It’s that time of year again. Per usual for December, the PCMA team is crossing t’s, dotting i’s, and doing everything possible to ensure that Convening Leaders 2013 in Orlando is successful next month. And per usual, I’m losing more than a little sleep poking holes in our plans to see if anything leaks. I’m nervous, wondering if our new risks will pay off, and if they don’t, what is our plan to take those failures and turn them into learning experiences for our attendees as well as for our meetings and education team. Our mantra has always been that Convening Leaders is about taking risks so our attendees don’t have to. In other words, we try to make our annual meeting a living laboratory of various innovations in meetings and events – and you are the observer.
In late October, I was fortunate enough to listen to innovation expert Joe Calloway speak at our Convene Forum program in Nashville. One very simple thing he said struck me and has stayed with me since. While giving examples of successful innovations that various companies have implemented, he asked the audience to ask themselves, “What’s your version?” of those innovations.
That’s exactly what I would ask our upcoming Convening Leaders attendees to ask themselves as they experience our meeting: What’s your version of what you see?
Here’s what I mean: One risk we are taking in Orlando has to do with the networking luncheons. We asked ourselves, “Is there a different way to feed 3,000 people? Is there a different experience we can give them?” During our first networking luncheon on Monday, Jan. 14, we will divide the room into four separate experiences, yet all of them will feed into a central stage in the round and everyone will see the same luncheon program.
Why are we doing this? We are experimenting with space design to see if we can make the meeting feel smaller for each section of the room, so people can more easily make connections. So while you are experiencing this luncheon, I encourage you to ask the question “What’s my version of this?” Maybe for your meeting, it’s a room divided by region or chapter, with everyone working on different goals for your organization. Or maybe the room could be divided by educational topic, with attendees getting to choose their own learning. In most cases, what PCMA does at Convening Leaders probably won’t work exactly as it’s laid out before you at your own meeting, but maybe some portion – or some version – of it will.
Right now, our team is working on every last detail to give our attendees the best experience possible. But while we have worked hard on our new risks, we want you to feel free to strip them all down and come up with a version for your own meeting. Take what will work and discard the rest. It’s okay – we won’t be offended. In fact, we’ll be ecstatic.
See you soon!