What’s in Store at IMEX Association Day 2019

January 18, 2019

What’s in Store at IMEX Association Day 2019

“I’m always looking for support with innovation and Association Day provides the perfect opportunity to get new ideas.” Danielle Michel, Director of Corporate Programme at the Airports Council International European Region in Belgium, who visited Association Day at IMEX in Frankfurt explains why it delivers a real business boost to association event planners around the world.

Three streams – tailor the day

Association Day takes place on Monday 20 May 2019, the day before IMEX in Frankfurt. This top class event is split into three streams – all aimed at senior association professionals and chaired by key organisations in the sector. Each stream has been re-branded as a ‘Lab’ to reflect the highly interactive programme that is being developed in conjunction with the association industry. The programme’s three different streams allow attendees to tailor the day to suit their individual requirements with each session expertly curated and designed to get to the ‘nuts and bolts’ of each topic using case studies and open discussions. The aim is – as always – for attendees to leave armed with new ideas to put into action.

The ASAE Leadership Lab stream will aim to help professionals build their people management skills – focusing on staff recruitment and retention, managing global teams and establishing effective board governance. The ICCA Imagination Lab sessions take a creative look at event planning and partnering, responding to the pressure many event professionals are under to deliver exciting, engaging – and profitable – events time and time again. The MCI Knowledge Lab will showcase strategies for building long term commercial partnerships as well as exploring the festivalisation of events and how planners can employ immersive tactics to create an experience that’s unforgettable yet still hits their objectives.

Latest innovations and trends

Association Day is part of EduMonday, an afternoon of immersive, inspiring and free professional development, which takes place the day before the show.  The 2019 edition of IMEX in Frankfurt, taking place 21- 23 May, will incorporate many of the content ideas and feedback received from attendees and exhibitors. Reflecting current trends within the events industry and the world at large, topics such as diversity and inclusion, collaboration and co-creation plus the circular economy will all be explored. There will also be a substantial focus on all things experiential with an entire hall dedicated to experiential and immersive activities and event ideas, giving attendees time and space to experiment on behalf of their clients, members or delegates.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, explains: “The show evolves every year in response to attendee feedback. Each year we set new targets and new standards for our shows and for all our attendees, buyers and exhibitors alike, and this May in Frankfurt will be no different.  We know that this is what the industry needs – and expects – from an IMEX show. We’re especially pleased that as the show has grown we’ve been able to increase representation from both mature and emerging destinations; as well as being able to showcase growing market sectors in the industry such as technology. This is important as it allows association professionals to achieve a very productive week at the show – not only researching and selecting destinations and venues, but truly being able to meet every supplier they need to in order to develop an innovative and relevant event for their members.”

Association Day takes place on Monday 20 May, the day before IMEX in Frankfurt 2019. For more details and to register click here / IMEX in Frankfurt takes place at Messe Frankfurt from 21 -23 May 2019. Registration is free. www.imex-frankfurt.com

January 11, 2019

Trade Associations’ Internal Advocacy Challenges

In recent years, global and international trade associations have transformed into effective advocacy and lobbying tools. Internal advocacy toward membership is often neglected—but it’s one of the most crucial factors to consider.

The last decade has seen a drastic shift in terms of management and the repositioning of trade associations toward stakeholders and members. External advocacy and lobbying have become more of the core focus for trade associations, but there’s another aspect that’s just as important: internal lobbying toward members.

Trade associations today are comprised of a diverse membership, from stock market-listed, globally operating companies to smaller SMEs and regional or national associations. Structures within companies do often differ, but it’s important that associations coordinate on different priorities and structures when it comes to crucial policy development.

Increasingly challenging

In an increasingly challenging political environment, policy statements often have an immediate and direct impact on entire industry sectors—especially in terms of trade dispute and development. Member companies need information for planning security and to adjust internal human and financial resources. Therefore, concise internal communication and advocacy toward the membership—as well as quick information on policy discussions—are crucial if associations want to stay ahead of development and offer quick responses.

