FLOW SHARMA SOUNDTRACK INTEGRATIVE THINKING MEETINGS CONSOLIDATION DRAMATIC DISTRACTIONS
“We must find ourselves on a continuously learning journey”
CHRISTIAN MUTSCHLECHNER ISSN 1651-9663
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EDITORIAL | 9
A GOOD example
i recently attended the
Toronto International Film Festival on the invitation of the Canada Tourism Commission as the only journalist from the meetings industry to take part in the event Behind the Scenes. The invitation was conceptually impressive with a content strategically directed at university level and included a lecture on Integrative Thinking. The lecturer, Jennifer Riel from the Rotman Business School at Toronto University, held a near three-hour long lecture that gave me with new ideas, new knowledge and new insights. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is the second largest film festival in the world. The Canada Tourism Commission’s and the Toronto Convention Bureau’s collaboration in producing their own event for meetings purchasers during the festival showed, in its programme breadth and depth, a whole new level to that which I am used to. Here the brain was in the centre, development and education were key words and professional networking was put into practice. Our hosts ensured that they had the right people in place throughout the event, decision-
makers within their respective specialist fields. This may sound like a matter of course, but things are seldom this way. During the festival days we held discussions that formed relationships that guarantee continued dialogue, which in its turn generates sustainable results. We got to see a couple of new hotels and attended a premiere, and even there the programme was designed to give a lasting impression and an insight to all who participated. In another part of the programme, Make a Movie, we were given cameras and divided into groups to solve various tasks to be presented during a workshop. Using a computer program called Comic Life, which was new to me, we made an audio comic mag. The exercise was a Aha experience for many of the participants because the workshop is easy to implement in their own companies and organisations. The high skills level that permeated the contents of Behind the Scenes will remain long in the memory. It is a level I would like to see more of when destinations, regions and countries invite purchasers. ¶
Swedish-Indonesian Atti Soenarso has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. She has worked for Scandinavia’s largest daily newspaper, was TV4’s first travel editor, has written for many Swedish travel magazines and has had several international clients. She has travelled the length and breadth of the world and written about destinations, people and meetings.
2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
Atti Soenarso PHOTOS
2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
Christian Mutschlechner is one of the leading figures of the international meetings industry. Last year he was voted Personality of the Year, one of many awards he has received. For almost 20 years he has been CEO of the Vienna Convention Bureau, which for the past six years has topped the ICCA’s statistics as the world’s most successful meetings destination. “It gives me a thrill to hear that new convention bureaus and arenas are opening. This is a sign that our industry is growing and adds credence to the vision that the meetings industry is key in advancing human progress.”
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What is the secret behind VCB’s success? “There is no secret. A strong brand is of course crucial, as are 345 museums, several of which are rated as world class, but museums do not win congresses, and at the end of the day, neither do brands. The most important factor is how you work up a market and the way in which you implement it.” “Even with your back against the wall you have to find holes through which to get at the congress. We must be better than the others. Our entire organisation of 11 is out on the market selling Vienna, so a stable co-worker organisation is also crucial in our success. We share all our
accomplishments with each other and are proud of what we achieve together.” The average employment period at the office currently stands at eight and a half years. Christian Mutschlechner explains that this maintains the longstanding relationships the staff team has created on the international market. These relationships are crucial in their successes and create credibility for the entire organisation as a centre of trust, which ensures that it is well managed. “The client is always the main focus for us. ‘If you turn your face to your boss, you turn your ass to the client, and that can’t happen.’ With
regard to business, I’m no finer than anybody else in the organisation. My telephone number is also given out to those who answer the phone. No caller should have to wait longer that three phone signals. Anybody who is able takes the calls.” When it is time to employ a new member of staff it is Christian Mutschlechner who previews the applications and picks out the interviewees. He conducts the first interview himself. At the next stage two older members of staff conduct the interview. “The interviews are conducted in English without any forewarning. This is a surprise element that is good to insert early in the process. As
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there are ten women to eleven posts it’s important they have different personalities and are of varying ages. As it stands today their ages represent three generations. In addition, half of them are creative while the other half are implementers. The blend is crucial in achieving a good result.” This recipe for success also includes a well-prepared training programme for all employees that runs for several years. The first year they take part in European Cities Marketing’s training week. The second year includes a ICCA Research and Marketing meeting
“It’s only in recent years that the meetings industry has begun to act globally. Nowadays, branch organisations like ICCA, MPI, IAPCO, AIPC, SITE and ECM know that meetings should generally be considered as a part of what is often referred to as the knowledge industry. It could concern a scientific congress, a trade fair with seminars or a corporate event, but it could also be on the subject of education, networking, the possibility of finding new research fields, all significant reasons for holding a meeting. There is a tourist element because
“The client is always the main focus for us.”
somewhere in Europe. The third year, the Young Professionals Forum, and the following year it is time for IAPCO’s PCO training and taking part in a ICCA congress and perhaps even attending MPI’s European Congress. This is followed by more senior training and networking possibilities, such as the new IAPCO training. This year six staff will take part in ICCA’s Hyderabad congress, next year all eleven will attend when the congress is implemented in Dresden. You are one of the international leaders in the meetings industry who claim that the industry is not a part of tourism. What do you mean by that? MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
delegates need to stay at hotels, travel to the meeting and eat at the same restaurants as tourists. This is why for many decades the tourist industry has claimed that the meetings industry is a part of the tourist industry. But things are changing and more key figures in the meetings industry are supporting the notion that it is an industry in its own right.” Why should politicians regard congresses as significant for a country’s economy and development? “They must understand what happens during a meeting, why a meeting is arranged. It’s not only the finance minister or the minister
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responsible for tourism who need to see the connection. The education and/or research minister for education and science should realise that congresses develop individuals, companies and organisations, and not least societies.” Where in the world do you see examples of political awakening? “I don’t wish to name specific countries or cities, but during recent years the meetings industry has managed to put across its message to politicians at all levels in increasingly MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
more countries globally, which is a significant improvement compared to ten years ago. It perhaps sounds like slow progress but creating greater awareness of the value of the meetings industry is a long process that requires more lobbying that at present.” Which countries think strategically? “A very good example from the past is Australia. In the early 90s there was really the feeling on the market that Australia was “taking
over” in a unified effort from the national level down to the local level. As a competitor you got the impression that the whole country, politically, but also the players of our industry combined forces to make Australia known as a successful meetings country.” The Vienna Convention Bureau is regarded by many as the foremost CVB in the world. Where do you get your inspiration from? “It’s a two-way thing. Many people come to us or we travel to other
Passion for meetings.
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18 | MUTSCHLECHNER
“Even with your back against the wall you have to find holes through which to get at the congress.”
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MUTSCHLECHNER | 19
places to talk about how we work, our philosophy, etcetera. We learn all the time of new destinations and convention bureaus, how they see the market and tackle their problems. Exchanges with people who work in different organisations also inspires us. I’ve never made a trip or attended a lecture in the world that hasn’t given me a new idea or stimulated me in some way.” What is happening with the development of CVBs in Europe? “A larger number of cities are starting convention bureaus. Many people and organisations are discovering that the meetings industry is a market for destinations. Some cities can work internationally from the outset while others must build better infrastructures, raise their service levels, become more export-minded and learn what marketing entails in the meetings industry. In some countries, national meetings can actually be larger than international meetings.” Which are the most rapidly growing markets? “We don’t talk of new markets even when discussing China, India and Brazil. The experience of a convention bureau on these markets is somewhat different than that in Europe with regard to how they work with their clients. Naturally, it’s necessary for us to know how clients from these different markets behave, work and what they expect from us based on their knowledge from their respective countries.” Increasingly larger cities are creating more logistics problems. There are not enough hotel rooms or the CVB and Destination Management Company (DMC) are not professional enough. What are the destinations’ greatest challenges? “They must find a clear and
explicit position on the market. Sometimes you get the impression that some destinations start a CVB without any political clout behind them. They run a race of trying to get a large part of the congress cake without any real strategy, goal or meaning. But the meetings industry is so much more than just infrastructure. Clients need permanent inspiration and equally constant learning. A CVB can transfer a purchaser’s important experiences to other clients who need help. You then become an in-demand facilitator of knowledge. This role can be played by anybody on the supplier side as long as you envisage and can picture the direction the market is taking. ” Where will the large congresses/ corporate events be implemented in the future? What will be the destinations’ advantages? “International congresses and corporate events are increasingly staying on their own continent. The interesting aspect is that in recent years we have seen strong growth among the primarily European congress organisations with regard to their meetings and events. With their meetings they managed to set the standard in respective scientific field. In the corporate world we talk of global events, but there is also a trend towards regionalisation. Nothing is written in stone and that which is true today could be wrong tomorrow, that’s the fascinating part of the whole thing.” Is Europe losing its lead on the congress market? Will designer arenas become more important than meeting contents? “Personally I don’t think Europe is losing anything, we’ve had an advantage during the past thirty years. The lack of infrastructure in many countries/regions in the world gave us that advantage. It 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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created an unbalanced market. Today many countries have built out, and even if they haven’t caught up with us they’ve come closer to our standard and have created a far more balanced market. If we look at the pharmaceutical world, the fantastic arenas that were popular some five years ago have become passé due to pharmaceutical companies having new ethical regulations to comply with. We have perhaps only seen the tip of the iceberg in these developments. I see a clear tendency from a delegate perspective to prioritise content. How content is managed, presented and implemented will be crucial in the years to come.” What does the Meeting Architecture process mean? “New methods and instruments from other scientific fields. It’s now time to seriously consider what takes place during a three or fourday meeting or congress. How do delegates develop their personal opportunities? This is a crucial issue. At the end of the day it is always the congress delegate or the person’s organisation/company that has to foot the bill. If the meeting doesn’t live up to its billing then the delegate doesn’t pay the bill.” How do you share your knowledge with younger people? “I teach on three of the training courses in Vienna that take up the meetings industry, I teach regularly at the ECM summer school and at the annual Researcher Meeting arranged by ICCA. My personal philosophy, you could also call it a governing rule, is to give back to the young. When I was new in the meetings industry it was difficult to find anyone who stood for knowledge exchange, somebody I could ask to find out how things work. I want to open my own knowledge
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MUTSCHLECHNER | 21
channels and share my experiences and ideas.” How important is networking? “It’s key. For example, ICCA is a network that creates excellent opportunities and as many of my co-workers as possible take part in ICCA’s congresses and development events. The same goes for MPI of course. Sooner or later we will probably need to take economic consideration to how the future looks for us and these organisations, but I’m convinced that a CVB can only be successful if the staff team is out in the world on the markets where the clients are and are active in the meeting industry’s various networks. ” Do CBVs have a future? “Oh yes, but only in the places where they have stood for, and still stand for, clear business benefit in their daily work. In an ideal scenario it is the local meetings industry that is key to creating a professional CVB, and being both “leader” and political-economic platform towards the clients. In the near future CVBs must work even more professionally and at the same time have a more commercial approach than the private sector. I see CVBs on another level but under the same “development pressure” as congress hotels and centres.” How significant are ICCA’s possibilities in the context? “All convention bureaus should naturally be members of ICCA. In Austria all CVBs are members. When starting a CVB one should bear in mind that there are sufficient numbers of local meetings in ICCA’s database to motivate membership. But newly started CVBs are sometimes advised that it’s not necessary to join the organisation. If somebody says this, especially an ICCA member, then the new 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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CBV should become a member immediately.” What is the significance of social media? “First and foremost I think new instruments will come onto the market and even mutual crossborder development between various instruments. The most important thing is to continue to develop each instrument. And to analyse the benefits for the meeting and communication with the delegates and what they actually use. This concerns of course not only physically present people but also virtual delegates. Sometimes we have a rational explanation but our practical life experience tells us something quite different. We must find ourselves on a continuously learning journey.”
