March 24, 2010 by Jeff Hurt
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.
What would happen? What would be served?
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?
Filed Under: Conference Education
agree with so many of your posts (of note, your recent Wal-Mart post), but I tend to disagree with you here. Or maybe it’s just a matter of implementation.
Asking attendees for ideas about future content can be illuminating. As wonderful as the leaders I work with are, sometimes there is someone “on the ground” who can bring a new issue to light. Or you can identify a trend if you’re getting similar feedback from many people. Not everything will turn into a session. Conference organizers, along with their conference chairs/planning committees, still have ultimate control.
With crowdsourcing, some person/entity is usually curating. With conferences, that’s the organizers and planning committees.
I totally agree with you that you should take suggestions from attendees. Recognizing patterns and identifying common threads is good. I see taking suggestions differently than crowdsourcing.
I don’t agree with taking conference speaker proposals and then crowdsourcing them to potential attendees for a vote. I think that leads to bland content.
I like to provide a mix of what people say they want (30% – 40% of content) and what they also need (60%-70%). I tend to provide more forward thinking, pushing the envelope content which is rarely crowdsourced.
True we are not kids yet left to our own food choices, we have created a population of unhealthy individuals today because as adults we’ve made poor food choices. We tend to eat what we want instead of what we need. So the analogy rings true today for adults as well.
I don’t see you as the average attendee! [You were probably in the advanced class as kid that knew you needed a balanced meal!] You are a true professional, experienced in your field and an industry veteran. You ask tough questions, push boundaries and want to improve. I think most attendees are not doing that so that don’t know what they want or need. And, as you correctly identified, the challenge is often allowing committees and internal departments to make the final selection. Decisions should be left to a group of experienced professionals.
I agree with your conclusions, but I am not sure about the analogy.
On the one hand, we’re not children. I think we DO often know what content we want AND what content we need and we don’t often get it from organizers. Our suggestions are ignored because too often, conference content is selected by a committee or internal department with required numbers of slots to be filled from other committees/focus areas and not much intent or thought put into the overall combination or theme or purpose of the conference as a whole beyond logistical considerations (x keynotes, x learning labs, x for track 1, track 2, track 3).
On the other hand, I also think there’s a BIG difference between crowdsourcing the actual content (eg popularity contest = bad) and crowdsourcing suggestions for content and/or speakers, where the final selection would be determined by the right planners with the right experience.
I’m against the analogy and the conclusions.
Conferences aren’t really crowdsourced in the way that you might toss a logo project up on 99designs.com. It’s not as if everyone is submitting possible options and you’re picking the best one so you don’t have to do any work. Furthermore, conference planning isn’t purely a democracy from potential attendees. The organizers get to decide if any of the suggestions or the popular ideas are any good.
More importantly, however, is that asking people what they want in a conference is marketing. It gives people the sense that they helped to design the conference and thus creates more buy-in. Your crowdsourcing could be 100% theater and it would still make people feel like they had been involved.
The important message is that conference design crowdsourcing provides information about what people want (which you can ignore) and generates buzz about your event (which you need.) What it doesn’t do is what the name implies: reduce your work. So we shouldn’t call it “crowdsourcing.” Instead, we should call it: “engaging.”
Thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion. I like your take on asking people for input and seeing that as marketing. Good point.
Unfortunately, many associations are crowdsourcing conference content today. They offer a call for proposals and then allow attendees and potential attendees to vote on the topic, speaker and content only from those proposals. The Board of Direlctors, executives or leadership have mandated that the final content is voted and approved by attendees only.
No Jeff I don’t agree with this.
Crowdsourcing is the least plausible cause for the sympotms you higlighted.
I see everything you mentioned as the result of traditional event practices, where event professionals spoil people with personalities and opulescent buffets.
Crowdsourcing is telling your kids to grow up and be independent. you’ll be amazed by what kids can do if well guided and facilitated.
Kids did wikipedia, found out about MP expenses in the UK, suggested products ideas to Dell.
You are talking about Crowdsourcing as a contest, which is not.
But the big problem here is trying to appy Crowdsourcing to something so outdated as conferences. This is were I see incompatibility.
Event professionals should strive to find new models such as Pecha Kucha, the Unconference.
Reality is I have been making the same examples for a too long now because little has been done to innovate.
I totally agree with you. The interesting twist you added is that if kids are well guided and facilitated they’ll do it correctly. There’s a key and where leadership needs to occur if we’re going to allow voting or crowdsourcing.
What’s unfortunate is that many American associations are doing exactly what I’ve identifed in this post and calling it Crowdsourcing or meeting their attendee’s desires. Please don’t stop making examples and challenging folks to innovate. We need that!
