1. a loosely structured conference emphasizing the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants, rather than following a conventionally structured programme of events.

“at this unconference, attendees created sessions on the spot, making for an energizing and freewheeling exchange”

So what is an unconference anyway? I hear this asked all the time, especially now I’m talking a lot about the upcoming #NZLead Unconference I’ve been helping to organise. As described above by Google it’s an unstructured exchange of information and ideas in a group as opposed to following an agenda or programme of events as at a traditional conference. It emphasizes free exchange between participants and can change direction and focus as the discussions develop and grow.

Unconferences are also referred to as Open Space conferences, simply meaning they are participant lead. Typically the agenda is set early on in the day, by the attendees; anyone who wants to can raise an initiative or discussion topic and have it added to the format (or un-format) of the day. Any format is permitted; one speaker, no speakers, a facilitator, no facilitator – though generally attendees are there as highly skilled or knowledgeable people on a subject matter, or as in #NZLead’s case people who are interested and want to learn more or weigh in on a certain subject matter.

There are opportunities in unconferences to lead a discussion, track or session or simply to go along and participate, either way the expectation is that you give, share and collaborate and others will do the same to ensure there are takeaways for all. This could be in the form of anything from increased knowledge, expanded ideas, new thinking and or new connections and networking opportunities.

What then is the #NZLead Unconference all about? Creating more Humane Workplaces and one of the other equally passionate volunteers on the team, Katy Lloyd put it especially well in her LinkedIn post:

“How do we create more “Humane Workplaces?”  So what does actually this mean? It’s about what we can do we make our workplaces more successful, enjoyable and inspiring places to be.

We all know people are important and are the key to success for an organization. The unconferences provide an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals that are interested in how we can the people practices of organisations and how we can do them better. This is not just HR folk – but anyone who knows that people are the heart of the workplace and thinks we can do things differently and much better! The more diverse range of backgrounds and opinions the better.”

Or there’s more detail on the #NZLead website: http://nzlead.com/the-re-birth-of-a-more-humane-workplace/

 If you’d like to know more we’re happy to chat, here is a list of the crew working to pull this together, we’re easy to find on twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn:


Kylie Telford

Katy Lloyd

Laura Trethewey


Richard Westney

Tash Pieterse

How do you get there? Tickets are great value at $99

Looking forward to connecting and collaborating!



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