What Me Worry?

17 09 2010

The true cost of growing, learning, sharing knowledge, and job improvement is not something that can be assessed in a practical sense. Employers who restrict (or forbid) travel for educational events provide a huge disservice to their clients, employees, vendors, frequently to themselves, and certainly to their companies.

There is no instance in the business world where staying behind the curve is a benefit. The simple fact that the world is changing so rapidly should be a giant red flag to management for the necessity to stay as far ahead of the learning curve as possible.

The cost of travel is relatively high, but the cost of not traveling is much higher. Basing these decisions on ROI is a fallacy. There are probably as many conferences with little value as there are conferences with tremendous value – how do you choose what is important to attend? That should be the biggest decision an employer can assess on this subject. There is a great article about the importance of continuing education in an economic downturn (link attached).

We spend inordinate amounts of time with systems – tracking, logging, and evaluating our time. Justifying project expenditures. Proving we are performing to the very best of our abilities. Success should be the ultimate proof of our use of time and resources. What difference does it make if your employees perform to the best of their abilities without results?

Quality time spent must be a combination of education, building relationships, developing new skills. And yes, relaxing occasionally to assimilate new ideas, technologies, and strategies for improvement. Most people want to improve their skills and abilities – trust them and empower them to do so.

Face time with buyers and even competitors is far more valuable than 200 emails; 500 form letters; 2000 text messages. I will be labelled a heretic, but I believe this is far more important than Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In or any of the other social machinations. I am not discounting their importance – they can all be extremely valuable tools, and should be used to further relationships and help forge future interactions.

But conferences are all about communication, learning, growing, and improving – one on one, or in groups of peers. This is not about how quickly we can disseminate/assimilate brief snippets of computer generated personalized sound bites (and regurgitating the information to our lists of contacts.)

Surrounding ourselves with, and physically interacting with, people of like interests and goals. This is what successful humans do. This is what we do best.




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