The HR Juggler

A Buzz in the Room

Posted on: May 16, 2012


Today was the fourth ConnectingHR Unconference. I have attended two of the previous three unconferences and enjoyed them immensely, and today was no exception…in fact, it was particularly special and quite possibly the best one yet.

From the moment I arrived at the spruced-up Spring in Vauxhall, I was struck by the number of people who I didn’t recognise or previously know: of the 60 or so unconference attendees, at least half hadn’t attended anything similar before and many were new to ConnectingHR. The buzz of energy in the room was tangible as people focussed on getting to know each other, making connections and putting faces to names. From the start, it was clear that it was going to be a good day.

In a change to the usual unconference format, there was some structure to start the day (shock horror!) and we kicked off with a series of thought-provoking pecha kucha presentations on the theme of the power of a socially engaged organisation. From authentic personal perspectives on social media from Doug Shaw and Flora Marriott, to Phil Clothier’s insight into organisational values; from Jamie Priestly’s thoughts on HR metrics and the dangers of measuring everything possible without understanding the commercial and human reality, to real examples of how ThomsonReuters social platform is enabling conversation and community in the workplace…there was much to absorb, consider and debate. A particular highlight for me was Martin Couzins’s brilliantly inspired story of a socially engaged organisation, crowdsourced from Twitter. If I had one critique it would be that there were a few too many presentations to start the day, although the content was consistently excellent and the speakers engaging and succinct.

There then followed a world cafe brainstorming session, after which the ‘grid’ was populated with topics for discussion, which would form the basis of the afternoon’s agenda. Many of these topics were inspired by the content that was presented in the morning session, exploring and expanding the debate further. Whilst  it is accepted and encouraged for people to move between groups if they wish to during the breakout discussions, both of the ones I attended in the afternoon were so interesting that I stayed in the same group for the whole session…quite unusual for me and a sign of the quality of discussion and debate that took place. Interesting too, that the topics being discussed no longer revolve purely around social media, but have moved on to include a wide range of HR and business related issues. That is most definitely a good thing!

The day was wrapped up by a review of the artwork, a fantastic song by artist in residence, Tim Casswell and a demonstration by Darius from the Spring of how you can use your physical strength to dissipate and deflect conflict. And then, of course, the conversations continued over a glass (or in my case a mug – thanks Charlie!) of wine.

Lots to think about and I have been extremely fortunate to have enjoyed two such stimulating and enjoyable conferences over the last two days. For me, ConnectingHR remains a great way to meet interesting people, enjoy stimulating debate, become enthused and energised, learn from others, share knowledge and make friends. That, most certainly, makes for a great day.

5 Responses to "A Buzz in the Room"

What a fantastic summary, thanks Alison. + 1 to all comments – I too loved the buzz in the room, found the morning presentations fantastic and also thought a discussion break between some presentations would have been useful to chew over what we had heard.

On top of that, in the second discussion group in the afternoon I was amazed by the level of openness chatting through something we don’t usually cover on conferences! – Love, freedom and happiness.

I’m super impressed with your speed of blogging after the event – I fear mine may come a little slower!


Me too…Alison, how do you get these posts out so quickly! You are a goddess in so many ways. And yes I think it is great, Helen, that we all felt comfortable to discuss and share whatever we felt was topical and important. I wish I’d have gone to the love group!

A great perspective on the day, as always 😉 And, as Helen says, an excellent post knocked out at warp speed!

So glad you could make it and totally agree on the comments. It was an “all you can eat PK” buffet wasn’t it!

Like you, I thought it was great to see so many new faces in amongst the loyal fans! And the feedback so far has been overwhelming so thanks for all the support. Here’s to the next one!

Thanks for the lovely comments – I am still luxuriating in being called a goddess of any variety! Speed I can do, especially after a day as great as that one 🙂

[…] commitments, I don’t collect CPD airmiles, and I don’t have a lapel badge. I have been to three unconferences, and several socials. I still marvel that I wouldn’t have found many of the people I have met […]

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