Makes sense. I would put quotation marks then on ‘Crowdsourcing’ – Linux was built with a clear structure and process in mind. Same goes for wordpress which we are using right now on this blog.
Labelling crowdsourcing a voting contest is an unfortunate error for those perpetrating the practice.
In the same fashion we got PechaKucha style events or unconferences within conferences.
It’s the old let’s use the catchy word tactic which we are quite used to thanks to all the Twitter coaches and Facebook Gurus.
You almost scared me there with title Jeff, but I am still a big fan.
Ah, the challenges with semantics. It’s been interesting as everyone has a different definition of crowdsourcing just like virtual, engagement, success, etc. My experiences with Crowdsourcing have been without clear structure, process, facilitation, etc.
Oooh, Jeff, you are so wrong about this! I’ve been crowdsourcing conferences for 18 years (but not in the way you describe crowdsourcing). And attendees love it! And they keep coming back!
I’ll write a blog post with more detail when I get a chance, but here’s the core:
As others have already pointed out, attendees are not children! If you have a good process for them to share 1) what they want to talk about and 2) what experience or expertise is available to the group, IME they do a magnificent job far better than any conference program committee I’ve ever worked with in creating a conference program that works well for them.
Jeff, if you came to one of my conferences (and it was about your field of expertise), your treasure of experience and knowledge would be recognized right off the bat by the other attendees in the opening sessions. You’d offer to run sessions on subjects that you knew (because people mentioned them) would be of interest. The participants would choose from your (and other attendee) offerings and the most popular ones would be scheduled. The conference content would be improved by your presence, but it would not be mediocre if you weren’t there.
Your assertion that “securing conference speakers and topics that people want versus need leads to decreased repeat attendance” continues the “attendees are kids who need someone to tell them what’s good for them” paradigm. But attendees are adults, and most adults are capable of asking for what they need rather than what they want. They are also capable of recognizing that something they weren’t previously aware of is valuable and worthy of their interest.
Dissenting view is always healthy and good for discussion. Thanks for sharing.
I directed this post to association leaders, executives, committees and board of directors. The situation I laid out is exactly how it is being done at some associations without a process, facilitation or an understanding of expertise. It’s strictly a voting process. So, you’re trying to compare apples to oranges with the conference format you describe.
Just have to add my $.02 to the pretty much completely disagree commentary.
First of all, no one at ASAE & The Center thinks of members as children!
The one thing I do agree with is that crowdsourcing as you describe will lead to bland conferences.
Fortunately, the practice of crowdsourcing something like conference content doesn’t work that way. Of course it needs direction and judgment.
Two additional things to consider that I haven’t read in other comments:
1. It’s not your typical member who will take the time to participate in crowdsourcing endeavors. It’s the Maddie’s of the world–the one’s who care, that do it, so your results are going to be better than if all x,000 members were voting.
2. I’d say look at the model of Radio Open Source, which was crowdsourcing a public radio program years before the term was invented. Suggest topics, and solicit topics from a community. Engage the community in conversation about the topics. Choose the ones that resonate the most, get the community to help craft the angle of a story on the topic, and develop and deliver the story. Discuss afterward. So much power in this model for how associations could get the most of their content.
Thanks for adding your views and commentary.
Obviously, the analogy I used about children and meals has struck a nerve with people. I don’t think any adult, member or attendee is a child. I do think adults sometimes make childish decisions and act like children. Just look at the Great Recession where adults bought homes outside of their means, or consider our credit card debt, or reflect on our love affair with saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Our wants outweighed our needs. And this happens when crowdsourcing conference content–just ask anyone who returned from SxSWi and you’ll hear the resounding need to improve the content selection process.
I still challenge the assumption that our members know what they need. I argue that people like what they know. Therefore their ignorance, not knowing, is an opportunity for associations to help them learn, and like new things.
From Adrian Segar (for some reason, he was not able to post a second comment)
Thanks for your clarification about your audience. Unfortunately it’s not in the original post, which I read as a blanket dismissal of “crowdsourcing”.
Given your premises, I don’t disagree with your conclusions about the value of crowdsourcing. In fact I wrote an article Does Asking Attendees In Advance For Program Suggestions Work?” about this very topic last month.
As I said there, if you think of “crowdsourcing” as a voting process that occurs before the event, it will provide a small amount of statistically unreliable information about what attendees think they want to have happen.
However, if you “crowdsource” correctly at the event, the sessions you develop will be great. That’s been my experience over and over again. But I still detect some skepticism on your part that this is the case. How can I convince you? Come to one of my events and see for yourself!
