Archive for the ‘Adult Learning Model’ Category

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MEETING DESIGN: The What, Why and How

August 15, 2013

Yesterday, I received the advance copy of the MPI launch of their new initiative – a focus on Meeting Design.  It, along with a supporting case study based on our own collaborative efforts in conjunction with Boston Scientific and the CRV All-employee meetings of 2010-2011, will be introduced to 71 chapters of MPI around the world over the next several months. 

On one hand, I feel like the proud mom, to be even a small part of the movement that grew out of the mid-2000s, that I was experimenting with here in Minneapolis in 2007-2008 with some good successes surrounding the Republican National Convention.  As I was reading and researching and re-thinking the world of “meetings”, Maarten Vanneste was doing the same thing – “popularizing it in his book,  Meeting Architecture, a manifesto (2008)”.

Slowly, the interest and understanding of a new approach to our business grew; the successes happened and were acknowledged in trade press; fortunately for me, a colleague in the industry here in the Twin Cities was also following the transformation and change in thinking and opened the doors to us at Boston Scientific so that we could become the case study that is included in the MPI international launch.

Although I am tempted to use the cliché, “The Rest Is History” – it really is not.  It is only the beginning.

I have associations with several professional organizations – two of which seem to be launching the new approach Big Time this year…and that is a good thing.  Nevertheless, it will not be an easy transition.

I myself am currently working with a client that daily reminds me of the great task ahead as we move forth to try to modernize our own industry.  I have been working with this “Event Team” for 6 weeks now; and long ago lost count of the number of times I have been challenged by two members of this mini-steering committee (who in their professional lives handle meeting logistics for their own organizations).  I have no doubt they are passionate people; that they are passionate about logistics; and they are passionate about being right and doing it their way.  They are not so passionate about collaborative thinking, however – which is, indeed, the very key to the successful transition into the new world before us.

That first step –the Principle of Collaboration is an elusive one for many people. MPI describes it and its importance well:

Tap into the collective intelligence of the group to better understand its needs, generate new ideas, determine best solutions and put plans into action….the wisdom of the crowd is an invaluable resource.  Inherent in every meeting, is the opportunity for change, progress and innovation.”

And so, as I proudly read the final version of the MPI Meeting Design initiative, and the final version of the accompanying case study, and forwarded it to the rest of the team, I was quickly brought back to reality.  

Yesterday was a baby-step forward.  The rollout in MPI Chapters internationally will be baby-steps; the fight for successes in this new world will be baby step after baby step.  The work is not done in modernizing our industry and pulling it – screaming in protest- into the 21st century.

 PCMA is doing a great job in moving forward leading the industry as they have done with forward thinking since their first publication of the book “Professional Meeting Management” in the 1980s that led to the CMP certification process. (And yes, I am as proud to say that I was one of first five CMPs in Minnesota, as I am to say, I am proud to be one of the 5 founders of  the ISES chapter in Minnesota, and proud to be working with MPI to launch the Meeting Design approach all these many years later).

 MPI has now made the initial move; I think ISES is trying to do the same with their new educational approach.  But none of us have learned to walk yet, let alone RUN with these new ideas.  With time, we will get better – just as over time, we got better with the logistical end of our business.

In the meantime, I am comforted to read in the new initiative:

Meeting design challenges the status quo.  It represents a paradigm shift-a profound change in the fundamental meeting model that sees every meeting as a nail for the proverbial hammer of logistics. Logistics is building a house; meeting design is making that house a home….meeting participants needs are evolving beyond satisfying their basic needs for food, shelter, safety, proximity to others and  exposure to others.”

Basic needs:  food, shelter, safety, proximity to others and exposure to others.  Taken out of context, that conjures up man’s move out of the cave and exploration of the world around him, doesn’t it?  Those that were afraid to leave the cave and explore for new opportunities died.  And that’s what makes this exciting! 

“Attendees want innovative, unique experiences that challenge their senses, their expectations, their knowledge and their ideas.  Fulfilling on that is the ultimate value of meeting design.”

 

 

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FOOTBALL: Another American Dilemma Unfolding

September 16, 2012

As we move into the 21st century, advancements in research and brain science are challenging many 20th century “realities and truths” in our society.

