Vienna Conference, 2013: Designing Thriving Organizations: Resilience, Partnership and Enablement
by Paul Tolchinsky
Our 2013 conference was in Vienna Austria, hosted by the University of Vienna on its lovely old campus, in the heart of Vienna. Our organising team consisted of Paul Tolchinsky, then living in Vienna, Sophia Christy, from the UK and David Harrison from BaE Systems, also from the UK.
Our conference was small, roughly 60 people. We represented 10 countries, from the USA to the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Hungary. We had an amazingly diverse group, from internal consultants representing Phillip Morris, Miba AG, IBM and Wienerberger to external consultants from across Europe and the USA.
What stood out for me
1. Diversity of presentations. We were introduced to Game Based Org Design, by our future co-chair (Jeroen van Bree); Liquid Organizations (Stelio Verzera and Jacopo Romei); Organisation Toxicity with Joanna Fitzgerald; Appreciative Organisation Design with Ralph Weichel from the Netherlands and Adaptive Organization Design with Stu Winby from the US.
2. Case Studies. Much of the Vienna conference focused on real examples and cases. We heard from Senior Managers who had lead design/redesign efforts and consultants who had managed these efforts. Cases came from IBM, Miba AG (in Austria), The Democratic Bank (an Austrian start-up), NUKI in the UK, and a paper mill in Austria. To date, it was the most hands on conference we had had!
3. Visualization. Vienna also marked our first real use of Graphic Recorders to document and capture our discussions and deliberations. They were so good, people wanted to buy theirs from the two graphic recorders! Some wanted duplicates, it the one they wanted sold out!
Finally, we left the conference energized and enthused about the possibilities. People asked for more time to reflect, more time to connect and socialize and most importantly, continued focus on making it happen, with real cases and examples. I left convinced, that as good as this conference was, we needed to keep pushing our envelope in how we imagined our conferences……on to Amsterdam in 2014 and our first real experiment with an open-space, emergently designed conference!
What people said:
I enjoyed the friendliness and warm welcome, and also the very high quality of the presentations and the case studies.
Lots of inspiration, good atmosphere.
Great: different views, different personalities, a small group of people, do not change it, please! Even better if: tailor the sessions more to the program theme. Repeat sessions, since I missed a few which certainly would have been great to visit.
Good mixture of Presentations, Workshops, group activity (actor) and Graphic Visualisation. Nice historic venue.