It was a very good event, well attended and showed off one of Bristol's best venues in a fantastic way. Hopefully I made a couple of good contacts there, and hopefully they're reading this!
Anyway, Karren Brady was keynote speaker. She regaled us with some great war stories from her early days at Birmingham City, like being shocked to find players and club staff queueing up on a Wednesday to get their wages in a little brown envelope, and what happened to the player who made a sexist remark to her on the team bus (he got sold to Crewe!).
But most interesting were her insights on how she changes culture within an organisation so that everyone is working towards a common goal. In her businesses, people from different departments go and work with each other on a fairly regular basis, so they get a feel for the processes and issues outside of their day to day role. For example at West Ham, the players spend a day a month in the ticket office, so that they remember that if no one sells tickets there'll be no one to watch them play, and the ticket staff know the people create the product they're selling.
This seems like a blinding flash of common sense to me. One of the issues I come across regularly in my work is that different departments become information silos, and need better systems to get a view of what everyone else is doing. But this is only part of the problem - everyone I'm sure who's worked in an organisation with more than one department has seen the 'us and them' mentality at some point. If you can overcome the cultural boundaries by showing people how they fit into the organisation as a whole you are halfway there. And then of course I will say, you need to give them the right tools to actually see what's going on in the rest of the business.
Karren gave us a list of points on what makes a successful business person, but she finished with this fantastic quotation, which I've heard elsewhere and Google tells me is attributed to Calvin Coolidge:
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.Back to work then!