Do you see signs of students and their ideas changing the meetings industry? “Definitely. This is why I find teaching so stimulating and exciting – time permitting. I find the exchange with young people very inspiring. Many students have new fresh ways of developing their surroundings. We should particularly observe how they use all the new technology that has been introduced in the past five or ten years. Neither should we forget that in ten, twenty years time today’s students will be the delegates that we’re working for.” How does the XYZ generations influence the meetings industry? “All modern media that we use or is available is brought to the meetings industry by young people. The advantage of being young is
that they analyse more and weigh up the pros and cons. They don’t think much when using the new channels, they just use them. We who are further up the age ladder should try to learn from this approach to new instruments. We must acquire more knowledge from the younger generation.” Where do you get inspiration, ideas, innovations and new knowledge? “I believe that inspiration within our industry comes from key people. You build your own personal network over the years and you identify those who are thinking outside of the daily box – this is a more than beneficial exercise than the daily business challenges – and I am exchanging mostly with clients who are not always clients of my destination but 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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where the attempt to ”discuss and design the future” is the common ground for exchange. And it is also key to get inspiration from outside our industry; books, theatre plays, concerts, etcetera are a huge world of inspiration. I also have a 15-year-old son who gives me all the information I need on young music, how would I otherwise find it?” From an international perspective where will the meetings industry be in 2020? “I think on the one hand that it’s a constant learning process, especially within technological progress, but also how we can continue to further develop the delegates’ personal experiences and results of meetings. We’re in a new development phase and I believe that our industry, which comprises of both suppliers and clients, will look different. We can already see exciting signs on the horizon. The focus in the future will be on delegates’ experience when taking part in a meeting. Actually taking part in an international meeting will be a fantastic privilege.” “The meetings industry is a young industry that is undergoing development change on a daily basis. It’s all about people, new cultures, being inquisitive and discovering opportunities. During a meeting, Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and Iraqis could all take part in developing each other, even if they stop speaking to each other once outside the premises. It’s fascinating to see when delegates meet, how they create own groups where everybody is on the same level discussionwise and where their sole focus is their respective scientific field. The meeting creates a world of equals.” ¶
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“Creating greater awareness of the value of the meetings industry is a long process that requires more lobbying that at present.”
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YOU ARE HERE*
*) PSYCHOLOGICAL MEETINGS
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
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Hans Gordon, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Authorised Psychologist, specialised in Aviation Psychology. Authorised psychotherapist, since 1987 running Gordon Consulting Ltd. Has for decades been engaged by airline companies, among them SAS and Thai Airways International.
IN OUR MEETINGS we create culture “Culture is a reflection of the prevailing social structure, but not a dead, mechanical reflection. Culture is something that is used to systemise, explain and legitimise the world surrounding the individual. Thereby, it has continuous repercussions on the social structure. One could also formulate the relationship as culture being the medium, or filter, through which man creates his perception of reality.” From Culture Builders by frykman and löfgren.
the term surrounding world is so complex and difficult to grasp that we as individuals lack the skills and perception to completely absorb and understand it in its entirety or its many fine details. Politicians are supposed to be public servants, but many people regard politics as being rife with contradictions and problematic inferences. Many young people in particular appear bewildered or just tired when interviewed on how they perceive politics.
If we cannot even understand the world we are surrounded by we suffer inner chaos that could lead to depression and weariness. We not only need orientation landmarks in our life but constant reminders of continuity and, not least, of belonging if we are to encapsulate sufficiently supportive feelings of security. This is why we attempt to makes things easier for ourselves by creating and nurturing culture. Culture can be more or less reality based. It is like the furnishings in our 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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home; the wallpaper brings to life what would otherwise be perceived as faded and dreary; the colour of textiles, furniture, cushions and lampshades gives rise to feelings of attractive movement; most things in the kitchen area and dining area contribute to the benefit of having a home. Not forgetting the people: family, friends, guests. The latter I choose carefully as they are the ones who will hopefully confirm the value of the world, or rather the image of the world, I have played a part in creating. And that is what reality looks like, as seen through our rose-tinted glasses with lenses in the dioptres we have partly chosen ourselves. Partly, not completely. We do not, of course, completely create the culture. We are surrounded by off-the-peg costumes and conceptions. We try on that which seems to fit the frame of mind we find ourselves in, and in the neverending interplay between that which surrounds us and that which springs up inside of us we form that which we believe to be reality. This could hold for quite some time. But the complex and contradictory catches up with us in the end. The collisions could be soft or hard depending on the distance and speed. Sometimes it is a full frontal collision and we have to turn around and start again, which is never particularly easy. That which is especially difficult is the abandonment of the imprinted frame of reference we are all bearers of in our common culture, namely that which tells of the forces and powers beyond the control of mankind. Here are all the ancient texts, once printed on papyrus rolls and distributed for thousands of years, not least by churches, mosques and temples. Here is the mysticism; that which our modern science has still not MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
commandeered and which has still not been given any logical or rational explanation. Success for the religions, or religion cultures, is due, in all probability, to its advocates using the carrot-and-whip method, where basically all criticism is prohibited and where, in a variety of ways, it is pronounced, even to this day, that man is a divine creation and that all sermons are in principal beyond the realms of debate. German sociologist Norbert Elias (1897–1990) became known during the 1970s for his papers on the civilisation process. He maintained that the more differentiated and complex a society, the more
seemingly not willing to submit to the general order of things, irrespective of where said order emanated from and what it is actually saying. Ordnung muss sein! With the hard line nation state, citizens are held in a new form of discipline in which religions no longer have sufficient power. (Norbert Elias released his major work on the civilisation process in 1939.) Gradually, and not least after the fall of Nazi Germany, new meetings have been created and cultures have been changed. One could say that the degree of sophistication in cultures has been refined and developed. The armed forces and the Church still, of
“If we cannot even understand the world we are surrounded by we suffer inner chaos that could lead to depression and weariness.” problematic it is for individuals to keep control over their inner powers and desires. They could come to lack effective control mechanisms for handling all these inner powers, of which several could covert to outward aggression and violence. In remedying this extremely trying situation the following could happen: With the help of others a new culture is rapidly built up. The carrying beam of this culture is the notion that the only authority with the right to use physical violence is the nation state. It is alone in creating armed forces and police forces and has sole right to forcefully take action against all and sundry found waffling around the cultural periphery
course, have a firm grip on individuals in a great many countries, but in the more modern democracies it is just as important to promote the role of education. The school’s primary task is to convey knowledge (whose and which knowledge?) but also, in consultation with the parents (if possible), to strive to provide the kind of upbringing that is generally regarded as being part and parcel of a civilised society. They learn, for example, that cooperation based on sensitivity and humility is a virtue. Expressed in another way: it is no longer regarded as acceptable for a nation state to have the monopoly on suppression and the use of violent forces. All individuals must be
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trained in better channelling their aggressions and more impulsive forms of dissimilar, not least sexual, expressions. In other words: self-control please! But the art of self-control is not easy, as witnessed just about everywhere, not least on the city streets. Neither can self-control be imposed by the individual themselves without help from the surrounding culture.
“… as seen through our rose-tinted glasses with lenses in the dioptres we have partly chosen ourselves.”
