Like many other attendees at ISM last week, I had little time to go to the breakout sections, especially given the sheer number of old faces -- and new ones that I wanted to meet -- who were attending. But those I did speak with offered very mixed opinions on the quality of the speaker content this year. Digging below the surface to learn more, I discovered that to speak at ISM, you often need to register nearly a year in advance with your topic. And you must finalize your proceedings paper four months before the actual event. What are the limitations and challenges of this approach?
I'd say that they're two key issues with this approach. First, ISM will never be able to feature topics that are very timely unless they're lucky (e.g., managing total landed cost and global sourcing decisions in an uncertain trade and tariff environment). Second, the entire registration process favors proactive registrants and speakers such as those with an agenda (e.g., management consultants) versus practitioners or others who might be less inclined to think so far ahead of time -- or who would respond better to being solicited rather than having to proactively volunteer. Perhaps at ISM's size, there's no other way to managing such a diverse group of speakers and attendees. But I must believe that there is a better way to go about identifying and getting the best possible set of speakers.