Trade association management often believes their membership is aware of day-to-day operations and challenges, but this is a general misconception. Due to time constraints, members may lack detailed understanding of internal association structures. Trade association secretariats often fail to communicate or place their work in an economic or political context, especially when it comes to complex technical and regulatory achievements.

Legislative proposals that could have a direct impact on an industry—or would result in higher costs for entire sectors—are sometimes not highlighted enough. In the long run, actions that result in the prevention (or partial prevention) of any extra burden for companies creates high-cost savings for the industry. This is even more important in budget discussions, which are often seen as cost centres. The value of association work is most easily expressed in numerical fashion, and avoiding costs creates indirect value, providing association board members with the right tools to express the trade association’s value during company budget planning processes and discussions.

More internal

The question now becomes “how?”How can associations focus more on internal lobbying? In addition to membership publications and newsletters, general assemblies, board and committee meetings are the most common forums of communication to open discussion on challenges and achievements. However, these traditional tools also have their limitations. Restricted, online member networks that limit access to information and internal libraries (but allow for secretariats and members to edit position papers) are helping speed up coordination processes and enhance transparency. In my experience, policy makers who offer quick, unified and internally coordinated responses are what stakeholders and members value most.

In our association, the European Flavour industry association, which consists of global companies and smaller SMEs, we wanted to increase our visibility to stakeholders, so we needed to rethink our collaboration strategies. We did this, for instance, through joint internal publications or external information letters. Quotes and statements from our stakeholders which we published in our newsletters were, in this context, a visible sign of endorsement. Our general assemblies were also a great opportunity to invite stakeholders and partners of the industry to exchange further and to identify possible future fields of collaboration.

Basic standard office software allows today’s associations to work in a collaborative manner on joint documents and statements. This allows for faster, coordinated input on public consultations of institutions, while also increasing their profile and visibility toward related partner trade associations—especially in the b2b realm. By increasing dissemination of information through social internal and external networks (such as restricted LinkedIn groups), members and external stakeholders will be directly involved—and kept informed.

For companies engaged in trade associations, increased internal information and enhanced collaboration offer a clear benefit: first-hand information from in-house policy experts familiar with all aspects of the business. By bringing external lobbying efforts in line with internal advocacy, associations can ensure long-term success and continue propelling position industry interests forward.

This article was contributed by Brussels-based Alexander Mohr, PhD, Executive Director of the European Flavour industry association, EFFA. He writes in his own capacity.


January 4, 2019

The Power of the BestCities Alliance in Bogotá

In December, BestCities Alliance participants gathered in Bogotá, Colombia – the only Latin American city in the Alliance – for the annual Global Forum. Now in its third year, the Forum has continued to gain strength, offering a wealth of content and wonderful hosts who can capture and engage an audience – traits that certainly befit this year’s ‘Power of the People’ theme.

Following Dubai in 2016 and Tokyo in 2017, the members of the BestCities Alliance invited a delegation of international associations to Bogotá at the end of 2018 as a way to enhance the skills and knowledge of association executives based globally. Held in collaboration with the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau (GBCB), the Forum honed in on the concept of creating change regardless of your surroundings – a perspective that made all the more sense in the Colombian capital, a city recovering from a complicated past.

What is the BestCities Global Alliance ?

The BestCities Global Alliance is a worldwide partnership of convention bureaux whose objective is to deliver the world’s best convention bureau practices for the meetings industry. The Alliance comprises members in Vancouver, Bogotá, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Dubai, Edinburgh, Houston, Melbourne, Singapore, Tokyo, Madrid and Berlin. The members exchange business leads, organize sales missions and client workshops, and share best practices and knowledge on the international meetings industry. Together with ICCA, BestCities initiated the Incredible Impacts Programme, which celebrates the “beyond tourism” lasting impacts made by associations; gives inspiring legacy examples; and awards much-deserved grants to internationally-based organizations.