I’ll pass on the doughnuts thanks 🙂
Still a big fan,
I believe there is a place for the concept you described within a multi-day conference such as OpenSpace Session(s). I think it works for your audience. And it will work for some Unconference style events.
I don’t think this format works for a multi-day annual association conference or meeting. And I don’t think it scales well for large annual meetings of 500, 1,000, 3,000, 10,000, 20,000 people or more. It works for smaller groups.
Likewise, I don’t know of many executives that would pay for their employee to attend a three- or five-day event where the content was decided at the event. Considering the typical conference investement is at least $1,000 (registration fee, travel, lodging, expenses, etc.) plust time out of the office, not knowing what the employee is going to learn and how it applies to their job it like throwing money into the fire. Most nonsupplier executives base their decisison on the written conference content descriptions, not the theory they will learn something once they are onsite although that’s unknown at this time. Again, I think we’re comparing apples to oranges.
Wow, Jeff, you really know how to get a conversation going my friend.
I completely understand what your intent here was with this article. But, as with many of the other folks that responded here, I believe Crowdsourcing, used with common sense, and logical boundaries, is a great process.
I personally believe providing your customers/members with an opportunity to have input regarding the content being developed for a conference is a healthy and empowering practice. But, yes there is a but, I don’t believe it is is a democratic process, nor should final decisions on topics/content be made by members.
That decision should be made by the folks in the organization who will professionally review the suggestions and then, along with their own thoughts on content, develop the final topics.
I don’t believe it was your intent to suggest that associations exclude their members from providing input on conference content. However, the real point here is that event professionals need to own the responsibility, along with its consequences, for making final decisions regarding programming.
Thanks for putting out such a thought provoking article!
Nicely stated! And of course I’m with you that you should not exclude members from providing input and feedback.
I leave you with these words of Steve Jobs & Henry Ford, “…it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. That’s what we get paid to do. So you can’t go out and ask people, you know, what’s the next big [thing.] There’s a great quote by Henry Ford, right? He said, ‘If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me ‘A faster horse.'” I think association leadership must walk a balancing act of providing what members say they want and also giving them what they need, and what will help push the envelope.
@Adrain – Thanks for continuing to provide more information about your experiences.
@Dave – Good points and yes one of my goals was to stoke some conversation. Thanks for adding your views.
I can see how my illustration comes across as elitist. Playing devil’s advocate, do you feel the same way about the association staff or leadership choosing the city, hotel, venues, food and beverage, and date for the content? Why do we allow experts to pick those items but we don’t allow experts to pick the food our brains consume within the context of a formal learning environment like a conference? We certainly didn’t call our teachers, professors or education boards gods or elitist when in school or college since they were the ones deciding our curriculum.
What a great peacemaker and bridge builder. You’re talking about co-creation of content and I’m not sure that the formal, traditional association annual conference is the right venue for that type of attendee engagement for the entire experience. I think it’s a different type of dedicated conference where that occurs. The process you describe is often much more labor intensive and slow than the time most conference organizers have to plan it. As an example of how the process you describe can run amuck, I point you to the Texas Board of Education that controls the curriculum that Texas students learn. The wisdom of that crowd ignores fact, science and logic.
I agree with you about the difficulty of using my approach with very large events.
OTOH I’ve been running the annual edACCESS (a national, increasingly international, association) conference since 1992. It’s a four-day event, costs an average of $550+travel etc. and, this year, has just two pre-scheduled sessions—everything else is crowdsourced at the event. (By the way, both of the predetermined sessions are being run by attendees. But we’ll invite outside speakers if we are sure they have something of value to contribute; last year David Weinberger gave a keynote.)
The unknown agenda at edACCESS doesn’t deter the bosses of up to 100 participants from letting them attend year after year. Did these executives make a leap of faith the first time they were asked to pay for this unusual format? Probably. But they took the chance, and the conference was described by one seasoned attendee last year as “the best education-focused tech conference on the planet”.
Jeff, Part of me wonders if you’re sitting back reading all these comments with a grin and feeling of contentment. Isn’t it true that journalists love to stir up emotions? And perhaps in that sense you succeeded. But I wonder if you really believe that crowdsourcing is similar to letting children choose what they eat.
1. Agreed, the attendees may not have all the answers, but I give them more credit than you do. Although some attendees are ignorant to some aspects of the conference, there are a few that know a great deal about other aspects of the conference. I think a lot of attendees have great insight to what’s coming down the road in their particular niche. That’s the beauty of well managed crowdsourcing – You have a (hopefully) huge pool of knowledge from which to gather information. To follow your analogies, there are plenty of doctors and nutritionists in the crowd to help guide the knowledge.
