Sunday, October 24, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
1. www.crowdspring.com. I used this service to access designers for a new corporate logo. You set an "award" and then designers respond in a competition, where you can rate the designs and then choose one (or more). We got about 70 designs to choose from. The winning designer was from Argentina!
2. www.squarespace.com. I am just about to use this site to create a new website. It is "drag and drop" so you can easily maintain it yourself, starting at $8.00/month.
Love to hear about other tools you have used.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
We take things (food, paper, tchotchkes) and people (attendees, staff, speakers, exhibitors) and transport them. The transformation here is locational, and the challenge for sustainable event professionals is to not only get them there on time but to get them there efficiently, with the least use of scarce resources like fuel, time, and money. This efficiency is the key to sustainability. For example, by choosing locations closest to the majority of people travelling to the event, you cut down on the amount of fuel used to get there (and carbon emissions), the cost of the ticket, and the time of the people travelling. This same sentiment applied to things is the beginning of creating a sustainable supply chain.
The sustainable supply chain also includes social elements (like Fair Trade or minority-owned businesses) but is also concerned with efficiency. That is why the mantra of "buy local" is so important to sustainable events. Once again, you are using scarce resource efficiently to reduce travel time and use of fuels. You are also, of course, stimulating the local economy while getting fresher produce, among other things.
The industry provides venues, and here the activity is building and retrofitting and the transformation is a physical one. LEED buildings are the main example of this. The value to customers includes buildings that enhance future transformations, such as the ability to learn, health of attendees, and of course the efficient use of scarce resources such as energy.
Events are often used to create other transformations -- data to information (for example, the use of social media and virtual meetings) information to knowledge, and knowledge to application (for example, learning how to create a sustainable event and applying these concepts to your next event). It also creates "remote to real transformations" -- by which I mean that someone's electronic or remote presence is transformed into real, personal relationships via a face-to-face meeting. Yes, I just made that phrase up, but this is the intrinsic power of face-to-face. Research I did in collaboration with Ottawa colleague Mitchell Beer in designing a hybrid meeting strategy for a client only reinforced this concept for me.
Operations management impacts all areas of logistic meetings design, but also impacts on organizational strategy. The sustainable events operational strategy should specify how the organization will employ its resources to support its sustainability strategy. This brings sustainable events to the boardroom as a key player in any CSR strategies.
It also means that we can learn from existing OPMA strategies how to better create and position sustainable event strategies. More to come.
Monday, September 13, 2010
The article is called Are We Thinking What I am Thinking? and it is about crowdsourcing.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Two great posts caught my eye this week. The first was from Jeff Hurt, a much re-tweeted and Facebook-posted blog on Thinking About How Conference Meeting Design Impacts the Brain. In this post, Jeff argues that people go to conferences for two main things: education and networking. To positively impact attendee experiences, he proposes 3 things:
- Get beyond the perception that meeting professionals don't know about the brain and how to create learning experiences. His theory is that we need to pay more attention to what works, how to engage people, what stimulates their emotions and their minds. You only have had to go to one boring conference too many to realize that this is true.
- Realize that the meetings industry needs to reach out beyond its own borders to see improved results. I completely agree with this one; the meetings industry is extremely incestuous. Sometimes its like trying to have an argument with people who all agree intensely with each other.
- Need to translate biological thought into conference design. Again, I am a big proponent of this, and am designing a conference for an industry association in 2011 that uses some of these premises...along with some others, including gaming..stay tuned!
I had just read this blog and was probably still nodding my head in agreement when another article crossed my virtual desk, this one from Fast Company, called Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love. For those of you wondering, this is where the drugs come in; the article explored the ability of social networking to produce oxytocin and the subsequent effects on the person generating it. TO BE CLEAR, oxytocin is the "cuddle hormone" (the "hug drug" is my term, given the natural propensities of the events world) not oxycontin, which is the painkiller.
Social networking apparently produces a lot of oxytocin. In fact, in this (it should be pointed out) very unscientific study, it produced the same amount of hormone as is produced by face-to-face interaction. This makes people feel good. Going back to Jeff Hurt's blog, social media may then have a greater impact on conference design than just marketing; it creates a real sense of "family", or network, one of the major reasons people go to conferences. The question for event professionals is how to design an event that uses this ability of social networking to create emotional connection to the event. Emotional connection then builds trust, and trust enables the creation of what my MBA professor Daphne Taras (now the Dean of the Business School at The University of Saskatchewan) calls social capital. (I think of this like a bank account for personal interaction; as more people trust you, the more personal integrity you display, your account balance goes up.)
Interestingly for event professionals, not only social networking creates oxytocin to be produced. So does massage...making a "whole person" concept at conferences even more important to develop (once again..stay tuned for this industry conference in 2011 I am helping to design. Again, more later). This fits in nicely with the concept of sustainable events and corporate social responsibility.
To Jeff Hurt's point, the process of designing conferences needs to take a giant step forward to incorporate fields like biology and psychology. While many event professionals are exceedingly good at what they do, what they do needs to change to become more effective. Perhaps in the future conference programs will have sessions on Using Biology to Create Effective Experiences and not just Networking 101.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Deloitte suggests that hospitality companies do background checks and surveys as part of a compliance program, as well as implement policy and training on anti-corruption. Perhaps hotel companies do this type of training in-house, but it has never hit the educational programming of any meetings industry associations I can think of. Perhaps some of these associations should create an SEP track at their annual conferences to raise awareness of these kinds of issues. Logically, this would be part of any CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility tracks, which too often focus on the trendy environmental sustainability issues (important, but only part of the puzzle).
Friday, July 9, 2010
Integrating social performance measures into your organization through activation of sustainable meetings and events should therefore include an assessment of your organization's mission and scope and attempt to align them.
Impact can be measured through three things:
- Clarity of goals
- Specific measurements
Of course, some things are easier to measure than others. Inputs are often easy to measure: volunteer or staff hours, for example. Outputs are sometimes not as easy to measure; alleviation of hunger in the community, for example, through the donation of left-over meals.
A key recommendation is that measurement needs to be supported by a culture of self-evaluation, and by skilled practitioners, which makes training mandatory for success.
The paper recommends that organizations ask three questions:
- What can we measure? (for example, time and other inputs)
- What do we need to measure to satisfy our stakeholders?
- How can we use measurement to help us achieve our mission?
They also note that small organizations are better off measuring inputs and outputs rather than impact; outcomes and impacts are measurable only on very large scales. For events, unless you are measuring impact across a large number of events, for very large organizations (multi-nationals, for example) or a mega-event like the Olympics, it is probably more logical to measure inputs and outputs and ensure they are aligned with organizational mission and strategy.I recently wrote an article for ONE+ magazine on the integration of sustainable event standards. One commentator noted that none of the standards was able to help measure "prosperity", one of the key pillars of the triple bottom line. This is possibly because of the same issues the authors of this article have noted, those of scale and diversity of organizations. Expectations and possibilities differ organization by organization.
Prosperity of for-profits can be measured by traditional assessments (earnings per share, for example); it is however difficult to measure the prosperity impact of community service events. How does this impact the bottom line of the sponsoring organization? How do you measure in dollar terms the benefits of generating social capital and an enhanced reputation? Another issue is that the whole idea of "prosperity" is tied up not only in the bottom line of an organization but on community prosperity and environmental integrity; organizations use and contribute to the health of social capital and "natural capital".