Local elements weaved their way into the Forum in the form of personal stories. Neyder Culchac, a young leader from Putumayo, a region in southwest Colombia, shared some of the conflicts he faced growing up that later inspired an initiative that transformed the lives of 480 families in his community. Lina Tangarife, Director of Social Responsibility at the Social Alliance of Uniandinos, meanwhile, has strengthened volunteering among public and private sector companies, making her a prime example of “The Power of People.” While her story is impressive enough, Tangarifealso offered attendees sound advice on how to activate networks.

Besides traditional lectures – Rick Antonson and his cathedral thinking made a popular comeback – the Forum included hands-on, workshop-like sessions, which participants greatly appreciated. “I rarely attend these events, but BestCities provided the ideal platform for me not only to network with my peers, share my issues, and discuss my challenges, but also to participate in engaging discussions and find concrete solutions through innovative formats,” explained Diane Kovats, Executive Director of the International Society for Computational Biology.

The Power of Bogotá

At a time when geopolitical issues and religious boundaries can create barriers for knowledge sharing and collaboration, Bogotá set the ideal backdrop for inspirational thinking. Despite itsown set of challenges, the Colombian capital is a very appealing city. The friendliness, enthusiasm and warmth of its residents quickly twist the perception visitors may have of the destination, undermining flaws such as mobility (which the government is currently working on). Case in point: Bogotá is known as the bike capital of the continent, with a network of more than 350km of bike paths and “Ciclovías” cycling routes, used by approximately 2.5 million people every day.

As Colombia’s economic epicentre and business hub, Bogotá is an emerging conference destination with plenty of assets. Connectivity is just one highlight, with over 700 air routes from 44 destinations. Bogotá has also been voted the fifth best city for business in Latin America, and, with over 60 universities, knowledge and innovation are continuously on the rise.

With a strong portfolio of association wins – The World Summit of Peace Laureates and One Young World, the most important summit of young leaders, took place there in 2017; the International Conference on Production Research in 2018 – Bogotá has caught plenty of global attention lately — and the city is ready for more. In recent years, Bogotá’s diverse economy and favourable business environment have attracted large amounts of foreign investments, as well as business activities and events from organizations based all around the globe, securing the city’s position internationally as a business and conference hub in Latin America.

For some participants, this dynamism was an eye-opener. As Iain Bitran, Executive Director of the International Society for Professional Innovation Management, explained: “I was not sure what to expect when I came to Bogotá. But with its wide range of infrastructure for events and its wonderful people eager to make a positive change, the city is really inspiring; now I’m really considering organizing something here.”

The Forum’s goal was to show the power conferences and meetings have on communities, creating change and leaving legacies for and by the communities involved – a goal that was certainly achieved this year.

More information on BestCities: www.bestcities.net / on Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau: bogotacb.com

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé. Picture: the whole delegation of partners and associations in Bogotá.


December 19, 2018

Sarawak – Creating Global Communities

No doubt Sarawak, the largest of Malaysia’s thirteen states located on the island of Borneo, is a must-see destination for the regular tourist seeking a plethora of cultures, indigenous communities, UNESCO World Heritage sites, immense rainforests and, of course, unique culinary offerings. But the world of business events has all that and more to gain from the region, as Sarawak is firmly set on the industry’s global map as an emerging destination for major international conferences thanks to its ‘Redefining Global Tribes’ campaign.

Riding on the wave of a long period of successful events, Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB), always with the support of the government, spawned back in 2017 what is still a highly attractive campaign. Since then, the campaign has brought together important international players with the vision to create a strong community, challenging associations to increase the impact of their events on their profession and economy.

