Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Problem with Confabs

This week, lots of important Michigan people go to Mackinac Island to talk about things related to Michigan. I guess my invite was lost in the mail. That is the only solution that makes sense. While everyone who is cool is there, they talk about stuff, reporters tell us what they talked about, and then everyone comes home and looks forward to summer camp in Mackinac next summer.

Like most people in Michigan, I have no idea what goes on there, but I do know that reading about the keynote speeches every summer is annoying. The reason it is annoying is because, as with most events like this, with all the attention focused on this group of important Michigan people, it is entirely unclear what, if anything, happens from this assembled brain and power trust. It's not that things don't happen - I really have no idea - it's just that with all of the local media attention and press focus during the Mackinac vacation, there is zero follow up until next summer, editors start writing about how this is the year that the Mackinac conference has to be more than just talk. Is it really just all talk? What is the point of this conference?

Networking is one reason people go to events like this and networking can be a great thing, but is it too much to ask for a little information on some of the outcomes of this opportunity? Person A was introduced to person B and together they started a foundation, or person B introduced person A to person C who a month later had a meeting with company D and started a community outreach program. Maybe these things happen, maybe the don't, but all I know for sure is that Newt Gingrich wants no taxes in Detroit for ten years and that Governor Granholm disagrees. Progress? I don't know, but maybe this idea triggered another thought that led to a new plan for the city. Is this too much to ask for?

This isn't an anti-conference pile-on like many of those that start to crop up before and during the conference, I'm just asking for more information to figure out if this should be an anti-conference pile-on.

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