BRM Connect conference

Peter: Welcome to BRM Café episode 13. In this episode I talk to Marleen Lundy of the BRM Institute. She’s the chief development officer for the BRM Institute and we talk about her role, the conference and the knowledge paths to success. Specifically of course we’re talking about the BRM connect conference that is going to be held in San Diego in October 2018 where the theme is I am BRM. This episode was recorded before the agenda of the conference came out. Please visit to get more information about the conference. If you have not registered yet for the conference please contact me. I can get you a $50 discount on the registration fee.

Peter: Welcome Marleen to the BRM Café Podcast. Explain a little bit what you do for the BRM Institute.

Marleen: Well, thank you for having me Peter. my name is Marleen Lundy I’m the chief development officer at BRM Institute and I’m responsible for professional development and all the experience for BRM Institute and all the members.

Peter: Experience meaning what?

Marleen: Experience meaning webinars events, any sort of outreach with our ATO’s, with our RCP’s, our members, our communities of interest, it’s the overall experience.

Peter: The overall experience. So, and development possibly linked to that, what you said development —

Marleen: Yes, development. So, what sort of content do we have at our events? How does the content relate to whatever is happening in the real world with the online campus and is it relevant?

Peter: Okay, great. You’d also the main face basically of BRM Connect.

Marleen: Not sure how I got that but yes I am.

Peter: So, BRM Connect, I mean you’ve done several all over the world basically so far. So, can you explain a little bit for listeners what you see as BRM Connect? What you’re trying to achieve with that?

Marleen: Sure. So, I was hired in 2015 after the first BRM connect in Portland and we wanted to expand our outreach all across the globe. So, we in 2016 had four events and they were three-day events all in each location and each had a little bit of a different attendee rate in the United States which is where we’re predominantly our largest date demographic for members. We were in the hundred and seventy range and then as we broadened our horizons out to Australia and Europe and Canada they were in the 50, 60 range and so, what we’re doing is we are continuing that. We did that last year with our forums which are one-day events where we ranged in attendance from it could have been as low as 12 and some smaller markets all the way up to 40. The max was 40. It’s an evolution of what we’re doing with events. So, BRM Connect is the overall umbrella name of what our events are and then we have three different types. We have our conference. We have our summit and we have our forums. Forums are one day, summits are two days, conferences are three-day. So, the evolution of what our content is how these different days and different types of events have evolved.

Peter: So, you talk about I mean Charlotte was I think the first one and then last year we had Washington.

Marleen: Yeah.

Peter: This year is in?

Marleen: San Diego. We’re going to be in Paradise.

Peter: What is going to be the main focus of the San Diego conference?

Marleen: Well, the theme is “I am BRM”, and its really focused on the individual side of the BRM role and the capability and what you are doing to better yourself in that role and our topics and our content and our storytellers are going to be really focused on how you can be the best BRM in that particular topic or area of interest and then how you being the best BRM translate to the best BRM team, translate to the best BRM capability for the organization.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: We set the bar pretty high in DC with how well the conference went with the different storytellers, with the different topics we had and so, I’ve challenged myself to keep at that rate or better and location has a big part to do with that. It’s going to be in a fantastic location at the paradise point, October 1st to the 3rd and we are going to keep the same format which is a general session for really good topics that everyone should be aware of and then we’re going to break it out into three different breakout sessions, simultaneous breakout sessions. So, whatever topics we have decided upon we’re going to slot those in the appropriate areas so, that way they you know there’s not as much overlap of, “Oh, my gosh. I got to miss this one.” Or, “I got to miss that one.” One thing that we will be doing different this year than last year’s we’re going to video record all sessions and make them available afterwards.

Peter: Oh ! that’s great

Marleen: So, you don’t have to struggle with the pick and choosing and if you don’t have as many team members joining you to attend each of them.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: So, that’s going to be a great additive for all the members and people who attended.

Peter: Can you give any indication if what kind of speakers were going to get or is there any people confirmed already or?

