ACMP Global Conference 2018

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The Change Management Conference Offers Tremendous ROI – Erika Schmidt, SAPPINGTON

Solving complex people puzzles is why I’m drawn to change management and why I find moving people to adopt change—of any kind—a compelling career.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been an observer of people and their behaviors. When I’m in a room of people, I’m assessing what’s going on and thinking about how I can help them. What motivates them? What’s their story? Why did they do “that”? What’s there why? I thoroughly enjoy learning about people and what they need or want.

My passion for guiding change is why I enjoyed Change Management 2018, the recent National ACMP conference held in Las Vegas in March. Throughout the three days, I was exposed to story after story about how others have developed programs and filled my notebook with ideas and best practices that I can apply in my day-to-day work. It was pure heaven.

Since I attended the conference thanks to winning a drawing for a reduced cost registration through the Pacific Northwest chapter of ACMP, I thought I’d share a few insights about the value of the conference, from my perspective.

My take ways are many – but one is at the top of the list…

The highlight of the conference for me was meeting and hearing from people and soaking up information, whether I was in the many conference sessions, visiting an exhibitor’s booth, or enjoying a meal with other people. After reviewing my copious notes and reflections, I have many takeaways from my experience with the most important at the top of the list:

  1. Change adoption is one of the most relevant topics in business today.
  2. Change management professionals can expedite the important work in companies.
  3. Change management is a complex
  4. Incremental improvement is equally as important as big changes.
  5. Transparency during change programs is a must have.
  6. There is power in ensuring people are heard before and during a change program.
  7. Culture is critical—don’t over look
  8. Digital continues to grow in importance, and people struggle with it.
  9. Accountability is a process that needs time and attention to get it right.
  10. Words matter—pay close attention to the words used in messaging.

(Call-out – There were more than 50 sessions at the ACMP Change Management 2018 Conference)

Desire to attend all the sessions

I attended eight total sessions, in addition to two keynotes by Peter Shankman (Economy of The Next Fifty Years will be Run by Customer Service) and Erica Javellana of Zappos (Culture of Service—The Zappos Story).

According to the very helpful conference app, the number of conference sessions that I attended was only a fraction of what was available. There were three times as many workshops at competing times and I could have probably attended all of them. The few that did stick out to me are listed below.

  • Co-Creating Culture: The Art of Enabling Employee-directed Performance by Phil Buckley with Change Confidence– This session laid out how to define a culture and how to look at its health. Buckley explored the journey of a company moving from old to new values during rapid growt.
  • Building Change Leadership: There’s a Gap for That by Holly Burkett, University of California Davis – Burkett presented her case for today’s insufficient leadership capacity to meet tomorrow’s future skills, and the high impact practices for building change leadership: lead with culture, build capability, execute well, foster collaboration and connection, and embrace innovation.
  • Words Create Worlds: Words to Eliminate from your Vocabulary to Create More Buy in and Build Trust by Karin Keats, BC Provincial Government – I learned that it can set you apart in communication when you get rid of filler words…like “perhaps” or “just.”
  • Up Your Game: “Next Level” Facilitation Tools for your Change Management Toolbox by Cindy Peterson with Macy’s Technology and Janel Wellborn, Peerless Partners – Peterson and Wellbornled the whole room through great facilitation exercises that were fun, inspiring, and active. It’s not often that I get to compete at rock, paper, scissors.
  • Driving Change in the Digital Revolution Era! By Shailesh Menon and Mark Rout, VMware, Inc. – This session reaffirmed how change management is a true requirement for any company going through digital transformation. (Call-out – In between sessions, it was great to stop by the “book table” and get a glimpse of the titles and buy a few to take home.)

Culture could have been my sole focus

Culture is such a big part of the change management discussion that I could have focused solely on that if time, and the session topics, allowed. While culture is the direct result of how a company and its people function, it would have been interesting to hear more about actual initiatives, especially from a behind-the-scenes perspective. This is a topic that our clients are always curious about and the one that requires the most attention.

Prediction – next year technology will be a hot topic

I believe the hot topic for next year will be technology—get people to adopt it and how to integrate it into change management programs. I think that we will all be talking more about how critical it is bring people on board with technology change.

Erika Schmidt, Principal, SAPPINGTON

At SAPPINGTON, I spend my time helping people understand and embrace technology changes so it’s easier for leaders to move companies can move forward and achieve big ambitions. As for the fun stuff about me, I’m a lifelong Seattle resident who grew up in the U District. I am married with two teenage sons, my favorite place to get away is Walla Walla, and I’m afraid of butterflies (have you seen them up close—yuk).


Interested in connecting with Erika – find her LinkedIn here!

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