A question of value

This post was prompted by my desire to practice open inclusive working and an interesting discussion on Cliqmunities and the pricing of events over at David Goddin’s place.

We ran this year’s Stop Doing Dumb Things event and charged our guests £119 +VAT. That price was a ‘think of a number’, intuitive guess in the dark, so we now have a conundrum that you may be able to help us with, please.

The event generated revenue of about £6,000 and produced a surplus of about £1,600, though we didn’t pay any people for organising it. Bearing in mind the financial risk, we think that is OK for such an event (first time around). And we’d like to do a bit better next time and make it a better event too (e.g. provide a sound system, etc), and keep challenging the established market place (well you’d expect nothing less eh?!).

So here’s a question: “What do you think you/other people/companies would think is really good value that they could decide and sign up to without major hassle of getting board approval etc?” Should value be based on the learning people gain, comparison with other conferences/events, the good feelings people seem to have enjoyed together? We’re tempted to write down some numbers and get your reaction, but on balance, we’d rather just ask for your responses please – and please do include a suggested number or two. It’ll help us focus our thinking for 2012.

Thanks your very much for your consideration. If you feel you’d rather not say, that’s fine too, and please remember next year that we did ask and some will have replied!


Outstanding Experience

SDDT 2011 Guests Unconferencing
SDDT 2011 Guests Unconferencing

Budd, Humap and What Goes Around helped to organise and deliver the first Stop Doing Dumb Things unconference on November 23rd. If you missed it, the next one will be on 27th June 2012 – watch this space for more details. The photo above was taken by Martin Couzins and shows some (we couldn’t fit everyone into one shot!) of our guests unconferencing.

One of our guests called me after the event and he simply described the day as “an outstanding experience”. What a lovely thing to say. We’ve been in touch with all our guests and asked them for feedback. Of course many of you have already seen some immediate feedback provided on the Twitter stream, and in the spirit of sharing and continuous improvement, here’s what we’ve learned from our guests so far:

‘I want to thank you for last Wednesday.

The whole notion, the speakers, the range of ideas and approach of the unconference. The food, the location. The organisation, which despite its seemingly chaotic nature at first, all makes sense now and I can’t fault in the slightest! Courage to do it differently. The variety in approach. The quality of discussion. The forum for airing and exploring ideas. Informal, conversational style, audience participation. Saw it more as an ideas conference – flying kites. Quirky venue, shame about the sound and the room could have had a bit more heat!

Thank you so much for being brave enough to put this type of conference on, but don’t settle there, keep pushing the boundaries.’

‘Thanks again for today’s SDDT, had an absolutely fantastic time and have so much enthusiasm to take back to my role that wasn’t there before. Already looking forward to next year!’

‘Thank you for the day, I did not know what to expect, but it was very thought provoking and I am still thinking about it as there was a lot to take in. I wished that I had taken a photo of the art; I hope that it could be photographed and sent to everyone as that is a great way to remember, a fantastic way to take minutes of a meeting…I am glad that I attended, thank you very much’

‘It was certainly different and I did enjoy myself. I hope you did too.’

‘I liked the flow of the day and the focus on the issues that people wanted to talk about, but some of the conversations in the afternoon ended up being very similar, and sometimes too definition focused. If I was being critical there were a lot of “nice” conversations i.e. people talking about the same challenges without any “well how do we change?” what do I make the changes in the organisation to make these things happen. Talking about similar issues has a lot of benefit and it’s good to talk to other professionals outside of one’s own organisation, I like to take away something about the practical actions to make change and the session that you kicked off started that, so perhaps that element could be the focus of the next meeting?

the venue was great, a non-office or hotel environment added to the day, as did the non-use of organisational names..

I thought the “Art minutes” was a fantastic idea and could really be exploited.’

‘Thanks for a great day – hope to come next year. One suggestion – maybe you could ring-fence an hour on the day for people who want to be able to facilitate discussions they want to lead. They could do a 30-sec pitch and wander off to different corners and people could come and join in. Lightening talk sessions could also be good. Although I felt the collaborative approach worked in determining the topics, it did feel that the conference missed some straight forward presentation with Q&A. Finding a way to empower people (as some interesting people there) to share what they want, how they want, would be good. I did find it surprising on the day how restricted many of the attendees were in their place of work and lack of buy in to the customer experience within the wider business.’

‘I really enjoyed the unconference. The opportunity to meet so many like-minded people was really great. In your own environment you can get really blinkered, and fresh ideas can seem to come rarely. I left SDDT with so many fresh ideas, so much future hope and real inspiration to help more people discover a facilitative, autonomous approach to tackling issues. I gained some great advice and contacts.

You’ve been a real inspiration, thank you for having and helping me. I really hope I can come again next year!’

‘Thanks again for an inspiring day last week.

Never been to an unconference before, and I am quite shy/outside my comfort zone at these sort of events (I am really a techie – should explain everything). The people made it – but then in hindsight I think you can’t go wrong at an unconference about engagement – you’ve got people attending who want to engage about engaging…. After the first table of the world cafe I knew I was going to enjoy the day.