Marleen: We’ve gotten some great storyteller submissions and the one thing that’s really important about BRM Connect conference and all really just BRM connect in general is that we have active practitioners who do the storytelling. We love inspiring keynotes. Don’t get me wrong. We will have some of those. We will have some great providers in our network that will also do some really great sessions but the most important sessions are the ones that the actual practitioners do. So, we always say that this is a conference for BRM’s by BRM’s and it’s really truly that’s where you learn the most. It’s the tangible. I have this real-life experience and you’re like, “Oh, yes. I’m feeling that same thing.” So, topics are going to be what we find is relevant. We have a whole list that we’re going through but we’ve had some really great submissions that are really actually outside of the topics too but what I see a big theme for which I think it stems from just what we do is people want to tell their story about their journeys. So, there’s going to be a nice journey track at BRM Connect to share with different industries, sharing what they went through in their particular journey, so healthcare, finance. We have some really just retail you know, there’s some really great industries that have some really relevant stories on the challenges and the successes that they had. So, the journey track is going to be pretty heavy but what we are doing that’s different and really exciting is in the past we started out at more of a half-day time slot. So, we would have a lunch — Well, I mean in Charlotte, we actually had more of a three o’clock start and we had a welcome reception in the evening. We kind of pushed that back and we had lunch and then at the welcome started around 1 o’clock in DC. Well, we just are getting a little excited and so we’re pushing it to a 9:00 a.m. start and at from 10:00 to noon is going to be a complete block for the communities of interests.

Peter: Okay.

Marleen: So, we are going to separate into the different communities whether it’s geography or industry or topic and you’re going to have dedicated time to bring all those people together to have really great dialogue and then that second half of that of that first day is all about the struggles we’ve had. So, it’s kind of what I’m calling a state of. So, kind of the State of Union so to speak of the communities of interest but then the state of BRM just in general. So, we have topics about how to fight the — which this is a great topic that you always talk about is moving from tactical to strategic.

Peter: Yup.

Marleen: It’s like fighting that fight and that’s actually going to be the name of it, fighting the fight. How do you fight that tactical to strategic fight? How do you move past that barrier? So, that’s second half of the first day panel discussions.

Peter: Okay, great.

Marleen: So, we’re going to have you know, through at least three panelists and one facilitator for each of these topics. There’s only going to be two topics at a time. We’ve structured them to where it’s off of a maturity level. So, we’re not going to have two topics that someone new to BRM is going to struggle with picking. We’re going to put a new BRM topic with an experience beyond topic. So, that way the more mature BRM’s can go focus on you know, their continuing relationships whereas the new BRM’s are figuring out how to start the relationships. So, that way it’s easier for them to make a decision on where which session they should sit in on.

Peter: That’s different than the last couple —

Marleen: Very different.

Peter: Yeah, that’s great. There’s constant improvement. It’s awesome. You talked about journey’s basically that there’s a track around journey’s etcetera. Is that related to the introduction just recently from the playbook where is also we’re talking about journey mapping or?

Marleen: You know, that’s a good correlation. I can say I don’t have any data to support that but what I can say is I feel it’s just about the awareness and the adoption of BRM and people want to share their journeys. Now, whether it’s correlated to what we did last year at the forums you know, with releasing the journey mapping process and the strategic partnering approach which we released this year. I don’t know but I’m excited about it because it is connecting it together. Even when even if they did it formally or not it’s still bringing it together. So, it’s completely relevant. So, should I just say yes?

Peter: Yeah, yeah. I would just say yes —

Marleen: Yes, it connected. Yeah, absolutely the datas — our data, your data Peter, it supports — yes.

Peter: Yeah. So, okay let’s talk about a little bit. I mean that’s your part of your development officer role as well is the new strategic partnering approach, the new playbook that came out. You’re working on becoming a value focused organization that’s linked to the summit basically in Portland in the end of May that there’s a huge amount of development going on etcetera. So, what does it be a little bit, I mean can you talk a little bit about the novice path to success and what do you feel what is but it’s important?

Marleen: Okay. So, the inception of the knowledge path to success is actually coming from me because I’ve had 15 years of management leadership development training. I always struggled with the siloed approach of training and how it never connects and there’s no fluid movement and progressive model.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: In my previous roles I’ve tried to make that happen where it’s just connect the dots, just tell us how these connect instead of this one-off event that sounds fantastic but it doesn’t connect anything else you do. You know, coming into this professional development role I was able to take my past history and say, “We’re doing the same thing here that it’s always been done. So, let’s do something different and make it all connect.”

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: How does that actually translate into where our gaps? So, we had the BRMP. We have the CBRM. Okay. Next.

Peter: Now what?

Marleen: Now what, exactly. I myself took your class in December for the BRMP which I successfully passed. Yehey.

Peter: Yehey.

