Push Back Creates Push Forward by @JennG_

Whether it’s talking to our phones or to our glasses, new technology always seems a little odd at first. As a kid, I’d have thought we would look like the Jetsons if you told me vacuums and cars would drive themselves in my future. Every social media rollout or new gadget that can really be called innovative has push back from the public, adapts and becomes rapidly accepted before we know it.

Meetings technology expert and educator Jim Spellos reminded me of that this week as we discussed how Google Glass is going to revolutionize the meetings industry during an interview for upcoming issues of our magazines. His response? It’s not.  “Glass might not be a huge success,” Spellos says. “But whatever its successor is, is going to get a lot of benefits from what Google Glass experiences—good and bad.”

Entrepreneurs constantly say if you want to come up with the next big idea, you have to be willing to fail first. We don’t all have the luxury of a billion dollar company like Google backing our cutting-edge ideas, but creating a culture of experimentation at your events is key to moving forward.

Conferences that stay ahead of the game have:

  1. Attendees who expect change. Conferences that push the envelope have attendees who are willing and excited to be along for the ride. Changes can—and should—come in small doses, but prepare your attendees ahead of time. Would your attendees be disappointed if everything was exactly the same as last year?
  2. Organizers who listen. There’s no push forward if planners don’t listen, respond and adapt to the push back. If attendees are part of the process and see progress as a result of their feedback, they will support a culture of innovation.
  3. Buy-in from senior leadership. Experimenting without support only results in pressure to get it right the first time. If you have to get it right the first time, you’ll never try anything new.   
  4. Strategic minds around the table. Never change for the sake of change. Innovative thinkers see the need, possibility and solution behind every idea they implement. Surround yourself with a team of people willing to step out on a limb that’s connected to a solid tree.

Spellos says the rate of change is only getting faster: “We’re not even ready for the onslaught that’s going to happen. There’s going to be push back, but there will be a lot of push forward, too. If people thought the speed of change was fast the last couple years, just wait.”

Are you ready? What experiments are you going to conduct at your events this year?


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