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The Curmudgeon Speaks, Again

Last month, I attended Impact99. That day, before I’d even left the conference, I wrote a blog entitled “Am I a Part of the #Impact99“?

Some people who read that blog think that I didn’t approve of #Impact99, or that I didn’t find it valuable. That is because I was feeling a bit curmudgeonly when I wrote it. I feel compelled to set the record straight about the event though.

Impact99 was good. In fact, it was great, everyone should go, but perhaps not for the reasons the organizers, my friends @pamelamaeross and @alyssaburkus and others intended.

The pros of #Impact99 are trying to ignite a thought evolution. They want us as HR Professionals to change the workplace–to let technology and modern work concepts dominate the way we change work in the workplace. They want to promote results-based expectations at work.

Who can argue with that?

Well, me for one.

I’d love to believe that all people can self manage, that they can organize themselves around the customer’s needs, that we have the technology to enable people to achieve the same in 2 hours that it normally takes to do in 8, but we aren’t there. Some people, myself included, need more structure than that.

Creating that level of flexibility is like putting some kids to work in a candy store and telling them that they should eat the candy wisely. Truth is, most of us are Neanderthals, and given an opportunity to be distracted, we will be. Not everyone is goal oriented.

That said, far be it from me to try and stop people like Pam and Alyssa. I feel the need to say publicly that I absolutely love them and they are awesome. We’ll never get there without thought leaders like them and the other participants. My intention in speaking out after the conference was to be the voice of reason, the bridge between the two worlds of today and tomorrow.

What I valued the most about the day was being surrounded by some people willing to have the conversation about what the future could and should look like. I also got to meet some people in real life that I’ve only interacted with in cyberspace. Throughout the day I was having a lot of fun, and to my point, the fact that I spent so much time yakking took me away from listening to all the speakers and their messages. I didn’t stay on point!

Will I go to another #Impact99? Unless I’m barred from entry for acting like a curmudgeon, absolutely. You should too.


  1. The intent of Impact 99 is a good one and I respect the work that Christine and Pamela are doing in this area. It is an interesting mix of reusing the work that many senior practitioners were implementing 10 years ago, adding the newer ‘digital’ aspect and putting it together as the future. There is also a significant difference between the way newer businesses and more mature businesses operate from a leadership perspective and therein lies the gap. And it is a big gap because changing culture, processes and minds must come before jumping on the technology bandwagon. And because managers are taught to look for the efficiency, they relate to the shiny object that increases productivity and reduces labour. Attending to the messier human aspect comes second. And that is backwards. Perhaps Dan Pontefract at Telus is one of the few practitioners that has pulled the human side into a mature organization, linked it to the technology and made a measurable difference. TD Canada Trust, Cisco and IBM are the other three businesses that are making it happen as well. However, it takes massive resources, the commitment [long term] of the senior leadership team and a willingness to learn as you go to make this work. And that is something a one day conference can’t cover. Visit The Denovati Group as there are some great resources that provide a very realistic picture of the current and future state.

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