It may, in some quarters, be considered churlish to express a degree of discontent after taking part in the tenth and most energised, three-dimensional Workplace Trends event to date. The emotional disposition is at once both palatable and uncomfortable.
First the palatable reason, applicable to all events of this nature. One should never leave the table full.
The success of an event is determined by how hungry you are to know more, to want to ask more questions, seek more answers, research, network, talk, and research again. To not rely on others to tell you at a conference what you may find out for yourself. To engage, interact, blog, comment, tweet, whatever it takes to drive a transit van out of your comfort zone. If you attended university, what on earth did you ever learn from lectures? They were clues, signposts, markers in the ground.
If you are content at the end of an event, it’s not that it failed you, it’s that you failed it.
Second, the uncomfortable reason, applicable to this event in particular. It was too far downstream.
The themes of the event – wellness, productivity and the workplace itself – are the product of management: the underlying philosophy, its relationship with the modes of production, the practice and the language. In the shallow waters of the delta, where the currents are gentle, social business – the greatest opportunity to challenge the century-long Taylorist status quo in all that time – did not receive a single mention.
While the image of Taylor hung on screen like Emmanuel Goldstein for a suitable restrained Two Minutes’ Hate – more Two Minutes’ Huh? as puzzled glances rather than shoes were thrown – we were starting, at long last, to paddle upstream… just as it was time for wine. It was fun splashing around with happiness, culture, collaboration, Obscurity Based Working and pies, buit it didn’t resolve anything. If you were in tune with the palatable reason above, you may just decide to do that for yourself.
Workplace Trends 2013 needs to start at this point and continue on the more difficult journey, uncomfortable as it may be, unless it just wants to be fun.
[cartoon by Gary Larson]