Sunday, October 18, 2015

Organizing a Quality Conference

Organizing a Quality Conference

I was watching a professional golf tournament this afternoon.  Given a choice I would rather play golf, but when that is not possible, I enjoy watching golf.  I like golf because it is first and foremost a personal activity with a direct reward system.  You play well and you are rewarded;  you play poorly and you are not.  But there is an important caveat;  you can play well but still not win because there can always be another player who not only played as well as you, but also managed to score better and got an even bigger reward.  

Despite what you do, there are always additional factors that you cannot control, but have an influence on outcome.  Call them luck, or Karma, they are part of the process.  They fit into the Knightian model as immeasurable risk or what Donald Rumsfeld called the “unknown unknowns”.   They always lead to the sense of gamble and excitement of every decision we make.
The same thing holds true when it comes to putting together conferences. 
In two weeks we will be hosting our fifth Medical Laboratory Quality Conference in Vancouver.  (see : .  In many regards this meeting has the best plan that I have ever put together.  

We have reviewed our experiences from the past and found the things that we can do better.  We have have tapped into all the right topics and have brought together a brilliant set of speakers.  We have a great venue in a great city and have a great time schedule.  We did a great promotion program, and most people that I wanted to inform about the meeting have heard about it and have seen the conference website.   
Importantly we have found the ways to reduce our costs in a way that do not impede on the things that are important to our sponsors, our speakers, or our audience.

 I have absolute confidence that everyone who attends will comment on what a great meeting it was. 

Everything that I can do to make the meeting a great success, I have done.
But there is one thing that I cannot control and that is getting people to “pull the trigger” and sign up at the conference registration site (again at:  And in that is the final piece where luck, karma, or devine intervention come into play.  

The reality is that the economy is not what it could or should be and there are lots of companies are cutting back on supporting conferences and sending people to conferences.   There are many people who would like to attend and participate but for whom air travel and hoteling is very expensive.    Personally, when we looked at our crystal ball 18 months ago I would have guessed that we would be further along the road to economic improvement than we are today.  

But we will see how many decide to attend.  I know that we have enough resources to cover our expenses and so at our absolute baseline, we are covered.  It is mostly around having enough of an audience to generate a culture of enthusiasm  and contribution.  

Regardless of what happens now, I know that those folks who attend will come away with a lot of pearls.  For them it will be truly an inspiring two-and-a-half days.   

The rest is beyond my control.


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