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Thoughts from a committee chair

Posted By Martin Neville, 01 December 2015
Updated: 30 November 2015

As we all catch up and take a breath after a busy couple of days out of the office at ITSM15, I take this time to reflect on this weeks events.

ITSM15 opened on Monday with all the glitz and glamour you have come to expect. It is the showpiece for itSMF UK and one of the main events in the global ITSM calendar, something that we should all be proud of. As with all such events, what appears on the surface to be a seamless flow of activity is the result of a lot of effort from a great many people, many of them volunteers. However the buck stops with me, the Chair of the Conference Committee.

It’s funny how you end up doing things like this. I have served on the committee for a number of years and last year I got the fatal call from the Chair at the time: “Martin, I’m going to have to take a back seat.  Can you take over?”  What can you say, other than “yes”?

The process started way back in February when the call for papers went out.  Some years we are inundated, others it is more of a struggle.  This year was pretty good and we had many to choose from.  The committee reviews all submissions blind.  We don’t know who they are from or what organisation they work for, we simply look at the content and make a decision from that – yes, no or maybe.  We got together in April to compare notes – it was a long day, and as usual there were some pretty lively debates, but the programme was pretty much set by the end of the day.

Over the coming months, the Committee worked with the presenters to pull their slides into shape.  Meanwhile the itSMF Office and the events management company we work with started to organise the rest of the conference.  Who knew what goes into an event like this? There are all the logistics of the venue – rooms for presentations, how and when the food will be served, how the trade stands will be set up and what access they will need, etc.  Then there is the admin – booking delegates, agreeing sponsors, sourcing the keynote speakers, etc.  But there were also the odd debate and decisions to be made – what colour should the printed programme be?  Who should be the after dinner speaker? What should the awards look like?  Should we give the session speakers gifts?  All of this needs to be authorised by someone, and that someone was me. It becomes all-consuming at times.  I have a full time job, but there were times when I was reviewing menus or speaker synopses late into the evening, just to keep this juggernaut moving. You end up only seeing the problems and missing the fact that, actually, it’s all going rather well.

The finished article though makes it all worth it.  The disparate pieces magically came together.  That speaker who was consistently late with deadlines and vague with their slides turns out to be the star of the show.   The new venue turned out to be well organised and just right for our needs.  Most importantly, the feedback from the delegates is good. After all, this is what the conference is all about – bringing the members together and showcasing the best in Service Management, not just in the UK, but from around the world.

An old boss of mine once said that the role of the leader is to take the blame when things go wrong and to pass the credit onto the team when it all goes well.  The team – conference committee, events company and the itSMF UK office team have my eternal gratitude, and hopefully yours too.

And now my thoughts turn to ITSM16…

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