Archive for the ‘SOCIAL LEARNING’ Category

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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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CERTIFICATION AND LEARNING

December 29, 2010

Over 25 years ago when the CMP certification was launched, I was VP of Operations for the Meetings Division at Carlson Marketing Group. This was long before CMP discussion/study groups were formed, as the certification concept was in its infancy.  But surrounded with a staff of meeting planners with varying degrees of expertise, in January, 1986, I ordered the PCMA Preparation Manual for the Exam and the First Edition of Professional Meeting Management, and introduced the 25 disciplines covered to my staff of meeting planners.  Each was assigned a section, and asked to review the topic and then present it to the team for discussion as part of the weekly staff meetings. 

I envisioned the manual as a good training tool; and better yet, one that would save me the time of organizing my own knowledge and thoughts to create tools myself.  But along the way, I observed an interesting phenomenon-each planner instinctively used personal experiences to illustrate what they learned, and the audience quickly shared their own experience to support or question the point being discussed.  In some cases, we decided the manual did not always reflect the world of corporate meetings as we knew it – but we simply assumed this was because of innate differences between corporate and association meetings.

Eventually, I decided to actually sit for the exam and off I went to Chicago to be tested; and became one of the first five CMPs in the State of Minnesota.  And yet, the process was somewhat disconcerting.  It seemed I had some trouble with questions relating to AV Equipment and Production.  Really?  How could that be – by this time I had been responsible for AV Production and Equipment for a $15 million division of CMG for almost five years!  Surely, I knew the basics.  As I reviewed the questions I missed, I was irritated to find that I did give the correct answers; however my answers reflected emerging technology and practices not in place when the manuals, study guides and exams were authored. 

And with that, I experienced the first disillusionment encompassing certification-it is too time-specific for an ever-evolving industry.  The second, of course, was that no client in the world really knows what CMP means even these 25 years later, so it does not offer much value in terms of one’s promotability.  Nevertheless, I generally supported the process; advising those considering sitting for the exam not to expect a raise, or more business, but to concentrate on the real value – the process of interacting with one’s peers in the learning process.

And then a decade or so ago, another certification process emerged – this time for the CSEP.  Most who know me have heard me say that I would like to be part of a study group, but have no intention of sitting for the exam.  I believe my credentials and client successes speak well for my knowledge; I am not sure testing facts and practices at any given point in time is meaningful; and although I commend those that have risen to the challenge and successfully earned the designation, I do not see the benefit for me personally.   I accept that attitude as partly an age thing and partly just my quirky personality, and really have not given it much thought – unless I am questioned as to why I have not pursued the certification.  I have been encouraged, however, to see that process in the event world continue to emerge – from measuring how well one memorized definition of terms, to more emphasis on measuring process and innovative problem-solving within an event environment

But in the last two weeks, this nagging certification issue has fallen into place for me, thanks to my newfound “bible” – The NEW Social Learning.  The authors define learning as a “transformative process of taking in information that- when internalized and mixed with what we have experienced- changes what we know and builds on what we can do.”  Learning is based on input, process and reflections.

Despite being a disciple of new emerging ideas in the learning field, I was surprised to see that 70% of learning and development takes place from real-life, on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem-solving;  20% from other people in formal or informal feedback, mentoring or coaching situations; and only 10% from formal training.  That caught my attention and reminded me how we intuitively polished our planning skills so long ago in the Meetings Division by interacting with our peers and sharing personal experiences.

But the authors pushed further as they suggested that the traditional corporate training model is being modernized to take advantage of incidental learning, learning from interacting with others, and learning along the way in the course of doing work.   They further suggest that traditional training methods may survive and will prove useful for teaching highly specific tasks or safety procedures, but evolving practices require more.

There is no doubt in my mind that I have been a part of an evolving industry for 30 years, and in the last 10 of those years, it is an industry that has speeded up exponentially.  Every day our base of best practices is redefined and so, too, are the “right answers “ of yesterday proven to be dated and even wrong. 

So that explains the dilemma of testing knowledge at a given point in time as in my CMP experience…but it does not provide the answer to how one measures learning nor how one ensures that once certified, one continues to learn.  And while I have not thought enough about this particular topic of certification and its value, it does reinforce for me that it is merely a first step in a big process.

 If in fact one sits back after certification and considers oneself the proven “expert”, I fear we would end up with an industry out-of-sync with the rest of the world. I personally am not too motivated to tackle the grueling testing process needed to add those coveted additional initials to my name and so, for now,  will keep my own energies focused on continuing learning instead.  

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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.