Every spring, nearly 1,000 delegates from the social, financial, private and public sectors convene in Oxford, England, for the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The event is the premier conference for social advocacy and education.
During three intense days and nights, the world’s leading thinkers and doers engage in critical debates, discussions and work sessions focused on “innovating, accelerating and scaling entrepreneurial approaches to the world’s most pressing social issues.”
Bringing this amazing brain trust together to meet must make for an incredibly powerful experience and inspiring collaboration.
One of the contributors to this year’s conference discussion would no doubt agree with me. In “Why Personal Interaction Drives Innovation and Collaboration,” an article published in partnership with Forbes magazine in advance of the 2013 Skoll World Forum, Harbrinder Kang, senior director of corporate affairs at Cisco Systems, shared some insights from a recent study that looked at human behavior and the barriers to effective business collaboration. As Kang told the delegates, the Cisco study “showed unequivocally that collaboration is grounded in real human interaction and relationships.”
“All of our interactions still rely on a basic element: each other,” Kang wrote. “No matter how many shiny tools we have, we can’t get things done without other people. … Collaboration allows us to act collectively, pooling resources and talents to solve problems far too big for any one of us to solve alone.”
In the study, Cisco researchers confirmed that people were more engaged, productive and effective when they could see and hear each other well, basically interacting the way humans have interacted for thousands of years: face-to-face. These findings aren’t all that surprising, at least not to those of us old enough to remember life before electronically mediated communication. Even if technology means we no longer have to be in the same room to connect, communicate and collaborate, there’s no denying the intimacy and impact of live proximity.
This month, attendees at the 2013 Fall Chief Learning Officer Symposium in Rancho Mirage, Calif., will get to experience the power of meeting in-person in a big way. Hundreds of chief learning officers, industry thought leaders, development innovators and human capital management practitioners from around the globe will be collaborating face-to-face on the challenges of 21st century workforce development.
The theme is “Vision to Action: Learning’s Strategic Force,” and I think it’s particularly apropos. Like the leaders who gather at the Skoll World Forum to figure out how to transform entrepreneurial ideas into solutions to the world’s most pressing social problems, right now learning leaders are faced with the unique challenge of trying to convert broad visions for learning into practical, actionable, deployable programs that both fit today’s intense economic and competitive realities and measurably improve performance.
During Symposium keynotes, workshops, Power Hour Plus presentations and social events, we’ll be talking about the most effective ways to bridge the gap between broad visions for learning and day-to-day implementation. It’s exactly the kind of human interaction and collaboration that yields inspiration and innovation — both powerful concepts and practical solutions to maximize the effect of workforce development on organizational performance.
The Cisco study also showed that, when personal meetings are not possible, people embrace virtual technologies that most closely emulate human interactions. We’ve got that covered, too. For those of you who can’t make it to the Fall Symposium in person, we’ll be offering the free virtual edition Nov. 4-7 on HCM-TV. If you haven’t experienced HCM-TV yet, this is your chance to see how innovative new technology enables and empowers effective human interactions.
I hope you can join us for one or both of these exceptional opportunities to interact.