Top Tips for Congress Abstract/Presentation Proposal Submissions!
Kevin Labrecque, Founder and CEO of Integration Point LLC, past LCI Congress Chair, and long-time leader of the Congress abstract review process, shares valuable insights on the review process. Kevin has generously and wholeheartedly led the abstract/presentation proposal review process since 2018, making improvements each year based on feedback and collaboration with the review team.
Enjoy this recap of our interview with Kevin— and get started on your presentation proposal today!
Keep in mind the goal of Congress.
Congress’ mission is to bring together Lean practitioners to share their knowledge and lessons learned. The LCI Congress has been a highly anticipated event since the founding of our organization in 1997. It’s a success because of the dedicated volunteer planning committees, event staff who make improvements based on plus/delta feedback of the prior year, and the quality of the presentations themselves.
“The abstract selection process is key in the success of Congress. This is where the magic happens. The selected abstracts that become Congress presentations and Live Labs shape the Lean design and construction industry for the next year. Congress aims to reenergize industry professionals so we can continue to transform the built environment together.”
Review these tips for great abstracts.
- Align your abstract with this year’s theme and tracks if possible. Each year is a culmination of the prior year’s thinking and learning. Ideally, your abstract aligns with the 2024 Congress theme: Surfing the Wave of Lean Design Construction, and its tracks.
- Simplify your message. Provide in-depth focus of the key elements, concepts or practices implemented versus covering many topics. We want you to show us exactly where and how Lean was implemented.
“Think about those key elements and share your “aha” moments.”
- Write concisely. Think about what you need to say to get your message across.
- Include the full project team. Many of the best presentations have representation from the entire project team —owners, designers, and trade partners. This helps attendees understand your presentation and lets them learn from the cross-functional team.
- Try to include at least one LCI corporate member speaking. LCI corporate members help keep continuity in language used around Lean tools and approaches.
- Don’t look at this as an opportunity to “show.” Everyone appreciates the humble learner who has success to tell, but don’t be afraid to share what you’ve learned and your mistakes.
- Always be proud of your work. You have earned what you have learned.
- Additional tips:
- Provide robust learning examples and takeaways.
- Identify waste reduction or elimination.
- Emphasize specific Lean tools for success that can be applied right away.
- Include clear visual(s) and video(s).
“Leverage lessons learned. Discuss challenges and failures that were overcome by using Lean thinking and tools.”
Avoid this pitfall.
Emphasize applied Lean principles over specific products. We’ve seen an increase in abstracts that are advertisements for products/services. Congress presentations are not intended to sell anyone on any product. The objective is to display how Lean approaches and methods were implemented and explain what worked and what didn’t.
Does this mean software, tools, and support companies are automatically excluded from the abstract process? No, but the product should not be the centerpiece of the story. This is something we are cognizant of when selecting abstracts. If a software, tools, or support company submits an abstract, it should focus on the applied Lean principle of a project. Ideally, include a customer on your presentation team to help tell the story.
Keep in mind that exhibiting at Congress presents a valuable opportunity to share products and services with Congress attendees. Contact Ilene Goldberg, email@example.com for more information on the exhibit hall.
Take a deep dive into the review process.
The review team
The 20–25-person abstract review team includes a mix of past and new reviewers. It also includes members of the Congress Planning Committee, local volunteers based in San Diego this year. In addition, LCI invites reviewers who have been regular attendees and those who are relatively new to Congress. This creates a blend of individuals with varied levels of professional and Congress experience.
Submitted abstracts are automatically routed to reviewers. Each reviewer will usually have 25-35 abstracts sent to them, and each abstract is analyzed by at least three reviewers before it moves to the next phase.
Abstract assignments are randomly generated, providing a healthy, constantly shifting mix in reviews. Though there’s no way to ensure a specific set of reviewers per abstract (for example, one designer, one owner, and one contractor), randomization is the most impartial way to handle the process. To ensure neutrality, the system does not allow reviewers to receive abstracts submitted by their own company. Analytics run in the background to aggregate the numbers.
Reviewers evaluate each abstract considering the following criteria:
- Does the abstract support first-time attendee Conditions of Satisfaction?
- Does the abstract support repeat attendee Conditions of Satisfaction?
- What’s the abstract quality?
- Can you easily understand the abstract’s meaning?
- Is it unique?
- Is it representing expansion of Lean principals into a new market, geographic area, or project type?
- Is the owner involved? It’s good to have the full support and backing of the owner to tell the story, although it’s not a limiting factor.
- Does it sound like an advertisement? It’s hard to learn when you’re given a commercial.
After the reviewer’s deadline, the data is collected and will move into the next part of the process. This is a two-day, in-person meeting (with a virtual option for those who cannot attend) that includes about one-quarter of the reviewers, LCI event staff, our Congress board liaison, the Congress chair, and the co-chairs of the abstract review team, Kevin Labrecque and Adam Frandson, DPR. The abstract selections are determined at this meeting. During the meeting, we try to ensure there is representation from all markets on the review committee.
“We are seeking the best quality presentations for Congress. The selection committee is very serious about getting the best of the best.”
After discussing and reviewing the highest-rated abstracts that we believe should move into Congress presentations or live labs, LCI sends acceptance notifications to the presentation teams. After selection, each presentation team is assigned a Congress champion. Their champion helps guide the team through the process of preparing and refining their presentation for Congress in October.
“Even if your abstract isn’t selected for Congress, engage with the local CoP and tell your story there. Don’t let it deter you from telling your story.”
The Final Takeaway.
Congress brings Lean practitioners together to learn. We want our speakers to participate throughout Congress, not just as a speaker in their presentation. By being an active participant throughout the entire event, you’re advancing the dialogue and spreading your knowledge further with others who are champions for Lean adoption.
We look forward to your presentation proposals and to seeing you at Congress!
- Abstract submission deadline: March 5, 2024
- Speakers notified by: May 9, 2024
- Presentation outlines and registration deadline: July 12, 2024
- Final presentation submission deadline (with two drafts submitted prior): October 9, 2024