Six Conference Paradigms To Bust Immediately


If there’s something strange in your conference-hood
Who you gonna call? (paradigm busters)
If there’s something weird
And your event don’t look good
Who you gonna call? (paradigm busters)

I ain’t afraid of no paradigm
I ain’t afraid of no paradigm

(Adapted from songwriter Ray Parker Jr. Ghostbusters lyrics.)

Who You Gonna Call? Paradigm Busters

Our cognitive frameworks—our mental models and paradigms—shape our thinking, behavior, operations and success of our conferences.

The challenge is that our paradigms can keep us from discovering new opportunities and anticipating the future. We falsely believe that future conferences are just an extension of the past. We have to bust our conference paradigms to avoid seeing our future through the lens of our old paradigms.

Here are six conference business paradigms that we should examine, bust and replace with new models. These are adapted from Peter Drucker’s business realities for every manager.

1. Paradigm: Our conference profits depend on what we plan and implement for our exhibitors/sponsors.

Paradigm Busted: Our conference results depend on our target market customers—our paying attendees.

It is those on the outside of our events who decide whether our conference experience is of value and has profitable economic results. Or whether it is just wasted time, scrap and a status quo experience.

Attendees always come first. You can never sell them out.

2. Paradigm: We achieve conference success by improving its glitches, solving its problems and putting out fires.

Paradigm Busted: We achieve conference results and success by growing our target market’s discoveries.

We have to spend more time searching for new opportunities and helping our target market solve their problems. Instead of being reactive we must become proactive seeking strategies to help our target market customers prepare for their futures.

3. Paradigm: We allocate resources to improve our conference logistics.

Paradigm Busted: To achieve maximum conference results, we must allocate resources to innovation and opportunities.

Too often conference organizers mistakenly expend resources on improving meeting logistics that their target markets don’t value. We spend our time, labor and resources on being more efficient. Instead we need to focus on effectiveness, innovation and maximizing our opportunities. The key is not how to do things right, but to do the right things said Drucker.

4. Paradigm: Our conference success will continue because of our past conference success. We are on an upward trend and the leader in our industry.

Paradigm Busted: Conference success and being the leader are short-lived and not likely to last.

Market leadership is temporary said Drucker. Business tends to shift from success and leadership to mediocrity and status quo. Conference organizers must reverse the trend toward averageness by providing new energy and new directions.

5. Paradigm: To achieve the greatest economic results and success, we offer something to everyone, every niche and every specialty within our field.

Paradigm Busted: To achieve the greatest economic results and success, we focus and concentrate on offering something to our target market, trusting others will follow.

Conference organizers must avoid the pressure to offer a variety of things to a variety of people. Instead, we need to provide laser focus on programming and experiences that attract the paying target market attendee.

6. Paradigm: People have always paid to come to our conference and we don’t have to change at all.

Paradigm Busted: What we have is getting old. Profits go to those that provide their target market with unique, different programming of value.

Too often conference organizers spend more of their time trying to unmake the past. Today’s winning conference program is part of yesterday. We have to avoid the trap of working on yesterday. We tend to react in terms of the last prosperous strategy or last downturn.

What conference paradigms would you add to this list that need to be busted? Why do our paradigms resist change?

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  1. Warwick Davies says:

    Bravo! Great Post!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      ‘@Warwick Thanks for reading and commenting. We greatly appreciate it. And Kudos to you on your ongoing blog efforts as well.

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