Behind the Scenes

Multiple Personalities

Come along as I thread a few separate strands of this issue together.

Let’s start with Planner’s Notebook, where Kelly Peacy talks about brainstorming with her team to visualize a new way to use the space at the Orange County Convention Center’s West Building for PCMA’s upcoming Convening Leaders 2013 annual meeting.  Flip to this month’s Unconventional in our Plenary section, where you’ll find an excerpt from Jonah Lehrer’s bestseller Imagine: How Creativity Works, in which he argues that the commonly accepted brainstorming practice — “no idea is a bad idea” — is flawed and counterproductive.  Browse through respondents’ comments in our Annual Salary Survey, and you’ll find “teamwork” and “collaboration with colleagues and vendors” among the things that planners say they like best about their jobs.

Then head on over to the first installment in our new series Bookings, where we ask best-selling authors to apply their expertise to our industry.  As something of an introvert, I love what Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, has to say about group dynamics: “If we assume that quiet and loud people have roughly the same number of good (and bad) ideas, then we should worry if the louder and more forceful people always carry the day.”

Put all of these pieces together? They’re about working creatively as a team.  Having the right group dynamics is crucial to any business endeavor, including putting on a great meeting.

Bill Gross, founder of Idealab, believes that it takes a blend of four different personality types — the Entrepreneur, who has the vision; the Producer, who makes things happen; the Administrator, who puts systems in place; and the Integrator, who helps those three types get along to make a strong management team.  How do you figure out which personality type you are? Gross has a “window test,” which he describes in a YouTube video.  The test is also written up in the Spring 2012 issue of Build (a terrific quarterly publication — learn more at

It goes like this: Your team is together in a room, looking out the same dirty window at an empty parking lot.  According to Gross, the statement you are most likely to make (below) indicates your personality type:

  • “Look at that empty lot; we could build a building.” You’re the Entrepreneur, who can envision what’s ahead.
  • “We’d better clean the window.” You’re a Producer.  You like to make things happen (or are just a neat freak like me).
  • “Let’s create a form that people can submit when they see something wrong with a window.” You’re an Administrator, and you like to establish effective processes.
  • “I wonder what everyone else is thinking.” You’re an Integrator, who seeks to build consensus.

Funny, but in my experience, the consummate meeting professional needs to embody each of these personality types.  The trick is to create a team that shares these traits to varying and complementary degrees.

New to Convene

We’re thrilled to welcome two new assistant editors — Sarah Beauchamp and Katie Kervin — to our team this month.  As we editors view the empty parking lot outside our window (i.e., our future issues), I look forward to seeing their creativity and strengths come into play.  Watch for their contributions in print, and in particular see where they help take Convene digitally.

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.