What is Impact99 all about anyway?

Reinvent the workplace…ROWE…engagement…social collaboration…innovation

Words and phrases we hear so much about in the HR and business world, but often struggle to conceptualize how they would look in our own workplace. It’s events and communities like Impact99 that not only show you how it’s being done, with real life stories, but inspire you to create change. We come away with a deeper understanding of how we can become change leaders in our own workplace.


We met with some old friends and made new ones. It’s awesome to recognize and be recognized with those that we have connected with through social media communities.

We then bonded with our table mates that are obviously agents of change in their respective fields, and immediately established that we were the “coolest table in the room” .


Pam Ross set the stage for the day’s events, promising us that we would be mentally exhausted at the end…which wasn’t too far off! Pam’s passion, commitment and relentless approach to making a change in the workplace comes through loud and clear whenever she speaks. It was obvious that today’s event is only a small part of the Impact99 community that exists.


Many have a difficult time comprehending a Results Only Work Environment. They interpret it as a 100% flexible environment where people can come and go as they please. Well, it is sort of that, but the principles go deeper. It’s about treating people like adults. Eliminating the “sludge” from the workplace. Let’s face it, people have lives that are made up of many demands, of which work is only one of them. If people are getting their work done – producing the results for which they have been hired – then why are we still binding them to a desk for a set period of time?

Jody Thompson, co-founder of CultureRx spoke to us about ROWE – A business platform for the 21st century. Her presentation style is made up of common sense,, with some pretty funny visuals and phrases (workplace “sludge”, stop “shoulding” on yourself, etc). There was scepticism around applying a results only work environment to some industries and jobs. The point here is that if we stop focusing on managing the people (i.e. their time in the office) and start managing results, we’ll start to see direct and indirect positive outcomes.


Keeping with the theme of a connected and social community, we were shown how Google Plus Hangouts can be used to bring collaboration online while breaking down the geographical barriers. Julie Clow, Ger Hartnett and Josh Allen Dykstra were live streamed in the hangout for all of us in the room, and anyone online to watch. Participants were invited to the stage to interact with them with questions and ideas. People we overheard saying “that’s amazing” and “I’m going to do that at work.” And that’s one of the goals of Impact99 – to provide practical ideas.

Chris Taylor of Actionable Books shared a great story with us on how he turned learning into action. He talked about the value in setting achievable goals and using an accountability partner to help you achieve those goals.  By breaking up change into small bite sized pieces and using a partner to hold us accountable, we can see real change that doesn’t seem like an overwhelming task.


For centuries, groups of like minded individuals have been “ruled” by people – from the Roman empire, to armies in World War 2 to present day organizations. Dan Pontefract, Senior Director of Learning & Collaboration at Telus, and author of Flat Army shared his story of creating connected and engaged organizations. By breaking down the hierarchy of rulers in organizations, and creating teams that are accountable to themselves and each other, organizations will see engagement increase. Dan’s use of his own stories, and reference to historical events helped us to put the concepts into real life situations.


We had the opportunity to choose a Workplace Innovation Storytelling Session – in one particular session, Cynthia Esp story of Mabel’s Labels, the first Canadian company to adopt a Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). Our group was tasked to come up with solutions to their current organizational challenges. It’s amazing to see people create, collaborate and innovate – coming up with some cool and new ideas.

In the afternoon, each table was competing to win the coveted Impact99 HR Trailblazer Trophy. The Digital Learning Lounge this year was a Bingo game encouraging us to go online for various tasks. Tweeting, following, posting, commenting, videos, evaluating – these were some of the challenges we faced. But challenges they were not for Table #7…we won the coveted trophy, and were recognized among our peers on stage!


Impact99 once again proved that it is much more than an annual event – it’s a community that continues the conversations throughout the year. This year presented some amazing and seemingly complex concepts – some which were received with doubt. I’m sure there are many, myself included, that are still asking themselves “How does that apply to my workplace or industry?”, “How can I get started making a change?”…and many other questions. The key here is to realize that making a change IS possible, no matter who or where you are. Change starts with the individual…you can’t change other people, but you can change yourself. And if you start with small changes with yourself and your environment, you will start to see a shift. The important takeaway is that these concepts are not “one size fits all”…you need to take the concepts and make them your own, so they fit with your organization and culture.

I look forward to staying connected with those in the Impact99 community and share, collaborate and innovate toward reinventing the workplace.