Archive for the ‘Innovation’ 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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The Millennials

October 27, 2012

Yesterday, the STRIB Business Section featured Coco as the “office” of the future. The accompanying photo caught its “visual” essence superbly; but only if you stop in for a visit, does one catch the positive vibe! I’ve mentioned in the past how much I admire the concept and rennovated space; in fact, if I was not sitting in my home office (read: free space) only 3-4 blocks away, I’d like to think I’d be composing this from there!

However, I think the article focus conveyed a more important message:…the Millennial workforce and the changes they are bringing to the business world.

I have aired some thoughts on this in my August 30 blog, and again last week, I mentioned an inspiring “breakfast with a Preservationist” meeting led by a panel of the “Under 30s”.

Nevertheless, I think Don Jacobson nailed it in his article featuring Coco and why it is appealing to the Millennials. It is because, these Millennials, like the transitional early Boomers, have a very different view ofthe world in which they find themselves…and are clamouring for change. No one my age can honestly say they cannot relate, so my suggestion is we hang on, listen and learn!!

Ponder on these comments by Jacobson and the message from Thomas Fisher, Dean of UM College of Design to a gathering of commercial building owners :

That highly covered corner office may just be more passe than powerful.

Thanks to profound social and economic changes brought on by the Internet, millennials are reshaping the so-called office. They want to do away with the hierarchiacal layouts of the past and build collaborative spaces where they can rub elbows with clients and colleagues.

Millennials…see privacy as a negative…by 2025, “the office” as we know it will probably be gone.

How they use space flips what we have today: Most of an office will be open, flexible and fluid in its use, with only occasional need for private space.

The transformative power of the the Internet on how young workers will do their jobs, has, if anything, been underestimated.

…millennials preferences for live-work hybrid spaces that combine not only apartments and offices, but also small manufacturing functions….

Yes, this paradigm shift poses challenges and threatens city zoning codes, but we cannot rigidly hold on to the past if we want to succeed as a country in present times.

For the millenials, the office space isn’t necessarily a place to do work, it’s a place to network. It’s a place to be with other people and generate as much creative activity as possible.

The audience was also cautioned that places of work within 15 years will need to be accessible by bicycle and mass transit. Firsher cautioned the audience that “If you’re only accessible by car, you’re going to find people starting to look elsewhere.”

These comments so reinforce what I have been observing and commenting on. My regret? I won’t live long enough to see where this generation ultimately steers our world-and I know that will be a bold new world led by Americans fueled by innovation and collaboration and not restricted by the rules and regs we Boomers have adjusted to…that created the stalled and divisive state in which Americans live today.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP

October 2, 2012

I know I am only seeing the surface and a controlled story, but I like what I am seeing and hearing from the University this morning.

“We were established to serve the needs of the people,” explained President Kahler, when meeting with the US Department of Commerce regarding a new program at the University of Minnesota.

Kahler’s message of “The Innovative and Entrepreneurial University:  Higher Education, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Focus” explained turning campus research into community business as it fits in a land grant university’s mission.

I like that.  It does indeed, seem to reinforce the mission from whence we came.  I, too, applaud Minnesota’s use of business people, not academics, to staff the Office of Technology Commercialization and a program designed to streamline the sale of intellectual property right to commercial companies; I’m impressed with the success ratio of the U’s start-up companies; and I like the experimentation with “entrepreneurial leave”.

It is only one article about the attention our University gained in Washington Monday…but it feels like a peak at some 21st century thinking and how we can reinvent ourselves to remain leaders in the world as we move forward.

That is refreshing after this long, long year of political debate about “hanging on” to what we once excelled at.

And just a fleeting thought crossed my mind as I finished the Strib article….I’m sure the “Ultra Entrepreneur” Mr. C would be pleased with this news.

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CONNECTING LIGHT

August 23, 2012

Today, I am envious!  New York digital arts collective YesYesNo will be part of Britain’s summer arts festival as they transform Hadrian’s Wall into the world’s largest work of art.

Seventy-three miles of wall will be topped by 450 networked balloons containing light-emitting diodes  that allow viewers to submit short messages to be transformed into pulses of colored light that will pass along the wall.

The stated purpose is “to create the inverse of a border…to imagine the [northern] border [of the Roman Empire-Hadrian’s Wall] as a means of connection” rather than separation.

A worthy objective, I think.  It is on my calendar to watch via internet August 31-September 1.

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EMBRACE THE FUTURE

August 7, 2012

Just last week I was reminiscing with a few old CMG friends about the mid ‘80s and the time I spent traveling to Cupertino to meet with those Apple people I thought were a “cult”.  After all, they thought they could change the world and conquer IBM…and they were trying to do it through a K-12 program in schools … influencing our kids when they were young and most vulnerable! 

And even more out there for a time when we all were “suits with a Hartman Briefcase”, their world was one of casual dress, glass-walled conference rooms, backpacks, and keggers every Friday afternoon as a way to say thanks to their dedicated employees for a good week of work.

