“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs
What is your least favorite product or service? What is something that just does not “work” for you? Phone companies? Cable companies? Utilities come to mind? Notice a pattern here?
Now think about your most favorite product or service. Something that just “works” for you? Your iPhone? OXO utensils? Zappos?
The Common Denominator
The most innovative companies in the world share one thing in common. They use design as a competitive business strategy to innovate more efficiently and effectively. It permeates everything they do. They practice what’s commonly referred to as “Design Thinking.”
The Design Value Index includes a rigorously selected list of design-led, publicly traded US companies.
Results show that over the last 10 years design-led companies have maintained a significant stock market advantage, outperforming the S&P by an extraordinary 228%.
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Design enables these companies grow faster through differentiation and better customer experiences.
Design is what compels us to pay $4+ for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, spend hundreds more on Apple products, or travel further to stay at a Starwood property.
So, why should meeting professionals care about design? What’s the business case for design?
Two Compelling Reasons
The two most compelling reasons to embrace design are to increase value and reduce costs.
These are the basic of building blocks of market differentiation and profitability and most companies are better at one than the other.
But perhaps the most compelling reason to embrace design is for your own job security.
Make no mistake, we are living a new business environment that requires a different skill set to stay competitive. Design skills are widely recognized as one of those skills that differentiate workers from their peers.
Below is a job analysis of a meeting and convention planner. It identifies the key knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of a successful meeting and convention professional.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities of Meeting & Convention Planners*
- Coordinate activities of staff and convention personnel to make arrangements for group meetings and conventions.
- Sample of reported job titles: Convention Services Manager (CSM), Conference Planning Manager, Conference Services Manager, Events Manager, Conference Planner, Director of Conference Services, Conference Manager
- Based on Tasks, Tools & Technology Used, Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Work Activities, Work Styles, Work Values
When we compare this job analysis with other jobs that share similar knowledge, skills, and abilities, we can see where meeting professionals rank in terms of value to their organizations.
These are the jobs that are most similar to meeting and convention planners, in terms of the knowledge, skills, and abilities it takes to successfully perform the job.
Related Occupations to Meeting & Convention Planners*
- Dispensing Opticians
- Technical practitioner who designs, fits and dispenses corrective lenses
- First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Food Preparation and Serving Workers
- Hosts and Hostesses, Restaurant, Lounge, and Coffee Shop
- First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Personal Service Workers
- Recreation Workers
- Lead recreation activities at playgrounds, parks, senior centers, etc.
This is not very flattering. It says that the knowledge, skills, and abilities of a meeting planner are not significantly different from these other, low-level jobs.
Developing design capabilities, in addition to other higher-order skills, will increase the value meeting professionals bring to the table.
Add to this the fact that today’s smart technology is capable of assuming greater responsibility for managing meeting logistics, the traditional domain of meeting planners, and the standing of meeting professionals is even more at risk.
Design or Die
Finally, it’s well known that that many of the world’s most innovative meetings and events are designed by non-professionals, those outside of the industry. TED, SXSW, etc. These groups have no meeting professionals on staff and dedicate more resources to content curation than to logistics. They’re focused more on the value creation than the cost reduction side of the equation.
And it’s working for them.
This is your wake-up call.
*Source: O*Net Online (Occupation Network – Department of Labor)