Confessions of an ABP Conference Dean: The supermarket trolley analogy

This week is the official launch of the Annual ABP Conference (25-27th April 2013) – only 5 months to go!

A lot of work by a lot of people have gone into getting us here and arriving at this point has reminded me a bit of what it used be like trying to manoeuvre one those old supermarket trolleys.

A supermarket trolley how does that work as an analogy, you may ask. How on earth is organising a conference like driving a basket on wheels? Well, let me explain.

The reason the analogy came to mind is that all the different elements that make up a great conference are like the items you put in the trolley to make your dinner that evening. However, trying to get all four wheels of your trolley to move in the same direction, at the same time has always been a bit of an elusive art. So imagine, if your trolley had 30 plus wheels (i.e. volunteers). All of your wheels want to get you to the checkout but trying to get them to move in the same direction, at the same time, now there is the challenge!

So what have I learnt from this analogy? Well, following the analogy through to its full conclusion I would say the following:

1. Dont go shopping until you’ve written your list and know what your ingredients are, i.e. be clear up front about what elements you need to put on a good conference

2. Plan your route around the supermarket, no one wants to get to isle 10 and then realise they need to go back and pick something up from isle 6, i.e. clear project planning is essential

3. Clearly guide your trolley through the planned route, i.e. share the project plan with your volunteers, highlighting key milestones and deadlines that need to be met

4. Let each wheel know what the other wheels are doing, i.e. regular internal comms between the teams of volunteers so they can all pull in the same direction at the same time

5. Keep the end in mind, the checkout awaits so don’t get distracted, i.e. prioritise effort, clearly identify how each element being worked on contributes to the end goal of putting on a great conference and don’t get distracted by superfluous tasks


For more information about the Conference visit the ABP Conference web pages.

You can also visit us the Official LinkedIn ABP Conference Group where you can interact with us and check out the latest updates from the team.  Finally, for bite sized updates follow us on Twitter: @ABPsychologists

Finally, for those of my Conference Team volunteers who are reading this and are currently getting over being referred to as a supermarket trolley, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the fantastic job you have all done so far in getting us to this point.



One thought on “Confessions of an ABP Conference Dean: The supermarket trolley analogy

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