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Eight Intriguing Quotes From Day One of the i4cp 2016 Conference

"Would all the vendors and consultants in the audience please stand?"

i4cp CEO Kevin Oakes opened the 2016 conference by pointing out this was a practitioner-only affair. As no one stood up, it helped create a more relaxed atmosphere for candid discussions and exploration of the issues and opportunities in the field. With no need to be defensive or suspicious about a sales agenda in any encounter, I noticed a more open and direct tone to the event.

Kevin concluded his welcoming remarks with highlights of recent research, as well as a quick inventory of support and resources available through the i4cp member organizations. As busy professionals with short-attention spans, it was a valuable reminder of many ways we can reach out to i4cp to help.

"This is going to require different thinking."

As the first presenter of the day, professor and HR researcher John Boudreau challenged our current approach by highlighting trends stimulating us to reimagine the future of work beyond employment. Through the use of examples and simple frameworks, John provided a challenging and compelling picture of how alternative work arrangements are unfolding today. A panel of practitioners then joined John to share how this future of alternative work arrangements is being realized today.

John and the panel introduced a theme that was repeated in a number of presentations throughout the day: In order to think differently and find new solutions in the workplace of the future, we will need to tap into the expertise of other professions, such as supply chain competence for talent sourcing and development. One other useful approach was mentioned by the panel--no need to radically transform on day one. Rather, pick a smaller segment or a spot where applying the new thinking would add value and start there.

"You need to educate them about the other stakeholder views."

The senior management team of Jack in the Box was on stage next with the CEO, CFO and CHRO taking turns presenting their business and team story. This was a real treat and a rare opportunity to see executive teamwork in action. Jack in the Box CEO Lenny Comma provided insight on the realities of the top leader needing to understand and align key stakeholders (owners, employees, guests, shareholders) and through trust and a ‘healthy tension’, make the right strategic and tactical decisions.

"A YAY Day makes the brand compelling."

The launch of a new i4cp next practices board in Total Rewards was announced by Mark Englizian and Michelle Clements--two seasoned professionals with multi-company and industry experience. They spelled out the initial focus areas of the board through the description of six critical roles and challenges in the Total Rewards area. One highlight was Michelle sharing the REI strategy to differentiate the company employee brand with unique and authentic benefits such as a YAY Day of paid outdoor day for employees.

"We’ll be looking for the trends that if we ignore will kick us in the butt."

This also came out of the Total Rewards presentation that perfectly captured the essence of many of the sessions today. A conference attendee made a similar comment at the coffee break: "I need to put a few more things on my radar screen now."

"Keep the people plan simple and integrated."

Jon Ruppel, VP of Global HR Business Operations for 3M began the afternoon with a comprehensive view of the key talent strategies of this large and successful conglomerate. World-renowned for innovation, Jon provided an interesting insider’s view of how HR contributes to 3M’s success. It was refreshing to hear a simple approach to addressing the many complexities and challenges of a global enterprise. Jon provided many great examples of the "Build, Develop and Engage" approach used at 3M.

"We are now at the tipping point."

Learning legend and provocateur Elliott Masie provided an entertaining and stimulating view of the learning trends and choices today. Demonstrating his wide-ranging interests from horse-racing to Broadway show production, he noted eight trends now driving the future of learning. His ‘tipping point’ pronouncement dealt with the empowered learner who now is in the driver’s seat to select--and in many cases produce--their own learning. Elliott pointed to a new role L&D leaders must forge to become a useful partner to learners. The new role included guiding learners trying to navigate the confusing multitude of learning options by understanding the learner triggers to learn and creating an efficient environment to choose the right learning option.

"We are here to change the world … join us."

An inspirational and heartfelt message was next delivered by staff and clients of Best Buddies, an organization i4cp is partnering with to advance the employment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This session segment reminded me of two things: first, professional conferences sometimes get so narrow that they lose sight of broader issues, and second, we have a workforce more attuned to ‘changing the world’ missions than previous generations.

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Kevin Wilde
Kevin D. Wilde is a strategic business advisor to the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and currently serves as an executive leadership fellow at the University of Minnesota. His prior 34-year corporate career includes serving as the head of learning and talent management at General Mills. Chief Learning Officer magazine named him CLO of the Year in 2007. His most recent award-winning book is, “Coachability: The Leadership Superpower.”