And because the individual is under the constant influence of the powers that be and the groups they have chosen to join, or just allowed themselves to be vacuumed up in, the whole thing becomes a very fine balancing act. It could go either way. It depends on how the culture, this dynamic creation, is built up and how it is anchored in people’s minds and thought processes. Within a housing association, to take this modern, excellent example, it is quite easy to observe the cultural composition and any failings. When the association’s authority body (the committee and AGM) becomes weak and indiscernible, new wild shoots rapidly appear on the façade of self-control. Some members can take it upon themselves to act without any consideration whatsoever to common values or to other members’ wellbeing. When the association’s authority body becomes obtrusively strong in its disciplinary attitude it could lead to submission and caged passivity. The tightrope between the outer force and the inner strength of the civilisation process must be constantly maintained, which is best achieved by endless meetings. One of the more important items on the discussion agenda should then suitably be culture, the culture we are all a part of creating. What do we actually create and what are the consequences? ¶
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32 | RADAR
AN INTERESTING MOVE THAT WILL SHAKE UP the thinking of many other destinations we received a press release the
other day that really changed our way of thinking. Is this a paradigm shift we are watching or just another short step for the global meeting and event industry? The Dubai Convention Bureau (DCB) will have two representative offices in the largest cities in China – Beijing and Shanghai. This follows DCB’s strategic plan for MICE expansion to the east. The opening of the two offices in China and the appointment of a Dubai-based Congress Development Executive solely focusing on the Asia Pacific region, further enhances DCB’s efforts in the promotion of Dubai to the MICE market in China. “We are very excited about this market and will strive to bring more short-term, corporate-based MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
business opportunities to the stakeholders”, announced Hamad M Bin Mejren, Executive Director, Dubai Convention Bureau. “We are pleased for the opportunity to further represent Dubai on the MICE market in China. We appreciate the trust placed in us, and the team will work diligently and enthusiastically to secure many wins for Dubai”, said Brenda He. Mrs. He’s team in China currently represents the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. The United Arab Emirates became an Approved Destination Country in 2009, facilitating the free travel of Chinese citizens. Since 2000, Chinese outbound travel has increased by 22 per cent. Leisure travellers and MICE
groups currently represent up to 80 per cent of Chinese outbound tourism travel. The business sectors that are travelling outbound from China for meetings and incentives are in strong alignment with the primary business sectors of Dubai. These include financial services, insurance, communications, medical and automotive. The abundant variety of airlift access from China to Dubai and Dubai’s appeal to the emerging Chinese young middleclass is turning Dubai into a popular destination for Chinese travellers. We sent the release to Martin Sirk, CEO at ICCA. This is his reply: “A number of Chinese offices have been opened by Asian destinations (usually covering a combination of leisure and meetings sectors) and by PCO and Association Management companies (e.g. MCI and Kellen), but this is the first example I have heard of where a meetings destination outside of Asia has opened a representative office in China. The move says as much about the ambitions of Dubai as it does about the potential of outbound business from China. I’m sure that the biggest target sector is the outbound incentives business, building on Dubai’s popularity with upmarket Chinese leisure visitors and the related luxury PR profile that the emirate enjoys. As China continues to climb the value-chain in its manufacturing and services sectors, incentive travel is sure to be more widely employed. However, outbound corporate meetings will follow swiftly alongside this, and as Dubai increases the number of international associations it hosts, Chinese delegate numbers are going to grow too. All in all, an interesting move that is going to shake up the thinking of many other destinations.” ¶
Carefully craft the links to develop your community just as an artist would craft a beautiful object. Choose the tools best suited to your objectives. Mobilise our international experience across key industry sectors. Commit totally to our clients. Champion innovation, yet remain true to your strategy. These are the beliefs that have today made us one of the key players within the field of Association, Communications and Event Management. Together, let’s build unified and dynamic communities around your brands, companies and institutions.
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TEXT Tomas Dalström PHOTOS Sara Appelgren
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“our meetings cost somewhere in the region of €2 million a year, including all service charges. When we saw the total figure, rather than all the smaller items in various budgets, it was clear to us that a ten per cent cost-cutting would give enormous savings.” Else-Britt Lundgren is Executive Assistant Scandinavia and Office Manager Sweden at Lilly, a US-based pharmaceutical company with a global workforce of 39,000. In Sweden there is a workforce of 120 while Scandinavia – Sweden, Denmark and Finland – has 230. Else-Britt Lundgren is responsible for travel management and has chaired the Swedish part of European Management Assistant (EUMA) since 2008. Lilly’s Scandinavian market is made up of three small countries and the company has realised the benefits of collaboration. They have a joint organisation without a head office. The managers of the various departments work from their own countries. “From outside, our countries look very much alike and we find it easy to collaborate because we have similar views of gender equality, etcetera.” Present during the interview is Pernilla Andrén from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) one of the world’s leading business travel agencies and meeting organisers with operations in more than 150 countries. She is responsible for Meetings & Events in Sweden. Their Scandinavian market also includes Finland. CWT has Lilly as a business travel client, but not for meetings MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
and events. In Scandinavia Lilly collaborates with American Express. Pernilla Andrén says that meetings consolidation is a growing trend with the pharmaceutical industry, governments and municipalities at the forefront. In the wake of the financial crisis, the banking and finance sector have begun to monitor their meetings and events expenses. She also points out that the majority of companies are not aware of the total cost of their meetings and most lack any form of coordination. “We’re in the midst of a paradigmatic shift. We’re going from a relationship-based to a more business-based form of collaboration between customers and agencies. We’re going from temporary solutions where we call Charles around the corner or somebody we met at a meeting the previous week,
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“Our offering will improve when we get to know our customers better.”
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to fixed-term contracts with one or more suppliers.” Why is meetings consolidation making a breakthrough right now? Pernilla Andrén (pa): It’s the ketchup effect. We’ve discussed change for ten years but nothing has happened until the past two or three years. Else-Britt Lundgren (elb): That it’s happening now generally depends on us as purchasers seeing good results from the business travel side. Previously, product managers had control over their meetings budgets and we couldn’t see the overall picture. Being aware of it gives us a better basis for negotiation. pa: Companies spend one to four per cent of their revenues on meetings and events. The pharmaceutical industry is in the upper half because a large part of their marketing takes place through physical meetings. By coordinating their meetings, most companies can save 15 to 20 per cent of their meetings expenses. elb: At Lilly Scandinavia we previously employed people to order meetings. Some had a great deal to do, other much less. Some product managers managed their meetings themselves, which isn’t their job. They should be consulting with the customer over the meeting contents. In what way is meetings consolidation a trend? pa: Two years ago ten per cent of our volume was contracted. In 2009 it was 25 per cent, this year 35 per cent and for 2011 we estimate 40 per cent. It’s a trend we can see all over Europe. elb: The implementation of business travel worked because there was a clear policy. The fact that our management team has supported
our meetings consolidation policy has been very important. The process is more transparent now. What does that mean? pa: Traditionally, the meetings and events industry has worked with a hidden mark-up of between ten and 25 per cent. A contract makes the price picture transparent. The agency’s fee is based on an hourly fee or various forms of management fees. Contracts often lead to lower revenues for agencies in general, but this is compensated by receiving a higher acceptance level, which means we get paid for the greater part of the work we put in. We have 90 per cent acceptance from our contracted customers, but as low as 40 per cent from ad hoc customers. Meetings coordination will enable agencies to steer towards certain hotels, meetings venues, airlines, etc., therewith receiving a lower price for purchased services. Herein lies a large slice of the potential savings. Why has it taken ten years? pa: Because the purchasers have had poor control over their meetings expenses and it has not been prioritised by top management. But also due to it having been relationship-based; you work with the people you know. We must also be self-critical. The meetings industry has not pursued the issue. elb: At the beginning focus was on business travel where we succeeded with a clear travel policy. Seeing over the meetings expenses was the natural route to take after this. What is the difference between a business-based and relationshipbased process? elb: We’re on a completely new level. It’s more professional. The agency knows what we want and
everybody should be aware of it – and our policy. Previously we only spoke with Anna and if she was off sick then we sometimes had to wait until she returned. pa: I also think it is more businessbased, you don’t call Charles or Lisa but your agency. It is important that everybody understands the customer’s needs and meetings policy – you don’t suggest a go-cart to a customer with a strong environmental policy. For us on the agency side, the business-based process entails a different working procedure. A certain amount of tedium takes place with more reporting and statistics. It is therefore vital that we work consciously to keep creativity on the up. elb: Another difference is that we previously put a great deal of time into explaining the special rules governing the pharmaceutical industry’s meetings. With only one supplier we don’t need to spend time on this and our staff can work with other tasks. pa: Working with the pharmaceutical industry, government and municipalities quite often requires a lot more experience. There are a lot of rules to follow. Surely specialisation must be important even for those without a great deal of experience? elb: The people we employ to deal with these issues become professionals. They get better at what they do, compared to when they had 15 different things to do. They also stay in the forefront of things and create new and joint working procedures in Scandinavia. pa: Routine and experience are vital. We have customers who spend between two and ten million on large internal meetings. They let 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
OUR DERIVATIVES LOSS WAS 40 MILLION EUROS, BUT THE CREAMY MUSHROOM SOUP WAS A COMPLETE SUCCESS.
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MEETINGS CONSOLIDATION | 41
new in-house departments handle the organising every year. There are always new people working on it and they begin more or less from scratch every year. How did the process begin? elb: We use the Six Sigma project planner to identify and reduce the number of problems in our business processes and make savings at the same time. Our meetings purchases were a problem because we’re three countries engaging five suppliers. We decided to put together a meetings team of three people and to work with one supplier. At present, one is in the group in Denmark and two in Sweden. You
can contact who you wish. During this process it was important to get the administrative staff onside and not use top-down management. It was quicker than we’d imagined to implement the changes and carry through the procurement; a total of eight months in 2007 and 2008, and eight months in 2009. It’s important for it to take time to make sure we compare apples with apples. Previously there were both pears and bananas in the basket. What were the original goals? elb: Optimising resources. The meetings team does everything today; nobody else is allowed to do it. We have looked under every stone. When we hold smaller
internal meetings we must first decide whether to hold them over the phone, online or by video conference. If we decide to hold a physical meeting we should use our own premises as first choice. It’s not only cheaper but also a simple way of forming and maintaining relationships. We’ve also bought new video conferencing equipment. We were pondering over how to get everybody to use the equipment when the Icelandic ash cloud came to our rescue. Everybody said what a piece of luck, and we made a flying start.
