When the winds of change blow, some people build walls. Others build windmills. ~Chinese Proverb
Conferences are divided today between Old Guard and Cutting Edge Conferences.
Old guard conferences build walls when the winds of change blow. Cutting edge conferences build windmills to capture and leverage the winds of change.
Old Guard And Cutting Edge Conferences
These two types of conferences move at different speeds. They value different things. They measure success differently.
They think differently. One thinks in terms of big and small. The other thinks in terms of fast and slow.
One is tradition-centric. The focus is on the speakers as experts. Everything is repeated from year to year with little change.
The other is innovation-centric. The focus is on the audience as learners. Innovation and change are the foundation of everything they do.
No matter how you spin it, you can’t avoid the stench of stagnate disintegration (old guard) or the sweet aroma of new growth (cutting edge).
Old Guard Traditional Conferences
The old guard conferences refuse to change their culture to become more accessible. Its leaders refuse to believe that anything much has changed in the culture or wants of today’s attendees. Their belief is “Stop the world. Our conference wants to get on.”
But the world refused to stop. And there is no hiding place for these traditional conferences.
Old guard conferences profoundly misunderstand the world we live in. More than trying to adapt to new times, they are paralyzed by thoughts of what it means to become an EPIC conference.
Cutting Edge Conferences
Today’s ongoing new realities fundamentally change the way cutting edge conferences operate. These conferences not only change how they function, they also change how a conference community operates.
Cutting edge conferences are agnostic about the medium used for its learners. They have shifted from a focus on being the biggest and largest conference to one on speed, which is able to adapt quickly. They realize that true conference experiences reside in attendees participating in their own learning as much as they used to rely in attendees passively consuming lectures.
They deliver education and information in participatory experiences through images that connect. They embrace the engagement economy.
Defining Beautiful Cutting Edge Conferences
In many Mediterranean cultures, beauty is more than a physical aesthetic. It is an aesthetic of experience, participation, images and communal celebration. It is EPIC.
For them, beauty is not the defined by artistry or the perfection of lines. It is the fullness of being present and the perfection of connecting with others. Beauty includes experience and the ability to participate.
When a conference is more experiential, participatory, image-based and connected, it will likely be classified as cutting edge and beautiful.
Why are so many conference organizers and hosts unable to create attendee experiences grounded in today’s real world? Is it a symptom of a larger issue?