Corenet Summit Orlando 2012: Reflections and Learnings #1

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This is the first of several notes about the just-completed Corenet Summit in Orlando, where I was able to connect with many old friends, make several new ones, and sit in on some remarkable learning sessions.

Here’s the way my first two days in Orlando unfolded:


I arrived late afternoon after a long flight from San Francisco. I had not thought about it in advance, but I think the plane was about half full of Summit attendees. I found myself sitting next to Terry Wood, Vice President of Workplace Solutions of JDSU and chair of the Northern California Corenet Chapter. We had a good time reconnecting and chatting about OJL’s “Raising the Bar’ study (to be published later this month by RICS).

Then, halfway through the flight I discovered that my long-time friend and all-around good guy John Igoe of Google was sitting in the window seat right across the aisle from me. And as I got off the plane I bumped into another good friend, Joan Price of Gensler. We were all headed to the same place – and it wasn’t the Magic Kingdom (though the Summit sometimes felt like magic).

From the time I arrived on Saturday afternoon until my departure on Tuesday evening, I never left the grounds of the Marriott World Center (but it’s a big place and I did get out very morning for long, brisk walks, so there are no regrets on that front).

Saturday night included a wonderful small group dinner with some more good friends, Kevin Rettle and Rachel Permuth-Levine of Sodexo (and several of their colleagues).


Sunday was quiet for me until mid-afternoon, though I kept bumping into other good friends and long-time Corenet stalwarts like Ellen Keable of Jacobs Engineering (a co-author with me on the award-winning IFMA Foundation book Work on the Move) and Brady Mick of BDHP Architects in Cincinnati (Brady and I managed not to talk about the then-active National League Division series between the SF Giants and the Cincinnati Reds; can’t let something like that get in the way of professional colleagues; but I sure liked the way that series turned out later in the week).

Ellen and Brady were both teaching in the MCR.w (for workplace) class that was winding up on Sunday. That was first “outing” for the new class, and I understand it went very well. Which certainly made Mark Gorman and Patrick Donnelly feel good.

The Workplace Community

Things then got much more interesting when Brady dragged me into the “business” meeting of the Workplace Community, which was of course also loaded with many folks I’ve known and worked with for years, like Kate North and Bryant Rice.

But that’s where things finally got serious. The Workplace Community, which is now about six years old, is struggling just a bit – not because of its focus or purpose, or obvious relevance, but because all of us well-meaning folks who care deeply about workplace also have “day jobs,” are always on the go, and can’t give the community the care and attention it deserves.

This particular Sunday afternoon we wrestled with that reality, and brainstormed how we could meet our primary goal of developing, codifying, and sharing important knowledge about workplace strategy, workplace innovation, and the impact of workplace design on people and performance.

Look for more news about this vibrant community filled with really smart and caring people on the Corenet website, and in newsletters and other communiqués.

The “Block” Party

The Summit then got officially underway with its opening reception, held in the foyer of the conference center, and spilling out into the surrounding outdoors, where we were treated to tasty concoctions from several first-class food trucks and some upbeat tempo from a loud (at least to this old coot) rock band. It was an unusual but welcome change of pace from the “normal” indoor reception where it’s usually too loud to hear yourself think, let alone network with friends and colleagues. The evening was warm and pleasant, and though rain threatened it stayed away.

And look for my next post, where I’ll reflect on the first “real” day of the Summit, which was filled with energizing and insightful speakers, and way too many difficult choices. There is unfortunately only one of me, so my perspectives on the whole Big Show reflect the ideas and topics that I’m personally interested in. But isn’t having those kinds of choices what the whole Summit was all about?


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