'push' users onto the platform, as most regular users of the CIPD site will be community contributors and there is currently no link between the two technologies. It is very early days and I am sure the technology will work well - it just needs the event team to push and support the use of the technology in the same way the electronic media people within the CIPD have done with the communities.

I just hope the search facilities and other functionality is switched on before the conference.

Joining Instructions for CIPD annual conference delegates

Having arrived home from being away at the NFEA 2008 annual conference waiting for me was my CIPD joining instructions. In the envelope was:
  • A welcome letter
  • Personalised Conference badge
  • An event guide
  • A voucher for a free CIPD 2009 diary (to be collected from the CIPD stand)
  • A preview of the exhibition and
  • Two invitations - one to Carringtons and one to Platinum ABBA
The social activity
The voucher included provides access to two of the seven social events. Carringtons is a night club and free entry is provided to allow delegates to party to their hearts content, Thank you for the music (Platinum ABBA) is a music entertainment evening taking place after the gala dinner. The Dinner is a formal event which required prior booking - I wont be attending as my booking was too late :(
Other social activities include two free delegate lunches, a delegate drinks reception and a Jazz dining event. This event is designed for people attending the conference on their own so that they do not have to dine alone - seems reasonable at £35.

The Exhibition
In the preview guide sent was a timetable of the free seminars taking place. These are being run under three themes:
  • Exhibitor exchange showcases
  • Employee benefits and rewards showcases
  • Recruitment and talent management showcases
The programme looks excellent - and indeed I may well 'escape' from the main event to attend one or two of these. So if you are attending the CIPD exhibition, but not the conference, have a look at this programme .

Also in the pack
There was quite a lot of useful information in the 'pack' including a map of the various venues:

Just a little shame that it was not also colour coded as finding one of 15 venues all as little yellow boxes could have been so much easier... but I trust this will prove to be a useful item to carry in a pocket or bag throughout the event!
At Manchester 2009 (yes the CIPD event is moving) this will be much simpler as the main venue is much larger.. time will tell.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

5 days to CIPD annual conference 2008

With just 5 short days to the start of the conference, I have spent the past couple of days making contact with other members and arranging meetings - both formal and informal. Having the excuse of making contact to see if people I know are going to Harrogate has been of great value, it gave a reason to call and chat to people that I otherwise do not talk to often enough. Some of the people I expect to meet are attending the conference - others are day visitors to the exhibition and exhibitors themselves.

My mail box is a little light....
the one thing I have noticed this year is a less active 'fringe' programme... or is it just that I am not being invited? If you are running a fringe event please add the details to the comments field on this post.

More coming soon....

Friday, 5 September 2008

MyEvent - The social networking space for CIPD conference attendees

One of the first things I received after my booking was confirmed was an email providing access details to a new CIPD service called MyEvent.

After logging in you have the options of setting a personal profile and joining a range of groups - each around the conference Keynote sessions and the streams. The environment has the look and feel of a FaceBook style environment.

Users have the ability to build 'friend' lists, share comments, have conversations with other attendees. The interface is clean and easy to use.

I suspect that this technology is the sort of enhancement that the CIPD member communities will benefit from. Lets see if it works in practice for an event which has a tight timetable - I suspect it will get used more after the event than during...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The journey to Harrogate for the CIPD Annual Conference

On Thursday 28th of August with just 19 days before the conference I get my booking form and look over the CIPD site to make my selection. As my primary interests are OD, Strategy and L&D I focus on topics, workshops and masterclasses that meet my needs.

The site is a little complex to navigate round, this is probably because there is a lot of data available and for me it was easier to print the pages and then look at the programme on hard copy (not good for the environment - but what I needed to do).

Having made my choices, I filled out the form, scanned it and emailed it to the event team that day. Could not have been easier.

Tues 2nd - I received notification that one of the session I wanted was not full - but being out of the office I did not get this till Wednesday. This was easy to resolve - I phoned up the event team and they told me what was available and the booking was complete. Less than half hour later I received my confirmation. With this confirmation come the hotel booking form, the CIPD block reserve many hotel rooms so I made the call to the third party accommodation company. The only rooms they had were at the Holiday Inn at £160 per night - a little extravagant seeing as there would be little time to use the facilities. Luckily I have a business account with another chain and they were able to book me a room for the 3 days. Harrogate is almost full to overflowing during this event!

Then later this afternoon I receive access to 'MyEvent' an on-line community for attendees of the conference... will have a look and see what it has to offer.

Morale of the story
If you want to attend this event - book your sessions and accommodation early - the event being this full can only mean one thing - it is not only popular - but valued.

Booking to attend the CIPD Annual Conference

OK so I have had notification that I can attend this years CIPD conference in Harrogate, the last one before the move to the bigger venue of Manchester.

Booking could not be easier... download the booking form, look at the available array of Keynote sessions, seminars, workshops and master classes, discussions and interactive sessions. choose from a range of streams including:
  • Leadership
  • Change
  • Talent
  • Engagement
  • Strategy
  • Innovation

The when your choices have been made fax or post the form in... Not having a fax machine, i scanned and emailed mine, having first phoned the events team to confirm availability as there were only 19 days remaining and I was sure some of the sessions were already full... indeed the traffic light system on the site showed that several were already full. Each session has a neat little graphic helping late bookers make their selections:

A useful tool.

The journey begins...