It was Wednesday afternoon, October 23rd, and I sat in the Nashville, TN airport trying to decompress after an amazing two and half days of discussion with what I consider to be several of the thought leaders in the Service Management community. These are individuals who in some cases helped design the current establishment and most if not all who fought the fights and survived heated battles to try and keep the industry moving forward. These individuals were now brought together to revolutionize the very industry that propelled them into their current positions. Amazingly, these very same very opinionated, strong-willed and passion-driven individuals were not only open and receptive to changes, but were, in fact, making some of the strongest arguments for potentially dismantling the current approach & mindset within the Service Management community in order to bring about revolutionary changes to how it operates.
For these individuals it was as simple as this, “our community will not be relevant if we as individuals within the community don’t take on ownership of making this change”. This is something I fully agree with as well. It goes without saying that I was humbled to have been invited to participate in this discussion with these amazing individuals and be a part of the Service Management Inaugural Congress. I was and am incredibly thankful for having the opportunity to contribute to what I really believe is an inflection point in our industry.
So you’re probably asking yourself, what is this Service Management Congress , how did it come about, why is it needed and what did it accomplish. Below is some information to hopefully help answer some of your questions. I hope that this blog post energizes you as the meetings energized us and that you answer our Call To Action or at the very least, it pushes you to reach out to anyone of the initial signers of the Call To Action to seek more information.
Amazing and very encouraging was that the Service Management Inaugural Congress website received over 2,000 unique views in less than 36 hours of its inception, nearly 181,000 web impressions and 85,000 people reached. Mind you, there was no marketing or publicity campaign beyond the presentation at Fusion 13, it was all word of mouth and through social media. Also during this period, more than 80 individuals from around the world signed on as signatories in addition to the 20+ inaugural members. As of October 30, only 7 days since the Call To Action, the numbers are as follows: 5,000 unique views, 150 signatories, 400,000 impressions, 370 Tweets ( @SMCongress ) with #SMCongress and a reach of 125,000 people. I think that speaks volumes of the thirst for this movement.
Before getting into to the background of the Call To Action, I have to say that it has been disappointing to see some individuals on-line make personal attacks on members of the Service Management Inaugural Congress because of their position on this movement. Sadly, many of these individuals I truly believe are in agreement with the principles set forth in the Call To Action but for whatever reason, felt the need to attack the individuals and selection process rather than look past that and recognize that the Call To Action was very much in line with principles they themselves have been promoting and fighting for years. I ask that those individuals please look past whatever personal differences they might have and join the growing movement to shape the future Service Management industry. Ask questions, challenge the content, discuss the direction but please let’s stay focused on improving the industry we all work in and want to improve.
How & Why? ( Official statement )
For the most detailed description of how the group was selected and why this effort was conducted, I suggest you read Charles Araujo post on the SM Congress Website. He details exactly why the group was pulled together, how the individuals were selected and itSMF USA involvement in the event.
How & Why? ( My own perspective )
I was one of the individuals who had been speaking with Charles for years and more specifically at the Fusion 12 event about things needing to change. We had repeatedly spoken about the value or lack thereof that the more seasoned service management professionals get from conferences. It is not necessarily because of the speakers’ abilities or knowledge but more so because of the format and intent of the events. The format and intent, in my opinion, is to reach out to as many people as possible in the most direct way in the shortest amount of time. I understand that everyone’s time is precious and we’re all overloaded with work. However, the model simply is not ideal for me and most of my peers.
I along with I suspect many of you, learn better when there is an engaging and interactive discussion versus being “spoken at” which is the standard model. This interactive/engagement approach makes pulling off a conference of 1,500 people even more difficult than putting together a “spoken at” conference. As most of you are aware, I am a regular speaker at many of these same events and deliver many of these “spoken at” sessions. When I present, I always scan the audience to try and engage the audience but rarely are people willing to do so in that setting. Sadly, this results in a wide range of people from bored to overwhelmed sitting through the presentation and it makes it virtually impossible for myself or any presenter to satisfy the collective audience. Also, in this “spoken at” model, I as the speaker don’t learn anything either because I am not being challenged.
In my discussions with Charles over the years, many times there would be awesome ideas that we came up with in the midst of our casual conversation. The great thing about the discussions was that they were unfettered, unorganized, unbiased, “un-everything” while at the same time energizing, inspiring, thought-provoking and challenging. I loved seeing other service management professionals who we didn’t know, join the conversation (at the bar) and contribute in very positive ways even though they might have only been in the SM space for a short time. This impromptu type of discussion is awesome and so very valuable. The disappointment, however, was that this rarely translated into any valuable contribution to us individually or even the broader community. After seeing this happen year after year, we felt that we had to do “something” to try and capture this knowledge and disseminate it to the broader community, but how? Our meeting at Fusion 13 was how.
When asked to participate in this effort, there was no title. There was no mission. There was no guidance. There were no restrictions. There was no preparation on our part. There was basically one simple request, “Will you come to the Fusion 13 Conference as part of this group to discuss the state of our (Service Management) industry?”. In fact, when I posed the question to the group, “So, what are we doing? How can we prepare?”, we were told, “don’t prepare, come with open minds and you’ll be told on Monday morning what is being asked of you.”
The bottom line was that there was no coordinated agenda on the part of itSMF USA, Charles Araujo or any of the participants. It really was remarkable that we accomplished anything. It could have easily become a two-day Kum-ba-yah group hug or two-day gripe session. It was far from either of these results. Not in my wildest dream did I anticipate sitting across the table from one of the biggest names in the Service Management community and in the first 15 minutes of discussion hear them say; (paraphrase) “We need to blow the whole thing up, it is not working.”
We’re still working through this in all honesty. Remember, that we met for a grand total of 8 hours over 2 days. During these gatherings, we had people in & out all the time due to other commitments. So, the fact that we generated the 3 documents and created a website to host them was shocking even to ourselves in the limited time available. Planning for the future was never entertained in depth because there simply was no time. We posed the question on various occasions but just didn’t have the luxury to address in detail.
What has happened already since leaving the conference and will continue is that each member of the Service Management Inaugural Congress is promoting the Call To Action to their mesh networks in order to grow the grassroots movement. Many of us are planning presentations at conferences around the world, Interest group meetings, client sites, webinars and any other forum that could possibly inform people of the movement.
What we aren’t doing is attacking detractors. Although we disagree and are disappointed by their attacks, we respect their opinions as individuals and simply hope that we can connect with them to help them see that we’re actually fighting for many of the same goals.
We are working on additional vehicles to get more people engaged and increase the reach of the movement. What those are is still being figured out. If you have ideas or want to get involved, let us know.
What can I do?
This is simple. Help get the word out. Tell your colleagues about the Call To Action and the Service Management Inaugural Congress. Sign on as a signatory to show your support. Contact myself or any of the Inaugural Members to learn more and become part of the movement.
This is a pretty long post so I thank you for taking the time to read it in its entirety. This is such an important time for our industry so I truly hope you will join us. We have simply only lit the match, it is up to ALL OF US, to keep the fire burning and make the changes so desperately needed.