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What kind of problems have emerged? elb: Those working in the meetings team got a three times larger customer base. They weren’t aware of how other countries worked or their laws and regulations. One important lesson that I’ve learned is that you can’t inform enough. pa: Going from relationship-based to more business-based relationships has not been all plain sailing. Those who were previously top drawer perhaps aren’t anymore because it requires other skills, for example, tougher negotiating with third party suppliers. It’s also been difficult at times for some people to get across that we have a price tag on what we do. There’s a fear that the customer won’t be willing to purchase. elb: One vital factor in our being able to implement change is that the change was towards business relationships. When everything hinges on a normal relationship it’s more difficult to succeed with changes. Other important prerequisites? elb: Technology has helped us. We have put together a communication platform where we inform of what is happening and where people can declare an interest. Since 2004, all Swedish delegates must be approved by their organiser, who must also pay 50 per cent of the registration fee in advance. It is not valid until the organiser has approved the preliminary registration. There is also other vital information concerning respective country. We’ve also begun webcast meetings that we broadcast from large congresses to those who are interested. pa: Technology is important to us MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
as well. We still have our various offices in the country with their various specialities. Previously we worked with different customers but now work with customer groups and segments. Being in different parts of the country is an advantage due to the large staff turnover in large cities. Is meetings consolidation a strategic management tool? elb: Definitely, but management must of course take part. pa: I agree. What results have you achieved? How quickly could you begin measuring them? pa: You have to have a customer for at least a year before you can see any definite results. We can see a higher acceptance level and increased volumes relating to our contracted customers. The challenge has been in looking over our processes in order to handle lower revenues when they occur. elb: We’ve earned around ten per cent by having a clear structure with one supplier and internal timesaving initiatives. What has improved with regard to return on involvement? elb: We give a clearer picture to the doctors in our companies. It’s important that the rules and our policy are clear for their sake. Information has perhaps not always been clear, thus forming a grey zone. With one partner it’s easier to communicate compared to when we had five suppliers. pa: Our offering will improve when we get to know our customers better. Nothing is more important for the customer than the perfect solution. What determines your choice of supplier? elb: They must be able to provide good references. Personal
chemistry is naturally vital as well. pa: All large travel agencies basically have the same offering. That which separates us is the businessbased relationship and how we deliver the overall concept to our customers. How far have we come in Sweden? pa: Lilly has come quite far, probably the furthest in Sweden, with regard to meetings consolidation. Last spring we chose to have them with us in a panel debate at a customer event, despite them not being one of our meetings customers due to the fact that they had come so far in coordinating their meetings purchasing. elb: Scandinavia is way ahead with regard to testing new technology but we could be better at communicating this. In the USA they weren’t aware that we had a meetings team when they began with it. We’re also streets ahead when it comes to technology. Four years ago we announced that our customers could register online. Nobody had come that far then and some countries have only begun now. What is required to take meetings consolidation to version 2.0? pa: Like Lilly. They’re already there; or very close. elb: Assess the total meetings expenses and put together a meetings team. Draw up a meetings strategy and meetings policy and determine a formal negotiating process. Choose a supplier and offer a contract. It is also important to offer simple online registration. And last but not least: evaluate the business on a regular basis. ¶
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“Seeing over the meetings expenses was the natural route to take after this.”
2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
Roger Martin PHOTO
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INTEGRATIVE THINKING | 45 SIDRUBBE | 45
BECOMING AN INTEGRATIVE THINKER The keys to success
Integrative thinkers share some common traits related to their stance, tools and experiences, which is good news for those of us who aspire to attain their level of decision-making prowess. over the past years, the Rotman School’s Integrative Thinking Seminar Series has hosted a variety of renowned CEOs and thought leaders – everyone from Jack Welch to Michael Dell to A G Lafley. My goal when we started the Series was to try to figure out how these highlysuccessful people think. I was looking for patterns: I wanted to know, ‘what was the thinking that led them to the doing?’ Was there
a common pattern to their mental models? It turns out that there is, and the fact that their thinking patterns can be defined is good news for all of us, as it means that we, too, can learn to become integrative thinkers. It all begins with mental models. Although we’re usually unaware of it, each of us uses models in our thinking. It’s how we make sense of the world. As MIT’s John Sterman explained early in the Series, we
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think that what we see is what really is; but in fact, what we ‘see’ is based on our mental models, and thus we suffer from ‘naïve realism’: our models become indistinguishable from reality, and what constitutes ‘reality’ differs from person to person. The result? Model clash – the most important challenge faced by modern managers.
THE FOUR STEPS OF DECISION MAKING After studying the thinkers featured in the Series to date, I recently revised my model for decision making, which still consists of four steps: 1) The first step is Salience – what do we choose to pay attention to, and what not? In this initial step, we decide what features are relevant to our decision. 2) The second step is Causality. How do we make sense of what we see? What sort of relations do we believe exist between the various pieces of the puzzle? 3) The third step is Architecture, during which an overall model is constructed, based on what we have arrived at in the first two steps. 4) The final step is Resolution: what is our decision based on our reasoning? Integrative thinkers approach each of these steps in a very specific way: they consider more features of the problem as salient to its resolution; they consider multi-directional and non-linear causality between the salient features; they are able to keep the ‘big picture’ in mind while they work on the individual parts of the problem; and they find creative resolutions to the tensions inherent MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
in the problem’s architecture. The interesting part is that everyone builds their understanding of the world around them in a similar manner, either implicitly or explicitly following steps one through four to construct their mental models. The result is ‘clashing realities’: those who don’t agree with our model are seen as either uninformed (‘stupid’) or ill-intentioned (‘evil’), which creates tension, conflict and impasse. There are two ways to deal with model clash. The first is to fear and avoid it – to basically deny its existence. This results in pursuing one’s own model as if others don’t exist, attempting to crush other models, or caving into the models of others to avoid the inherent conflict. The second, far superior approach
aim to be. However, we can’t get there without seriously contemplating the opposing models we are facing, and combining insights from them to form new models. As the speakers in the IT Series have shown us, there is never a situation where a better model cannot be built.
PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS Our journey in life is a search for answers to problems big and small. For each of us, the answers we come up with depend on the mental models we form based on our personal knowledge system, which is made up of three elements: your stance is your answer to, ‘who am I in the world, and what am I trying to accomplish?’ Next, with what tools and models
“… those who don’t agree with our model are seen as either uninformed or ill-intentioned, which creates tension, conflict and impasse. The pervasiveness of such clashing realities makes reacting to model clash the single most-important challenge facing managers today.” is to seek out and leverage model clash. Those who choose this option actually enjoy the tension that model clash entails. They say to themselves, ‘That is so cool: what did that person see that I didn’t see? How on earth did she get to that resolution?’ Scenario two is the source of the greatest insights and resolutions. It is where the highly-successful leaders reside, and it’s where we should all
do you organize your thinking and understand the world? And lastly, with what experiences do you build your repertoire of sensitivities and skills? The three aspects of our knowledge system are interdependent: our stance influences and guides which tools we use, which influences and guides the experiences we garner, which builds our repertoire of skills.
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Our experiences further influence the tools that we work on acquiring, and the tools we acquire alter and guide our stance – how we view ourselves. For example, if you see yourself as someone who would like to build computer equipment – i.e. your stance is that of a budding computer engineer – you are likely to attempt to acquire computer engineering skills by taking a degree in Computer Engineering. With such a stance and these tools in hand, you will likely gain some experience building computers. However, as you acquire these experiences, you may find that the business decisions that define your working context are made elsewhere, and you may decide that in order to be able to influence those decisions, you need to acquire more tools in business management. So you return to university to take an MBA, after which you alter your stance to see yourself as a ‘business-oriented engineer.’
THE KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS OF INTEGRATIVE THINKERS By studying some of the world’s most successful individuals, I have concluded that integrative thinkers have a different combination of stance, tools and experience than non-integrative thinkers. Their stance is different in six ways: Nature of their world: 1) They recognize that existing models do not equal reality; 2) They seek out model clash and leverage opposing models; 3) They believe that better models always exist that cannot be seen; Their role in it: 4) They believe that they are capable of finding a better model; 5) They are willing and enthusiastic
about wading into complexity; and 6) They give themselves the time to create; they aren’t rushed to find ‘the answer’ to a problem. I got to see two great examples of the productive stance in action recently at Design Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa. Billed as the world’s biggest design conference, it was indeed a massive affair, with more than 1,500 delegates, a separate conference room of young designers listening via closed-circuit TV, and a terrific array of presenters from around the world. The roster included graphic designers, product designers, and architects; a futurist and a cartoonist; an ‘artist, musician, and ideologue’ (that would be former Roxy Music keyboardist and u2 producer Brian Eno); and a couple of academics, including an MIT scientist and this lonely business school dean. The real hits of the conference, from my perspective, were also the two oldest speakers: Milton Glaser and Massimo Vignelli, both designers in their 70s who launched their careers in the 1950s, together representing more than a century of design insight. Both have contributed an impressive legacy of design icons to the world. Glaser’s ‘I ♥ New York’ logo is often referred to as “the most frequently imitated logo design in human history,” and his design for New York magazine became the model for city-based periodicals everywhere. The Washington Post, Paris Match, and dozens of other leading publications around the world owe their looks to him. Vignelli, meanwhile, created the iconic New York subway system signage and map, the timeless American Airlines logo, and the corporate identity (logos, packaging, etc.) for Bloomingdale’s and Benetton, to name a few.
Given the massive success of both designers, perhaps it’s not surprising that their presentations were so compelling. Yet they’re both well past normal retirement age, and shared the roster with numerous designers in the prime of their careers who could, and perhaps should, have been doing better work. Vignelli presented his work in five-year increments starting with 1955 to 1960 (a period in which I was born!), but his post-2000 work was, if anything, more impressive than any previous period. And Glaser, who provided for each delegate a copy of his new “We are all Africans” poster (a protest of international inaction to the situation in Darfur), is still swinging for the fences and connecting. From their talks, and from a long conversation with Vignelli, I came to believe that the key to both men’s success lay in their fundamental stances, which exhibited the six elements described earlier. 1. They recognize that existing models do not equal reality By not confusing what they presently see with reality, they don’t see the present ‘state of a thing’ as immutable. As Glaser firmly argued: “Everything we see, we actually construct – it is our image of the thing.” For Vignelli, the absence of something doesn’t mean it can’t exist – just that it hasn’t been designed yet. 2. They seek out model clash and leverage opposing models These two design masters lack any fear of the ambiguity that’s created by models or concepts that conflict with one another. Rather, they see the benefits of such conflict and ambiguity in spurring their creative juices. Glaser illustrated this using Da Vinci’s Last Supper, which can be seen simultaneously as an attempt 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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A MODEL OFMaking DECISION MAKING A Model of Decision
by the artist to portray betrayal…
THE PRACTICES INTEGRATIVEThinkers THINKERS FigureA1 ModelThe of Decision Practices Making ofOF Integrative Figure 1
What features do I see as important?
FigureThe 2 Prac
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How do I make sense of what I see?
Multi-directional and non-linear Multi-directional causality considered
and non-linear causality considered
What tasks will I do in what order?