The notion that everyone could belong to a tribe and that everyone could unite in Sarawak to form a global tribe where knowledge is shared and legacy is created was received with great interest by associations; after all, that is what any association is all about. And they get rewarded for it. The Anak Sarawak Awards, under the BESarawak umbrella,honours not just convention hosts for their passion and contribution to the growth of Sarawak’s meetings industry, but event suppliers and industry partners every two years.

The goal is to draw on the power of these events to help the state, and the nation, become more advanced through the development of its key sectors with special focus on urban development and re-development, environment, social development, industry, services renewable energy, agriculture as well as digital economy. In this context, Sarawak’s inaugural conference, Business Events Tribal Meet (TriBE 2018) was organised in Kuching earlier this year aiming to drive digital transformation within the Business Events sector.

On this occasion, the BESarawak Alliance (BESA), initiated by the Sarawak Convention Bureau, was launched, featuring a dedicated associate platform for government ministries and agencies to further Sarawak’s economic transformation. This forward-looking effort aspires to create collaborative opportunities between government ministries and agencies through business events. The benefit? The transmission of knowledge, the establishment of new partnerships, and renewed perspectives.

TriBE 2018 featured six international thought leaders in a bid to create a generation of business events leaders whose job is to use digital tools and tribal values in order to create a meaningful legacy. It sets the ground for Sarawak’s bigger plans to enhance further international collaborations and create opportunities for the development of the region’s key sectors. Indeed, in 2020 TriBE Assembly will be an international conference with the focus on Business Events Disruption.

This article was written by Boardroom Editor Vicky Koffa. Watch out for a special Sarawak feature in the February issue of Boardroom.

December 15, 2018

Knowledge All Over Luxembourg

If most people might only see it as this country not really worth visiting, Luxembourg might well be one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, offering more than just a place for diplomats. In fact, as a knowledge hub tucked away between Germany, France and Belgium, the Grand Duchy has many assets up its sleeves, attracting the attention of European and international associations.

 A country full of contrasts, where tradition and modernity coincide in a harmonious manner, Luxembourgis well connected to the major European cities and hubs, whether by car, train or plane. Boastinga trilingual and multicultural population of more than 600,000, it has historically been open to the world: thanks to the country’s role as a centre of business, European capital and home to the European Court of Justiceand the European Court of Auditors and the Secretariat of the European Parliament, it’s hosted EU summits and diplomats from around the world, and is no stranger to organising large-scale events. A founding member of the Benelux, the Grand Duchyhas, over the years, become more than aware of what a successful meetings destination has to offer.

If modern and well-equipped conference infrastructure to suit any requirements are to be found all over, Luxembourg prospers today from the talent of its people and their ability to innovate. The country has understood that its competitiveness in a modern world is increasingly reliant upon effective innovation networks. With competition from all corners of the planet, Luxembourg has been facing rapid economic changes, to which it has adapted. In this regard, the reinforcement – or creation – of its competitiveness clusters reflects a creative way of thinking about the economy.

Cluster Initiative

As early as 2012 indeed, the Luxembourg government launched the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative, a key element of the national research and development and innovation policy, bringing together several clusters and innovation networks established throughout the country and reinforcing private-public partnerships in order to boost innovation. The initiative aims to develop state-of-the- art technologies, while supporting Luxembourg’s existing technological expertise, as well as promoting the development of centres of excellence.

In this context, major corporations, small and medium-sized companies and public research institutions all benefit from a comprehensive range of individualised services offered by the clusters. They are able to leverage their know-how and expertise via access to the pooled knowledge, resources and networks of cluster members.

“The clusters included in the initiative were not chosen at random. They focus on selected strategically key technologies and aim to strengthen already flourishing economic sectors in Luxembourg, as well as to develop new business sectors with the greatest potential for the sustainable development of the national economy. Between 2002 and 2016, five clusters were created bringing together leading companies in the biomedicine, environmental technology, information and communication technology, material sciences and automotive fields. In 2016, the Luxembourg Cluster Initiative continued its development with new members joining its ranks. To the five existing clusters were added two new clusters active in the timber and the creative industries sectors.” writes Marie-Hélène Trouillez in an article published this summer in Merkur magazine.

