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EXPERIENTIAL DESIGN

November 15, 2010

Over the last several years, I have gradually lowered my expectation of benefits I would reap from the monthly ISES meetings, as educational efforts seemed aimed towards the lowest common denominator within the audience.  I surmised that was a natural result of what I felt was using conferences such as The Special Event and EventWorld as a place to line up chapter speakers by sampling “industry leaders” seminar content .  Since most have for years been underwhelming and generally ego-driven show-and-tell pretty pictures, I learned to attend for the networking, and occasionally, was pleasantly surprised  with a new venue, a service or a quality topic and presentation from a guest speaker making his rounds from chapter to chapter.  That approach saved me from being disappointed, and I tried not to think about the impact that national approach to chapter education was having on “dumbing down” the quality of events coming from ISES members. 

That assumption seemed to be reinforced as I looked at “Special Event” magazine.  Twenty years ago, I poured over articles, reading it cover to cover for what I could learn to make me a better event planner.  Today when it comes, I thumb through it quickly for new products and any mention of local MN members, then file it away – knowing if I don’t, I will never come back to it, as it generally holds little of interest in terms of event approaches.

So I was ecstatic last week to be part of the audience that welcomed Kris Kirstoffersen to our November chapter meeting.  I knew I had made the right choice between Pink and ISES when Kris began with the premise that event design is not décor and then jumped right into a progression within ISES that tracked events from party planner to WOW factors to reveals to appealing to senses to creating an experience to what we are really all about – telling a story that stimulates thought and delivers a message.  To recognize that  progression, understand, reinvent a company, and do exceedingly well through the recession should be a signal to all-particularly those companies that view themselves as designers, yet suffered through the down-turn in the economy. 

The message last week reinforced what I observed and experienced, supporting my premise. Those of us that strive to tell the client’s story and view our contribution in this industry as part of a customer’s marketing strategy have had two very good years.

And best of all, I didn’t have to forego Daniel Pink entirely when I chose to attend ISES instead of the AchieveMpls lunch at the Depot at the same time. MinnPost.com ran a feature on what Daniel had to say.  I expected the message he conveyed, as I have heard him speak, am an avid fan, and have digested all his books. But it is always nice to hear someone you admire tell you that Minnesota is uniquely positioned to make the educational paradigm shift because “you have an enormous tradition of creativity from the arts community, and a tradition of non-ideological problem-solving. “   The column author, Beth Hawkins also shared that the presentation based on “Drive: The surprising Truth about What Motivates Us” included similar themes he presented at the idea forum TED – so I am off to take a look right now.

  In the end I will not only get a Pink fix, but my faith that ISES may indeed make the transition from early days event planning to the world of experiential messaging has been reinforced. Kudos to the 2010 MN ISES Board.

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One comment

  1. A colleague pointed out this morning that this blog sounded like I was trashing ISES, so let me claarify. If I have offended anyone, I apologize.

    ISES-MN is doing great work with its target market and devoted to bringing new people into the industry, educating them with the basics and forming an international network of trustworthy people one can tap into and collaborate with. Hence the chapter awards – well deserved for hard work, good efforts and recognized accomplishments.

    I support the organization totally, but do not expect it meet my personal continuing education needs – so I look to other organizations for that need.

    Occasionally the content exceeds my expectations and when it does, I say so- as I did with the November meeeting.



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