Scaling New Heights and Changing the World

Author: Sherrif Karamat       

A casteller works her way up a human tower at El Born Cultural Center during PCMA’s 2019 European Influencers Summit in Barcelona. (Marta Fernandez/PCMA)

Sherrif Karamat

Sherrif Karamat, CAE

Lessons often come from surprising places. During my recent trip to Barcelona, where PCMA held its annual European Influencers Summit (EIS), I had a moment of inspiration during dinner at El Born Cultural Center, as we watched castellers build one of their famous human towers. As I marveled at how the castellers would climb to create tier after tier, it struck me that this Catalan tradition serves as something of a metaphor for the heights we can scale if we put our minds to it — a critical reminder as our industry seeks new ways to solve global problems.

It seems clear that many of the traditional solutions to challenges we face are no longer working. Finding new answers is the opportunity that gatherings like EIS — and this month’s PCMA Asia Pacific Annual Conference in Macao — provide. These events attract people who, wanting to make a difference, are rolling up their sleeves and collaborating on fresh approaches to address pressing problems.

Attendees representing 237 organizations in nearly 40 countries met in Barcelona. They ranged from corporate executives to association leaders and came from a wide swath of businesses and organizations, including the International Olympic Committee, Cisco Systems, Siemens AG, and the European Society of Anaesthesiology. Regardless of their industry or organization, all were grappling with how to solve problems — some they had in common and others were unique to their own professional circumstance.

Castellers complete a human tower at El Born Cultural Center during PCMA’s 2019 European Influencers Summit in Barcelona. (Marta Fernandez/PCMA)

They covered everything from their stakeholders’ pain points to sustain- ability — sustainability for the environment as well as sustainable business models, which equate to jobs and economic viability.

Speakers, sessions, and network- ing events pushed attendees to think differently about the path to finding solutions. During one new session, the

“Ideathon” designed by MCI Group’s Oscar Cerezales, participants spent two- and-a-half hours exploring the issues their organizations struggle with. With no speaker, just moderators and their “Ideathon” notebook for help, groups of 15 to 20 participants worked through five steps — from “introspection” to “keep going” — to dissect business challenges. One moderator, Eric Mottard of Eventoplus, later said attendees went home with notebooks brimming with ideas to work on.

EIS attendees told me they had never been to a conference that had
so inspired them to go home and do something — and this is exactly what you want from an event. You can expect more of this take-action kind of thinking as a result of participating in Convening Leaders 2020 in San Francisco.

Events are not going to solve every one of the world’s problems. But when we meet, we get closer to finding the answers we seek. And then we go out into the world to put them into practice. As the castellers prove, we can accomplish the seemingly impossible when we work together with a shared goal.

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