Let’s put children in charge of their own meals.
Being the forward thinking leaders that we are, we’ll allow kids to decide what they want to eat. We’ll use an online voting system similar to Digg so kids can crowdsource the suggestions. They’ll even be allowed to announce to their friends which food items they voted for and why.
Doughnuts, pop tarts and chocolate milk for breakfast. Pizza for lunch on odd days. Macaroni and cheese along with French fries, onion rings and tater tots on even days. Soda pop any time. The three Cs for dinner: cake, candy and chips.
After every meal, the kids rate it on a scale of one to five with one being the poorest and five being the highest. We’ll ask:
• Did they enjoy the meal?
• Did the meal make them full?
• Did the meal seam nutritious?
• Did the cooks prepare the meal properly?
• Does the chef have a lot of knowledge about cooking these items?
• Is it a meal they want again in the future?
• Would they recommend the meal to their friends?
• Will the meal help them do a better job in school?
We’ll all pat ourselves on the back for providing our children with exactly what they wanted, when they wanted it, how they wanted it and where they wanted it. We’re such great leaders.
What will we do when kids complain they have upset stomachs? How will we handle that they lack the energy to complete school assignments?
We’ll tell them we gave them what they wanted based on their crowdsourcing and feedback.
The Analogy Applied To Your Association And Conference
Those kids are your conference attendees. The forward thinking leaders are your Association Board of Directors, volunteer committees, certified association executives, staff and the conference organizers.
So what do you get when you provide this crowdsourcing system of conference topic, speaker and session selections? You get a standard association operating procedure for designing conference and training programs. The wisdom of the association leadership to provide attendees with what they want ensures that the conference content remains mediocre, status quo and looking back at the past.
Here are two reasons why crowdsourcing your conference content won’t work.
1) Attendees don’t know what they don’t know.
Assume you’re sick. You can identify the symptoms, the presenting problem. You don’t suddenly become the expert about your own health and decide what treatment to take. You go to a doctor to get a diagnosis.
Does your doctor treat the symptoms or the root cause?
If you tried to treat the symptoms yourself, you may have only masked the problem. You don’t know what you don’t know.
While at your physician, your doctor says to you, “I think it’s time you get this shot to prevent disease x that could cripple you in the future.”
You’ve never heard about disease x nor did you even realize it was an issue. You don’t know what you don’t know.
Association leadership and attendees are going to tell you about the symptoms they are having. These symptoms should prompt you as a conference organizer to secure practioners that can address the root cause and provide plans for treatment.
It’s also your job to be forward-thinking to see what’s coming down the industry road in six months, a year, two years and prepare your attendees for these issues. Your attendees don’t know what they don’t know.
2) Securing conference speakers and topics that people want versus need leads to decreased repeat attendance.
When you crowdsource all of your conference content, it becomes a popularity contest. The content becomes a reflection of the groups collective least common denominator. It becomes average, mediocre, unhealthy.
And often after attending crowdsourced conference content, attendee’s ask, “Where’s the beef?” They question if they will return the next year.
Crowdsourcing content becomes more about what they want instead of what they need to grow a successful, healthy business.
When the leadership says, “Our attendees don’t want this.” That’s the time to ask, “What symptom or business problem is their want addressing? And is it the root cause of their challenge?”
Your leadership and executives are not experts in diagnosing industry root causes or what the attendees need. Your annual conference education committee is not the expert in your industry trends, forecasting, diagnosing and instruction design. They are all experts in their own jobs.
Your job as a conference organizer is to provide nourishing content, served with some imagination in creative displays and tasty morsels that provides a balance of what the attendee wants with what the attendee needs! That’s the sure fire way to get people to return to next year’s conference.
Think you can do that? Or should I order a dozen assorted doughnuts for each of your conference sessions?