Birmingham, 2012 – From the home of Swiss Chocolate to the home of Chocolate in the UK, EODF’s first UK conference was memorable for all the right reasons!
The location of our next conference was in the brand-new Birmingham City Council building based at Woodcock Street, Birmingham. It was a fitting location having only opened in the previous 12 months prior to the conference, there was alignment with the new and vibrant EODF community with this brand-new building which was at the heart of the Local Governments own transformation agenda. I was Conference Dean with along with Mark LaScola. Vevey had set the bar high in terms of location and venue, the theme this time was ‘Real World Organisation Design’. Set across from one of the UK’s leading Business Schools Aston, the delegates were in the centre of a city recreating itself through billions of pounds of capital investment which continues today. If you visited the city in 2012, you’d struggle to recognise parts of the centre now.
There were around 70 participants registered, so many in fact that for the first time we had to close registration early as we reached maximum capacity for the conference room available. While this was disappointing it was also an indication of the strength and momentum that we were building as a community.
The conference was once again full of lively debate with presentations from a variety of practitioners such as Jane Lewis, Julie Beedon, Dr. Paul Tolchinsky, Andrew Campbell, Professor George Romme, Mark LaScola, Sophia Christie. In addition, we also included poster presentations from Aston Business School researchers related to Organisation Design and change. I presented my very early thinking from my PhD research project – thankfully it evolved into something more than just a poster and I am forever grateful for the input of my friends and colleagues over those two days, you all contributed to my thesis!
In addition to the usual conference speakers we were also pleased to welcome speeches from City Council’s HR Director then Andy Albon as well as the City Councillor with responsibility for HR Councillor Afzal who presented Paul Tolchinsky (who later went on to become our first EODF Chair) with a commemorative plaque offering a warm welcome for the EODF community as well as symbolising the very strong commitment Birmingham wanted to offer this young, fast growing and vibrant organisation.
Such was the buzz and strength surrounding EODF we were now attracting visitors from as far as the USA and the Middle East.
Key to this conference was the formulisation of the organisation. We had grown from a group of connected individuals wanting to have a decent conversation about Organisation Design in Europe into something that was resembling a formal organisation. It was now clear that we had enough strength and consistency in numbers to formally register the European Organisation Design Forum complete with all the obligations and responsibilities that came with this. Proceeding Birmingham was our first board meeting in London. Each of those of us who had stepped up to the challenge of wanting to help create this organisation gave £5 each symbolising ‘ownership’ of EODF that in reality meant we were committed to growing, sharing and developing the Organisation Design Community across Europe.
One of the participants said upon leaving Birmingham “I came to a dinner party and became a member of a family”. Much food and drink were consumed in those two days with a delightful and authentic Indian dinner at Asha’s in the City Centre.
The Birmingham conference was summed up with the following statement which reflected the mood and intention of all of us going forward “It takes a community to build a community”. Next on our travels was Vienna, Austria in the heart of Europe.