Archive for the ‘Interactive Meetings’ 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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NEW MEDIA

December 17, 2012

At the recommendation of a friend, last week I attended an IFP meeting at the Crooked Pint.  I went for several reasons – the title, “It’s a Brave New (Media) World” caught my attention professionally; the site, Crooked Pint, was a neighborhood location I had not visited; and the aftermath of the weekend snowstorm presented a personal challenge –could I walk over there?

On the downside, there was also a public forum to review the Above the Falls plan for the river that same night.  As most know, this is a passion for me, so I had a conflict-solved only because of the storm and the meeting site at MPRB which definitely was too far to walk that night.

So off I went to the Crooked Pint and I am so glad I did.  No, I am not a film-maker, so often, the discussion was over my head, but in the end, the context and questions were familiar as first the panel focused on describing what new media “is”:

Immersive; interactive; take the story of the film outside the film so the audience can interact; storytelling across platforms that create audience engagement; stories told on multiple platforms; storytelling in which the audience participates and contributes to the integrity of the story; the convergence of different media across platforms (i.e.,merging of TV and internet)

So far, so good…these are familiar topics applicable in our changing world of events as well.

Then the discussion moved on to more thought-provoking questions – questions I am not sure I can answer in my world:

  • How does one maintain a common tone across media types?
  • How do you achieve interconnectivity not just many forms of the same story?
  • Just because you can do it, should you?

Before the end of the session, I l was reminded /learned some good advice for the story “architect”:

  • Test ideas on the web
  • Learn from small failures
  • It’s not about the tactic…put the why and the who before the what
  • Find partners you trust
  • If the story is good, people will “hang in” despite a bad production

And along the way, I was directed to a wide variety of websites for further exploration and possible applications in my own world of event design.  I am sure there will be more to come on this topic as I delve into those.

As for the Crooked Pint?  I liked the ambience; I liked the BIG screen and the possibility of its use as a meeting site.

And the personal challenge of being able to safely walk over there?  Not so much.  Street crossings and medians themselves had not been  addressed yet, so at each intersection, I was forced to traverse a mountain of snow…all went well until that last one at Washington and 5th…where I took a misstep and quickly found myself sprawled out on the sidewalk! That has not helped with the pain flare-up I am already struggling through right now….but it was worth it for the new brain food I gathered at the meeting!

 

 

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IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR…

February 14, 2012

And the CRV Event team is once again nominated not only for two ISES Star Awards, but individual team members are also finalists in several additional categories.  What a wonderfully talented group of professionals I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from over the past two years!

In a recent blog, Jeff Hurt did a great job of outlining 21st Century skills needed by planners in our industry as we confront major cultural and societal transformational shifts in the world around us.

THE RISK TAKER views each event as an opportunity to experiment and take risks; learning from failures.

THE VISIONARY always looks for ways to enhance the face-to-face experience; and is always on alert to changes in our clients’ worlds.

THE LEADER striving to help clients stay in sync with that rapidly moving world, remains on alert for impactful topics and trends.

THE ADAPTOR-recognizing a changing environment, new technology tools, and the presence of four generations of attendees at any given event –demands we cast aside the routine and do not depend on past processes.

THE COMMUNICATOR knows how to articulate event format changes and upgrades.  On site, they facilitate, entice and moderate 21st Century tools like texting, Skype and social networks.

THE LEARNER expands the focus from basic logistics, understands learning is a lifelong process and makes a commitment to seeking new knowledge and its application.

THE COLLABORATOR understands collaboration with coworkers and colleagues is imperative to success.

As I read Jeff’s blog, I thought of this team-every skill mentioned above is well-represented.  While we individually may not be experts in each of these seven areas, together, we’ve got it covered!

It is not the recognition of the Star Award, nor even the opportunity to do good work that motivates me.  I am proud to be a part of this team because we learn from each other, improving our skills each time we work together, and most importantly, we offer more value to the client for whom we are working, as we help them confront and conquer those seismic shifts that surround us.

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I THINK IT’S CATCHING ON…

January 18, 2012

Slowly but surely, our collaborative platform for creating interactive experiences that tell client stories is bubbling to the surface in our industry, finally following trends long seen emerging in Europe since the mid-2000s.

