What's an interzone?

A 4 minute read written by Dave March 11, 2015

An illustration of Mount Rundle in Banff

Interzone is a conference that brings together some incredible speakers, and draws the kind of crowd that wants to make change. In the words of its organizers, Interzone promises “three days of independent, raw, explosive, and unfiltered discussion.”

The people who come to this conference have one eye focused on the present, and one eye looking toward the future. When people who are ready for risk and innovation collaborate on projects, change isn’t just about simple shifts – it’s about transformation. I spend a lot of time thinking about change in projects that I work on, as well as within the company where I work, so I’m looking forward to learning from the thought leaders that are converging at Interzone, and delving deep into some great conversations with people, like me, who are eager to get a glimpse of what the future of enterprise technology looks like.

These are a few of the discussions I’m looking forward to having at Interzone:

Fostering change

Change can be simple, but effective change is hard. And when you complicate change with lots of people from different work cultures, old and new technology … it gets even harder. The best way to make change successful is with a clear goal and good communication. The type of people who show up at Interzone are the type of people who feel this kind of change is needed in their organization, or want to learn how to create successful change.

The speakers and organizers of this conference are focused on the best aspects of change. So, if you can allow the right amount of risk into your project, you get innovation and success. If you allow too much risk, or don’t have great communication on your project you can experience failure and learn a lot of valuable lessons. I’m expecting a lot of conversations to share ideas about how to work towards the right kind of change and how to harness the power of technology to make it easier. I’m also hoping for some conversations about the “wrong” kind of change, and understanding why some projects fail. Too often we hide the struggle of change, and don’t talk about the incredibly valuable lessons learned when you don’t find success. After all, as Henry Ford once said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Redefining “enterprise”

Some of the specific conversations I’m looking forward to are the enterprise space, and how large organizations can make change easier. Too often enterprise only defines a cost category and an expectation for complexity, versus the outcomes that the organization is seeking to achieve.

I’ve got a different view on enterprise. If you look up the dictionary definition for enterprise, its roots are “A project or undertaking – especially a bold one.” That’s how I like to think of enterprise – something big and exciting that needs all hands on deck to complete. To be successful, you and I have to work together, through difficulty and risk. If you start with a cost category and objections, it puts up walls that add complexity and difficulty. In my experience, the best way to find success is to first identify a common goal, clearly explained, that makes sense to your project team.

Always ask “Why?”

When we start working on a project, one of the first things we do is ask why. Understanding the reason behind your project enables us to build a stronger solution. It also does something more important – it allows your team to get invested in your project. I work with a group of highly skilled, intelligent people who want to succeed. If you can explain your goals well to this group, they will go above and beyond to ensure the project is successful. If you set a clear, inspiring goal before your team, your chances of success increase. And while it’s always good to start with asking why, it’s just as important to ensure you have a great answer.

There’s no question that the group of speakers, thinkers and project leaders that are gathering in Banff over the next week is going to be an impressive one. They will be focused on technology and technical conversations, but all technology is simply a tool. To collect knowledge, to allow conversation, to make hilarious cat videos accessible to everyone – it’s the why behind the technology that interests me.

What do I like most about Interzone?

It’s the thinkers who are passionate and want to see and make change who are gathered together to toss out ideas and see what resonates with the group. The conversations and presentations that I’m looking forward to are focused on change, and on the real risks of innovation. Innovation rarely comes without some type of failure, and organizations need to understand how to accept risk into their projects. All change brings risk, and if you only manage against risk you’ll miss out on the potential innovation.

I’m interested in the conversations around how you embed risk into your projects and allow it free reign with controlled limits. I’m interested in conversations about how public sector organizations can successfully manage cloud vendors, to ensure they are getting what they pay for, and their data is safe. I’m looking forward to conversations about change itself – how you plan for it, how you allow it to have the right impact to drive innovation without letting chaos take over your project. If you’re interested in the same conversation – come find me at the conference, or on twitter.