[ laughs ]

Marleen: It brought something very important to me which is I didn’t really know what everything was. I’ve been in engulfed in this role for two years but I didn’t know what 50% of the content was, never even heard of it. So, that spurred my desire to say, “Wait a second, if I’ve literally been here for two years and I haven’t heard of this, I can tell you that nobody else has either.” So, let’s get a fundamentals class developed which is the 101 of BRM which is what you would take before you would attend the BRMP certification training class. The value management piece is a focused topic which is what is so desperately needed in so many organizations but then the strategic partnering approach is how do we take the loan BRM or the siloed BRM and integrate it into a team and even if you’re not a team how do you integrate it into the organization at what could be deemed as a team level and how can those changes really impact the organization from a value perspective.

Peter: Yeah. When you look at the knowledge path to success I mean that’s you’re talking about certificate of experience. You’re talking about exam possibly certifications etcetera for BRMP and CBRM. How do you see the fit with the forums and the summits and the conference you do. How are those two related?

Marleen: Well, at the start of it is we will always have these classes offered with that especially. The conference the three-day conference we’re always going to have some pre or post conference offerings. Certifications are always going to be there. These additional offerings are now starting to play in because sometimes it’s easier to get away from the office for an entire week at one shot versus getting away for one two weeks and you know, different times. So, the integration of those offerings during the conference is really apparent. The summit and the forums, those are what I like to call a plug-and-play. So, the forum is a one day. The summit is a two-day. Conference is a three-day. Where we see the content is where we’ll plug it into whatever format of the event. So, the strategic partnering approach, that was a one-day forum last year. That was the content for the forum last year but through the feedback that we received, we actually turned it into a two day or one and a half day depending on the RCP who delivers it.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: For the more interaction more cross you know, cross-checking to see the journey Maps rights and a more collaboration on the actual final product of the journey map before you leave and try to implement. So, how they all connect together is what’s the core base like house the BRM? BRM DNA? How does that translate into what we’re delivering in content? How are we supporting that overall design and concept of what the fundamentals of BRM is and so, that’s where why these classes are starting to pop up. That’s why we’re having the one-day events. That’s why we’re having the two-day events because we want to support the original concept of what has to BRM is and BRM DNA.

Peter: Yeah. So, the journey bus list forum and BRM can take elements of the novice path to success possibly taking okay, I’m taking BRMP class and then I’m going to a conference and then I’m actually getting interesting in some other things and now I’m going to take CBRM, etcetera. So, it’s really it’s embedded in everything.

Marleen: It is embedded. Yeah. That’s a great word. It’s embedded in everything because everything should be connected.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: If there’s no connection, we are doing something wrong.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: So, when you look at this strategic partner, when you’re looking at the fundamentals class, what is it going to do? It’s going to build to strategic partner approach but it’s also going to build to the value class.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: Guess what? That’s a precursor to BRMP which is a precursor to CBRM. Everything goes together in some way shape or form.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: It all has to or we’re not doing our jobs right.

Peter: Yeah. So, where do you see the future?

Marleen: You know, for me, I see a lot more offerings. So, really diving into what’s the core relevant pain points and what can we do to develop content to support it? We had a great conversation fast couple days about agile, about the architects, about you know, all of these things that are just the super pain points that BRMS have.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: So, how can we support that through content and also at the same time build the community. So, no matter what we do it’s about building the community. So, these one-day events or two-day events or the conference the three-day events. Guess what, it’s still about building the community. So, it’s about networking. It’s about making the local and regional and global community stronger and but, we can’t just throw out content that’s not relevant and it’s not going to make a difference.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: So, that’s hopefully where we will rely on the members are our providers to help us look for what are the right things to be talking about and taking people away from their work for a day.

Peter: Yeah. If you look at I mean the global community, I mean that is mainly focused on the online campus where people actually interact from that from a global perspective. The conference is in North America at this moment. Are there events planned in other areas of the world for next year for instance?

Marleen: So, my vision now, I’m not going to say this is next year but my overall strategic vision for BRM Connect conferences, the three-day events is we have to cover North America and South America. It’s almost like split the world, right?

Peter: Yup.

Marleen: We got east and west. You know, I’d love to have something in Europe or something in Asia where it’s easy for our community in Australia to get to. So, our community in the Middle East as well as our European community to gather. So, something like something there but then something also in the North America or South America region. So, that way it’s covering both. Doing for last year in 2016 was a little much. We were too broad like it wasn’t as strong as we would like I think if we have to a year I think that’s going to hit the mark nicely.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: Have different content, don’t have the same content, have different content because then you might be able to have our international community you know, the international community come to the United States or North America and then vice versa. You want the people– you want the community to grow. That’s the overall goal.

