March 05, 2010

Friday Poll: Why Aren't You Attending the IOA Conference?

Although hundreds of Organizational Ombuds and others will gather at for the International Ombudsman Association's fifth annual conference April 7-10, 2010, many will not attend. This week's poll seeks to know why readers are not going to New Orleans.

Update: Early bird registration has been extended to March 19.

Related posts: IOA Annual Conference Marks Fifth Anniversary With Promise of Rebirth, Rebuild and Respond; Follow the IOA Conference on Twitter.


  1. I have attended each conference since 1998.
    Have presented at every conference (Save DC) since 1999.

    The value I experience from recent conferences is the chance to socialize and connect with colleagues.

    Content of sessions, with limited exceptions, has not been of value to me. Further, it feels like certain questions and certain organizational behaviors/patterns repeat to the extent that the lack of forward motion is frustrating.

    To put it most simply, the value return of the conference can not justify the cost at this time for the amount of work I am doing in the ombuds space.

    I will certainly miss sessions this year - Chuck Howard's stood out as one I was interested in.

    I will even more though miss the chance to see people that I respect, enjoy, and have come to value as mentors, thought-leaders, and especially Friends.

    Hope all who do go have a very rewarding experience.


  2. I continue to hear others are not going, so I am beginning to wonder if it is worth the expense. Will there be enough people to make it worth it?

    There are really only two areas of interest to me, one being Chuck Howard's presentations and the other being a discussion on the growth of contract ombudsing.

    Is IOA going to survive through these times?

  3. Lisa Witzler3/12/2010 8:55 AM

    I AM attending the IOA conference in New Orleans this year. I am excited about the quality and range of topics of the presentations this year, especially the presentations that relate to ombudsman weathering the economic storm. The theme of the conference is also very fitting to the economic times: Rebirth, Rebuild, Respond. The theme ties into the resilient culture of the people of New Orleans as well as the responsive nature of the ombuds field.

    The conference planning committee of IOA has worked very hard to seek feedback from IOA members regarding the conference and has responded accordingly. In a survey that was conducted late last year, over 150 members responded with feedback about the conference. While the planning committee cannot please everyone, I think they have worked very hard to incorporate the feedback. For example, the hotel rates are comparable to previous years and the registration fee has remained the same over the past few years, while many other organizations have had to increase their registration fees.

    As for not a lot of people being able to go this year, I know that there are already over 200 people registered for this year’s conference and the early bird registration deadline has not even passed. I know in these difficult economic times it is challenging to justify the cost of attending the conference. This is why the planning committee wrote a justification letter for members to use in negotiating with their organizations to be able to attend the conference.

    For me personally, my organization is not paying for me to attend the conference. However, I decided that as a newer member to the field, there was no doubt in my mind that I would attend the conference. I am fortunate to have friends in New Orleans that I am staying with to help defer costs and I am paying for the rest out of pocket. IOA is simply that important to me.

    I cannot wait to meet new ombuds and reconnect with old friends and learn from my peers!

    This is why I AM attending the IOA conference in New Orleans. Rebirth, Rebuild, Respond!

  4. Unsurprisingly for most people I, like John, love meeting other Ombuds. So, I am really looking forwards to the IOA Conference in New Orleans. I am not writing in response to any comment here I just wanted to say a few words about why the conference is important to me. Lisa I admire the fact the you are footing the bill for the conference this year and not your company that says a lot about the reasons why you are coming.

    Here are some of the reasons why I am attending the IOA conference this year:

    1. It's about Thriving in Times of change. Rebirth, Rebuild, Respond! Having been through a LOT of change myself this year, and with the US and global economies still in a state of flux, I can't imagine a more timely theme for the conference. Ombudsing itself has more coaches than ever, more people working in the field which means we need to be smarter in order to thrive in our profession/business.

    2. It's about Ombudsing in Action. As we know, Ombudsing doesn't happen in a vacuum - it happens in the reality of our lives, our clients’/visitors’ lives, and the environments and systems that they live and work in. Find great sessions run on amongst other things, creating an Ombudsing culture.

    3. There will be lots of other Ombuds there and time to meet, greet and network. Lots of Ombuds I talk to, know that it can be lonely especially if you are the only one in your office. Here is a great way to meet lots of people -I have all my business cards ready so I can stay in touch!

    4. It's about being more Self Aware so you can be a better Ombuds. As an Ombuds and coach for visitors, I am passionate about both subjects and looking forwards to what new tips I can integrate into my practice. It gives me the chance to hear what other Ombuds are doing and also the chance to share how I work with people.

    5. It's in a great location. New Orleans is world-famous for its abundance of unique architectural styles which reflect the city's historical roots and multicultural heritage. Though New Orleans possesses numerous structures of national architectural significance, it is equally, if not more, revered for its enormous, largely-intact (even post-Katrina) historic built environment.

    So - I'll be there - will you? Come and be inspired in these beautiful surroundings at the IOA Conference 2010.

  5. Results:
    Insufficient office budget 22 (55%)
    Organizational travel ban 7 (17%)
    Workload/case coverage 4 (10%)
    Lack of interest 6 (15%)
    Choosing another conference 9 (22%)
    Other 8 (20%)