This support for development and commitment to growth can also be seen in the way Luxembourg is one of the largest contributors to development aid in the EU. Following the peer review of Luxembourg carried out by the OECD’sDevelopment Assistance Committee (DAC) at the end of last year, the country was indeed praised for its generous contribution to official development assistance, allocating 1% of its gross national income to official development assistance (ODA) and thereby exceeding the international target of 0.7%. Around half of Luxembourg’s bilateral aid targets health, education and local development. “The DAC peer review clearly confirmed that our efforts to eradicate poverty are producing sustainable results,” noted Romain Schneider, Luxembourg Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, in a press release. “We are seen by our peers as a reliable, flexible contributor of funds.” 

In this regard, Luxembourg collaborates extensively with many NGOs. Since the adhesion of the country’s to the DAC in 1992, the Grand Duchy’s development cooperation policy has undergone significant change, both in terms of funds made available to it and with regard to its organisational and qualitative aspects. It now works with multilateral organisations in the framework of a development cooperation characterised by a strong commitment to poverty reduction, humanitarian aid and effective work with its new privileged partner countries, such as Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Mali, Niger, Senegal,Nicaragua and Laos. A platform like one-of-a-kind Le Cercle for instance facilitates exchanges and learning between Luxembourg’s various actors in international solidarity and creates a dynamic of change.

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé. More information: www.visitluxembourg.com/meetings

Picture: European Convention Centre Luxembourg (ECCL)


December 11, 2018

The Secretary General’s Voice
– One Year Later

A member of Boardroom Advisory board, Mohamed Mezghani has been appointed Secretary General of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) in January. Boardroom has asked him to contribute a monthly column in which he explains all about the challenges of holding such a position. This is Mohamed’s very last contribution, in which he reflects on the year that passed by.

Already one year passed since I took office as Secretary General of UITP. I didn’t see it pass. It was such a busy and exciting year! I faced many challenges and enjoyed many opportunities, not necessarily those I would have imagined. But I am so satisfied with my role and my involvement!

The global dimension, relevance and size of UITP have attracted a lot of interest from numerous national and international organisations. I no longer count the number of invitations received this year to speak at events, participate in the launch of new products, contribute to panels, answer interviews, etc. The reputation of the association and relevance of the topics we cover are a strength that put us in a prominent situation to be approached to represent the sector. This is a priveleged position. Unfortunately we can’t say yes to all solicitations, not that we snob them but because it is practically impossible. It gives a feeling of pride but the stakes are very high at the same time. It requires proper preparation because I respect the organisation who invites me, the attendees who expect my contribution and the association I represent. And my team is outstandingly helpful at preparing my speeches and contributions. I can’t accept any compromise with the quality and relevance of them. I think all went well but only those who attended can judge.

One issue that has been very topical this year is the growing importance of gender balance in our entities and activities. I am happy I identified this before taking office, as a priority for the association. It is not an easy task in a 133 year old  male dominated organisation to decide introducing gender equality. Because you can’t just erase the past and start from scratch. You start from an existing situation and habits. We needed to adopt new ways of thinking, to act with diplomacy, and to dare questioning the statu quo. It’s actually a work in progress and it will be growingly reflected in our coming events and composition of committees and board. Our determination is big:  we even introduced gender balance in our new bylaws formally.

Amongst the fundamental changes there is also the adoption of transparency in our management and communication, and the empowerment of staff and board members. Here too it is a fundamental cultural change. Because transparency means taking the risk of sharing details, being accountable, and putting problems on the table to which you don’t necessarily have the answers. But isn’t it better as it will involve others in sharing the issues and finding solutions? They (the staff and the board members) will feel a sense of ownership and concern about the issues and the future of the association. It will also empower them to concretely lead or contribute to solving the issues. It is the approach we adopted in our financial management, as we reformed our bylaws and reorganised  our internal structure. When you do that, you don’t need to spend energy convincing your partners because they co-design what you want to achieve. It’s about giving the leadership to those who own the association and those who make it work.

