The state of Six Sigma Conventions and Summits

I do believe these conventions are extremely important venues for idea sharing, networking, brainstorming and continuing education.  It’s my impression that there are hundreds of thousands of Six Sigma practitioners, just in the Unites States alone. With this said, why are these “tradeshows” so sparsely attended? One may argue that the number of attendees has been increasing but I would think that these conferences should attract thousands of delegates and hundreds of exhibitors which isn’t the case. The organizations such as the ASQ, ISSSP and IQPC that coordinate these conventions are experts at hosting excellent events and do an excellent job, so why the low turnouts? My thoughts:

Competing technologies
As technologies around the internet grow, we are developing more tools to stay connected to the outside world without ever leaving our desks. Technologies like “web conferencing” and VOIP allow us to have meetings, and attend classes and free seminars. Couple this capability with professional networking sites like Linkedin, and one could conceivably never leave their desk and still learn the latest trends and developments in the industry, as well as network.

Frequency
It seems that other industries have far fewer focused tradeshows per year. Could it be the sheer volume of events per year that is diluting the communities will to participate? All told, I would guess that there are at least 15-20 Six Sigma events per year that range in focus from the Department of Defense Lean Six Sigma, Healthcare, Lean Enterprise, Design for Six Sigma and a host of Six Sigma Summits and award ceremonies.

Cost
The cost of attendance often exceeds $2000 per attendee, and the cost of exhibiting and speaking for 45 minutes is more than some full-time employees make per year.  American businesses may be spending these dollars on their processes improvement and product development projects or perhaps they just don’t have the money and time to participate.

Recommendation
How about each organization holds a maximum of events 2 per year, perhaps one on the east coast and one on the west . Invite all the different communities and have special education and speaking tracks based on industry. This model would allow larger meetings where true idea sharing and networking can happen across industry, allowing the Automobile Six Sigma Practitioners to meet DOD and Healthcare Practitioners and share ideas and information.

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