May 20, 2011 by Jeff Hurt
Image by Paco-CT.
How fuzzy is your annual conference or event?
No, we are not talking about a hairy, fluffy conference or event. Nor are we talking about an event for hair stylists, hair removal professionals or hirsute populations.
Fuzzy events embrace fuzzy goals.
Is your goal to incrementally improve your conference experience? Or is it to create an innovative, fresh, experience unlike those of the past?
Gamestorming author David Grey describes fuzzy goals as ideas that create breakthrough innovation.
Grey says that most goals are tied to industrial-age work. They are specific and quantifiable.
He says that today’s knowledge worker needs fuzzy goals. Goals that lead to breakthrough ideas which are inherently unpredictable. It’s tough for people to create a goal about something that is new and not seen before.
Cambridge researcher Alan Blackwell took a different spin on fuzzy goals. He calls it “pole-star vision.”
Pole-star vision helps people work towards a shared interest. They work towards a general direction and take detours when unexpected opportunities arise.
For innovation to occur, leaders need to be able to accommodate radical changes in their goals along the way. That’s hard for many organization leaders who invest resources based on explicit outcomes and assessments.
Fuzzy events straddle two directions at once.
They have specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, timely goals for their attendees. Participants align their personal and professional goals with the conference goals.
Fuzzy events also have lofty, noble, practically unachievable goals that provide a sense of direction. These goals empower and encourage participants to follow their intuition and embrace serendipity.
Sometimes the most exciting discoveries at fuzzy events are unexpected surprises. Participants are encouraged to pursue questions, topics and ideas as they arise.
So how much fuzziness should conferences and events have?
Much like Grey’s fuzzy goals, fuzzy events need heavy doses of ESP: Emotion, Sensory Integration and Progression.
Fuzzy events must rouse the emotions. They must stir and move the hearts and souls of its participants. They must connect emotionally.
The more senses engaged, the more heightened the event experience. It needs to be something tangible. It needs to be able to be shared and spread. What type of experiences can you create that will spur the senses? Visualize and chart the experiences you want your attendees to have during the planning process.
Fuzzy events are dynamic, not static. They ebb and flow with the participants needs, expectations and desires. They have specific measurable goals and also encourage voyages of discovery.
Smart, savvy meeting professionals design event experiences that have both specific and ambiguous goals. They structure programs that allow participants to navigate uncertain and often complex information spaces as well as linear, stair-step information architects.
Fuzzy events provide areas where participants can hold informal, impromptu gatherings as well as formal, structured sessions. They celebrate people willing to question the status quo and create spontaneous adventures.
What steps should event professionals take to embrace fuzzy events? What are some practical things meeting professionals can do to encourage more discoveries along the journey?
Filed Under: Event Planning
You brought up some excellent points. Having clear, specific goals are detrimental to the success of your event. Thanks for sharing!
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