I just returned home from my annual mandated training by the American National Standards Institute for assessors evaluating conformance with ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 for accreditation of personnel certification programs. It may not sound exciting, but it was the best certification professional development I've engaged in since, well, the same training event last year. As a consultant, I'm most often in the position of educating others - which I love; however, educating others doesn't often stretch my mind, and this meeting offers that.
It's an opportunity to dialogue with over 20 of the nation's leading minds and voices in personnel certification. Industry lawyers, psychometricians, program managers and consultants together discussing, debating and reaching consensus on the certification industry standards (we can't change the standards as they have been internationally adopted, but we are charged with U.S. interpretation and that's no small task). As expected with any convening of industry leaders, there were divergent opinions present, but fortunately they were accompanied by open minds. Great conversations. Just one example of many: we debated the appropriateness of certifying agencies selling other products and services. More on this later...because I have a clear opinion on it.
The meeting was two days; I would have stayed all week. It left me wanting more. Why aren't there more opportunities for real dialogue among industry experts (in any industry - not just certification)? I'm so frustrated with traditional conferences where information spews forth, but few or no real conversations happen (except in the hallway).
Amy Smith and I lead a session at Great Ideas 2007 that had no slides, all conversation. One of the attendees said it was the best session they attended at the event. One said our presentation style was the best they'd ever seen (we really facilitated the conversation and added to it, where we felt it would enhance the discussion). Sure, Amy and I could have easily presented for 75 minutes, but for this topic (Just Because You've Always Done It That Way Doesn't Mean You Should), we wanted to hear from everyone regarding their challenges and solutions. The conversation was rich, and the evaluations were strong - supporting the desire for this type of format.
One of my goals for 2008: enable more conversations. Not sure how I'm planning on doing that yet. Any ideas, send them my way.