Peter: Yeah. Did you see a lot of people from other parts of the world actually coming to the conference —

Marleen: Yeah. I already have registered Sweden, South Africa, London, the UK.

Peter: Oh, great.

Marleen: Yeah. We have people already coming from all around the world but we have some people in from Asia coming, had some inquiries about multiple people from Dubai and the Middle East. So, it is that this is our one international conference for the year. So, I anticipate seeing a lot.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: We’re early in the game. We’re still six months out and we’re almost halfway to our goal, our target goal.

Peter: Okay. This is the goal or limit or are you going to pause it?

Marleen: You know what? Here is the thing is people keep asking me, “Marleen, can we exceed 250?” Because our targets 250, right?

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: Can we exceed 250? My answer is yes, we can exceed 250. I just have to do a little more logistical rearranging but yeah absolutely. I’m not going to limit us on space.

Peter: I mean what I’ve seen of the conference is possibly the moment you get larger groups it becomes more difficult for to meet everyone etcetera which I think was always a great part of the BRM Connect Conferences that you can meet everyone, yeah ?

Marleen: That will not change.

Peter: No.

Marleen: I now, of course quiet on you know, to this on —

Peter: You said you’re quiet.

Marleen: Yes, let’s be quiet on the errand barn side. He wants to see us being you know, just like some of the other big conferences, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000. Me, personally, no. I do not want to get that large because we will lose that intimacy. We will lose the ability to make those strong connections and quality connections. That is the most important differentiator that our conference has over other conferences where people actually connect, hello, BRM Connect.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: We’re BRM’s. What’s the R? Hello, relationships. We have to make sure that in what we do actually supports that or else we are hypocrites and we can’t do that. We have to make sure that everything we do is about networking, building relationships in the community and if we get too large we won’t be able to do that.

Peter: Yeah. Anything that you say hey, this is brand-new. This is going to come to conference I haven’t told anyone else yet. Is there something you can share about the conference that you said?

Marleen: Well, you know, you asked me that. You asked me that in like prepping for this and I’m going to say if you actually haven’t gone out to register you probably don’t know but I’m planning a fantastic beach party.

Peter: Oh, great.

Marleen: Yes, and I’m not talking luau because that’s just cheesy and I don’t do cheesy. I’m talking in my vision is like a 1960’s 50’s you know, kind of dance you know, get a little band or DJ or something with a little dance floor and you know, we got some lights and we got some umbrella drinks and you know, you never know what kind of goodies come with that kind of little festive event. So, I’m super excited about it. We’re going to nice private cove by the bay. It’s going to be fantastic.

Peter: That’s a way to connect with people as well indeed.

Marleen: Oh, yeah. Well, let’s see. Water, beach, umbrella drinks. What else do you need? And some music and food. Music and food. I don’t think we could go wrong with this. I really don’t. Oh, bonfire too. There’ll be some bonfires happening, yeah.

Peter: So, if someone actually has some like you know, what I would love to go but I need to actually get a business case together for this, do you have anything to help them?

Marleen: Absolutely. We have an entire business case written up. I think it’s about five pages that you could download off of our website.

Peter: Okay. I’m putting out a spot here —

Marleen: Oh, my gosh.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: Well, what’s in there is really why you’re CEO and CIO want you there. What is it that you’re going to learn? What is it that you’re going to bring back? It focuses on the value that we’re trying to you know, to deliver to the organization. Me, personally I will never in ever just — this is a personal mission of mine. I will never do anything that is a waste of people’s times. So, if you don’t walk away with something relevant or tangible or in what whatever that means to you then I’ve failed and so, that business case kind of lays things out in the way that a CEO or CIO would look at it because they’re the ones who you happen to sell it to, right?

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: But me, personally, as the experienced person you’re going to walk away with more value than what you even realize because you’re going to get what your CEO or CIO needs but you’re also going to get what you need and you didn’t know you needed it.

Peter: Yeah, but that means possibly the CIO should come as well.

Marleen: Absolutely, we want the CIO is there because we want them to support the BRM’s and see what they’re dealing with. There’s so many CIO’s that they believe in their BRM but they don’t necessarily know exactly how the struggles the BRM has because why? The BRM’s not going to complain about it. They’re just going to keep to themselves and just work the problems, right? They’re going to work the solutions and so, they’re not going to go complain they’re just going to make it make things happen. So, to be enlightened by wow, my BRM really deals with a lot that’s valuable. I think the connection that a BRM has with their CIO could be really enhanced and the bond can be much stronger if they come together because it’s it truly is a bonding experience.