Most of you know I feel strongly about how that impacts our education system.  When I say education is an issue today in America, I  am not referring to the inclination of one of our political parties to underfund education or use education budgets to make up deficits or support a favorite war cause where those same uneducated become disposable human resources.   And I do not mean more funding to support the early 20th century educational system that was designed to complement an industrial age that no longer exists and which we continue to hold up as our model.

Instead, I am focusing on a larger issue and mean we need funding for the thought-leaders in education who understand the rapidly emerging societal, business, and labor changes of the 21st century.  We need open minds, a review of new emerging world theories and practices, experimentation, and careful evaluation of results; followed by funding to support and retrofit our own outdated educational system top to bottom to meet the needs before us for the next 75-100 years.

But education aside, that same research and brain science calling for educational reform is also challenging our infatuation with high school, college, and pro sports and changes needed therein. A strong relationship between impact sports and brain damage is emerging.  Unfortunately it meets head on with “winning is everything”.  It seems that without a world war to feed our patriotism as it did in the first half of the 20th century, we have turned our carefully-honed “winning” instincts to business and sports. Winning became everything; workers and players became dispensable.

And today, the Wally Hilgenburg story in the Strib brings home that unfolding dilemma where emerging understanding of our brains is on a course to intersect with that “winning is everything” American culture.   And we as a country need to take this seriously!

[Disclosure:  I like football; however, I am not passionate about it.  All sports are trumped, for me, by meaningful conversations and interaction-which by definition exclude cheering, cursing, hollering- with family and friends, or occasionally even work. In those instances, sports/entertainment  take a second seat.  Generally, I am happy for “our team” if they win—but I neither despair nor mourn if they do not]

And so with a view of sports as entertainment, it may be easier, I guess, for me to recognize the dilemma before us as a nation.   What do we choose when dollars are limited – investment in sports programs or educational systems?  When entertainment pleasure is gained through sacrifice of human beings; is the personal gratification worth it?

I don’t pretend to know the answers; I only ask that we don’t just sweep this under the rug.  It could be YOUR child that is impacted; it could be YOUR mother or father that is injured.  I only ask that we weigh American culture and history against that of the Romans and the gladiators and intelligently move forward to ensure that above all else, we value the quality of human life and continue to make adjustments to protect it, as we learn how revered entertainment practices may endanger it.

 

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HOORAY FOR THE LAKEVILLE SCHOOL SYSTEM!

February 8, 2012

In the fall of 2010, I posted a blog entitled “The Fisch Flip” praising the concept not only for its innovative approach to education, but also suggesting those of us in the meetings/events world consider variations on the approach as we contemplate how to  better facilitate adult learning and improve the existing conference education model.

That started a to-be-expected dialog with the nay-sayers that continued offline with colleagues suggesting oh-so-many reasons why it was a far-fetched idea.

But undeterred, our collaborative team has continued to experiment with this and other unique learning exercises within the corporate environment and I have continued to advocate for needed change for improved results. So I was tempted to turn my morning coffee into a champagne breakfast this morning so I could appropriately toast the Lakeville school system whern I read in the Strib about their high-tech plan!

Not only has one instructor, Jason Just, “flipped” his classes by posting lectures online and facilitating interactive discussions and homework in the classroom, but the Lakeville superintendent of schools, Lisa Snyder, has launched a three-year plan to make Lakeville the “most wired” school district in the state -from first to twelfth grade.

Although the article in the Strib captured the students positive reaction, my one disappointment was that no reason(s) were given for why earlier experimentation with high-tech learning in Stillwater, Edina, and Hopkins was abandoned.  That would have created a powerful “learning opportunity” for those willing to continue the search for improved methods.

“These are the tools of the 21st century.” Snyder said.  “It’s a whole new world.  You just have to open  your mind to it.”

AMEN to that!   What a great way to start the day – with the HOPE that my own passion for experimenting with new learning methods is indeed alive and well in Minnesota!

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EDUCATION FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW

February 4, 2012

I am not a scientist, a brain specialist, or educator by profession, but I AM a student of the world around me and I am appalled at the swirling arguments in Minnesota today on how to “fix” Minnesota Schools and our education system.