Whole visualized while working on individual Whole parts visualized while working on individual parts
How will I know when I am done or not?
there – a model that better manages
Search for creative resolutions of tensions
Search for creative resolutions of tensions
5. They are willing and
Rather, they see prime the beneﬁts such conﬂict andand ambiguity Rather, in they numerous designers in the prime of their careers who could,numerous and designers in the of theirofcareers who could, or redemption. Which is it? “Both,” the inherent conflict and ambiguity enthusiastic about wading into spurring their creative juices. Glaser illustrated this using spurring perhaps should, have been doing better work. Vignelli presented perhaps should, have been doing better work. Vignelli presented Da Vinci ’s their argued Glaser, and to him the while remaining, in Vignelli’s words, complexity his work in ﬁve-year increments starting with 1955 to 1960 (a period his work in ﬁve-year increments starting with 1955 to 1960 (a period Last Supper, which can be seen simultaneously as an attempt by Last the Supper, w harnessing of that ambiguity is the “visually powerful, intellectually Both Vignelli and Glaser show in which I was born!), but his post-2000 work was, if anything, in which I was born!), but his post-2000 work was, if anything, artist to portray betrayal…or redemption. Which is artist to port it? “Both,” key to the power of this masterpiece. elegant, and above all, timeless.” a complete lack of concern more impressive than any previous period. And Glaser, who provided more impressive than any previous period. And Glaser, who provided argued Glaser, and to him the harnessing of that ambiguity is argued the Glase “Ambiguity drives the brain into about wading into the necessary for each delegate a copy of hisVignelli new “We are all Africans” poster for each (a that delegate aare copy of his new “We are all Africans” poster (a the key keythey to the power of this masterpiece. “Ambiguity drives brain to the po action,” he noted. spoke 4. They believe complexities that one must grapple of the value and importance capableis ofstill finding a better model before coming to an elegant protest of international inaction to the of situation in Darfur), protest of into international inaction to the situation inthe Darfur), is still action,” he noted.with Vignelli spoke of value and importance into action,” bothconnecting. the singularity of When they look atfor our world – one design resolution. Glaser flatly states of considerin swinging forconsidering the fences and swinging fences and connecting. of the considering both the singularity of identity and multiplicity of identity diversity, in which models ambiguity is hard work,” but at the From their talks,and andmultiplicity from a longofconversation with Vignelli, From I clash, their talks,even andthough from a that long“design conversation with Vignelli, I diversity, they’re directly in conﬂict. diversity, even eventhat though they’re directly reigns better modelsthat waitthe to be same time, he shows nothing but joy came to believe the key to both men’sinsuccess lay in theirand fundacame to believe key to both men’s success lay in their fundaconflict. constructed – they see a central role for it. Vignelli looks forward to the mental stances, which exhibited the six elements described earlier. mental stances, which exhibited the sixmodels elements described 3. They believe that better always existearlier. that 3. They believ
for themselves in it. They are the ones creative impetus of a tricky design cannot be seen cannot be se 3. They believe that better models who can, should, and in fact will find a challenge: “You can only design when 1.They recognize that existing models do not equal reality 1.They recognize Neither that is fooled existing intomodels believing do not thatequal nothing reality better existsNeither than is fo always exist that cannot be seen design solution that meets their high you need something.” what they can see today. Both repeatedly afﬁrmed that they believe what they can By not confusing what they presently see with reality, they By don’t not confusing what they presently see with reality, they don’t Neither is fooled into believing that standards. As Vignelli stated matterthat there’s always a better design out there – a model that better that there’s a see the present ‘state of a thing’ as immutable. As Glaser ﬁrmly see the present ‘state of a thing’ as immutable. As Glaser ﬁrmly nothing better exists than what of-factly: “If you can’t find it: design 6. They give themselves the time manages the inherent conﬂict and ambiguity while remaining, manages in the argued: “Everything we see, we actually construct – it is our image argued: “Everything we see, we actually construct – it is our image they can see today. Both repeatedly it!” This was not egotistical bragging, to create Vignelli’s words, “visually powerful, intellectually elegant,Vignelli’s and wo of the thing.” For Vignelli, thebelieve absence of something but doesn’t mean of athe thing.” For Vignelli, absence ofthey something affirmed that they that rather solemn statement of the Finally, refuse todoesn’t rush tomean choose above all,that timeless.” above all, tim it can’t existthere’s – just that it hasn’t been designed it can’t exist just it hasn’t been designed always a better design out yet. what he sees as his job–in life. one side or the yet. other of the conflict
2. They seekMEETINGS out model clash and leverage 2. They seek 4. They out model believe clash thatand they leverage are capable opposing of ﬁnding models a better model 4. They believ INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010 opposing models
These two design masters lack any fear of the ambiguity that’s These twoWhen designthey masters look at lack ourany world fear– of onethe in which ambiguity models that’s clash, ambiWhen they lo created by models or concepts that conﬂict with one another. created byguity models reigns or and concepts better that models conﬂict wait towith be constructed one another. – theyguity see a reigns a
INTEGRATIVE THINKING | 49
inherent in their task, or to race through the difficulties without giving themselves a chance to develop new and better insights. Rather, they are comfortable taking the time necessary to come up with a great design solution. Glaser implores us to “leave things fuzzy” at the beginning, and argues that one problem with the use of computers in design is that “computers make closure happen too soon.” In stark contrast to integrative thinkers like Glaser and Vignelli, conventional thinkers exhibit the following six alternative aspects of stance: Nature of their world: 1) They believe that they see and understand the true reality of a given situation; 2) Views that oppose theirs are ‘not reality,’ and are therefore wrong; 3) They believe that no better model could exist, because they are looking at ‘reality’; Their role in it: 4) They believe that where opposing views exist, one must be crushed; 5) They believe they must simplify and specialize to avoid unnecessary complexity; and 6) They believe that they must always act quickly and decisively.
A POSITIVE – OR NEGATIVE – SPIRAL It is quite easy to see how the six elements of stance personified by Glaser and Vignelli lead to a positive spiral of tool acquisition and experience deepening. A person with such a stance naturally develops tools for handling ambiguity, complexity and conflicting models, and is inclined to garner experiences that deepen skill and sensitivity. These
experiences reinforce and deepen the productive view of seeing the world as full of ambiguous and conflicting models that can be leveraged for insights that can then be used to create wonderful new designs. In turn, the stance encourages the development of still-better tools and the acquisition of deeper experiences. That’s why the Glasers and Vignellis of the world seem to keep getting better and better instead of fading away. However, for anyone with the conventional unproductive stance, the acquisition of tools for handling ambiguity and complexity would be seen as a colossal waste of time. Instead, high value tools would be those for crushing opposing models, simplifying away complexity, making quick decisions and then sticking to them. The first step in achieving the integrative thinker’s stance is to imagine the possibility that the six dimensions listed above are true. But this stance can only be maintained if you have the tools and experiences to back it up. There are three key tools used by integrative thinkers: 1. Generative Reasoning rather than solely Declarative Reasoning The most common form of reasoning in business is ‘declarative reasoning,’ which declares whether a proposition is true or false. The tools for declarative reasoning are deductive logic (the logic of ‘what must be’) and inductive logic (the logic of ‘what
is operative’). Integrative thinkers go beyond declarative reasoning to embrace abductive logic – the logic of ‘what might be’ – in order to generate creative new solutions, which is why I call the combination of deductive, inductive and abductive logic generative reasoning. Vignelli and Glaser show clear evidence of using the Generative Reasoning tool. Vignelli in particular warned against using only inductive logic: in his view, utilizing quantitative market research, an inductive logic tool, had led him almost exclusively to big design mistakes. Instead, he urged going beyond market research to imagine better design solutions. 2. Causal Modeling rather than Conventional Wisdom Rather than simply employing the tool of conventional wisdom – ‘based on what I’ve seen before, this is how x relates to y’ – integrative thinkers use the more sophisticated tool of causal modeling. They ask: ‘Under what conditions does x cause y? What is the driving force fuelling this causal relationship? And what are the mechanisms underlying it?’ Their goal is to build more sophisticated and creative solutions with more robust model-building. Glaser in particular stressed the importance in his work of patiently building understanding of a situation and not quickly coming to the conclusion that he was right
“Integrative thinkers go beyond declarative reasoning to embrace abductive logic – the logic of ‘what might be’ – in order to generate creative new solutions.” 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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f conventional wisdom – Becoming an Integrative Thinker Figure 3 x relates to y’ – integrative and had figured out all the causal of causal modeling. They relationships. His approach to the BECOMING AN INTEGRATIVE THINKER e y? What is the driving Causal Modeling tool related nicely what are the mechanisms to his stance of giving himself time to ophisticated and creative work through the ‘fuzzy’ situations ng. he faces. the stance: portance in his work of 1) Existing models ≠ reality 2) Leverage opposing models Assertive Inquiry rather than tuation and not3.quickly STANCE reliance 3) Better models exist ht and had ﬁgured out allon Advocacy Thosetool who rely on advocacy assume, 4) I can find a better model the Causal Modeling know best; I must get others 5) I wade into complexity elf time to work‘Ithrough
pplied to the task in new
to agree with me so we can move 6) I give myself time to create TOOLS forward; the only reasons others don’t agree is that they are uninformed or the tools: on Advocacy ill-intentioned.’ Hence they simply 1) Generative Reasoning ow best; I must get others advocate their existing point of view, 2) Causal Modeling ; the only reasons others to ensure it prevails, attempting 3) Assertive Inquiry EXPERIENCES r ill-intentioned.’ Hence The tool of Assertive unchanged. t of view, attempting Inquiryto holds that, ‘I have a view experiences: f Assertive Inquiry holds worth hearing, but I may be missing 1) Deepening Mastery something, so I will enquire into the 2) Nurturing Originality ay be missing something, views of others, seek to understand Figure 3. seek to understand them, and consider alternatives.’ This quiry opens up athem, dialogue type of inquiry opens up a dialogue he integrative thinker to between the opposing models, in due course becomes a cul-deIN CLOSING ’ and what parts of it are enabling the integrative thinker to sac. Originality without mastery model. see what is good about ‘the other is shallow, if not flaky. Mastery, Is it easy to become an integrative ing and impressive with model,’ and what parts of it are worth however, provides the foundation thinker? No, but it is doable. My ways. Not satisﬁed with hisfor mastery of the existing he dove advice is to take baby steps by starting conference, they had the to produce integrating a superior great originality, whiledesign, originality enthusiastically into the task of exploring a new design.on top of te their points of view as model. establishes new foundations a positive reinforcing spiral and track records of success. Both Vignelli and Glaser were which greater mastery can be built. letting it accelerate to your benefit. nd spoke at length about In closingwith respect striking and impressive More than anything, Vignelli Experiment by adopting some of the rned from others. Is itspeakers easy to become thinker? No, but is doable. to this tool. Of all at the an integrative and Glaser illustrated the it power of My six stances described here. Then, had the combine mastery spiral try out one of the three tools I’ve wledge system conference, puzzle is they advice is togreatest take baby stepsexperiences by startingthat a positive reinforcing moral authority to simply originality. the two of outlined. And seek out one or two and lettingadvocate it accelerate toand your beneﬁt. Between Experiment by adopting hinkers is to accumulate their points of view them, they haveThen, accumulated someasof‘correct’ the six based stances described here. try out over one aof the experiences that both deepen your nd nurture their originality; experience track century professional threeand tools I’verecords outlined. And seekof out one or twoexperiences. experiences that mastery and nurture your originality. r the other, but on nottheir both. of success. Instead, they were highly Each has established mastery Over time – not overnight, but both deepen your mastery and nurture your originality.in a ote, and in due course contemplative and spoke at length number of domains. However, each slowly – your thinking will improve. Over time – not overnight, but slowly – your thinking will mastery is shallow, if not about their mistakes, and the ways has also managed to combine that And as you improve, you will find improve. And as you improve, you will ﬁnd the spiral will gain a ation for great originality, they had learned from others. with persistent originality. Vignelli the spiral will gain a momentum of momentum of its own. Such isparticularly the journeyinteresting – and destination ations on top of The which final piece of the personal was on this – that its own. Such is the journey – and is Integrative knowledge system puzzle is Thinking. point as he showed a chair that he destination – that is Integrative ser illustrated the power experiences. The key for integrative reprised 20 years later when he Thinking. ¶ originality. Between theis to accumulate experiences thinkers discovered materials and techniques a century of professional that both deepen their mastery and that could be applied to the task ROGER MARTIN is dean and professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School and their originality; conventional new Notofsatisfied his y in a number ofnurture domains. Roger Martin isin dean andways. professor Strategic with Management the Rotman School and chair ofexisting Ontario’s Task Force chair of Ontario’s Task Force on Competitiveexperiences attend to one or at the mastery of the design, heon bine that with persistent Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress. Hisof second ness, Productivity and Economic Progress. other, dove enthusiastically into the task esting on this point asbut he not both. Mastery without Mind: How Succesful Leaders Win Through originality becomes rote, andbook, The Opposable exploring a new design. later when he discovered Integrative Thinking, will be published by Harvard Business School Press in December.