Of course, I was a non-believer-after all, none of our Fortune 500 clients were acting this way….in fact, I not long before, I had been part of a long gruesome design study with IBM to develop a single travel application that cut across all of Carlson’s needs- from CMG Travel to Carlson Travel across the country and across the world– agencies and tours, and all the ancillary travel products.  To do what we envisioned, we needed $millions and a major mainframe upgrade….how could Apple even THINK their strange little “box” was the wave of the future? 

Today I look around at the Millennials – those innocent kids in school that Apple was targeting to build their “cult” – and I am envious, as well as inspired by the way they think…let alone, how quickly they adapt to each NEW Apple product!

Last night, having overdosed on too much NBC blather that accompanies the thrill of watching the athletes perform, I took a break from the Olympics and watched “Globalization” with Thomas Friedman – an address taped in 2006, I believe, that predicted not only the world we live in, but also the “jobs” problem we are struggling with today.  So RIGHT ON, and yet, I was reminded of what I thought when I read “The World is Flat”…mostly it was, not so fast, Friedman…normally I track with you, but this time…you might be over the edge.  Ya, sure…just 6 years later, and I can relate to his message.

This morning, a headline in the business section triggered another 1980s memory…the friendly neighborhood ATM.  Flash back again to early 1980s…this time I am in midst of building a cutting edge  “CMG sales tracking system “ to help us better project almost a billion dollars of sales; and we are using a WANG word processing system to host it.  Ugghh!

 Meanwhile, my friend Sharon Wikstrom was leading a marketing team whose client, Security Pacific, was trying to launch a relatively unknown innovation in the banking world– the Automatic Teller Machine.   And once again, if asked, we all thought – whatever – this is not a smart idea…who in the world is going to trust a machine and a “charge card” to give them money.  None of us could imagine giving up the interaction with our friendly bank-teller for the coldness of a machine.   Enough said on that one.

As I sit here drinking my coffee, all kinds of thoughts are racing through my head….typically, new changes coming have me worried….Windows 8 for my laptop and for my phone?  Outlook.com?  But I’ve accepted there is still a bit of fear of change in my attitude, so I can deal with that, get over it, and slowly more forward-accepting,  in most cases,  I will not be the disciple spreading the good news-but I will try to keep an open mind.

But more important on a larger scale, in aggregate, why do we resist new ideas and take on that “Show Me” attitude when at the same time, we are a country of people that have grown, thrived, and led the world in innovation and change?   I get it that it is a result of lack of understanding and a need to be comfortable, but why do we “doubt” instead of embrace, celebrate, and learn?  And why, when half of us are pushing forward, does the other half cling so desperately to the familiarity of what we know and are comfortable with? 

 

 

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IMAGINE How Creativity Works

July 2, 2012

The Heat Advisory has given me some “found” time so I have been tackling a stack of books on the edge of my desk…most started, but not finished.

First checked off the list was a delightful, tiny, and impactful tome by local Minneapolitan, Ray Harris, called “WYNOTT”…with a great lesson.  If you wonder “why” and have a fleeting idea to change it – ask yourself  “Why Not?  You will find yourself on the pathway to innovation and change, as Harris takes you on a journey through an imaginary town called Wynott.  For sure, I would like to live there!

And now, I’m immersed in a new book by Jonah Lehrer.  Last week, I heard him on MPR and realized I had purchased his book, but not delved into it yet.  I bought it because of the jacket claim: this would be a look at the new science of creativity and it boasted that we all can become more creative.

And indeed, as I opened the book and fell through the “rabbit hole”, the surprise was not the unfamiliarity, but how familiar the themes were. First,  a welcome reliance on modern brain science which refutes much of what we were taught in the 20th century…collaborating the right way, including right brain/left brain working together…the importance frustration and struggles  play in triggering insight and innovation…all topics I am familiar with, but each with a twist that created another  ”aha” moment for me.

And along the way, I revisited topics and facts that added to the argument:

The three top innovation corporations in the world are Apple, Google, and Yes- 3M – right here in Minnesota. We know the 3M innovation story; but when put in the category of Apple and Google, it takes on a greater importance somehow.   More fodder for me to use to support my argument that we live in a metro area rated the 5th most creative in the United States; we have talent here we don’t even know about, and most corporations and organizations in this city do not need to look outside our own backyard to find some of the most creative thinkers and doers in the country.

Many characteristic of what we used to call “disabilities” such as autism, bi-polar disorder, and ADHD are accepted characteristics and behaviors of persons recognized as highly-creative – and have been so throughout history.  Does this support my thought of re-evaluating some of the characteristics defining these conditions in a different light?  Instead of personality “disorders”,  did these qualities just not fit in our post-WW II world of industry, suburban sameness, and two-income lifestyles  and thus had to be fixed?  I am certainly not dismissing the problem, nor the impact on parents and families, but I am saying there may be some merit in following the model of the man who built an entire company staffed by autistic persons after he realized his autistic son had a GIFT for proofing computer code.   Or looking at some of the lessons learned and reported in “Dyslexic Advantage”.  Perhaps returning to some part of a world where same-ness was not valued as much as individuality would have far-reaching benefits to us all.

