I particularly liked how founder Soren Gordhamer jumped in with both feet from the beginning — the first conference webcast several sessions and fearlessly mixed Buddhist monks and academics with Silicon Valley’s high-flying tech entrepreneurs.
The conference sold out both years, and was such a hot ticket last year that Premal Shah, president of kiva.org, got in the door only by accepting Gordhamer’s invitation to be a panelist. (Convene wrote briefly about Wisdom 2.0 in a sidebar to the “Focus Group” story about meditation and meetings in our June 2011 issue.)
Gordhamer, who has co-organized a conference with the Dalai Lama, is an original thinker. So I am paying attention as he experiments with the design of the 2013 conference, to be held next February in San Francisco. Like many other conference organizers, Wisdom 2.0 is seeking to improve traditional formats without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Earlier this summer, Gordhamer wrote:
While people enjoy quality content, and know there is a value in hearing someone live, instead of via a screen, we are also adapting our conference to include more interactive sections.
Instead of a one-way street, with the speaker talking to participants, we are working to develop several paths, including: quality content from a stage, ways to connect with others on shared interests, practices that help us apply teachings, and options in how people spend their time.
That’s sounds very much like what I am hearing from meeting planners from a wide range of disciplines and organizations. In fact, getting that mix right seems to me to be the Holy Grail in the conference world right now. Please chime in if you know of other interesting conferences that are reinventing themselves.