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
Rotman Magazine Fall 2007 / 9
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SHARMA | 53
In a survey of 22,000 business people ranking top leadership gurus, Robin Sharma was #2, with Jack Welch. Sharma’s books have sold millions of copies in over 60 countries. His new book is ”The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life” (Simon & Schuster). Robin Sharma’s blog is at robinsharma.com.
LEADERSHIIP 2.0 i have summarized the 73 best
ideas/insights/lessons I’ve learned for winning in business and life below. I hope they help you. And I hope you’ll share them with others who will benefit from them. Again, thanks for supporting my mission to help people in organizations around the world Lead Without a Title. I’m grateful. 1. You can really Lead Without a Title. 2. Knowing what to do and not doing it is the same as not knowing what to do. 3. Give away what you most wish to receive. 4. The antidote to stagnation is innovation. 5. The conversations you are most resisting are the conversations you most need to be having. 6. Leadership is no longer about position – but passion. It’s no longer about image but impact. This is Leadership 2.0. 7. The bigger the dream, the more important to the team. 8. Visionaries see the ”impossible” as the inevitable.
9. All great thinkers are initially ridiculed – and eventually revered. 10. The more you worry about being applauded by others and making money, the less you’ll focus on doing the great work that will generate applause. And make you money. 11. To double your net worth, double your self-worth. Because you will never exceed the height of your self-image. 12. The more messes you allow into your life, the more messes will become a normal (and acceptable) part of your life. 13. The secret to genius is not genetics but daily practice married with relentless perseverance. 14. The best leaders lift people up versus tear people down. 15. The most precious resource for businesspeople is not their time. It’s their energy. Manage it well. 16. The fears you run from run to you. 17. The most dangerous place is in your safety zone.
18. The more you go to your limits, the more your limits will expand. 19. Every moment in front of a customer is a gorgeous opportunity to live your values. 20. Be so good at what you do that no one else in the world can do what you do. 21. You’ll never go wrong in doing what is right. 22. It generally takes about 10 years to become an overnight sensation. 23. Never leave the site of a strong idea without doing something to execute around it. 24. A strong foundation at home sets you up for a strong foundation at work. 25. Never miss a moment to encourage someone you work with. 26. Saying ”I’ll try” really means ”I’m not really committed.” 27. The secret of passion is purpose. 28. Do a few things at mastery versus many things at mediocrity. 29. To have the rewards that very few have, do the things that very few people are willing to do. 30. Go where no one’s gone and leave a trail of excellence behind you. 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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31. Who you are becoming is more important than what you are accumulating. 32. Accept your teammates for what they are and inspire them to become all they can be. 33. To triple the growth of your organization, triple the growth of your people. 34. The best leaders are the most dedicated learners. Read great books daily. Investing in your self-development is the best investment you will ever make. 35. Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business. 36. Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle and best at the end. 37. Measure your success by your inner scorecard versus an outer one. 38. Understand the acute difference between the cost of something and the value of something. 39. Nothing fails like success. Because when you are at the top, it’s so easy to stop doing the very things that brought you to the top. 40. The best leaders blend courage with compassion. 41. The less you are like others, the less others will like you. 42. You’ll never go wrong in doing what’s right. 43. Excellence in one area is the beginning of excellence in every area. 44. The real reward for doing your best work is not the money you make but the leader you become. 45. Passion + production = performance. 46. The value of getting to your goals lives not in reaching the goal but what the talents/strengths/ capabilities the journey reveals to you. 47. Stand for something. Or else you’ll fall for anything. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
48. Say ”thank you” when you’re grateful and ”sorry” when you’re wrong. 49. Make the work you are doing today better than the work you did yesterday. 50. Small daily – seemingly insignificant – improvements and innovations lead to staggering achievements over time. 51. Peak performers replace depletion with inspiration on a daily basis. 52. Take care of your relationships and the sales/money will take care of itself. 53. You can’t be great if you don’t feel great. Make exceptional health your #1 priority. 54. Doing the difficult things that you’ve never done awakens the talents you never knew you had. 55. As we each express our natural genius, we all elevate our world. 56. Your daily schedule reflects your deepest values. 57. People do business with people who make them feel special. 58. All things being equal, the primary competitive advantage of your business will be your ability to grow Leaders Without Titles faster than your industry peers. 59. Treat people well on your way up and they’ll treat you well on your way down. 60. Success lies in a masterful consistency around a few fundamentals. It really is simple. Not easy. But simple. 61. The business (and person) who tries to be everything to everyone ends up being nothing to anyone. 62. One of the primary tactics for enduring winning is daily learning. 63. To have everything you want, help as many people as you can possibly find get everything they want.
64. Understand that a problem is only a problem if you choose to view it as a problem (vs. an opportunity). 65. Clarity precedes mastery. Craft clear and precise plans/goals/ deliverables. And then block out all else. 66. The best in business spend far more time on learning than in leisure. 67. Lucky is where skill meets persistence. 68. The best Leaders Without a Title use their heads and listen to their hearts. 69. The things that are hardest to do are often the things that are the best to do. 70. Every single person in the world could be a genius at something, if they practiced it daily for at least ten years (as confirmed by the research of Anders Ericsson and others). 71. Daily exercise is an insurance policy against future illness. The best Leaders Without Titles are the fittest. 72. Education is the beginning of transformation. Dedicate yourself to daily learning via books/ audios/seminars and coaching. 73. The quickest way to grow the sales of your business is to grow your people. ¶
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BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE | 57
Rod Cameron is Director of Programming and International Development for AIPC, the pre-eminent international association of convention centres, with a mission of encouraging, supporting and recognising excellence in centre management.
