Aspirations and Anxieties

Last week at the kick off (or should that be the get go?) of the Thomson Reuters’ New York Project Management Unconference, we asked people to express their aspirations and anxieties about the afternoon ahead of them. Here’s some of what people told us:


  • Building community
  • Sharing ideas
  • Recognition
  • Excitement
  • Lead by example
  • Collaboration
  • Renew motivation
  • New ways to look at things
  • Communicating with confidence



  • Will people get involved?
  • Not enough collaboration
  • Same old same old
  • Only do this once a year
  • Don’t recognize anyone
  • How to network?
  • Dealing with change
  • 20 people won’t show because of work pressure


The bullet lists summarise what people told us and you can click on the thumbnail pics above to see and download much larger, easier to read versions if you want to digest the whole thing. I think there’s some real power in what people said, particularly around the anxieties they expressed.

What we went on to experience was one of the liveliest, most participative sessions it’s ever been my privilege to be a part of, and though I have no evidence to back this up, I feel strongly that in part it was because people were invited right at the start to make a contribution. There was no fuss, people weren’t asked to stand up and ‘incriminate’ themselves, we just created some mental space for people to get involved, gathered some scribbled notes and then Tim Casswell and his team got on with illustrating them.

We had a photographer on hand and though I’ve not seen the pics yet (apart from one) I understand that they too give a really good impression of the energy levels and the sense of useful fun in the room.

Here’s some post event follow up from Anthony Allinson. There will doubtless be more to follow about the event and our experiences as I and others have the chance to digest what we talked about and learned, but for now I just wanted to share this first thought with you. We all want to be heard. Create an environment that’s all about your guests, invite them to talk and play, and your time together will be so much better for it.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

6 thoughts on “Aspirations and Anxieties”

  1. Thanks both. When you consider that by this time I was aching to see my family again, the photo is even more powerful, to me at least 🙂

  2. And if that blog post doesn’t convince all the “let’s-fill-our-event-full-of-content” event planners that LETTING GO IS GOOD, then I don’t know what will.

    Hats off Doug. And Anthony.

    1. Hey Flora 🙂

      Sadly – probably not this post. My limited experience of working with some of the more established event planners is that they sausage machine an audience, in so far as they mas, mass, mass mail, follow up on the phone, get ‘delegates’ to come along and do bugger all follow up and/or engagement beyond pumping them full of content then letting them go. They miss the concept of value completely.

      And yes – hats off to Anthony, Diane, Louise and a whole bunch of others for daring to do differently – and letting me help with that.

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