Along with hundreds of other practitioners headed to ISM this weekend or next week, I’m going to attend (and speak at) an event that has long been considered the single most important annual corporate gathering for North American procurement managers. Like all large events, such shows are always what you make of them. There’s no guarantee of the quality level of the hundreds of presentations taking place in the breakout tracks, nor is there even a certainty of finding information and peers to network with on the targeted areas that matter to you. Because ISM’s planning process requires speaking abstracts to be submitted so far in advance, and the individual tracks are created around set topics (e.g., Risk Management, Best Practices in Supply Management, Logistics, Leadership, Management and Talent and Services Procurement), if you’re looking for something that falls even slightly outside the accepted topic norm, or is timely, for that matter, chances are you’re actually better off searching elsewhere.
Still, to be fair, ISM does produce a variety of great sessions and material, and some of the breakouts I’ve been to in the past were memorable and truly educational. Yet at this stage in such an annual event’s history — and given what are often highly targeted learning needs — I can’t help but wonder how much longer this format will serve constituents as strongly as possible. Might ISM, for example, work collaboratively with its regional chapter to define smaller events (but for a potential national audience) set up around specific topics of interest?