Innovation may be a tired word.
There is no doubt that innovation has become an overused and confusing buzzword. It is riddled with an excessive number of meanings from authors, dictionaries, experts and our personal experience.
Ask ten people to define innovation and you’re probably going to get a dozen or more responses. Innovation is change that creates a new dimension of performance said management guru Peter Drucker. Within the conference arena, innovation is the process through which new value is created and delivered to customers.
Innovate To Captivate
Innovation is dissatisfied with the status quo. It fosters curiosity about the way things are and the way they could be. It is rethinking with intentionality and purpose.
Our conferences need innovation in processes, systems and design more than it needs new inventions in technology. Innovation within the conference and meetings space is going to be about the way we do conferences.
Innovation creates new solutions, services or products. It searches for more effective, contextual, and culturally aligned ways of providing conference participant experiences. It improves the value of our experience as measured by our participants’ outcomes and ROI.
Four Innovation Invitations Waiting For Your Response
The future conference landscape requires that we hone our radar to adapt and innovate. Our success depends upon our ability to proactively recognize, collaboratively co-create and collectively act upon innovation opportunities.
It takes courage to move out of the comfort zone. To take chances. To change. Yes, to innovate.
Here are four innovation invitations waiting for your response
1. Purposeful Experimentation
The demand for new conference innovative experiences is high. No I’m not talking about new education formats. I’m talking about much broader levels of experimentation. What is the conference narrative you are framing for your audience? What courageous vision are you willing to invest in your conference programming? How are you going to think differently about the participants’ experience more than tweaking the schedule? Where can you experiment and take calculated risks that lead to continuous improvement? Where can you provide the experimental sandbox for your customers to play and investigate?
2. Information Liberation
In an age where we have access to more information than ever before, providing too many conference programming choices and too much content can have devastating effects. Some participants feel anxious from information overload from our own excessive offerings. They face the paradox of choice with analysis paralysis.
Others have fear of missing out (FOMO). Our variety of tracks, micro-experiences and something for everyone results in overwhelms them. Their satisfaction plummets as the grass is always greener in the session they didn’t attend. They complain about the best sessions being opposite of each other. They demand that you capture all presentations and handouts so they can review them later.
How are we going to liberate our customers from passively consuming information to selectively focusing on and thinking about what the curated content means to them? How are we going to innovate the conference experience from delivery of information to participant and collective sensemaking for application?
3. Uncompromising Demand For Authentic Dialogue And Sensemaking
Any innovation cannot be assimilated unless its meaning is shared said sociologist, planning consultant, professor and author Peter Marris.
We must allow others time and the autonomy of a different experience with any new thinking. Unlike our customers, we’ve spent hours and days thinking about these innovations. The very process of making sense of new ideas and concepts requires the knee-jerk impulse of rejection to play itself out through zones of unfamiliarity and uncertainty. We cannot resolve the crisis of change and reintegration on behalf of others. We have to give them time to process it, to experience loss and embrace gain.
How do we create conference safe spaces where participants can connect on deep levels and share together without treating each other as polarized puppets? How are we going to avoid the trap of manipulating change as if it only has to be explained? How are we going to steer clear of judging others when they reject or oppose our ideas? How are we designing conference experiences that allow participants to process information as they make it their own through sensemaking?
4. Integrating Science
Advances in science, cognitive psychology, neuroscience and technology should be studied, considered and translated into application in our conferences. These advances should alter the ways in which we design and implement conference experiences. Meta-cognition, thinking about our thinking, demands that we slow down, focus strategic attention, reflect, elaborate and make sense of why, how and what we are thinking. Not only should we embrace meta-cognition in our planning, we should invite our customers to employ it as well. This is critical if our desire is transformation in attitudes, behaviors and skills.
Which of these four innovation invitations do you want to explore more? How will you allow others on your conference planning team time to process this information?