Spark Toronto 2019 Prorgram

We have selected most of our speakers and are in progress of finaliazing the program so a few things might shuffle around a bit! Remember, Spark is a one-stage, one-track experience so there's no need to worry about missing something!


Day 1 – June 13
Telus Room
Day 2 – June 14
Telus Room
Telus Room
Telus Room
08:00 - 08:40
Registration and Networking

The first 90 registrants will get a copy of Aaron Dignan’s new book Brave New Work. Seth Godin called this the management book of the year! Don’t believe us? Check out his website!

08:40 - 08:45
Welcome Message
Brave New Work – Aaron Dignan

Aaron Dignan helps teams around the world completely reinvent their operating systems—the fundamental principles and practices that shape their culture—with extraordinary success. He helps them see that organizations aren’t machines to be predicted and controlled. They’re complex human systems full of potential waiting to be released. In Brave New Work, you’ll learn exactly how to reinvent the way you work, not through top-down mandates, but through a groundswell of autonomy, trust, and transparency.

Aaron Dignan
Author, Brave New Work
The Fishbowl

This is your opportunity to share something you’d like to get out of the Spark Experience! More details coming soon!

Lead How You Want to Be Led

Too many people start their management careers by mimicking what they see in the media, or what they’ve experienced in their own work lives, without stopping to question whether these are actually good examples to follow. This was me: I struggled to break free from those examples and develop my own management philosophy.

I’m going to take you through my journey of realization, self-evaluation, and change, with first-hand feedback from someone who’s been with me throughout my evolution as a leader. We’ll take it all the way back to the golden rule by thinking about the way we want to be led—as a partnership, rather than a dictatorship—and leading others accordingly.

Mark O’Donovan
Director of Agile Product Delivery, Index Exchange
Rossana Lam
Team Agile Coach at Index Exchange
11:00 - 11:15

We’ll have a barista station because we believe conferences should stop serving bad coffee.

Emerging Speaker

We’re deciding between a couple of emerging speakers, stay tuned! What is this? Each year we give people who are passionate about developing their speaking career the opportunity to take the stage! We include structure and speaker coaching if desired.


We’re sampling menu options, stay tuned!

13:00 - 13:15
A Surprise!

If you’ve been to spark before, you know our surprises are awesome! Plus we don’t want people slipping into food comas after lunch!

Let’s Talk About the Elephant in the Room

They say that you can only change the world one room at a time. Which room, do you ask? The one you’re in. There is often an Elephant in the Room, even in the one you want to change. In this interconnected, Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world, the number of elephants in organizations seem to multiply every day.

When there is an elephant in the room, the first thing we need to do is to acknowledge it. Then, we need to build the capacity in the organization to discuss the undiscussable. We, Human Systems Interveners, have different tools at our disposal, but the most important one is ourselves.

During this session we will talk about the use of self as an instrument of change and how to have the presence and the qualities of a human system intervener, and how to build trust in your environment. This talk is great way to address the founding themes of Spark.

A skilled human system intervener addresses the issues that hinder the organization, helping its members to increase their awareness of the organizational issues, and to be more effective when dealing with them. By building capacity in the organization, we unleash the potential of all its members, not only as individuals, but also as a system. After more than 10 years doing this type of work, we can corroborate that there is nothing as disruptive as a team that brings their best self to work.

The topics we will cover are:

  • Discussing the undiscussable
  • The self as an instrument of change
  • How to develop ourselves as instruments of change

We know that the #1 reason why change management efforts fail is the lack of change leadership skills in the organization. We want participants to be aware of how the most important instrument of change is themselves, and how they can continue their learning journey.

Marcela Urteaga

We’ll have a barista station from Espresso Bella because we believe conferences should stop serving bad coffee.

Nudging Change with Small, Consistent Action

Embedded within you is the power to make massive impact inside and outside of the office, but sometimes this potential goes untapped because “changing the world” or “changing your life” can often seem impossible. But what if your idea of change is all wrong? What if the real secret to change and impact is small consistent actions, patience and a little discomfort? In this keynote Sam shares personal lessons and stories that teach you how to make a significant impact in your own lives and communities. He encourages and empowers people to grow into the leaders that deep down they already are. Sam is on a mission to change the lives of 10 000 000 people one talk at a time.

Sam Demma

We’ll have a barista station because we believe conferences should stop serving bad coffee.

