Looking Back to Look Forward


I met up with Virginia Sharma, the Chief Marketing Officer for IBM India and South Asia, based in Mumbai. Virginia worked with us closely on the last edition of Design Public, and has wide experience in different kinds of events and in marketing and media. We turned our thoughts back to the past event to try and get a sense of the kind of impact it had had on us and on those who attended.

The people in the audience were really first rate, Virginia said. They could just as well have been on the dias as panelists. Would you consider an unconference model in the future? Something whereby more people would get a chance to say something or host a topic, or set up an action area?

There was, in some ways, an overabundance of new concepts, new words and vocabularies, especially in the morning panels, she said. And then there was some diffusion of that energy when people broke out into panels. Perhaps, in future, you could have the breakouts could to a second day. Although it’s really important that people have a chance to roll up their sleeves and work together on something, become a part of the solution, not everyone attending a conference necessarily has that in mind when they show up.

I know you couldn’t see it because you were actually moderating, Virginia told me, but that last session was a standout. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people on stage for a panel together, and it really came off. And not that the audience was quiet either.

It seems clear that you could have had more professional event production, she added. You might really consider that. I see there’s something artistic about the character of the day and you don’t want to compromise that, but there are little details that a professional crew will always just get right and you won’t have to think about it twice. This is something we could help you with.

That would be welcome. Our partnership with IBM on DP3 directly led to the thematic around smarter cities, and over at CKS we’re still working on a report out from that session so we can find ways to take that dialogue forward. It’s important for us to get those outcomes shared out as widely as possible and to create some kind of follow-up activity at some point later in the year with a larger dedicated group focused on urban management and innovation in India. It is not yet clear what specifically will come out of this component of DP3, but it is only through what we might call ‘post-event governance’ that we will ever get anything concrete out of the themes and ideas of the event. And then we’d have something real that we can then actually take forward through to DP4 in Mumbai.

Photocredit: My regular phone is busted, so I could only get this low res image of Virginia extolling one of her favorite topics at IBM. The jazzy FX can’t really compensate for the pixelaching original image. ADS. 


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