And so, about the ONLY thing I agree with in the misdirected, emotional and pandering stands on the topic is that YES, we need to examine why as a state we have evolved from a belief in providing a school system that continues to feed our greatest asset – our citizens and their children that make up and will continue to make up our work force pool- to a growing belief that the Minnesota school system is simply a solution to a financial problem.
These are pretty strong words from one that admits to not being an expert in the field, and yet, I would go one step further: I would vote to put a HOLD on the posturing debates and attempts to legislate until we are sure those “in charge” within our school systems and all branches of government have put aside their outdated 20th century positions and pledged that each can provide credentials that certify they have stopped, listened, and evaluated the body of knowledge available today on how our brains work, how we learn, and what will be needed from our labor pool in the future to support a state of which we are proud, Once they have done that, I realize some will still revert to their out-dated modes and fall-back position and at best, all will emerge with new differing views on how we best achieve our common goals. But at least those differences might be based on an understanding of the reality we have before us, rather than the reality of our past.

If my own bookshelves are full of tomes that reflect these advances, from John Medina’s “Brain Rules” to Davidson’s “Now You See It – how the brain science of attention will transform the way we live, work and learn”; why is it a stretch to expect that those to whom we have entrusted our state’s greatest resource should at least be familiar with this body of thought?

In the 19th century, we built our educational system on existing knowledge and our agricultural needs; In the 20th century, we updated our educational system based on existing knowledge and our emerging industrial needs; In the 21st century, it is now time to update our educational system based on existing knowledge and needs of the digital information world in which we already live-and what we envision our state’s needs to be by 2050 if not 2099!

I borrow from the Davidson thinking to challenge us all. When we have answers to these questions, we will be prepared to move forward towards implementing needed change:
• How can we redesign our schools to prepare our kids for the challenges they’ll face as adults?
• What will the workers and workplaces of the future look like?
• And how can we learn to adapt to life changes that seem almost too revolutionary to contemplate?
Of course it won’t be easy. Of course we will not all agree. Of course, what we envision today, will be far different than that which actually emerges in the next 30-50 years. But if we put our heads together, listen to each other and collaborate on potential solutions, we will have a much better chance of success than if we continue to dig in our heels and shout loudly about preserving the out-dated methods of the past.

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DISABILITY OR ADVANTAGE?

January 29, 2012

A few months ago, a friend (with years of experience and degrees to back it up in early childhood learning/development) asked me to teach her how to mirror-write.  The ensuing conversation reminded me I had sitting in my “to-do” pile, two books I had not yet read.  One of them, “Now You See It” by Cathy Davidson caught my eye because its focus is the brain science of attention and how it will transform the way we live, work and learn-a variation on the new theories of adult-learning-about which I am passionate.

The second, “The Dyslexic Advantage” by Brock and Fernette Eide originally peaked my attention because when I saw the title, I was immediately transported back to my parents’ house before I started school.  I was sitting at the dining room table, with my older siblings, Rosie and Ray, hovering over me telling me I was stupid.  And I did not understand why.  They were trying to teach me how to write my name and had become frustrated because much as they tried, as their voices grew louder and louder, I simply could not accomplish the task.  “You didn’t copy it the way we wrote it” and “She won’t do what we tell her to” filled the air.  Finally, they dragged me into the bathroom to demonstrate that what I wrote was “mirror” writing and backwards.  Since my brain did not see the letters I had written as any different from what I had copied; and since I did not understand the concept of a mirror reflecting an image that is the reverse of what is before it, being pulled into the bathroom was frightening, not enlightening.  All I learned from that experience was there was something else wrong with me besides being left-handed. And this one was a really bad thing – I was stupid.

Now of course, I don’t remember when the break-through happened and I grasped the concept of how to write, but since I don’t remember this being the issue once I did toddle off to kindergarten, it must have clicked sometime in the year I was four years old.   I did not have trouble learning to read and quickly a new complaint arose from them –“there she is again, with her nose in a book”.

And so, I have never thought of myself as dyslexic – a term that did not exist when I was a child.   And the lingering problem of instinctively mixing up the directions of right and left that I still battle today, I have always attributed to being left-handed – and not related at all to my original trouble with mirror-writing.