CONVENTION CENTRES – Where’s the Real Value? for most of its existence,
the meetings industry has been something of an orphan, falling between the various sectors that make up more recognised industries and as often as not adopted by some other sector that has something to gain by association. Typically, this has been the tourism industry, but in this regard it only really shares a need for accommodation and other visitor services, which is not that much different from any other business activity. But it does, in fact, have another much more critical role, and it is ironic that at a time when the industry needs all the recognition and support it can get, this role has been largely overlooked both by the industry itself as well as by governments who need to understand how centres impact what is usually their top policy concern. This is the key part played by meetings, conventions and exhibitions in economic development, a part that has been regularly ignored in favour of their much less significant role as a tourism product. The fact is that conventions and exhibitions are all about
economic development and only incidentally about tourism. They take place in order to promote things like professional and business development, academic and research exchange, technical and medical advancement and cultural evolution and not simply to fill hotel rooms. Yet we continue to gauge our success – and the value of the industry – on measures that trivialise the real economic benefits a centre generates for the community. That this is misunderstood by both government and much of the industry itself is understandable, given the traditional tendency of the tourism industry to perpetuate the notion and the fact that the two are in some areas lumped together administratively for the sake of convenience. However, it has compromised the ability of convention centres to deliver on one of the most important benefits that meetings and conventions generate, that of shaping and advancing a region’s economic development strategies. So how do meetings, conventions and exhibitions address overall economic development goals? It is a long list, including areas such as:
Attracting international events that relate directly to areas of government economic priorities Creating forums for interactions between global investors and local businesses in a variety of areas Drawing business and professional visitors, creating destination exposure among a more mobile, affluent and decision-making group that would not otherwise be likely to visit Attracting top professionals in any given field that delivers global expertise into the host community where it is available in order to enhance local professional development and expertise Creating extensive opportunities for the exposure of local business, investment, research, and cultural products to a global audience Advancing international cooperation and understanding by creating forums for high level exchanges and helping build relationships through 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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direct, personal contact amongst participants This is not to negate the value that a centre has in generating benefits for the tourism sector but to underline the fact that the discussion shouldn’t end there. If it does, the result will be an under appreciation and underutilization of the broader objectives to be served. This is important because like any area of government investment, convention centres need to be assessed on the basis of what they return to the taxpayer investor and this can hardly be done effectively if a major area of significance is simply left out of the equation. The reason why this broader role been largely ignored is because it is not one that lends itself to direct measurement. There has been a tendency to measure benefits on the
areas of the economy almost certainly outweigh the more tangible spending benefits. In undervaluing such a contribution there is an unfortunate tendency to discount it in favour of more readily calculated measures such as direct spending. Why is this a problem? Firstly, because it results in an underutilization of the potential a convention centre has for performing a much greater service. A convention centre, and the events it hosts, can and should be a primary instrument of economic development for the government owner because with the proper encouragement, it can selectively pursue the kinds of events that best correspond to the owner’s policy objectives. This is almost never done effectively, simply because few owners see a centre in this light. Secondly, it raises the question as to how a centre should be marketed,
“How do meetings, conventions and exhibitions address overall economic development goals?” basis of the immediate economic impacts that arise from delegate and exhibitor spending simply because this is the easiest to calculate. So by definition, much of the direct evaluation of a centre’s effectiveness focuses on what they contribute to the tourism / hospitality sector – often simply the number of hotel room nights generated – ignoring the far greater value generated in overall economic development. However, the fact that something is easy to measure does not necessarily mean it is the most valuable component, and the role that meetings, conventions and exhibitions play in promoting other MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
and who should be doing it. The most successful marketing of a centre (and thus the greatest overall return to the owner) will be achieved with a dedicated effort that fully recognises and prioritises the unique demands of the market as well as the broader opportunities associated with economic and business development. One concern in this regard is whether the marketing of a convention centre really has anything to do with that of leisure tourism, which is a combination that sometimes comes about due to the way in which destination marketing is handled. Consider that:
Conventions and exhibitions are a business-to-business sell, not the kind of mass market sell applied to the leisure side. Centres seldom, if ever, deal directly with the end user (the delegates) and their marketing must instead be based on what appeals to a meeting organiser whose priorities are typically very different from those of a leisure traveller. A “leisure” image may not be what many planners are looking for as they make their site decision. We need to appeal to a market that increasingly understands the need for meetings to be seen as serious business, linked into academic, business and professional objectives and institutions, and as tourism messages are inevitably about leisure, they can sometimes actually provoke a negative reaction in this regard. Decision makers, decision factors and business processes are all fundamentally different in the meetings market from those of the leisure travel sector, and the selling process needs to be adjusted accordingly. Quite simply, this means that the job of selling a centre – and of generating the full range of benefits it can and should be generating in the overall economy – needs to take a specialised approach, and one that is based on an appreciation of the full range of objectives to be served. In most places, the economic development role will be one of the biggest priorities in the mix. This is not to deny that there is a major destination component in the convention sell, but rather to make the point that it does not end there. Leisure attributes are only
BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE | 59
one part of what is an increasingly complex combination of factors that go into the site selection decision, and all must be addressed for a successful outcome. In any case, the role of centres as instruments of economic development should not be seen as substituting one set of priorities for another but rather a means of expanding the definition of how a centre generates value for the community. Such an objective should be supported by all industry sectors, as everyone will benefit from the kind of solid investment that a wider appreciation of those benefits
can create. We will need every economic justification we can get to meet the challenges of the future, and to do this we need to seize on every available argument to expand the perception of the importance centres have in addressing our economic and community interests. As long as centres exist, and remain competitive, they will continue to benefit the tourism sector by filling hotels and restaurants, supporting the creation of new hotel capacity and creating greater destination exposure. However, they cannot do this – particularly in
today’s highly competitive market – without ongoing investment, usually by government. Anything that can further justify this investment will benefit everyone, and that is why it is time for us all to be embracing – and promoting – a better understanding of the broader role centres play in overall economic development. Whether we like it or not, most governments place a much higher priority on economic development than they do on tourism, and as an industry it is time we took better advantage of the important story we have to tell in this regard. ¶
*) A BRAIN CHECK MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
Tomas Dalström PHOTO
2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
A BRAIN CHECK | 63
Fredrik Ullén is Professor
of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and an international concert pianist. His performances of contemporary music and classical-romantic repertoires have met with great acclaim from critics. The New York Times described his solo debut in New York 2001, with Ligeti’s étude, as spectacular. He has recorded eight CD albums, won several awards and has been a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music since 2007. Fredrik Ullén heads a group of researchers studying learning,
feel that life is meaningful. It has also been proved that flow is connected to better quality in the things we do. Chess players in flow play better. If we’re writing a text then that becomes better. One no doubt plays better music as well, but I’ve not seen any study to confirm that. Flow is important for the person and the performance.” When I’m so fulfilled that I forget time and space, the text improves and I find more creative solutions. “Yes, that’s the way it works. Flow is completely merged with the task. When I’m playing and am in flow, I’m
the elements, I only create support. The critic come afterwards and says I shouldn’t have said it in that way and that I wasn’t sufficiently elaborate. That’s okay, but not on stage because I then become thought-controlled and begin to speculate.” In the book Flow your co-writer Mihály Csíkszentmihályi says that it is important that we try to take control over our consciousness in order to achieve flow. Is Tord Pååg ’s way of thinking an expression of flow? “I think it tallies quite well with the dimension that Mihály calls self-
creativity and flow, the state of concentration and elation that people enter when they carry out stimulating tasks. How the brain handles music is another large research field. He collaborates with the founder of the flow theory, world-renowned Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Why do so many people talk about flow? “Most have experienced flow and want to repeat the experience. It’s something valuable that you never forget. It’s the opposite to being bored or overstressed. According to research, people who experience a lot of flow have a higher life quality and
so engrossed in the task that I find that things just fall into place. You stop critically monitoring yourself as well.” In a previous number of Meetings International, Tord Pååg, who teaches musicians and lectures on stage presence, said that he decides that everybody is positive when he’s standing on stage: “If somebody gets up and leaves, it’s just to accept it and be grateful. I can shuffle my papers. If I start to reproach myself then I’m on a slippery slope, my inner critics have no place on stage. As long as I’m standing there then I’m exposed to
assuredness. It’s very much about critical self-assuredness: I’m standing here doing this and how’s it going exactly? An all too keen level is never good, on stage or otherwise. When I’m lecturing and begin listening to myself I become quite nervous. This is not good. If as a pianist you begin thinking about how you are doing things instead of concentrating on the music, this is when you fall into decline. Why is that? “If you are well-prepared then you have practiced and automatised the details. Research shows that if you consciously focus on that then the 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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result is inferior. Tennis players who focus on their movements never hit a good return in a crucial situation. We people have a certain amount of attentiveness and it’s all about using it in the right way. I can only relate to the music profession. If you put a lot of attentiveness into the music it’s better than putting it into how it’s going, how it will be in a few minutes or what people think.” In his book The User Illusion, Tor Nørretranders writes about a football match between England and Denmark at Wembley. Dane Michael Laudrup suddenly finds himself all alone in the English half. The goalkeeper rushes out and Laudrup sidesteps him elegantly. A gaping net but he shot wide. Why? After the match Laudrap said that he had too much time to think about what to do. “This is not primarily about flow, but if you’ve drummed something in for a long time then it becomes automatic and effective. If you begin to think, that is to say try to control the consciousness, things just get worse. The brain doesn’t have that capacity.” Do you become better at carrying out your tasks if you have flow? “Flow is strongly connected to motivation. Part of the definition says that flow is a state of exuberance, very pleasant and positive. If you have flow you want to do it more and more. This makes it sounds like we have fun all the time. But we should bear in mind that if we have flow then we are doing something that presents a challenge and which demands focus. When I’m lecturing on this I usually emphasise that discipline is a prerequisite for flow. It requires work and doesn’t come free.” Is getting into a rut the opposite to flow? “If the challenge is too small it MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
becomes boring. On the other hand, overstimulation leads to becoming overstressed.” Could you give some personal examples of flow as a concert pianist and from the research? What has it entailed for your performance and wellbeing? “In music it is usually fleeting moments during a concert or a recording when things really click in that way. For me it’s never an entire concert. Because I feel one with the music, I can feel that I do the music justice in some way and that pleases me afterwards. In the research I experience it most when writing reports and analysing data. And sometimes when I’m programming in order to analyse data. It’s a strong feeling of purposefulness, and that’s pleasurable. According to Mihály Csíkszentmihályi it’s connected to doing something purposeful and challenging, and I agree.” How does your partnership function? “We have collaborated around flow and conducted the first studies. We’re
fascinated by the brain, naturally, but we began looking at general physiology like breathing and the heart. As flow research has thus far only been based on questionnaires, you find that as a researcher you would rather have findings that are measurable. Our collaboration will soon be gathering momentum. We’re in the process of compiling twin data on flow experiences and will be looking at heredity, and the fact that people’s experience of flow differs. We want to understand more of how it relates to personality and other traits. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has also been engaged in our studies into creativity.” Is it your interest in music that has led to your interest in flow? “Yes, it has probably contributed a great deal. We in the research team are also interested in creativity and expertise, such as how do you become exceptionally good at something? It’s all about the training effect, how you train for years. Flow therefore comes in at several levels.”
The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in Gothenburg – venue of opportunities
The most effective meeting place in Scandinavia The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is the most effective venue in Scandinavia for developing business, relations, know-how, visions and ideas. We host some 30 exhibitions and hundreds of conference and congress events every year. When people meet in perfect surroundings, something new is born. The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is about creating the best possible opportunities for just such meetings. With eight modern exhibition halls and 50 flexible, well-equipped conference rooms including a magnificent congress hall, we provide stimulating environment for every imaginable gathering – from small group meetings to a large world congress. Together with trendsetting Hotel Gothia Towers, we
offer world-class accommodation that flirts madly with all friends of great design. Scandinavia’s largest and Gothenburg’s tallest hotel has 704 stylish rooms and suites. Plus: seven very tasteful restaurants and three popular bars. The location is extremely central. The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre is situated in the heart of the city’s intensive event area. Close to Gothenburg’s highly acclaimed amusement, cultural, entertainment and sporting facilities such as Liseberg Amusement Park, Scandinavium Indoor Arena, Universeum Science Discovery Centre and World Cultural Museum. We welcome you. Together, we will create an unforgettable meeting experience.
