May 1st – Deadline for proposals submission
June 15th – Notification of the acceptance
July 15th – Deadline for Early Bird conference registration
July 15th – Deadline for handout submission
September 20th – Conference opening


As in previous years, the Gothenburg conference will be organized around an opportunity for participants to be immersed in a unique live teamwork experience recently renamed, Open Assist. This important centrepiece, which runs throughout our conference, provides an exciting opportunity for teams of participants to engage directly with senior management representing a real organization (client).  The objective for the teams is to respond to the organization’s (client’s) Request For Proposals (RFP) to outline an approach for resolving a current problem the organization is facing and/or to identify and take advantage of opportunities to perform and produce “even better” results.


Through the Open Assist process the client organization receives real value for their participation, as measured by their immediate feedback at the end of the process and also, importantly, one year later.  Participant teams gain valuable knowledge and actual experience, working on a diverse multinational team, as they interact directly with, present to and get feedback from a senior management team, all in a “safe”, supportive, constructive environment of learning, sharing and enriching each participant’s experience and ability to grow their professional network.


open“: looking outside of the organization’s boundaries to get something (innovation, solutions, ideas, etc.) from external individuals or organizations in a crowdsourcing environment.
assist“: putting the client in the best conditions to achieve its objectives. In basketball, an assist (the proposal)  happens when a player (team at the conference) passes the ball to a teammate (the client) in a way that leads to a score by field goal (achieve the objectives illustrated in the RFP). It reminds the magic chemistry of Karl Malone (the second scoring leaders of NBA ever: 36,928 points, more than the legend Michael Jordan) and John Stockton (holding the NBA records for most career assists: 15,806): in the NBA, there is no other combination of passer and scorer that even comes close to Malone and Stockton.
At the conference, client is the scorer (the champion) and teams are the passer (who sets up the best conditions for the champion to make a field goal).



The process begins by inviting professionals, who are already registered to participate in the upcoming conference, to volunteer for the important role of Open Assist Team Leader, in advance of the conference. In order to properly introduce them, we ask them to provide us with a brief bio and a short statement about why they were willing to take on the Team Leader role.


The Request for Proposals (RFP) made by the Client is delivered to each participant at the registration desks. Team Leaders are provided with a package of Open Assist Overview Materials before the conference. The Client explains the key elements of the RFP during the opening session of the Conference.


Each Team Leader has 60 seconds to introduce herself during the opening session and invite participants to join her team. Participants that want to try the Open Assist exprerience can join the preferred team. At the end of the “recruiting” session, team members of a bigger team are invited to join a smaller team on a voluntary basis, to balance the number of members of each team.


In order to develop an effective proposal, teams often need more information than what is detailed in the request. Information about the request itself, the business of the client, the context in which it operates, its organization, structure and culture. A 2 hours session of questions and answers with the client held on Friday morning should help to clarify each additional detail.


The time to work on the proposal is never enough. An hour and a half on Thursday after the opening session, two hours on Friday afternoon, an hour and a half Saturday morning. These are the slots for team working. In a very short time you need to contribute in creating a collaborative team, exploring the request and making a winner proposal. This is the challenge.


On Saturday afternoon, all the proposals are presented to the Client. Each team has 10 to 15 minutes to deliver its presententation,  answer questions, and convince the Client that its proposal is absolutely perfect for them. The advice is to use few Powerpoint slides, and make them very effective.


After the presentation of proposals made by teams, the Client  people move in another room, take some time to closely evaluate each proposal and choose the one that most suits their request and needs. Then they come back to the plenary room and announce who is the winner. No prize, just glory.

2017 Open Assist Client


City and Municipality of Arezzo, Italy






Arezzo (Lat. 43° 28′ 24″ N Long.11° 52′ 12 E) is a city and a municipality in Italy, capital of the province of the same name, in Tuscany. Arezzo is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of Florence, at an elevation of 296 meters (971 ft) above sea level. Arezzo has a population of about 100,000. The territory between Arezzo and Florence has become an extension of these two cities due to the urban development along the Arno valley.