Progressive, high-end magazines such as EVENT DESIGN and EVENT MARKETER sponsor industry shows that focus on that transition – and of course, EXHIBITOR’S Gravity Free Design Show remains for me, the Piece de Resistance – although every year I dream of attending and have not made it yet!

And what about PCMA- long the innovative leader on the meeting planning side?  Back in the 80s, the original CLC’s CMP certification program was based on the PCMA “Professional Meetings Management”; that 1985 First Edition was my own study guide when I became one of the first five CMPs in Minnesota. Today, they’ve made the leap, taking risks, experimenting with integrating digital tools, learning lounges, and changing up that old general session in their last couple national conferences.   Industry trades are a-buzz with the result of their efforts and I sense a critical mass is gathering.

The glimmer of hope came last year when our first CRV Experience garnered not only local, national and international press as well as five ISES Star Awards, but in the background, I have continued to worry and fret about the 20th century thinking that permeates our industry and keeps it mired down in ineffective general sessions and theme parties.

So I was uplifted yesterday when I attended the roll-out of the new sales and marketing efforts of Meet Minneapolis.  They have capitalized on the wave of the future; their market research and marketing plan was impressive-geared to opportunities to move forward.  Their redesign of the website clearly reflects a welcome change.  I’m looking forward to their Annual Meeting in March and to the Meeting Planner’s Seminar in April where the focus seems to be grounded in Creating the Experience.  I left that meeting charged up – committed to being a more active partner supporting their efforts.

And this morning’s Strib added icing to the cake with two feature stories.  Although the first was a report on the comeback of boating in Minnesota, its sub-theme caught my eye.  The show touts a new attraction – an indoor marina, complete with 20 boats “moored” at docks and a waterfront patio with food and live music.  The show producers certainly understand – they have created an experience that puts their Minnesota audience in the midst of a familiar dream – if only they owned a boat!  And they’ve added to that experience an opportunity to get wet with a Flow Rider ride that allows low body surfing, board surfing and wakeboarding in pseudo-waves.  Finally, amidst the lake/river illusion and the Parade of Boats, they have recreated a marine service center right on the floor.  “Fred’s Shed”, an interactive learning center offers tips on installing boat electronics, engine maintenance, upholstery repair with local marine service mechanics on hand to conduct the seminars. This is good stuff!  Although today I am not a boater, I may just have to attend that show – to learn from what they did and witness the energized crowd they will capture.

Finally, there was the “Tres geek” success story of Ralph Lauren as they embrace tech-driven digital marketing strategies- from 24-hour touch-manipulated storefront windows to iPhone apps to 4D events to a strong presence on the internet.  They too, understand.  To be relevant to shoppers, they need to be able to talk to their customers in channels where those customers spend their time.   As Ralph Lauren embraced high-tech interactive experiences, they joined Nordstrom and Tiffany’s and reaped strong sales in an industry that generally did not do so well.  A 14% plus increase in sales and 18% increase in profits is cause for celebration.

Yes, I think the world is catching on!

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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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I AM SO BUMMED

January 7, 2011

Much as I did NOT want to be in Vegas last month (even though I was with good friends, enjoying good food, and confirming details for a good conference) I am SO disappointed not to be heading there next week!

From an old faithful excellent industry speaker who was “interactive” before interactive was in like Joan Eisenstodt at ACOM 2011to PCMA to the VIRTUAL EDGE SUMMIT – I am missing so much I need to know.

Not only does PCMA have Daniel Pink as one of its general session speakers, but they are upping the ante in terms of learning approaches within our whole industry of meetings and events.  It caught my attention when Jeff Hurt blogged about the “The Early Bird Gets The Learning Lounge Worm” and then proceeded to describe it as “63 speakers, 77 TED-style presentations, 49 round-table discussions, 49 facilitators, 21 emcees, seven theatres, three Supplier showdowns, one hybrid host, two social media expert bars, one livestreaming stage, one global community discussion, one speed networking session, one PCMA Chapter Challenge, and one task force with eight members.” All this in four hours time spread over three days.  His accompanying descriptions piqued my interest; his closing invitation to “Come and feed your brain, feed your body, and feed your soul” filled me with envy.