SE-412 94 Göteborg, Sweden. Tel: +46 31 708 80 00. Fax: +46 31 16 03 30 Visiting address: Mässans Gata/Korsvägen. www.svenskamassan.se E-mail: email@example.com
66 | A BRAIN CHECK
Is flow a prerequisite for becoming creative or an expert? “No, but a certain measure of expertise could possibly be a prerequisite for flow. Flow does not arise during activities that are simple and trivial. The book Flow gives an example of a man working at a production line. His job is to carry out a number of tasks on a product passing by and it must not exceed 43 seconds on average in one day. He sees a challenge in this and is always looking for new ways of making it even more rational. His record after five years is an average of 28 seconds. ”The point is that optimisation becomes a more important task than his actual job.” Quite often you see people talking on their mobiles who are so absorbed in their discussion that they don’t realise that other people can hear what they’re saying. Is that flow? “People sometimes expand on the term flow to also include everything that involves being focused. Are you in flow when watching TV or a film that you’re totally absorbed in? I wouldn’t be prepared to call it flow off-hand. There’s no challenge and there’s no apparent connection. The original definition of flow is that one should be concentrated during active tasks. Some of these components could be included: it’s pleasurable, time flew by and you absorbed yourself in it. This balance does not exist between a challenge and proficiency.” Why do you think flow has been labelled as woolly by certain groups? “I don’t regard flow as being in the least woolly, it’s a true phenomenon and our studies have shown us that it has certain physiological antecedents. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
One explanation could be that flow per definition is a subjective experience, because that’s the way it is. Flow is the experience of flow. Experiences are more difficult to study than phenomena we can measure directly, like throwing a ball or whatever. But they are not less real for that.” How does one make one’s life more “flowing ”? “The starting point is the balance between challenge and ability. That is the gateway to flow. One should therefore ensure, as far as possible, to have tasks that are challenging. But this is easier said than done because there are tasks that don’t create flow. I have no miracle trick, but you have to be aware of what creates flow in yourself and let that have a place in your daily life. If you have really boring tasks you could perhaps make them more interesting, that is to say more challenging and stimulating.” This is where both employer and employee have a role to play? “Definitely. Having the chance to grow with your proficiencies is an absolute must in my opinion.” Do all people experience flow? “We’re looking at that now. With the help of questionnaires we check how many people have flow-like experience, at work and in their spare time. There is a spread and some report more than others. We try to look at how it’s connected to personality. In personality psychology they talk of several large personality traits. The most obvious right now are two things. Those belonging to the conscientious group are favoured. They’re responsible, trustworthy, diligent and the opposite to the let-go attitude and unreliability. It shows that if you work methodically, calmly and disciplined you have a greater chance of achieving flow.
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“Experiences are more difficult to study than phenomena we can measure directly, like throwing a ball or whatever. But they are not less real for that.”
That which is known as neuroticism is not good for flow. Neuroticism means having a tendency to worry, be anxious and troubled. You think negative thoughts and find it difficult to handle them, they keep returning. People high on this list have less flow in their lives. There is no difference when it comes to IQ. You find people on all parts of the IQ ladder who experience flow. The reason we became interested in this is that the ability to retain attentiveness during a difficult task is linked to the IQ. But with regard to flow, for tasks that you are an expert in there no difference whatsoever.” Are there any differences between gender and age? “I cannot answer that at the present time. I’ll know more in a few months.” You are also a popular lecturer and speaker. Can you consciously create flow for your own part when standing in front of a group of people? “My only trick, whether speaking or playing, is concentrating on the task at hand. Consciously turning attention to what I’m doing. That is to say, not think too much about the situation, or the audience for that matter, even if they do interplay in some way. Then of course such obvious things like being prepared, being there in good time and not getting stressed. If you create good conditions then the flow will come.” Could you give a simple explanation of what happens in the brain when we experience flow? “Nobody has looked into that. We want to understand it, but it’s not that easy. Flow is rather sensitive in itself and difficult to achieve in a research situation. We have the technology to look at brain activity, MRF scanners for instance. But putting your head 2010 No 5 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
68 | A BRAIN CHECK
the better the focus and the better end result, without a doubt.” Achieving good results quite often requires time. We must peel away layer after layer to get to what it is we have to communicate and how. This is when the good ideas usually come. “Yes, that’s the way it works. You never get that chance when you’re disturbed or allow yourself to be disturbed. It’s just impossible.” When I’m writing an article like this I turn off my mobile and lock myself in. It’s quicker and smoother, I make money at it and the result is often better. “Of course. It’s also more fun and you don’t feel quite so exhausted so what’s the point of allowing yourself to be disturbed? One poor aspect of our culture is the meaningless communication and bombardment of information that has no purpose whatsoever and the constant disturbances it creates. This is very negative.” What do you mean by meaningless communication? “I mean a great deal of that which takes place on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t really understand the purpose. Coming into contact with old friends is of course fun. But I don’t get off on all that babbling and feeling that you have to constantly update with just about anything.” Is the outcome of a meeting poorer if you let the delegates use
computers and phones for other things than items on the agenda? “I think that speaks for itself.” How do you think that an ideal meeting of one hour should be planned and implemented to ensure that everybody gets the maximum out of it? “The most important thing is knowing what you want to achieve, that is to say having very clear goals. It’s not unusual to feel “what’s the difference between now and before the meeting.” We air a few issues and the delegates get to speak and it finishes with “we’ll have to see”. There must be a clear agenda. I have possibly underestimated the importance of the social aspect somewhat, but that’s my opinion. What are the differences and similarities between being a researcher, concert pianist and speaker? “There’s a creative element in both music and research. You explore new territories and the freedom is there to create something new. I don’t perhaps feel the same way as a speaker; it would be when I compose a speech in that case. One big difference as a musician is that I make more intuitive decisions. I go more on feeling and difficult-toformulate notions on what I want to achieve, while in research I have to be as clear as possible. The similarity between playing and speaking is of course the performance.” ¶
Tomas Dalström is an author, journalist, lecturer and innovator. His works include a popular book on writing texts, which communicates on the brain’s terms. The reading process and the brain is the starting point in his business activities. He runs the websites veryimportantbrains.se and readrunner.se.
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
into such a scanner is not that flowenhancing! What we do know is that the greater attentiveness felt during flow works in a different way than during mental exertion. The breathing pattern of pianists differs a great deal during flow and mental exertion. At mental exertion it’s shallow and quite quick, but during flow it’s calm and deep, like during happiness and relaxation. The heart frequency also rises so you’re alert and do not fall into lethargy. Flow is not connected to a feeling of exertion; you’re absorbed by the task in some way. How it differs in the brain from normal mental exertion we don’t know, but I imagine there are great differences. Flow concentration has to do with great expertise in the task and it demands focus, to force the consciousness to take a certain direction.” How is the possibility of experiencing flow affected by working in a landscaped office? When, for example, we allow ourselves to be interrupted by mobile phones? “This is poor in several ways. Stress levels are higher and creativity lower. It becomes superficial, fragmented and prevents the type of absorption that is a prerequisite for flow. I try to minimise disturbances as far as possible, but we’re living in an age of persistent ringing. But the less I’m disturbed the better the flow,
“If the challenge is too small it becomes boring. On the other hand, overstimulation leads to becoming overstressed.”
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70 | KELLERMAN
Roger Kellerman is a publisher, business intelligence analyst, trend creator, educator and networker. He has more than 25 years’ experience of the global meeting industry. twitter.com/thekellerman
THE AGE OF dramatic distractions meeting Robin Sharma in
person for the first time ever in Stockholm just a couple of weeks ago was a mind developer. Listening to this wise and very friendly man, alone on stage for a full day, ending exactly 5 o’clock as he said he would. The 600 people in the audience all stood up for a standing ovation like after a rock concert wanting more wisdom and extra numbers to continue expanding our brains. Amazing! I have listened to many international stars among the speakers but this was the best ever. I have worked in the international meetings industry since 1988 and prior to that in the national industry since 1984, when I started my first meetings industry magazine. It’s still on the market, as is the second one from 1989, said to be the largest. When I and Editor in Chief Mrs Atti Soenarso started Meetings International in 2003 we wanted to produce a completely new sort of meetings industry magazine that took the side of the purchasers and supported the planners in transforming badly prepared, poorly implemented and non-followedup meetings into the strategic tool for developing individuals, MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No 5 2010
organisations and companies that well-prepared, professionally implemented and regularly followedup meetings are. We have come some way along the road. Robin Sharma has given us further tools to launch onto the world market. After all said and done, the world population of almost seven million is significantly greater than the nine million who live in Sweden, or even the 25 million in Scandinavia. “As you know better you can do better”, says Robin Sharma, and for us the step into ICCA is exactly what that is about. We meet thought leaders on the front line of the meetings industry. People who help us develop, intellectually and as people. “Leave everything you touch better than you find it”, is another of Robin’s sayings. Hyderabad in India is our next launch pad. We truly live in “the age of dramatic distractions” where channels to and from increasingly more markets must be handled professionally in order to improve conditions for personal development and therewith the better development of organisations and companies. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media
open the door to being anti-social in other channels. Robin Sharma’s expression: “Don’t fall in love with your excuses”, could well be about that. Don’t let your social network become an anti-social network that shields you from personal development. Unfortunately, there is always a chance that we begin blaming other factors in our vicinity. Robin Sharma calls that Blame Management. Robin has a club he calls the 5 o’clock club. This entails waking up at 5 every morning and dedicating one hour to your personal development. Read a book, for example. Reading books is extremely important. Don’t come with the excuse of not having time. Everybody has time to develop. You have to prioritise. Join the club and let me know so we can keep contact and develop together. Remember that you are A.P.R = Absolute Personally Responsible for your life. N.S.I = Never Stop Improving and K.M.F = Keep Moving Forward. If we don’t meet in Hyderabad then perhaps at EIBTM, IMEX or during the MPI congress in Düsseldorf. There are plenty of opportunities for personal development. ¶
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