What is IODA? – About the annual conference in South Africa

I had no idea that these four letters would come to mean so much to me. During the annual conference in September, 2017 in Capetown, South Africa, “IODA” was transformed from an unknown acronym into a cherished symbol of community, equity, innovation, compassion, brilliance, rigor, transformation, diversity, knowledge, creativity, and connection.

It all started with a Google search. Hungry for knowledge, community and international perspectives, I keyed in “organizational development + diversity + conference.” IODA Flourish popped up, and after briefly scanning the conference information, I knew I’d lucked into finding exactly what I was looking for. However, IODA was still an unknown entity. I was filled with questions as the conference dates approached on my calendar. Who were IODA members – would I be welcomed? What kind of learning and experiences await? Would the journey halfway around the world be worthwhile?

From the very first morning of my pre-session workshop, I was hugging myself with joy as my decision to attend was instantly affirmed. I felt blessed to be surrounded by open-hearted and open-minded people with a passion for OD and the same hunger I have for learning. I stepped into five days of transformation that advanced my practice, created new relationships with colleagues and friends, and connected me to a community of dedicated practitioners. It may sound cliché, but I truly believe that I found my way “home.”

What I loved most was that this was not a conference to just talk theoretically about diversity, although rigorous theory is important. We were challenged and called to do our own deep work, to open up and trust and risk together in service to elevating our OD practice. Deep diversity work cannot be done in isolation and requires us to reveal ourselves in beloved community. In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “we can only be human together.”

The 2018 IODA Conference will be hosted in Istanbul, Turkey from September 13 to 15, 2018. If you’re on the fence and wondering, “Hmmm…should I attend? Is it worth it?” I want to shout, “Yes!” I’ve attended so many conferences over the years, and I’ve had a wide range of experiences from mediocre to transformational. The IODA Conference is among the best of the best, and I hope you’ll take a leap of faith and come to see for yourself.

The good news is that even if your budget or commitments won’t allow you to attend in 2018, there is a conference every year, and there is also a large, vibrant virtual community for you to engage from wherever you are in the world.

IODA – who knew? I’m glad I know now!