– Industrial Designer Ayse Birsel
The design community, which encompasses an ever-increasing array of disciplines, knows something that the meetings and events industry doesn’t. Designers know that the opposite of good design isn’t no design, it’s bad design. And bad design exists all around us, especially at meetings and events.
Planning vs. Design
For far too long, meeting professionals have been in the planning business. We plan on inviting the same people to the same meeting to discuss the same issues as we did the meeting before. Yet we keep expecting different results. There’s a word for that.
What if we designed an experience that captured people’s imaginations, challenged their thinking, and inspired them to dream about what’s possible, and then empowered them to act accordingly.
Which meeting would you rather attend?
Steve Jobs didn’t plan on building one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers. If he had, he’d of worked for IBM. Instead, he designed a product that would influence how we relate to the world around us. Is it really all that surprising what he accomplished given what he set out to do from the start?
Designing an Apple product is not unlike designing a relationship. Apple products are essentially content platforms. Their products dictate how we consume information and how we experience the world around us. More and more, they represent our technology interface to the world.
Meetings, by their very definition, are our all about the human interface. They are all about relationships. And while technology certainly plays an increasing role in face-to-face meetings, nobody’s predicting their demise. Those rumors have always been greatly exaggerated.
Why We Meet
The top two reasons people attend meetings are for the educational programs and the networking. All other reasons pale in comparison.
In the design world, programs and networking are called formal and informal learning. And what we know about informal learning is that it trumps formal learning in terms of knowledge retention and transfer, which is the bottom line. Because if you’re not retaining the knowledge you gain at meetings and applying it back to your job, you are wasting your time.
So why is it that we don’t spend more time designing informal learning at meetings? Why do we leave these ‘relationships’ to the chance encounter or the random coffee break? Could it be because meetings are designed for the benefit of meeting professionals and not the most important stakeholders, attendees?
What would it look like if we truly designed a meeting for the benefit of the meeting attendee?
I believe the time has come for meeting professionals to start incorporating more intention into their meeting ‘plans’. It’s time to start designing meetings that matter.