Change… What’s Love Got to Do With It?

People try to control change. Can you blame us? We like to feel safe and secure, that we know where we are going, and that we know exactly what will happen. But how can we control nature, evolution, or people’s emotions? We can continue to fight against it, control it more, or finally surrender into the unknown. Change is not a controllable process.

So how do we shift and grow towards our desires? Transformation can happen all on it’s own, or be supported, nurtured, and encouraged. My experience shows a trend of lasting positive change when we step into a space of love. Yes, really. Love for the unknown, the people, the mission and vision, the unravelling, and the new creation. In this talk I invite you to join me in an exploration of real stories of transformation and what might be possible in using love as a guide for emergence and evolution.

Selena Delesie
08:00 - 08:40
Registration and Networking

It’s quite possible someone would have proposed a lean coffee session, or something else during registration on day 2. Such is the nature of Spark! That said, there will still be fantastic coffee thanks to Espresso Bella!

Opening Session – Jen Frahm

Session details coming!

What do you do with a pile of sh*t? (a.k.a. getting comfortable with the uncomfortable)

Think of a time you felt upset about something in your life or work. Now, think of someone who tried to help you feel better about the bad situation. There is any number of tools they may have employed such as a positive spin, a positive sandwich, or even positive psychology.

While you may feel better, at least temporarily, what actually changes to improve the situation? If you want to nudge change forward, it’s time to get comfortable with discomfort.

Many times the right thing is to stay with your discomfort for the sake of seeing the truth. For example, when you’re upset with someone, talk about your upset for the sake of understanding the truth behind it. When your team is in conflict with each other, bring voice to the conflict for the sake of finding the underlying reasons. When quality sucks and morale is low, name what’s happening for the sake of getting to the real problem.

We will engage the audience in a couple activities aimed at being and naming our uncomfortable places. Through the experience and our stories, the audience will understand change starts in uncomfortable places.

We will then go on to explore how the radical act of speaking the truth offers power to influencing change. We will share the story of the start of a cultural revolution started in the discomfort of the truth.

Audience members will leave with some simple tools they can start using immediately to help nudge change forward by being comfortable with the uncomfortable.

The overall learning objectives will show the audience how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable while: – Naming it – Exploring it – Nudging change with it

Mike Edwards
Ecosystem Intelligence: Recruiting the Social Brain to foment Agility

We who seek organizational resilience are faced with the imperative to generate value in continually-arising ecosystems.  We can develop skills and practices to design new networks of value exchanges.  To do so we must satisfy ancient neural networks – a social brain that evolved in the Stone Age and before – both for its delight in helping others and for its iron grip on energy, optimism, curiosity and creativity.

This fresh synthesis of Business Anthropology, Ecosystem thinking, and Social Neuroscience introduces a powerful, pleasurable metric – an early indicator – for ‘agility fitness.’  Two stories from my practice illuminate how it works.

Marsha Shenk
Business Anthropologist

It’ll be a beautiful day to each lunch outside, we’re sampling menu options so stay tuned!

13:45 - 15:00
Follow Your Fear

What stops you from doing the things you’ve always wanted to do? What stops teams from being truly great? What hinders most organizational change?


That feeling in your gut when deep down you know what you need to do, but you’re not sure if you can do it.

Check out any of the “x things most successful people do” posts online. Every single one of them will mention fear. Why? Because fear can either energize you to success or paralyze you into inaction.

I’ll show you how to move from paralysis to action and how you can apply these techniques to yourself and to your teams.

What’s more, we’ll take that first step by working hands on with the Fear Follower Canvas to help you move those things you want to do from the someday pile to done!

Todd Charron
Agile Coach

The final break of the Spark experience, time to get ready for the closing Fishbowl!

What are you taking away?

Instead of a closing keynote, this year we’re trying an experiment. Have your say, what did you learn? What are you taking away? This will be a moderated session based on Liberating Structures. Sounds fancy, I know…intrigued?

Select date to see events.

Workshop with Jen Frahm

We are hosting a 1/2 day workshop with Jen Frahm on Saturday June 15 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Toronto. Spark attendees save 20% on registration! 

Send Your Team

This year we offered Send Your Team Packages and would like to thank the following companies for sending their teams to Spark Toronto!

Do you want to send your team? Contact us for pricing on team discounts!