Famous Native Sons

Arezzo is famous for being the birthplace of many artists and writers such as painter, architect, writer and historian, Giorgio Vasari. Italian scholar, poet, and humanist, Francesco Petrarca was also a native of Arezzo, as well as author, playwright, poet, satirist and blackmailer, Pietro L’Aretino.  And, Arezzo is famous for its wonderful works of art and architecture, which attract many tourists to this lovely, ancient city.

Important Local Events

On the first weekend of each month the main square, Piazza Grande, becomes an enormous shop with an important outdoor antiques fair, the third largest in Europe. Piazza Grande is also the scene of the “ giostra del saracino” which is a reenactment of the Saracen Joust, as ancient game of chivalry that dates back to the Middle Ages.

Comune of Arezzo (Arezzo Municipal Government)

The Comune of Arezzo provides many basic civil functions: registry of births and deaths, registry of deeds, and contracting for local roads and public works, for the local community. Other services provided include: cultural events, tourism promotion, environment protection and urban planning.  The Comune of Arezzo also maintains a municipal police force (Polizia Municipale), which is responsible for public order and urban security. Traffic control is their primary day-to-day function, in addition to controlling commercial establishments through a licensing process and requirements.

It is headed by a mayor (sindaco), who is assisted by a legislative body, the consiglio comunale (municipal council), and an executive body, the giunta comunale (executive committee). The mayor and members of the consiglio comunale, are elected together, by resident citizens.  The coalition of the elected mayor (who needs an absolute majority in the first or second round of voting) gains three fifths of the consiglio’s seats. The giunta comunale is chaired by the mayor, who appoints other members, called assessori, one of whom is named his deputy (vicesindaco). The offices of representatives of the commune, are housed in a building in Palazzo Comunale (Palazzo dei Priori). The current Mayor, Eng. Alessandro Ghinelli, was appointed on the 16th of June 2015. The Municipality of Arezzo has 568 employees, of which 9 are managers. The average age of current employees of the Municipality is over 50 years old.

City versus Municipality

City – It was the industrial revolution that necessitated setting up of cities with planned residential and commercial places and industries set up on the outskirts of these urban settlements. In general, the city is an urban settlement that is permanent in nature and has a large population. It also differs from rural areas in the sense that it is much more planned and systematic.

Municipality – Municipality is a generic term that has different meanings in different places or countries of the world. However, there is a consensus that a municipality is an administrative body with some degree of control over a geographic area. It is a body that operates in an urban settlement whether it is a city, town or a grouping consisting of several units. Municipality is a civic body that has an elected mayor and councilors with the political party having the majority of seats in the council, running the affairs of the body. Thus, municipality is a democratically elected governing body that has the powers to levy taxes on the people living inside it and to spend tax revenues on the development of the area. Municipalities come in all sizes and density of population.

What is the difference between City and Municipality?

  • Municipality is an administrative division that may be a city, town, or a grouping of towns.
  • A city is an urban settlement that is planned and has a large population.
  • While cities are divisions of a state or province, municipalities are divisions of a place that are so divided for local self-governance.
  • Civic administration and provision of better facilities is the responsibility of the municipality, and it also has the power to collect taxes from the population.
John B. Lazar

John B. Lazar

CEO - John B. Lazar & Associates

John is CEO, John B. Lazar & Associates, Inc. John has been an NSPI/ISPI member since 1981 and a consultant and coach since 1983. He consults to companies about performance improvement, leadership and management practices, communications, and organizational change. As an executive coach certified as a Master Coach by ICF since 1999, he works with leaders and their teams, altering their perspectives, engagement, and performance. He received his Masters in Clinical Psychology from University of Illinois at Chicago. John lives in the Chicago area.

