Does your organization have any meeting planning practices that are sacred cows?
Don’t you wish you could grind them up for a barbecue?
Well, it’s time to kill those traditions and make way for new, emerging ideas.
e4 2011 Innovation Labs
Recently I attended Experient’s e4 2011 conference, “Outside the Lines” as one of their Innovation Lab Facilitators. Participants didn’t move from breakout to breakout each day. Instead they committed two days to deep dives in facilitated collaborative discussion about a specific topic.
At Experient’s opening general session, Dr. John Medina answered six questions about the human brain that directly linked to each of the Innovation Lab topics. He set the stage for the entire experience.
Each Innovation Lab facilitator was charged to help participants identify:
- One key outcome
- Four to six emerging practices
Graphic facilitators assigned to each lab also captured the discussions and thoughts using visual language.
Identifying Content And Speaker Selection Approaches
My Innovation Lab topic was content, delivery and speaker selection. We used a consensus-based collaborative exercise. During the process we inventoried our approaches, practices and trends for selecting content and speakers. The results were astounding and provocative.
Content and speaker selection practices were then placed into one of four categories:
- Boundary – bleeding edge ideas, radical thoughts, ideas not in good currency
- Emerging – experimental ideas who time has come, approaches getting some backing and resources, practices gaining in popularity
- Established – tried and true practices, status quo ideas, well-funded approaches, ideas hard to dislodge, standard operating procedures.
- Dying – ideas who time had come and gone, outdated, irrelevant
Here’s the diagram we used in this process.
Here’s our graphic facilitator’s mural using the same wave. Hannah Sanford did a great job capturing our discussion too. More of her images will appear in future posts. Click on the image for a larger view.
Light The Match
What were our results? Well, It’s time to ignite that organization sacred cow barbecue.
Here were the sacred cows, those dying and dead practices, for content and speaker selection.
- The Call For Speaker Proposals
- Volunteer committees selecting content and speakers.
- The Talking Head/Lecture
The Key Outcome And Emerging Practices
Here is the key outcome and four emerging practices that the Content/Delivery Innovation Lab participants identified.
Content/Delivery Key Outcome:
Meeting Professionals need to become Content-Curator-Strategists.
Think about art museum curators as an example. The role of the traditional meeting planner is shifting from managing the logistics to designing the experience. Several organizations in attendance now employ meeting strategists instead of meeting planners that focus on content curation and design, not just logistics.
Content/Delivery Emerging Practices
1. The role of the volunteer conference committee must change into an advisory role and not one of approving and selecting speakers.
We don’t allow volunteers to select conference cities, hotels and food and beverage. Why do we allow them to pick speakers and content which impacts the participant’s experience? Crowdsourcing some speakers and topics is ok. Allowing the selection of the content and speakers by a few volunteers is out.
2. Innovative group learning formats.
Individual learning was out. Group collaborative learning is in. Knowledge sharing, structured informal social learning, peer-to-peer and facilitated discussions are the best approaches to conference education and sessions. Facilitators are in and speeches and lectures are out.
3. Reinventing the general session.
The traditional general session with all its organizational marketing hype and chest-thumping is dead. Conference attendees avoid unwanted interruption advertising. General sessions need to establish an overall theme and bookend the experience with intention about topics, not organization commercials.
4. Using visuals appropriately.
Visuals, both moving and static images, are extremely important to conferences, especially since we are visual processors first. PowerPoint doesn’t kill people. People do. Meeting professionals should help train speakers on how to use PowerPoint appropriately.
Which of these practices surprise you? Which ones will be the most difficult to implement and why?