2. Crowdsourcing, in my opinion, does not mean there is no leadership ultimately determining the topics of discussion. Even crowdsourcing requires leadership. As a leader of my business, I would not presume to know what’s best for my clients without their input. I believe I have some expertise, and after understanding my clients interests and needs, I can help them by offering insight. Interestingly and on a sidebar, I believe the same with the government. I do not want the government determining what is best for me. I would still like to have Ho Ho’s for dinner if it so pleases me – but I don’t.
This whole post seems very Ayn Rand to me to say that most people don’t know what’s good for them so we, as the educated and smarter elite, need to decide for them. It is true that many people eat poorly and don’t read books. That’s a shame. Good leadership knows what to weed out of crowdsourced content.
Having said all that, it is possible that the discrepancy here is more the definition of CROWDSOURCING. We may actually be saying much of the same thing here….
Thanks for provoking thought!!!!
Great discussion all. I only wish we were having this discourse over a meal and some good wine/spirits.
What strikes me in this discussion is that we’re discussing crowd sourcing at the event to create new content. That will and should happen more. Inspired people create inspiring content and conversations when given a place, a time, a medium and a message.
There’s no reason the original content can’t be, in part crowd-sourced. The association/planner(s) should be scouring conference feedback channels (not just the survey) to begin content decisions for the next event immediately after the current event ends. Part of that should be reaching out to the community for their ideas, the power to vote and the ability to have A voice in the decision making process.
In the Kevin Richardson definition of crowd-sourcing there is a collaboration between show organizer and attendee and exhibitor. All with voices that together create the content that will be meaningful within a greater theme.
Once those content touchpoints have been established I think the real work begins for each and every speaker to reach out (again pre-conference) to allow the crowd to help shape the remarks and the collaboration.
Finally, dear show organizer, please provide me and my fellow attendees the space, time, medium(s) to openly gather to further this message and drive learning home.
All that to say, I don’t see this as poles but rather a true collaboration which while more difficult than either pole is more meaningful to all.
I’ll see you in the bean-bag, wi-fi hangout after the session…
This post and comments was a topic of conversation last night at MTO Summit. Shawn Pierce of Hanley Wood, gave a great addition that I wanted to add here.
This conversation reminded him of Pick a Professor. I hadn’t heard of it, but I guess there are online sources that help students select professors. Of course many students will select a professor based on the fact that 80% of the grades given in the past were A’s and B’s. They WANT a good grade and not too much homework. They NEED education that will eventually lead them to have a successful career.
At the end of the day, crowdsourcing has lots of definitions in this thread. The ultimate vote is whether or not they choose to register, show up, participate, come back and tell others. If you deliver what they NEED and can immediately apply, they’ll be back.
jeff I am a little late to the game here but I am on your side on this one. hooray to you for standing your ground. Obviously everyone is well intentioned and yes there seem to be a lot of apples and oranges here and geez a lot of folks with more expertise than me, but i shall share something I saw in the music biz and that was what I call “the committee effect.” it used to be you had fritz kreisler, yehudi menuhin, and Heifetz. VERY different styles. Now we have a whole lot of yes, fab violinists, but they all have virtually the same style. I have a good ear and I can’t tell them apart. The lack of variety has proven to be very bad for business.
How many of us will rewteet some truly bizarre edgy tweet or link that we are not sure will be unanimously approved of by our followers and peers? why risk it? leadership is always rare. “Seinfeld” came about because it had a rare champion or two, not because of a groundswell of grassroots support. There is something to be said for crowdsourcing as one source, but if it is the only source, there is a kind of off-the-wall presenter who will never make it in. I’m one of them, btw, so keep up the good work. –jl
Ooo, I like your comparisons here. Thank you for sharing them with us.
Crowdsourcing at it’s core is a high level of collaboration. A belief that all of us are smarter than any one of us. However, many times when there is an opportunity for association members to become involved, life gets in the way and the feedback never gets created, much less sent back to the organization’s leadership.
A good example of this was MPI’s MeetDifferent conference last month. There have been several blogs dedicated to what worked and what didn’t work (mainly what didn’t work). I’ll bet that most MPI members had no idea webinars were held with the speakers before the conference. It was an open forum to discuss the content that would be delivered on site. Members were able to send in suggestions on what the keynote presenters should cover in addition to what was prepared after the webinar. Crowdsourcing at its finest, right? An opportunity to hear what the keynoters would be speaking about, then chime in with what else you think they should be presenting. Emails were sent out. Links to the webinars on the MeetDifferent website were posted. To my knowledge, not a single email was sent to MPI as feedback for the presenters.
