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January 27 2014

4 Questions Every Meeting Professional Should Answer

By David McMillin

lisa bodell pcma convening leaders

Everyone is innovative. 

That’s the key message Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO, futurethink, told meeting professionals in her opening keynote address at Convening Leaders 2014.

“It’s not an elite activity,” Bodell said. “You don’t need a degree in innovation.”

So if everyone has the capacity to uncover new ideas, why does innovating feel so challenging? Why is the meetings industry constantly stuck in a mindset that shies away from change?

The problem: today’s business world is stifling creativity.

“We no longer have leaders,” Bodell declared. “We have managers. We focus on process over culture and doing over thinking.”

“Thinking has become a daring act,” Bodell added.

If you’re looking to hit the reset button within your organization and embrace new possibilities, here are four key questions to answer.

1) If you could kill any rules within your organization, what would they be?

From weekly meetings to regular procedures and processes, every organization operates on a set of standards that guides budgets, approvals, hiring and other decisions, but let’s face it: a lot of those rules are hindering real progress. Bodell recommends figuring out how to break up with some of those overbearing restrictions.

SEE ALSO: Why Just About Every Boss Should Be Worried

2) Who are your dream partners for innovation?

You work with the same team members everyday. No matter how much you’ve been able to accomplish together, that collaboration can start to feel stale after too long. Bodel suggests thinking outside the traditional lines to figure out who your dream partners would be to tackle your company’s future.

Perhaps they work within your organization, but they’re in a different department on a different floor. Maybe they work at one of your vendors. They might be in an entirely different industry, too. While you may not be able to actually form a partnership, think about how those dream partners would approach your problems.

3) What assumptions do you have that are holding you back from creating new ideas?

Bodell believes that after you’ve been in an industry for a certain period of time, you begin to operate on a set of expectations about what should happen. You also develop a system of shortcuts to ensure those expectations are met. However, expectations and assumptions about how to reach them are dangerous. They fuel the let’s-copy-and-paste-what-we-did-last-year approach to everything.

“What assumptions do you have that aren’t letting you create new things?” Bodell asked. “How do you reverse them?”

SEE ALSO: 3 Scary Signs For Meeting Planners

4) How can your competitor put you out of business?

You’ve heard of thinking outside the box. Now, it’s time to think outside your organization.

“Pretend that you are your number one competitor,” Bodell said. “Give yourself an out-of-company experience.”

Rather than thinking about how you can leverage your own strengths and address your own weaknesses, look through your competitor’s lens. If you worked there, how would you make your organization or your meeting irrelevant? Once you’ve answered that, make sure you don’t let it happen.

Want to catch up on everything you may have missed at Convening Leaders 2014? Click here to get your Convening Leaders Rewind to access the top content from the meeting.

1 Comment

  1. 1 Jeff Epstein 31 Jan
    Excellent post, David. We were just discussing the question of innovation around the table here this morning. It's so important to challenge assumptions and push out of comfort zones when it comes to designing and delivering captivating event experiences. The audience demands it. We're reaching out to event planners through our blog to discover and share what a typical day looks like for them, including how they get creative. Drop by and share your thoughts!

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