The Circus of Challenges – time for a little #PunkHR in our events?

Posted: May 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

So yes, I was one of them. At the CIPD’s L&D Show (it’s first under that new title from the old – and inappropriate HRD moniker).


I think from what others have written, day one can be seen as not the greatest show on earth and more an “improvement needed” on the review card whilst day two was a “success” rating and showed what a show can show.

There’s been a terrific upturn in the use of social media at this year’s event with twitter – in particular – really flying (!) and many, many blog posts from a passionate and challenging blogging crew.

We’ve said it before and we shall say it again – that the CIPD run this with NO HAND OF INFLUENCE over content whatsoever is a tribute to being true to social.

Where speakers weren’t quite up to the mark, this was called out by bloggers.

Where session content was awesome, this too was called out.

Here’s a few themes I took after being a grazer of the content not a producer and being there myself.

1. Free, topic tasters in the main exhibition hall STILL attract crowds of people and prove their worth. Again some of this will be hit and miss with participants BUT generally some of these were heavily over-subscribed with 4 deep standing room only.

2. We are all a bit over a full programme of broadcast seminars. I don’t have the answers to this (but read on I kind of do) BUT even a 30 minutes pitch is now becoming something of a tolerance rather than enjoyable and exciting. Is one way traffic from speaker to audience with a Q&A at the end the best we can do? Something more engaging that mixes expertise and insight; storytelling and sharing; active participation and deductive dialogue. Audiences can be fickle though and despite your best attempts as presenters, interaction just doesn’t happen as they seem to WANT to be talked at. I know this is tough to break. We shouldn’t give up trying though.

3. We need a mix of content; formats; subjects; levels of expertise; timings and so on. Helen Amery’s blog post ( is great yet we’ve heard these conversations before. To be fair to CIPD they have tried some of what’s been suggested here. I know I’ve been around these events for the last 5 iterations of them all.

Yet these events CLEARLY have to cater for people across a spectrum of career journey/levels of insight. Pretty much all of the blogging crew do what they do so well because they fit a more edgy practitioner profile. They KNOW most of what’s on show happens because they are privy to that kind of information through their social networks and beyond. They research, read and post this edgier stuff all the time. Yet the sessions often don’t match that level of practitioner acumen. Because they’re trying to cater for a mixture of stretch insight; relevant application to now and calibration/assurances that you’re doing the right thing. So as Helen pointed out, you need more variety to cater for different levels of practitioner experience and insight. I didn’t attend more than 3 sessions (although was involved in delivery of 4 anyway) and didn’t feel like I missed out. Not the case 5 years ago. So I do think there’s utter merit in what Helen’s post says and now the time is right to do something different. Something that mixes the “straight up”, here and now insight with stuff on the edge and off the scale even.

So what do WE do about that? Hope? Pop out some blogs? I think you put your left leg in and you shake it all about.

Write to CIPD about this – don’t just tweet them.  Put a slide deck together describing your ultimate L&D Show and send it on. Whatever you like. But offer something, for sure.

There’s power in them thar hills – people power. Us. You. Me. Them. We should put our heads together.

With enough of us actually helping describe the best event ever, we’re more likely to get it delivered to us by a bunch of hard working and hard pressed people finding the right content, through the right speaker and the right format.


So, I’ve created a Google+ Community Page. It’s called CIRCUS. Conferences In Rolling Consultation Upturning Success.

Rollup, rollup. Come and join – share your thoughts and I’ll share them with CIPD Events.

Join here CIRCUS G+ Community

or search Google+ for the CIRCUS community.

If you choose to attend events like this in the future and it’s a let down, then you can blame ALL of us. Or be a clown and miss the greatest show on earth…

  1. […] Perry Timms is asking for Social Solutions & contributions on a Google+ Community :  The Circus of Challenges – time for a little #PunkHR in our events? […]

  2. […] In order to find out more regarding this, please read Perry Timms’ blog post here.   Don’t moan! Do something! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s