Send an email to John:

Rose M. Noxon

Rose M. Noxon

Training And Education Solution Architect - CACI International Inc

Rose has more than 30 years’ experience in training, training evaluation and business process improvement. She holds certifications as a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT), as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and in Service Delivery Management (ITIL) and also holds a certificate from ASTD’s ROI Certification program. She has a PhD in Education with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement from Capella University and holds a Masters of Education Studies from Capella.

Rose’s career has included training evaluation of troop readiness at the 7th Army Training Command in Germany, founding CACI’s award-winning corporate university, and designing numerous training and human capital governance processes. Rose currently serves as CACI’s training and education solution architect.

Rose was the founder and first president of the award-winning International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) virtual chapter for Capella University and remains on the chapter’s board as a mentor, a position she has had for the past five years. She served as the ISPI Chapter Partnership Committee chair for two years and earned the ISPI Presidential Award for her service in 2013.

Send an email to Rose:

Felix Shapiro

Felix Shapiro

Managing Partner - Central of Project Management

Felix is Managing Partner at (CPM) Centre of Project Management. He has worked as a performance improvement consultant for more than 18 years. He has successfully designed and implemented performance improvement changes through IT systems for a variety of public sector agencies and institutions, as well as, private sector organizations. He has created IT systems for performance improvement applications within a range of Institutional systems such as: HRMS, PMES, Financial Systems as well as Internal and External Communications Systems. His aim is always to add value to his client and create a great partnership. Felix has worked in both the public and private sectors, helping large and small, for profit and nonprofit clients. Recent work for a nonprofit NGO client has led him to the insight that NGO performance improvements are important for achieving improvements in the public sector. He believes that, “The client is not always right, but should always be satisfied with the result.”

Send an emeail to Felix:

George Simongulashvili

George Simongulashvili

Partner - GEC Corp.

George is an active performance improvement practitioner with solid executive management experience in different industries. He is a Partner at GEC Corp.—a consulting company, which helps organizations to improve their business performance. In addition to his consulting and executive management experience, George has over 15 years of experience teaching and training at leading Georgian and international universities and business schools.

Send an email to George:


Ekaterine Katamadze

Partner – GEC Corp.

Ekaterine is an active performance improvement practitioner with extensive experience in business process efficiency management within both private and public organizations. Ekaterine is a Partner at GEC Corp.—a consulting company, which helps organizations to improve their business performance. In addition to her consulting and management experience, she has over 20 years of experience teaching at leading Georgian universities and business schools.

The Simulation Case Study (now Open Assist) was a great, interactive way to meet people, try out new ideas, and get practice making a pitch to a potential client. I met great people and thoroughly enjoyed the valuable experience. I hope I am able to return again in the future.Lisa A. Giacumo - Boise State University

Open Assist Team Leader - First time participant, Bonn, 2016


Never Again Ruanda – 2016 Bonn experience feedback

NAR - Never Again Rwanda

Once again, it has been a pleasure working with you.  We look forward to gaining more skills regarding Performance Improvement from your side. … I hope that we will be able to share with you the outcomes of the entire exercise at the ISPI EMEA conference next year

Bonn, 2016

IETT - Istanbul Electric Tram and Tünel Company

From the beginning to the end of the program, we both learned and enjoyed at every step.  … We witnessed how performance oriented your program is.   You and your team’s enthusiasm and also the professional quality of the participants, all made the event a real learning experience. … Of course, the case proposals will be of great help for us to check-up our performance initiatives from a fresh outlook.
It was an absolutely unique and very valuable event for us!

Istanbul, 2015

Al Majmoua - The Lebanese Association For Development

Thank you very much for the opportunity and for the case study.  We are so excited to review the groups’ proposals and start working on an action plan.

Warsaw, 2014

EQE - National Center for Educational Quality Enhacement

Thank you and the whole team that was working with us!  Patrick, special thanks to you, as your primary interest in the NCEQE has moved this interesting project forward!  This endeavor was quite timely for the Center, as it will help us in our plans to move the organization forward and develop its capacity.

Tbilisi, 2013