1) World Cafe at the beginning was very good for getting into the swing of things. I enjoyed that. At one point the table I was sat on we weren’t too sure what the aim/question was – I think it was a result of each of us having had different discussions/perspectives – and last table I sat at I think we were taking the conversation more where we wanted to (I think). Which was fine (and interesting).

2) I joined the measurement and feedback discussion and it got hard to hear the discussion – I think just because the size of the group especially if someone was more softly spoken. But also the group was probably too big because the discussion was dominated by a few although most others did join in. There was no leader/chair and I didn’t have the confidence to chair the talk. There was some good stuff covered, and some not so relevant to me (goes with the territory, it’s fine), but our summary was weak and I came away feeling like good conversation, interesting, can I remember any of it? Little nuggets…

Thinking about expectations – I wanted to hear what was on others minds, so the “not so relevant” was more than fine. As we frequently say about our work/clients – we’re low down the list of priorities to our clients, and the whole day was really useful just seeing the bigger picture, various things that don’t get discussed between our client and us when it comes to them saying “I’d like to do this customer survey…”

One other expectation. I expected more H.R. people present, but I think it was more customer focused? As we found out on the day, engagement means so many things to different people!

3) Lunch very good. Happy with the produce, quality, quantity, format…
4) After lunch – what works was the weakest. It might work better next year if some of us are prepared for this sort of session – e.g. little things we can share that have worked for us/our clients?
5) The 10 minute problems session was surprisingly very good. I feel I helped the people I conversed with, and I asked a genuine question that sort of arose during the day. I felt not alone, and good karma!

Other things. The cartoonist was a nice touch, fun, curious to see at work. Also the twitter feed (essential these days). I think your communications before the event were good and helped prepare us. I would really like a list of names/companies/twitter contacts who attended (I didn’t give out my business card but I think I should have – my naivety(!) – there were a couple of conversations that I’d like to try and pick up and I thought I’ll find so-n-so on LinkedIn or Twitter. It’s not that easy!) – that’s a lesson for me next time.
What did you get that you expected to get? Different perspectives, better understanding from the company viewpoint (rather than my service providers pov)

What did you get that you did not expect? More than anything, confidence.
What didn’t you get that you expected?Nothing (I didn’t expect a lot)
What did you learn that you can use? What others struggle with – we’re thinking hard about – how can we take account of that (their challenges) in feedback and measurement (help them solve those challenges). I don’t think I can explain this in an email properly! It’s sort of intangible.

Overall, excellent. Consider my response to have ticked the top box or given an NPS score of 10! I’m keeping the 27th June free.’

We think we helped to do a good job and we know we will do even better next time. If you attended or listened in via Twitter and you would like to add further feedback, we’d love to hear from you.


Stop Doing Dumb Things – In Pictures

At around 5.30 am on Wednesday morning I woke up and prepared to head off to Stop Doing Dumb Things – the unconference. Today was to be a rare, and for many a first chance, for HR and customer service professionals to come together and help strengthen the links between the employee and customer experience.

In my sleepy state I burned the toast to a frazzle so with my first dumb thing out of the way I headed off into the dark on an empty stomach. Thankfully when I arrived in Vauxhall The Madeira Café was open and I had double egg on toast with bacon. It was delicious.

There’s already loads of content from the event online and I want to say a huge thank you to Martin Couzins for capturing so many pictures, words, interviews and songs and getting them online so quickly. Leonie, one of our guests, talked about different learning styles and how different people communicate in different ways. One size does not fit all. There will be more content and feedback to follow over the next days and weeks, for now I wanted to share with you one learning style, the artwork that Tim Casswell and his team created for us on the day. I’ve included the briefest of descriptions below each picture and you can listen to Tim’s interpretation of this here

SDDT Frame One
Setting the Scene

This first picture is about setting the scene for the day, gathering people’s expectations.

SDDT Frame Two
Distilling words and scribbles and ideas as the day began to emerge

We ran a World Café to help set the day up. Many ideas and thoughts and feelings were expressed. We’re here to try something different. Fear and trust and freedom to express and a whole bunch of other things caught our eyes, hearts and minds.

SDDT Frame Three
Feedback from more detailed conversations

After the World Café people split up and talked about things in more detail. Communication, Value and measurement, Fear and trust, What and why of engagement, What can I do?

What works?

After lunch we spoke about, what works? We could and maybe should have teed this up in the run in to the event. By that I mean just asked guests to think about when and where they’ve seen good stuff going on. The importance of lunching together, to bond and share ideas came up and whenever possible, the importance of face to face dialogue. And when not possible, try skype, or video. And when not possible try the telephone. Use email as a last resort. We struggled to get lots of examples – I think we need to review and come back to this and gently develop it further.

How did the day appear to you?

This last picture was drawn rapidly at the end of the day. Subjects were suggested and Tim put them together in the moment. Some instant reflections on a challenging, useful, enjoyable and emotional day.

Huge thanks to everyone who encouraged, supported, attended, co-created and tweeted the day along. I feel so fortunate and sincerely humbled and motivated to know you.

There will be more to follow including feedback from guests, and more content summaries. For now – any observations and thoughts based on what you see here would as always be appreciated.