Dreaming enables our creativity as it allows us to make all sorts of surprising connections that lead to innovation. 

All that, and I was only at the half-way point.  What came next needs some massaging and time to “sleep on” as it represented many things to which I had not been exposed before.  For instance, do you know why brainstorming “feels good” but does not work, and real  innovation comes from the opposite- constructive criticism? 

Watch for the Second Installment!

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ECONOMIC ‘RESETS”

June 18, 2012

It is only June and already, I am tired of the political discourses that fill the news about the economy.  One day Chicken Little is forecasting the “Sky is Falling” and the next day, we read about economic optimism as Neal Anthony reported this morning. 

 And in the back of my mind, there is a nagging thought about our response when it happened….dimly I remember the honest dialogs that shared the viewpoint that this should have been expected; the prosperity of the previous decade was unsustainable and we were in a historical adjustment that we should have expected and planned for. Terms like “A New Economy” and “Economic Reset” filled the news and many of us agreed that the first decade of the 21st century was reminiscent of the “Roaring Twenties” – our thinking was flawed, it was not sustainable, and we needed to adjust.

For all of us, I think, that message has faded.  For some, It’s a childish battle between the political parties driven by the single goal of Republicans to oust Obama and regain power at all costs, paired with  Democrats  who foolishly cling to the idea that this new generation of leadership should be able to walk on water and accomplish dreams  despite the absence of collaboration.  In either case, it is finger-pointing of children.  It’s George Bush and the Republicans fault; It’s Barack Obama’s fault – he said he would fix it and it’s not fixed. 

 As for me, I have continued to focus on the uniqueness of the changes we are going through due to the rapid arrival of the digital age, and have lost sight of the historical perspective that indeed, this is a reset-  created because we as a country have gotten off track.

Richard Florida’s the GREAT RESET, kept coming to mind, and after a thorough search of my library so I could refresh my memory, I realized the book must have suffered the fate of so many others when I moved….it was in my office, not my library, and so did not make the cut when I packed last October.   So recently, when I saw the paperback copy at B&N, I grabbed it, and yesterday, sat down to re-read, and discovered a new preface written last year for the paperback edition.  Those few pages brought it all back….

It will take many years to replace the jobs that were eliminated by the crisis and its aftershocks.  The deep economic and financial trauma that hit America represents a crisis of epochal proportions that reflects a deep structural transformation of the economy…

Florida then went on to categorize our “Great Recession” as a Great Reset similar in characteristics to the Long Depression of 1873 and the Great Depression of the 1930s, and together he named them “generational events”.   It took 30 years to recover from the Crash of 1929; adjustments of this nature cannot be fixed overnight, but more important, lasting recovery hinges on four key factors:

  •         Technological Innovation:  Crises reset the innovative engine of the economy
  •          New Systems of Innovations:  Crises create the impetus for building of broad systems of innovation and infrastructure that undergird long-run growth
  •         Educational Changes:  Crises lead to substantial upgrades in our educational system in ways that increase worker’s skills and improve the human capital that powers the economy.  [They] make us better at using our most precious and critical economic resource – human talent.
  •          A Spatial Fix:  Real recovery hinges on major changes in the very way we live (Move from farm to the city; move from city to suburbs, etc.)

 

Basically, Florida maintains that these changes are not initiated by top-down policies and programs from either political party in power, but happen gradually as millions of people respond by changing the way they live.   The lessons of this crisis should remind us that we need to live within our means, reject defining ourselves in terms of material goods and strive for a more meaningful and sustainable way of life.

Yes! This aligns with my own thinking but I mistakenly have attributed it to a perspective based on age. 

Not so, says Florida:

Individual Americans of all ages have already begun resetting their lives and changing the way they live and spend but our political and business leaders have utterly failed to appreciate and engage this economic transformation.  They continue to look backward, with futile attempts to resuscitate the dysfunctional system of banks, sprawl, and the inefficient and energy-wasting way of life that was the underlying cause of the crisis.

Our leaders just aren’t getting it; their mental models are so determined by the old order that they can’t acknowledge that [that order] has already passed.

We need to break with the past and engage the future that is already upon us.

From my own perspective, let’s also add the PRESS to the list of culprits and then try to move forward together in the LONG FIGHT BACK, recognizing we need to address the underlying problems we created that caused this…and neither Romney nor Obama can provide a quick fix.   But as Florida indicated, if we break with the past and engage the future, there is hope we can speed up the recovery so it does not take the 20-30 years of past Resets of a similar nature. We as the people need to fix this; the politicians cannot-no matter whom we vote into office in November.