I did not forget, however, that instinctive way of writing, and even today, if I position myself with pen in hand at the upper right-had corner of a piece of paper, my brain automatically switches, and I easily can write my name , your name, or take notes – all only legible by holding the page up to the mirror.  I also have not forgotten that I am the “dumb one” in the eyes of my siblings.  And, no, they have not forgotten either – and often react to whatever I say or do with disbelief, disdain and comments that communicate that surely, I have misunderstood – but that’s another story not for today.  Suffice it to say, that it’s a deep wound and instinctive that when I achieve something of significance, I hope that perhaps I might hear just once from my family  ”Good Girl” – even though I know full well I won’t.

But I digress.  Prompted by the request from a friend to teach her to be “as dumb” as me”, I was motivated to go right home and open that waiting book – “The Dyslexic Advantage-Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslectic Brain”.

WOW!  I can only say, within minutes of putting “my nose in that book”, I learned so much that clarifies the life I have lived and where I find myself today.   Perhaps I am NOT the stupid one; perhaps I am just the only one of my siblings that “perceive the written word differently…conceive space more intuitively, see connections between unrelated objects, and are able to make great leaps creatively that others simply miss.” What a wonderful thing to contemplate after all these years!

But more importantly, this is a book that everyone with even a hint of dyslexia, and every parent and sibling of such a person, as well as every educator should pick up and read.  As the book jacket promises,  the Eides combine newly emerging brain science with their expertise in neurology and learning disorders to explain dyslexia.  And by doing so, they erase the stigma of disability, replace it with its advantages, and thus give to all those who struggle with the challenges of dyslexia, a reason for hope.

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IT KEEPS ON GIVING…

March 15, 2011

The March Issue of BIZBASH Chicago featured yet another gift we have received from the CRV EXPERIENCE this past summer. Yes, we knew BIZBASH was including us in an article, but what a surprise to open the magazine yesterday to “14 MOST INNOVATIVE MEETINGS…New ways of thinking are revolutionizing content-driven events, and such gatherings are experimenting with new formats, technology and strategies-and seeing their ingenuity pay off.”

And there we were, right after the TED Conferences and along with Oracle, NTEN, SAP, The Cable Show, Cisco, IBM’s Lotusphere, and several other innovative companies that are working hard to escape the bonds of old thinking to bring the meetings and event business into the 21st century. 

Each of us took a different approach, but oh, the wonderful experimentation that was represented in that article!  Just look at the results this group accomplished:  Building attendee engagement, Getting Green-Long Term, Integrating Social Media, Bridging Live and On Line Conferences, Curating Conference Content, Managing Noise, Integrating Mobile Technology, Boosting On-line Interaction, Engaging Exhibition Layouts, Connecting Buyers and Sellers, Luring More Exhibitors, Sparking On-Line Content, and Streamlining and Tracking Content.  I am sure there is not a good producer or designer in our industry that has not wrestled with these very same issues.  How many of these concerns have you encountered in your own world of meetings and events? And how have you dealt with them?

Yes, it was a spectacular “high” to be grouped with this awesome list of industry-leading events, but more importantly, what fabulous brain food for us as our thoughts are slowly turning to CRV 2011 to bookend the journey Boston Scientific is taking this year following the launch of CRV last August.  It reinforced our initial thinking is on track, and sparked new thoughts about how we can best keep that interaction between employees and leadership moving forward. 

Over the last several months, I have often used this blog as a platform to air my passion about innovation, interactive meetings, social learning, and how to address new thinking about adult learning through good event design, experiential marketing and the birth of a new meetings and events industry that has risen from the ashes of the old.  

So although the recognition of CRV 2010 is a very fulfilling “high”; the gift we received from Bizbash was much greater:  More good ideas to stimulate our movement forward in this very slow process of changing our world.  There is more to this industry that the WOW of a pretty party!

Check out the whole article. Anna Sekula, the author says it best:

“When choosing the events to include, we looked at organizations that are pursuing these new avenues, and that are seeking long-term solutions beyond gimmicks and one-off experiments to build bigger brands and relationships with attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and other partners.  With tangible results, each of the 14 gatherings highlighted demonstrate how such options are setting the stage for smarter, results-driven meetings.  They also help prove the power of well-produced meetings and their value in a larger business context.”

That succinctly sums up the purpose of my own life’s work and why I continue to describe CRV 2010 as the Pinnacle of my own 40-year career in this business.

