Would you take your time to listen to this?


We are busy developing our agendas for some of our fall conferences:  framing topics, recruiting speakers and building buzz.

Sometimes we get asked about the process of building these events, and everything that goes into it.  So, I thought I’d lay out some of our methodology here for folks to learn about.

This way, you’d know when to expect to hear from us about a speaking role or two.

First, I need to explain the kind of event we are.

Most events fall into one of two categories:  either a member-centric event or a topic-centric event.  Member-centric events build content for specific silos within the system, by definition excluding content and participation from non-members.  Topic-centric events are focused on a particular advocacy point or area of interest.  That focus might cross organizational silos, but it too is limited to the content area of focus.

Both types of events can be excellent events.  In California, for instance, CAPG puts on a fantastic version of the former, while ITUP does a great job with the latter.

We’re different.

We try to build the framework for content – without actually determining the content ourselves.  We want to build the forum where folks from all perspectives are welcome to engage in a thoughtful, civic discourse about the biggest challenges in healthcare today.

To do that, it takes a decidedly more complex approach than the either of the more common models. For us, it starts with our Convening Panel.  This group helps us navigate the issues, politics and market dynamics surrounding potential content ideas.  Their conversation with one another gives us a window into the market-level conversations happening across the system.

We also have one-on-one conversations with sponsors, other stakeholders, and from our list of email subscribers.

From that effort, Then, we develop a “Topical Agenda”.  This is the summary agenda that includes between 15 and 25 topics, as well as keynote speakers.

We float this document around to stakeholders and ask them simply “What do you think?”

Would you take time out of your day to listen to this topic?

Would you be willing to offer your ideas and strategic content on this topic?

If folks say no to either question, we are likely to cut it.  We’re not generating panels just for the sake of panels.  We’re trying to dig into some of the bigger challenges and questions facing our communities.  To do that, we need your participation and engagement.

That’s why we rely so closely on our stakeholders to make this a success.

From there, we start recruiting speakers to build what we call our “Detailed Agenda.”  That agenda has between 60 and 90 speakers in our single-day event.  It’s a big lift recruiting all of these folks, so we again turn to our Convening Panel and our key stakeholders for suggestions.

We read reports, listen to testimony, and keep an open ear.  When we hear of a thoughtful voice, we reach out.

We build our content around the topics in the Topical Agenda.  Once we recruit our speakers for a panel, we revisit the topic and framework to make sure it’s right.  We write a description of the panel, based on feedback from the speakers, and then we become essentially hands off.  We leave panelists to develop their content and the method of interaction to themselves.

What results is an event with a huge number of perspectives, opinions, and thoughts. Audience members are engaged and questions are encouraged.

It’s like crowdsourcing for the real world rather than social networks.

So, that’s how it works.  And, we’d love to have you plug in wherever it makes sense!