Innovation. It’s the heartbeat and lifeblood of today’s economy.
Innovation. It’s a strategic priority for most executives around the world.
Innovation and creativity. 15,000 CEOs identified it as the number 1 “Leadership Competency” of the future. (IBM, CEO Study, 2010)
Innovation. It’s where you as a conference organizer need to focus your attention, time and resources if you want to continue to compete in the meetings marketplace.
Innovators Think Different, Act Different
Average conferences are planned by average meeting professionals.
Most conference attendees don’t want to pay for an average, common conference. They want something different. They want a unique experience.
Innovative conferences are planned by innovative meeting professionals. Innovators think different. To think different, innovators have to act different.
Authors Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen (The Innovator’s DNA) identified innovators that think and act different. They discovered five common traits of all innovators. Innovators behave as connectors (associating unconnected ideas), questioners, observers, networkers and experimenters.
Five Traits Of Conference Innovators
Innovative conferences are planned by innovative meeting professionals that systemically engage in these five traits.
Innovators connect the unconnected. They make surprising links across industries, knowledge and even geographical regions. They look for the intersection of diverse experiences and new insights. They collect ideas and create odd combinations. They zoom in and out both looking at the big picture and details.
Innovators question common wisdom. They push assumptions, boundaries and borders. The start with what currently is and then soar to what might be. Like journalists they ask lots of who, what, when, where and how questions. They ask “what is, what caused, why, why not, what if.” Innovators embrace QuestionStorming.
Innovators are intense observers. They scrutinize how things work and are hypersensitive to what does not work. They don’t watch the speaker in a general session. Instead they watch how the audience responds to the speaker. Innovators use all the senses to observe their customers, how their customers respond and how groups react.
Innovators link ideas from their expertise to ideas of others that play in different sand boxes. They intentionally go outside of their worlds to meet people with different backgrounds and perspectives to extend their own knowledge. They attend conferences outside of their industry. They cross-train with experts in other fields.
Innovators see their world as laboratories. They try out new ideas and experiences to collect new data. They take apart processes and ideas looking for new ways to assemble them. They test new ideas with pilot projects. They go trend spotting outside of their industry and then experiment with those trends in their conferences.
Innovative Conference Organizers
In order to be innovative, we must ask tough questions that pierce the status quo. We must get out from behind our three ring conference binders and observe with intensity our customers in action. We must network with people outside of the meetings industry. We must embrace experimenting in the name of improvement.
If we change our behaviors, we can improve our innovation. When we put innovation at the forefront of our planning, we can improve the conference experience.
Which of these five traits is the hardest for you to implement and why? Why do so many meeting professionals avoid innovation?