I believe crowdsourcing only works when you have the right demographic to source from, and the right reasons for doing it. A white paper was written at MIT by Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, and Chrysanthos Dellarocas called “Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence”. It’s a 20 page read that gives a great starting point for any association looking to crowdsource.
Your recent experience at MPI’s MeetDifferent echoes my experience. Even though I’m usually successful in getting _some_ feedback before the event, I haven’t found it to be a reliable indicator of what people at the event really want.
That’s why the contrast with what happens when you crowdsource effectively at an event is so remarkable.
I think the reason that so few events have held successful on-the-spot crowdsourcing is that several conditions all need to be in place:
– explicit, agreed-to, ground rules that make it safe for attendees to honestly talk about what they want and share potential experience and expertise. I can’t overemphasize how important this is.
– a short equal time for each attendee, not just the extroverts, to share what he or she wants to have happen, and what he or she might have to offer.
– a structured session topic/format suggestion process.
– a structured session sign-up process. “Sign-up” here means an expression of interest rather than commitment. The results of this process are used by a small group, including subject-matter experts, to create a responsive, workable program.
I’ve found that every time all four of these ingredients exist, the result is an optimum and superb conference program.
When you prepare attendees to share safely and then gently put them on the spot, telling them essentially “you’ll have five minutes to write about what you’d like to have happen and how you might be able to contribute, and then you’ll be sharing your thoughts to the group” my experience is they do a great job!
[…] Hurt sparked an interesting online discussion last week with his blog post “Two Reasons Why Crowdsourcing Your Conference Content Won’t Work.” His assertion: If you let your attendees choose and vote on what they want to hear, they’ll […]
When I was in the advertising business some clients used to conduct market research (usually focus groups) to determine the effectiveness of ad 1 over as 2 or commercial A over commercial B. These clients, the ones with this tendency toward research, were usually the ones that ran the very worst advertising. It was boring, unimaginative and ineffective. Some of my colleagues blamed the research. I blamed the advertising team that spent all their time criticizing the research instead of embracing it and learning from the answers.
The fact is that most consumers (attendees) do not have a clue what they want. But, they have opinions that are usually worth a listen. There is always the risk that conference planners will follow the opinions blindly. If they do, it is not the opinion givers that are at fault. If it were my team, I would trust that the conference planners would make the correct decision. Being a leader takes courage, courage that people are trustworthy and will make the right decision, even if that means not engaging me to be the keynote speaker.
Here is to making every meeting unforgettable.
Be Well & Be Contagious,
John Hersey, CSP
I agree with Ali and Maddie
Nice framework for successful use of crowdsourcing: right demographic to source from, and the right reasons for doing it. And thanks for the link to the white paper.
Thanks for adding your suggested groundrules for crowdsourcing. Nice addition.
Thanks for reading and adding to the discussion. I agree that most attendees have opinions that are worth a listen! So true. And that being a leader takes courage. Love that.
Thanks for stopping by and adding your input. It’s always appreciated.
[…] Recently I wrote Two Reasons Why Crowdsourcing Your Conference Content Won’t Work. […]
[…] of posts by Jeff Hurt (An Open Letter To Association Board Members, Committees, Executives and Two Reasons Why Crowdsourcing Your Conference Content Won’t Work) that sparked huge discussions in the comments. Read ‘em and come and share your thoughts in […]
[…] great post with fantastic, insightful comments over at Jeff Hurt’s Midcourse Corrections: Two Reasons Why Crowdsourcing Your Conference Content Won’t Work. What attendees want and what they need can be very different things, and attendees don’t […]
Jeff- The comments have been very thought provoking on this post.
Steve Jobs said “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
Nobody “wanted” or “asked for” an iPad…. but it worked out pretty good for Apple.
I think your point of this article is good (semantics of meanings of words aside). Crowdsourcing (as I interpret your claim of how it is being used) is a lazy answer and a way to deflect responsibility.
I believe when it comes to speakers there is a debate about “content vs. style” and many use a claim that their audience only wants content as an excuse for some blah presentations.
Who would put on a survey “I dont care about content”? Of course people say they want content (cuz they do… but it does not stop there). Saying “we want content” is lazy, as that is an answer we would all give. The debate is not about “content vs. style”…. as wanting BOTH is never a choice that is given (and that is the right answer). It takes more work to vet the speakers than deliver both content and style…., and are who are really conversational and engaging. Easier just to say “our audience is interested in content”.
Thanks for this post, as it clearly got people thinking.
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