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TEDxSYDNEY – x for independent?

341297831I’d start with a question Seth Godin (Author of Purple Cow, Permission Marketing, and more recently – Tribes) ask the audience at TED USA – Who are you upsetting?

This thought provoking question is asked in reference to new ideas designed to change the world, and if the answer is – “No one”, go back to the drawing board!

Why all that? I’ve just attended TEDx SYD – where the X stands for independent.

Independent? So here it goes, and I might upset some people….

The agenda:

Craig Rispin – How to Think Like a Futurist?
I’ve heard Craig Rispin speak before, and it is unfair for his presentation to be condensed to 18 minutes. It wasn’t enough for him, as I didn’t think the message was properly delivered.

Peter Baines Hands Across the Water Story:
interesting and emotionally moving presentation. I couldn’t find the Ideas Worth Spreading in his presentation. Peter talked about doing a lot of charity work in Thailand, taking care of orphans after the devastation the Tsunami left in 2004. Good to hear about Aussies doing good overseas.

Claude Lewenz How to Build a Village. This one I struggled with, in particular:

Claude is talking about a great idea and concept he had, after researching human habitats for 18 years . His discovery – create a town, made of 20 villages put together, where:

  1. There are no cars allowed in the centre of town.
  2. There is an urban area.
  3. There is a Green belt area, with parks and paddocks, trees and flowers.
  4. There is an industrial area, to make things for consumption and selling…

And I was waiting for the punch line, which never came…. Claude was talking about the Gulag, or Kibbutz, or whatever you want to call a communal, socialistic environment. Carl Marx and his friends were talking about it, and implementing it over a century ago! It failed miserably then – why would it work now?

Michael Henderson – Values, Tribes & Corporate Anthropology
Finally, something worth listening to – Michael had a unique powerpoint presentation in the background – a short video of fire in a fireplace, on a loop. Feels all nice and cozy inside.  Michael discussed the role of the CEO in the modern corporate, giving his interpretation of the acronim:

C- Chief  – The leader of the tribe, in charge of the Culture of the company.
E – Executive – Developing strategy for the company to follow
O – Officer – Army reference, meaning execution of the strategy.

Michael said that in recent times, the role of the chief, the cultural leader, was thrown to HR to handle, which in most organizations proved to be a fatal mistake, hence no culture in the business.

Michael had a couple of other interesting definitions: He challenged the word Culture, being used as a noun, and suggested to make it a verb, as it is not an event, it is a continuous and progressive process.
He also made a distinction between a Cult and Culture:
In a Cult, the leader sees greatness in themselves; in a Culture the leader sees greatness in the people. interesting thought….

Matt Church – Thought Leadership – it was an entertaining presentation. If I had to summarize it – We all have ideas, which are worthless unless other people know about them, and they are acted upon. Matt talked about being in the spotlight (recommended book that comes to mind – Step into the spotlight, By Tsufit), which is a great concept, but you don’t have to be on stage to have a say, and promote your ideas, there are so many other channels – like this blog for example….

What really bugged me, for an “independent” TED event in Sydney Australia, is that between those presentations mentioned above, we watched videos from the US event in February, listening to Bill Gates, Patty Maes, Evan williams (co founder of Twitter), and Seth Godin. All great presentations, but I’ve watched them already at home!

The other thing the presenters all talked about, is the important of communication, and collaboration! What the hell just happened???
we set in the audience, like students in class, and have been lectured to! No communication, no collaboration, no Q&A session, or opportunity to share thought, and feedback (except for the couple of guys with the camera and microphone, who cornered people to say how great the event was ;( )

That was disappointing. Very Disappointing.

Regarding Matt Church – I came to the event with Oksana Koriakova, one of the co-authors of Matt’s first Ideas book. Having the 3rd volume of the book, given to me by one of the co-authors – Craig Rispin, let me assume that Matt personally knows some great thought leaders in Australia. This leads me to ask this question:

Why did we have to watch video presentations, with such a selection of Thought Leaders available right here, in Australia? Couldn’t Matt, who was the main sponsor, and I suspect was very involved in the organizing of this event, get 8-10 AUSSIE presenters, to spark local conversation?

Disappointing, and defeating the whole notion of the event.

And last issue I have with this kind of event, and it is the venue. It is not about the venue, it is about congruence:

Ok, Great venue at the Australian Technology Park. The auditorium, the AV, the staff – all great! But, in a world where big things make little difference, the little things make all the difference:
The Australian TECHNOLOGY Park – to get out of the parking lot, 500 people had to queue in front of two parking machines, inside the building, and the machine was so old, it could only accept cash, no credit card. The TECHNOLOGY Park! Is that futuristic technology? Why can’t we have a credit card machine at the gate, to make it easy for everyone?

This conference is all about changing the world, embracing new technologies, (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design), and here we are, scraping for cash to get out the car park….

What an interesting world we live in, don’t you think?

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  • http://www.inspiredworlds.com matthew

    Good summary of the event. I agree with a lot of the points you made. It was all one-way. no discussion. with a room full of such inspiring and great minds, they were not engaged. attention spans started to drift. the organisers have a tough challenge in trying to cater for those that have been the videos and those that are new to TED (like me).

    perhaps shorten the number of prezo’s, let guys like Craig have more time. have a panel where people can ask questions. a great opportunity was missed.

    the guy with fire in the background def had the best live talk.

    • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

      Matthew, the TEDx concept of 18 minutes is great, but not for every subject, and every presenter.
      My idea would be to have less presentations, with the concept being briefed in 18 minutes, and discussed in the following 12 within the room, where the speaker is also the moderator or facilitator of the discussion.
      It is also important to have the conversation going after the event, and people who understand and believe in the cause have the opportunity to collaborate with the speaker, and other believers. a slide with the speaker direct email and phone number will do the trick, during the Q&A session.

  • http://inspiredworlds.com Matt

    if they are going to show the video, there’s no value being added for people that have already seen it. the best way to add value is to have a discussion after it. because i could just watch it at home on youtube.

    TEDx, as i understand it is supposed to be about the experience (the X part). i’m sure a lot of people wanted to talk about the Bill gates video and the Seth Godin one.

    agree with your last point re opp to collaborate w speaker.

  • http://www.heidiallen.id.au Heidi Allen

    This post summarizes the experience very well. The best presentations were the videos which I also had already seen – and I used the opportunity to see if I could meet someone who was there while one of them was on.
    Dialogue, ideas, were missing – in fact I had one twitter message from someone who hadn’t attended to say the best value they had from TEDx was the networking opportunities in the breaks. I agree, I met some great people that night, and I’m still glad I went.

  • http://www.orfeilu.com O.R.

    found interesting fact of what is the thing that generate online conversation, reality related do.

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