And then a friend who is attending shared the floor plan for that PCMA Learning Lounge at the MGM Grand – set in the Garden Arena pre-function in front of the general session and confirmed I made a judgment error in not planning to be there. I can see so many potential applications for similar learning experimentation with my own clients and need to see, take part, and evaluate the effectiveness of each planned element! In fact, I shared the same floor plan with a client who immediately challenged me by asking how much of the plan could be incorporated into their meeting next September?

I was already filled with regret, when the Velvet Chainsaw struck again tonight – this time to share more details on speakers and happenings at PCMA – like Chris Brogan who I also want to hear speak at some point– and then proceeded to say that the Virtual Edge Summit was one of the top five conferences for Hurt in 2010 and he expected it to be a showstopper again, as it is filled with great content, speakers and who’s who in the virtual and hybrid world.

And so here I sit….so bummed at the missed opportunities.  After all, I have to learn how to give a 10 minute presentation – I just committed to doing one on the CRV Experience at the RETHINK event on February 14.

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SOCIAL LEARNING

December 14, 2010

A new term in my vocabulary, and perhaps in yours…and if so, make note of it; remember it; seek out more information because I am convinced, we will all hear much more about this as we move forward into the second decade of this century…some of us still dragging our feet and holding on desperately to the familiarity of what we know and excel at in our past.

Thanks to the big winter storm here in MN, I was given a precious gift-two “found” days this weekend to lose myself in “The New Social Learning”  -with a short break once in a while for a peak outside or a quick escape into the world of Tom Clancy, to allow my mind time to process what I was discovering.

When I read the forward by Dan Pink, I knew I had found a gem…”Twitter, Facebook, and their social media kin are not all about marketing.  They’re equally if not more so, about learning….”  YES, finally a resource that positions social media not as a personal or corporate marketing tool but as a collaborative aid to facilitate learning! 

With that to peak my interest, I delved right in and before I finished the introduction, I was impressed with the authors’ realistic and thoughtful approach to this topic.  After an opening chapter on trends reshaping the workplace, the challenges and opportunities of these shifts and how social learning fits in this environment, the authors address, chapter by chapter, a specific social media category, its application, how these practices overcome business challenges, and how to address the critics of each.

Criticism.  Now that is a phenomenon I have encountered most of my life, and certainly recently as I have used this blog to contemplate ideas gleaned from industry thought-leaders  re adult learning, alternatives to consider when structuring conferences going forward, and possible options to minimize ineffective general session costs.  I recognize that criticism is a normal reaction to defend the familiar status quo, and generally, after the first sting, adds value to the innovation process, as it points out weaknesses to be overcome, or sometimes simply prepares one for that natural phenomenon of naysayers that are lurking in the wings.  But Bingham and Conner reassure the reader that the criticism generally falls into 3-4 predictable categories; then they build the case of how to dismiss its negative impact, and offer up success stories of those national and international organizations that have already forged ahead to embrace the change.  They even include top-notch examples of Governance of social learning use within some impressive corporations.

And best of all, they did not write this book frozen in time, but as two of the most respected names in training and development, they recognize that the tools discussed in the book may have dramatically changed by the time the book is read, so they created a complimentary website to keep the conversation current; provide more about applications of interest to each of us, and even “getting started guides”.

All that and I had not even started the book yet!   Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, the book was filled with margin notations and my ideas journal reflects a long list of action items; including some quality time devoted to that website! Today, let me end with some memorable thoughts put forth in the Afterward of this new treasure chest of ideas:

Once you move away from the push of information to the pull of learning, you liberate creative powers  in your people to succeed in this rapidly changing environment…once you make it easy for people…and you create an environment where people are not afraid to fail, you allow them to ask the really hard questions. …It’s about making learning a priority and using the tools of social media to facilitate a culture where we get better at getting better. It’s no longer about just being a better competitor.  It’s now about being a stronger contributor and a savvier learner. 

AMEN to that.