Reinventing, Reimagining And Rethinking Traditional Conferences


Activism, advocacy, associations, boardrooms, battlefields, churches, education, faith groups, governments, media, nonprofits, philanthropy, retail, technology and work are all being reinvented.

We are rethinking and reimagining all of our traditional institutions.

This includes the meetings industry’s traditional conference. Our conferences are being reinvented by people who don’t follow the accepted practices and unspoken rules. They are moving meetings’ cheese!

Why The Reinvention?

Very little is staying the same. Disruptive innovation is the name of the game. And disruption is actually the current path to prosperity.

Why? The marketplace has become extremely dynamic. Our needs constantly change and new ideas emerge to solve them. New ideas fuel new products and services.

New players don’t follow time-honored rules. They want to make a difference immediately. And they are willing to keep adapting to our needs.

New tensions emerge between traditional institutions, those seeking new experiences and affordable services, and new players to the field.

Delusional Attitudes

Many conference organizers and hosts continue to believe that reinvention is a choice they can make or not make. They think they can control the pace of change. They feel they can shape change’s outcomes and do business the way it has always been done.

Those thoughts and attitudes are delusional. These organizers are in denial. They refuse to acknowledge that the way things used to be is in rapid transformation. Old ways may work for a while but eventually it stops.

Reality is: reinvent or die.

Some will die a slow, painful death and not make any attempt to breathe life back into their conference until it is too late. Some revel in the fact that the majority of their conference participants are over the age of 55 and soon to retire. Some falsely believe that younger generations will eventually make their way to their conferences like their parents did. They just need time.

The pace of change is driven by external factors. It is not driven by strategic plans, visioning and goal-setting sessions or sincere deliberations. We have no control over the outcomes. We do have control over how we respond to disruptive innovation and whether we adapt and adopt some of the newness around us.

Reinvention Rules!

There is a new hyper-competition for your customers’ souls, hearts and brains.

Simultaneously there is decay in the power of the traditional mega-players. This decay is opening new paths for enterprising, inventive and once-labeled marginal players. Some of these players have the capabilities to leverage technology to limit the options of the once powerful.

Reinvention touches everything! Traditional opening general session keynotes give rise to those that walk the aisles and serve as learning facilitators. Conference organizers and content programmers merge into intentional learning-experience designers. Small tribes within larger communities provide support, leadership and direction.

Conference communications promote solving individuals’ needs not institutional needs and offerings. Organizers deliberately plan valuable networking opportunities instead of encouraging speedy accidental interactions.

The panorama of great change talking place in our institutions extends beyond the board room and into the conference venue.

This change is not exactly new. The willingness to experiment and reinvent seems to have swept into all the corners of America’s enterprises. It is even making its way into the institutionalized conference.

Conference organizers and hosts that cannot push past an older generation’s loathing of such reinvention will likely wither away.

The choice is yours.

What parts of the traditional conference experience do you want to see reinvented? What have you experienced lately at a conference that was new, fresh and experiential?

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  1. […] was on the panel at the opening general session, In his provocative Midcourse Corrections article, “Reinventing, Reimagining And Rethinking Traditional Conferences”, he explains why meeting planners and conference organizers must “reinvent or die”. Here’s an […]

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