These were few examples of this year’s achievements. A year I’ll never forget as it was so exciting. I had the opportunity to share my views and approach on many subjects in this column. It was a pleasure to do it and a honor to receive your ‘likes’ and comments. I hope I have succeeded to engage you with me, in a world that I do hope it’s yours too now. In the end, whatever our field of activities and our professional domain, I have tried to share issues of common sense. We all have so much in common!

December 3, 2018

GAHP Members Surpass Universal Association Growth Rate

The Global Association Hubs Partnership (GAHP) was founded in October 2015, bringing together four major association hubs to represent their regions of America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. As it marks its third anniversary, its members – Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington DC – are experiencing growth in the number of associations located in their cities at a significantly faster rate than global averages. More specifically, in 2018, the number of association headquarters and regional offices located in the four cities grew by 2.5% reaching 3,769, according to the Union of International Associations (UIA), a significantly higher number when compared to worldwide growth of 0.9%.

In this past year, the partnership has continued to get involved in industry meetings and events the world over. This included organising and powering sessions at the inaugural Dubai Association Conference, the European Association Summit in Brussels, the ASAE Annual Meeting & Expo in Chicago, and the ASAE Association Leadership Forum-Asia Pacific in Singapore. GAHP has also provided research to feed into studies by the likes of the Union of International Associations (UIA), International Conference and Convention Association (ICCA), Association Laboratory and AT Kearney.

Steen Jakobsen, Assistant Vice President, Dubai Business Events, said: “Dubai remains committed to facilitating the growth of associations, recognising their importance to developing key industries and sectors and further diversifying the economy. The Dubai Association Centre (DAC) provides a powerful platform for international and regional associations to expand their reach, influence and membership, and at the same time contribute to and tap into Dubai’s growing knowledge economy. In December, DAC will host its first Association Leaders Getaway, offering a unique platform for networking, education and discussions.”

Melissa A. Riley, Vice President, Convention Sales and Services, Destination DC, points out the impact of new investment in the region: “The recent announcement that Amazon will establish HQ2 in the DC metro region exemplifies how the investment in technology, talent and innovation intersect in our region.”

Jeannie Lim, Executive Director, Conventions, Meetings and Incentive Travel, Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau recognises the growth of her country as the regional Asian hub for international associations to anchor their events and offices. She says: “Singapore was again ranked as ICCA’s top international association meetings city in Asia-Pacific for the 16th year in a row. We believe we can continue to contribute meaningfully to the growth of associations both at the regional and global level.”

Elisabeth Van Ingelgem, Director, Brussels Convention and Association Bureau, said: “In March, visit.brussels will organise the 7th edition of the European Association Summit, confirming its commitment to association professional development. The event gets into a new dimension by linking it closely to the sustainability activities undertaken by the Brussels Capital Region actors allowing to combine education for associations and promoting what the destination may offer them in this important field.”

November 26, 2018

The Changing Meeting Landscape

As more and more associations create event departments some appear to see less and less value in the work of professional congress organizers (PCOs). Why should associations hire professional organizers if, as they grow, they have the staff and the resources to do things themselves? Are the event departments of associations taking over what a PCO or a destination management company (DMC) can bring to the table, and if so, what does that mean? Aigars Smiltans, director of MEET RĪGA, shares his view.

 With the abundance of information out there, available everywhere and all the time, some association event planners find it easy — or think it’s easy — to get what they need to stage a meeting. Industry experts say they see planners going directly to suppliers, whether a hotel, a technology company, or an off-site venue, to book conference space or audio-visual services for their next event. “This is an obvious trend at the moment,” says Aigars Smiltans, director of convention bureau MEET RĪGA. “What used to be organized thanks to the expertise of PCOs or DMCs is now handled in-house, without the assistance of third parties. Planners, like anybody else, are looking to save money: Everyone now has a good understanding of the supply chain from client to end service and is trying to cut someone out.”

