Having helped organize and sponsor a conference for a couple of years, and having attended and spoken at a few myself, I think I can confidently say that IntraTeam 2013 in Copenhagen was one of the most well organized, informative, and delightful conferences I’ve ever been to.
Kurt Kragh Sørensen and his event organizers crafted three days of education, hands-on activities, and most importantly, great conversation. As a group that facilitates intranet communities of practice in Denmark and Sweden, Kurt and IntraTeam clearly have some practice at this. But the feeling of being at an event with such a great community basis sets it aside from other conference experiences. “Some of you might think you’ve walked into a family party, so many of us know each other,” said Kurt in his Thursday morning conference opening remarks. And it’s true – the conviviality, the camaraderie, and the general civility of the whole thing was really quite lovely.
I ran a workshop on using archetypes and personas in intranet design and change management on Wednesday and had 10 brave attendees who stuck with me for the better part of the entire day, running through a narrative and sense making exercise, which derived five archetypes.
I then delivered a rather theoretical and formal presentation on Thursday, covering the topic of Communication Power and the Social Intranet; investigating the ideas of Manuel Castells, power, networks, and their relationship to the new forms of organizational and interpersonal communication afforded by technologies like social intranets.
As a vendor-practitioner, Kurt provided me with the freedom to do something completely different. It was a risk to be sure – the concepts, ideas, and nature of the topic demanded attention from the audience. And they reciprocated. I had some thought provoking questions at the end and in the hallways and 25th floor lunch venue overlooking Copenhagen in all of its late winter glory, ones that zeroed in on the core issues at hand, demonstrating to me that the attendees not only heard what I said, but comprehended why it mattered.
Only the speaker evaluation forms will tell the true tale, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to try to take the conversation about technology beyond the usual boundaries of either technical implementation, best practice models, or overly simplified descriptions of how humans engage in the social context of the workplace, digital or otherwise.
It was also special to meet, for the first time, old friends; one of those unique aspects of our contemporary condition, where people you’ve followed for years on twitter and in blogs come face to face for the first time, shaking each others hands and hugging each other like long lost relatives. Amongst those people I had the pleasure to meet and talk with for the first time in person included Martin Risgaard, Mark Morrell, Jane McConnell, and Elizabeth (“Party in a Box”) Lupfer. And it was a pleasure to re-connect with Martin White and of course the host himself Kurt.
And then there were the new connections; from both near and far. Ironically, it took me going to Copenhagen to meet my Vancouver neighbour Jane Nunnikhoven from Vancity and Seattle-ite video expert Paolo Tosolini from RunStudios. The North American entourage was rounded out by Donna Papacosta, who’s presentation about the power of stories, resonated with my own interest in narrative methods in an organizational context, and Jarrod Gingras of The Real Story Group, who’s enterprise search workshop was standing room only. And off course, it would only be fitting that I wind up in the corner of the Rio Bravo with the Brits drinking pints – cheers Kevin & Julian from Arup, you’re doing some great work on your intranet.
I’m bound to forget someone in this list, but I also had some great conversations (over food and drink inevitably, be it Carlsberg and Stegt Flæsk or coffee and pastries) with Kristian @kristiannorling, Matt Mullen (451 Research), David Cotterill (GDS), Gabriele, Kerry, Morten (Webtop), Ivalo, Tina, Merete, and Herluf @luffeman (our final night dinner recommender – Un Mercato was great, tak!)
Your hospitality and warmth, passion for intranets, and impeccable sense of fashion and design and love of cycling all pretty much summed up why Copenhagen is one of the world’s great cities (certainly in my eyes), thanks in no large part to the great people who call it (and Denmark) home.
I hope to be back again, a Canadian intranet cousin, keen on crashing your family party, and savouring the hygge.