Peter: So, we have a tendency to always talk about more IT but the BRM connect is not only for IT BRM’s. It’s also for HR finance etcetera.

Marleen: Correct.

Peter: Do you see and more interest in those areas coming —

Marleen: Absolutely. In fact, we have inquiries all the time about help you know, helped me in finance, helped me in HR and we’re doing it’s probably going to be more on the strategic plan for next year is to actually go to their events to get BRM introduced. So, go to the SHERM’s [?], go to what do they call it. It’s like I don’t know, whatever. Let’s just call it money met. I don’t know.

Peter: Something finance, yeah.

Marleen: Yeah. Finance fantastic net. I don’t know but we’re going to definitely look at that reaching out into those communities more to get at that level. So, you know, we’re going to some more CIO events. We’re reaching out to the CIO organizations so we can get out there because. The CIO is great but where can we do the outreach for those other departments and organizations within the business.

Peter: That’s great and I’m hoping to see more. I know in the past we had some people from HR possibly joining etcetera and I think it’s always a little bit difficult for them because of the IT spin but I see more and more interest bustly [?] in that and I think if I look at friends and all spots of success specifically the strategic partnering approach and becoming value focused organizations are more generic is not IT anymore.

Marleen: Yes, and the BRM fundamentals class, that will also be not that you know, generic across the board. We are trying to remove the IT centric elements to our content because it’s more than just IT.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: We do not want the people who also need us to feel like they’re neglected. I don’t want my babies to be neglected, okay? So, we’re going to make sure that we are looking at our content and removing the IT heavy focus.

Peter: Yeah. I would love to see a journey possibly from an HR —

Marleen: You know, yeah. I would too. I think that would be awesome. So, I’m always seeking out new storytellers. So, hello for anyone in HR and finance, do a LinkedIn and meet up with me because I think that your story is just as important as an IT story.

Peter: Yeah, absolutely, so. Great. Anything else you want to share about the conference or about the development?

Marleen: You know, I’m just very thankful that I could be a part of an organization that actually believes in developing others in a way that Brilds [?] true connections. I’ve worked in some top you know, fortune 100 companies and I’ve seen an IT, heavy IT technology businesses and I as extrovert —

Peter: You want an extrovert —

Marleen: I imagine, yeah. I always struggled in some of the departments there because I was too relationship focused. They didn’t want to talk to me and so, I struggled in that and so, when I am able to see an organization where that’s all we are focused on as relationships it like warms my heart. I’m very thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to take on the professional development role because that is so important to continue the growth for the BRM’s and the capability itself and you know, am I you know, the end-all be-all of professional development? No, but I have some pretty good experience to bring the table and my passion alone will get things done which it has in a very short period of time because you know, Aaron has the passion for BRM’s in general because that’s what his passion is and that’s what started this wonderful Institute but to have someone like me to come and support him, that’s where things have started changing and you see the development happening, you see the new products, you see the new offerings, you see the connections being made at a such deeper level and you know, what we’re still going to have fun doing it.

Peter: Oh, yeah. Okay.

Marleen: Because my motto in life is if I’m not having fun I’m not doing it. I carry that into my personal and professional life through and through. That’s who I am.

Peter: That’s great.

Marleen: So, a smile on my face will bring a smile on your face.

Peter: Absolutely, so.

Marleen: He’s smiling right now.

Peter: Yeah, I’m smiling right now, yes, absolutely. Well, thank you Marleen for joining in the BRM Cafe Podcast. we are going to be life at the conference like we did last year.

Marleen: Absolutely.

Peter: So, end of the day we will grab some beers and talk about okay what happened during a day. So, we’ll do that again.

Marleen: It was a fantastic a value-add feature that we have. Sure. So yes, bringing it back is going to be fun.

Peter: Yes, and it’s just fun to actually talk to BRMs that are excited at that moment about what they heard today etcetera. So, I’m really looking forward to that again.

Marleen: What was even more exciting as you got him talking at the podcast, right? Then it continued into the Online Campus for weeks. It was fantastic and then it just is continuing to spur people to want to come to San Diego.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: So, it’s it doesn’t stop when you leave the event it because we don’t let it.

Peter: Yeah.

Marleen: So, the excitement is contagious, yehey.

Peter: Absolutely. So, thank you very much and I’m looking forward to the conference.

Marleen: Yeah. See you there Peter. Thank you very much for having me.

Peter: Thanks.

Woman 1: This podcast is sponsored by Lead the Pack Consulting. Let’s meet again at the next BRM Café.