Convention bureaus can still add value, experts say, especially if a destination is totally new to a planer. He/she may need people who can give input on, say, unusual venues and new, exciting activities. “But, as convention bureaus, we can’t add value over the whole supply chain either,” Smiltans says.“Hotels, just like Radisson Blu Latvija for instance, now offer a full range of in-house AV solutions to planners, shortcutting intermediaries. That was typically the work done by a PCO not so long ago. And there is also that big buzz about hotels cutting (or at least reducing) commissions now and going the extra mile for their clients. All this stimulates direct collaboration between conference organizers and suppliers.”

Does this change the situation for destinations? “It doesn’t really,” Smiltans argues. “The workload is pretty much just shifting. What used to be done by a PCO is now done by a hotel; whatever advice could come from a DMC is now coming from a convention bureau. I really think DMCs and PCOs should change their mindset and maybe rethink their business models so that associations see where their added values lie.”  That value, experts say, includes extensive local knowledge and connections.

“More and more associations choose Riga without the support of a local branch — and even without the possibility of getting a subvention — because our stakeholders over the whole supply chain do a good job showcasing what they’re good at,” Smiltans says.

Events in Riga that are testament to this include conferences organized by the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the International Airlines Technical Pool (IATP), or the European Association of Adhesives & Sealants Industry and its FEICA event.

This article, whose unedited version is available in the November issue of Boardroom, was written by Rémi Dévé.

November 19, 2018

Transforming Associations with Agility

The world is evolving very quickly, from changing economies to blending industries, resulting in tremendous competitive pressure from all angles. In the current environment, association leaders need to disrupt their organisations to survive, rethinking their products, technology, organisational talent and partnerships. They are required to promote an organisational culture that assumes changes, is comfortable with chaos and customer driven. They are expected to break the rules while bringing operational consistency. There is simply no room for rigidity!

I come at this topic from two directions in my role at Scrum Alliance®, the largest professional association of Agile practitioners worldwide. Our mission is to help others transform the world of work through improved organisational practice. At the same time, Scrum Alliance®itself is in the midst of a multi-year process of renewal and revitalisation to better align our work with the needs and desires of our members.

People over processes

We have attacked that challenge through a greater organisational commitment to Agile – an approach and mindset that values people over processes, iterative solutions with constant customer feedback, deeper cross-functional collaboration, and responsiveness to change over following a set plan.

Although Agile has gone more mainstream, it remains an idea that is easier to grasp than to practice. Scrum Alliance®just collaborated with Forbes Insights on a global survey of more than 1,000 C-level executives. Just 16 percent of these leaders said their organisations were “Agile in both strategy and execution,”although 81 percent of respondents agree on the critical importance of agility when it comes to leading a successful organisation.

So, if your organisation seems to be stuck in a time machine of pre-2000 efficiency, know that you’re not alone. The question is how do you change it?

The findings from our survey suggested a structured approach with three key elements to increase organizational agility: (1) Create a C-suite with an Agile mindset;  (2) Hire and develop the right mix of talent, and (3) Foster an Agile-friendly culture and organisational structure.

Executive-level support for Agile change is a must. Active senior management sponsorship and support is the number one motivator for undertaking a broader transformation.C-level executives can increase organisational agility by challenging ideas, sponsoring the right supporting structure and inspiring an Agile mindset across the organisation.

All about the staff

The next group responsible for supporting successful disruption is the staff. True Agile practice requires everyone in an organisation to work differently. It is important to have changing agents on board and surround those employees with a supporting culture. Many CEOs are good with developing strategies but aren’t as good with communicating across organisational layers. HR professionals become key Agile enablers as the heads of hiring and training. They evolve into a more strategic role becoming strategic business partners. They also help bring culture and communication down from the C-suite, acting as a cross-functional facilitator.

