This week’s BSR Conference 2009 is focused on a critical question: How can you generate sustainable business success in a world that has been "reset" by a trio of crises: the sharp worldwide recession, accelerating climate change, and a collapse of trust in business?

We started this conversation with you earlier this year when we published the BSR Report 2008, which provided the road map.

Now, at our Conference, we will not only advance the conversation, we will provide you with the tools, the insights, and the opportunity for connections to help your company deliver value in a Reset World.

This year, we reset the Conference format to give you even more time for direct interaction with speakers and for hands-on discovery. If you are attending the BSR Conference this week, this article will explain how to make the most of your experience. If you couldn’t make it to the Conference this year, read the last section of this article for information on how we are covering the Conference—through comprehensive session notes, video excerpts, and more—to share the ideas and tools generated at the Conference with a broader audience.

Choosing the Right Sessions

This year’s Conference features a restructured format with more—and more varied—session time so you can customize your agenda with the topics, level, and length of sessions that are right for you. In addition to the daily plenary sessions, there are also three types of breakout sessions. There is one full-day session (on Materiality and ROI), and there are a variety of two-hour working sessions, and one-hour conversations.

All of the sessions are organized by thematic track: CSR Basics; Economic Development; Environment; Governance, Accountability, Transparency; Human Rights; Sustainability in a Reset World; and Value Chain.

With this wide range of topics and the varied formats, it’s possible to attend up to four one-hour conversations per day, or mix and match one-hour conversations with two-hour working sessions. To ensure that you don’t miss out, some of the one-hour conversations are repeated.

Planning Your Conference Experience

As you’re planning which sessions to attend, keep in mind that it’s no longer business as usual. Not only are sustainable business leaders being challenged to do more with less, there’s an imperative for business to think big and look at the connections among a multitude of issues. The Reset World requires latitude as well as depth, and the Conference gives you an opportunity to expand your horizons. For instance, if you are a supply chain expert, consider going to hear oceanographer Sylvia Earle’s update on the blue planet. If you work in marketing, consider attending a session related to government affairs, such as our two-hour working session on public-private partnerships or our one-hour conversation with Microsoft’s Pamela Passman on the role of corporations in engaging in public policy dialogues.

To maximize the new Conference format, we recommend building an agenda that blends workshops and one-hour conversations. The two-hour working sessions allow you to delve into case studies and inspiring discussions in a workshop-style setting, while the conversations give you the chance to hear from and interact with global thought leaders and industry luminaries in an intimate setting.

Follow these links to access the sample itineraries we have created for Conference participants interested in climate change, systems thinking, value chains, and doing more with less.

If you haven’t done so already, log onto our Conference networking site, where you can:

  • Develop your own profile and network.
  • Search to find out who else is attending the Conference and learn about other participants’ interests, industries, and expertise.
  • Link to your personal blog.
  • Join or start a discussion group.
  • Leave a private note for another participant.
  • Set up meetings.
  • Plan your daily schedule using a custom calendar.

In addition to the sessions, the Conference is a good opportunity to meet your customers, competitors, and others in your value chain. Don’t forget to take advantage of the Conference’s networking and coffee breaks and after-hours receptions.

Learning More: From Afar and After the Conference

We realize that even with the revamped Conference format, you may not be able to attend every session that captures your interest. And if you can’t attend Conference this year, we don’t want you to miss out.

We have planned a variety of Conference coverage that will allow you to access the rich content:

  • Daily coverage: Each day, we will send Conference attendees a roundup with quotes, session highlights, and updates.
  • Blog coverage: Our media partners from GreenBiz.com will be posting blogs on sessions and important themes from the Conference at least once a day. The blogs will be accessible from our homepage and from http://greenbiz.com/BSR2009.
  • Video coverage: Throughout the Conference, we will highlight our plenary sessions in short video clips posted at www.youtube.com/user/BusinessSocialResp.
  • Session notes: We will post all session summaries at www.bsr.org/session-summaries by Tuesday October 27.

We hope you leave the BSR Conference 2009 with the tools, insights, and inspiration that will position your company for long-term success in the Reset World. We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!