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Better Together: Five Reasons to Attend a Conference as a Group

Why It Matters

Attending a conference with your team can enhance your shared sense of purpose and give your initiative a greater chance of success.


There are certain activities — reading a book, meditating, seeing that movie no one else wants to see — that are best done alone.

Attending conferences like the IHI Forum, on the other hand? In that case, if you have the chance, it’s great to go with a group.

Every December, somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 energetic, thoughtful, and curious health care professionals spend a few days together at IHI’s National Forum in sunny Orlando. (This year’s conference will be the 31st annual.) And, every December, organizations from around the world send teams of like-minded improvers to be their improvement sponges, to soak up the learning and bring new ideas, innovations, and connections home with them. Why attend as a group? What are the benefits?

Here are five reasons to consider attending the Forum with a group this December:

  • Maximize your learning — Or to say it a different way, divide and conquer. By attending the Forum as a group, each team member can attend a different session and come back over lunch to share the top takeaways. Your group can learn, at 9:30 on December 10, for example, about how to scale improvements, delirium reduction, building respectful care for women during childbirth, radical equality, and how to harness data to inform workforce resiliency — all at the same time! Traveling as a group will also help you take advantage of all the unique events at the Forum, including the storyboard reception, the special interest breakfasts, and the Forum Hall.
  • Create a shared purpose for your next project — We all want to make positive changes in our daily lives and daily work — especially a group as optimistic as improvers. But how do you do it? Together, of course. As the IHI Psychology of Change Framework teaches, creating a shared purpose, developing a model of distributed leadership, establishing working agreements, and ceding power are critical to making change happen. Creating a shared purpose for that new project or initiative with your team before your flight home leaves the ground will make the re-entry much smoother — and give your initiative a greater chance of success.
  • Have a decompression buddy — Conferences can be overwhelming. Lots of noise. Big screens. Demos and exhibitions galore. The IHI Forum is filled with energy, enthusiasm, and engagement around every corner. Phew. But the Forum is also a time to recharge your battery and rediscover your connection to the meaningful work you do every day. Yes, you’ll meet (lots of) new people, but sometimes it’s nice to have a familiar face to debrief with at the end of the day.
  • Build camaraderie and teamwork — If you’ve ever attended an off-site retreat, you know how energizing it can be to get out of your daily routine. Seeing your colleagues in a new light — being moved by an uplifting keynote presentation, doing some morning yoga, or wearing Mickey Mouse ears at dinner — can boost your relationship when you’re back in the office. And never underestimate the power of a shared meal. As IHI’s Joy in Work Framework teaches, encouraging commensality — sharing a drink or meal at the same table creates a rapport that often leads to better teamwork.
  • Save money — Conferences often offer discounts for group enrollment — and the Forum is no different. If your organization brings a group of 5 or more, you’ll save 15 percent off enrollment. You can use that extra money on a holiday gathering to boost joy in work!