Conferences & shiny new things

So, you’ve just been to an inspirational 2-day conference full of thought provoking presentations, great ideas and inspirational stories, and quite frankly you’re feeling a little like young Jared here…

Now fast forward 3 months; Christmas has come and gone, so has New Year, it’s February and you’re knee deep in client reviews, maybe a little year-end tax planning for clients, regulation and data protection are taking up the rest of your time. You can barely remember what you had for breakfast this morning, let alone the shiny new things you were exposed to last November.

Okay so why did this latest initiative fail then? Here’s a few possible scenarios: –

Wrong Goal
A good idea at the time but upon returning to the office, you had an attack of the sensibles. Perhaps this idea was born out of ego, didn’t take account of other factors, was met with derision from others or was simply just too scary to act on.

No Execution Plan
We all engage in tactical thinking, but we rarely acknowledge that our tactics are predicated on learned thought patterns. Think of it as your own operating system, complete with all your bias, prejudices and privilege. The human mind is a wonderful thing, if a little buggy. If you have no plan to change behaviour, to carve out time or other resources, to stop doing what you are currently doing, in order to do something new, guess what, it won’t happen.

There’s always something to stop you right? Wrong. Events are to be expected and time can be budgeted. Getting stuff done is largely a question of prioritising and executing. Oh, and if you have a lack of resources then maybe your new plan of action was entirely unrealistic in the first place.

Better ideas
Your inbox (or ‘clutter’ if you use MS Office) is full of marketing emails. Added to that you’re a conference junky. You can’t stop having amazing ideas. Your team are always coming up with great ideas, and they all go to conferences too. Hell, it’s a wonder any actual work gets done. New ideas need to answer one simple question ‘what shall we stop doing, to pursue this new thing?’

So, a total waste of 2 days, save for the CPD (the thing that justifies all activity falling outside that which you know you should be doing). Well that doesn’t need to be the case.

Let’s Save the Day(s)
Try this…

1. Make a list of all the great ideas you had while at the conference.
2. Now rank them 1 to 5 in order of priority.
3. Disregard anything that’s not a 4 or 5.
3. Now, if you could buy an insurance contract to cover the risk of any of these 4 or 5 priority ideas not coming to fruition, which would it be?
4. Now create a plan to execute on the idea you would buy the insurance contract for. What does the end state look like, what’s the current state, what’s the plan to cross the divide,
what resources do you need, how long will it take, return on investment and so on. Plan it out.
5. Now review your existing strategy and program of projects and bump something from the list to make room.
6. Now execute and adjust as you go. If you end up ditching the idea, be sure to record that decision in a log somewhere. Over time, you start to build up an understanding of how you make
these decisions and that’s gold.

Ultimately, you probably want to emulate Jared Vennette in the movie The Big Short. Not the bit where he shorts the housing market and makes a fortune off other’s misery, but the way he has an idea and pursues it relentlessly to its conclusion – that bit. If you go to a conference, perhaps that should be a planned activity, within a wider strategic plan, thus avoiding shiny new things and pursuing specific answers instead.

Now go log your CPD and give the kids their swag bag…

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