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Am I Part of the #Impact99?

The motto for this conference is: #Impact99: Reinvent the Workplace–It is kind of intriguing and kind of preposterous at the same time.

Impact#99 was yesterday.

I didn’t want to go. The event takes a whole day. I’m extraordinarily busy at work and well it was on the other side of the city. I detest getting up super early, and I detest traffic and hate to trek across the city. Scarborough is just too far away. Suffice to say, I believed I wouldn’t be at my best and it wasn’t a good use of my time.

But I was conflicted. I promised @pamelamaeross and @alyssaburkus that I would go, and I feel it is important to live up to commitments. Especially to those two. I am a part of this weird virtual community of HR folks in Toronto. It was important that I be there, freak flag waving.

This is how my day started. I’m not sure it got any better.

The event started off with @jodyrowe talking about what I initially perceived as nonsense. Her proposition: let’s promote 100% flexibility, all the time, any position. Suddenly, I’m in a room with Kool-Aid drinkers, feeling like a curmudgeon. I’m a Gen Xer. You can’t measure everything on outcomes. There’s value in face time. There’s value in having a routine. Maybe better said, there’s comfort in a routine. I kept thinking about my call centre and manufacturing clients. The systems start at 8:00 and you have to be at your seat to provide the service. The companies can’t afford to have a larger work force and with what they’ve architected on LEAN principles, they can’t have an environment in which people pick their hours. Flexibility, phooey, we’re kidding ourselves.

Yet there it was. The traffic getting to Scarborough was miserable. I should have livestreamed. The flexibility would have worked for me. I could have had more results that day.

And there it was too. I caught up with at least a dozen people I haven’t seen in ages, and based upon a lunch conversation met a new person who may just have become my new best friend.

A conference has a box around it. It has rules, and expectations, and while we have turned to a world where people at a conference can engage in side conversations on Twitter and multi-task their in-box while listening to some famous person talk about flexibility and virtuality and stopping the management of the person vs. outcomes, here we all were following a structured format, and doing so well.

Am I a part of the #impact99? By the end of the day, I was tired and my head was swimming. I myself did not drink the Kool-Aid, but maybe, just maybe, I feel a little bit more open about working toward results-based management. Maybe too, I feel a little bit better after being surrounded by the other 98 people who exuded an undeniable positivity. They make an impact. I just lurk.


  1. First of all, it was really nice to meet you. That was probably the biggest take away for me from Impact99 – meeting people that I had only chatted with online.

    Second, I have to give you thumbs up for putting yourself out there – both during the conference and here in your blog. I wouldn’t go as far as to call you “curmudgeonly” (loved that you actually hashtagged that), but as a fellow gen-Xer, I recognize skepticism when I see it.

    I don’t know if many of us can commit to re-inventing the workplace, but I think we can start by re-inventing how we think about the workplace, management, and results. And that’s a start.

  2. I wonder if Jody Thompson talked about the “how to” in her talk? Theoretical concepts and ideas are great but if people can’t understand “how to” then what’s the point? This what I typically dislike about conferences. However, if you walked away with something that can inspire you, motivate you or do something better then I say it’s worth it.

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