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That SLOW 1st QTR, 2011

January 30, 2011

One of the benefits of the Minnesota events world has traditionally been a slow down mid December after holiday events, that extends into January and often bleeds into early February.  For me, it has been a time to recharge, reorganize, and regroup and thus a time I look forward to.  I clean out my office and prepare for the coming season; I curl up in front of the fireplace in my “library” and read – attacking the ever-growing stacks of trade publications and books that deliver not only inspiration and “what’s new” but food for thought as they challenge me to examine my own “best practices “ and incorporate new thinking. 

But here I am on January 30, surrounded by chaos.  An almost stripped Christmas tree stands abandoned in the living room; the dining room filled with crates and containers waiting for all that decor still strewn across the table and floor; stacks of books and magazines remain in my office and covering the fireplace hearth; papers and files are everywhere, and my last THURSDAY’s unfinished to-do list sits before me – where it has kept me occupied three days and promises to hold me captive all day today as well.  WHAT HAPPENED?!!!

Coming off my best year ever for Creative Events, I don’t have the excuse that the down-turned economy allowed me to get into bad habits and work less efficiently over the last couple years, and now I am out of practice…so as I headed towards that awful place of mental whining and complaining, I have had to stop and take stock.

Oh yes, we kicked off a new season for the riverfront Visitor Experience this month, and I’ve been spending some time absorbing the results of the design competition for short and long term plans for the river “above the falls” that were unveiled this week…

Oh yes, we celebrated my brother and sister-in-law’s sixtieth wedding anniversary, as well as their birthdays…acknowledging I now have siblings in their 80s…really?  I still vividly remember them both before they were married!   It’s comforting to see that my pledge to remain an active player in my own industry “until I am 80” has some credence, as they both are active in maintaining their antique store!…

Oh yes, I have devoted some fun time traveling memory lane as I have reconnected with college friends, and some BI friends, and several CMG friends via Linked In, Facebook, and several meet ups for coffee, drinks or lunch, and along the way, I’ve squeezed in some time to keep connected with new faces I met over the summer…

Oh yes, we are in the final countdown now for the Catersource/Event Solutions Conference and Trade Show in Las Vegas, and I am absorbed in overcoming a bad design problem in the construction of this hotel  as I struggle, along with the Dock scheduler to figure out how we can get a load in for both conferences attended by several thousand persons, all accomplished in ONE DAY with one or two docks available only from 10Am to 4AM…

Oh yes, I am still spending time telling our success story of CRV 2010, with two new articles due out in March, as well as preparing for a live telling to influential corporate executives -TED-style -at RETHINK which launches simultaneously February 14 in Minneapolis, New York City, Paris and Copenhagen …

And oh yes, the Creative Events opportunities!  We submitted our CRV entries for the MN-STAR Awards  and now await the announcement of finalists.  We have already begun preliminary planning for CRV 2011, space is secured and we’ve begun initial discussions on design as the I AM CRV communications campaign came to a close at the end of 2010 and has been replaced by BE CRV.  This will lead us through to the second all-employee meeting in which we will reflect on how well we did and what’s still to be done to keep this new division of Boston Scientific moving forward; we’ve concentrated on looking for new opportunities and are excited about our positioning for a couple.  We have started the movement to increase our collaborative team of independents to include a few key support vendors and are polishing our collaborative skills together as we tackle some significant RFPs that have come our way.

And oh yes, the personal growth!  FINALLY, I have made the jump from talk of leaving the 20th century behind and personally started the immersion into the 21st century.  The purchase of the MINI began the process; the acquisition of not one but TWO flat screens and DVDs came soon after and this month I have now acquired a smart phone…with conversion to a new computer and probably an I-pad in the plans before the quarter ends.  I am determined to prove that even I can adapt without too much angst – a couple years late, but better than never! (Although I admit, I made the conversion only so I could personally experience the impact of its use within the meeting and event environment; as I was perfectly content with my old flip phone that allowed me to call people and people to call me  with no other complications or distractions!)

So as I review this list, I understand why my life is in chaos and realize it is all due to very good things.  I will try not to complain going forward, as I think about another Award entry due shortly;  meeting with my tax accountant on Feb 10; presenting at RETHINK; a possible trip to Boca for the NSM for CRV; and the approaching departure for Vegas on Feb 25 for Catersource/Event Solutions.  Maybe in March, I will get that Christmas evidence put away and be able to bring out the tulips and irises of Spring…and crack open some of the books still waiting.