It is fine to start small; in fact, that is how most successful transformations begin. Some departments may be able to handle a total process overhaul quickly, eliminating unnecessary process and protocol, while others, like accounting, may hold on longer to older ways that are still working.

Many organisations mistakenly think that “going Agile” just means eliminating hierarchy. However, Agile is about creating the right team mindset and dynamics through practices such as Scrum and Kanban to support execution. Both Agile frameworks help organisations create empowered teams, bottom-up decision making, accountability, transparency and customer centricity.

The full version, written by Renata Lerch, Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications at Scrum Alliance, is available in the November issue of Boardroom

November 9, 2018

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur: Let the People Talk

It’s always better to have organisers talk about their experience in a given destination than just convention bureaus explaining how great it would be for you – and them – if you chose them for their next event. In order for you to get familiar with Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and where its expertise lies, Boardroom asked four planners to explain how the regional convention bureau, Provence Côte d’Azur Events, successfully supported them.


Stéphane Azoulay, Member of the Local Organising Committee, EFMC-ISMC 2022, XXVII International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry

In September 2022, we will co-organize the 27thInternational Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry in Nice. This biennial event, led by the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry, welcomes about 1,200 participants from the pharmaceutical industry and academia.

Thanks to high-quality research conducted at the Côte d’Azur University,a centre of excellence according to the state-funded programme IDEX (Initatives d’Excellence), easy accessibility to and from Nice through its international airport, a highly flexible convention centre, and a good image of the city on the international scene, our bid made the difference.

In addition, we benefitted, at a local level, from the support of Nice Convention Bureau and many stakeholders of the whole supply chain. They were very helpful putting the bid together and giving us advice in terms of off-site venues and social events – a real added value. On a regional level, Provence-Côte d’Azur Events acted as a facilitator for us to obtain a letter of support from the President of the South Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, with a financial grant of up to 30,000€ – which of course we highly appreciate for an event of this magnitude.


Claire De Longeaux, Trustech Director, Cannes

With an in-depth focus on the latest innovations applied to payments and identification, biometrics, blockchain and artificial intelligence, Trustech is the professional event dedicated to digital trust technologies. We have been operating for more than 30 years and settled in Cannes in 2016, where we usually welcome over 120 different nationalities. Trustech is a congress, with 200 international speakers, a trade show, with 300 exhibiting companies, and a networking event attended by more than 11,000 professionals.

In 2017, Trustech benefitted from the support of the Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur region as part of its ‘Attract Congresses & Events’ programme (see sidebar), helping our growth in a field the region has become renowned for. Many Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur-based companies are indeed working in this dynamic sector, starting with the members of the SCS-Global Competitiveness Cluster dedicated to secure communication solutions.


Philippe Olivier, Deputy Secretary General of the ITER Industrial Committee (ITER France Agency)

ITER (‘the way’ in Latin) is one of the most ambitious energy projects in the world today. In southern France, 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy.

The 2017 edition of the ITER Business Forum took place at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, with more than 1,000 representatives of 433 companies from 25 countries, including more than 50% foreigners. For three days, delegates were able, to meet, interact and establish contacts while learning about the progress of the ITER programme and upcoming calls for tenders.

This sixth edition of the Forum, which is today the international flagship event of the ITER programme, was organised by the ITER France Agency with the support of the International Organization ITER and its partners from China, Korea, Europe, India, Japan, America and Russia. The financial support of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region was instrumental in making the event a success.

The full version, written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé, is available in the November issue of Boardroom. For more information on the Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur region as a conference destination: l.cassuto@provencecotedazurevents.com / www.provencecotedazurevents.com

Picture: the Ephrussi de Rothschild villa and gardens, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat