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No. 12 Oct 2013 €19 / 165 SEK

LOTTEN TEGSTAM WELINDER Process Owner Meetings, Ikea

an underrated ’’Meetings are management tool

KNOWLEDGE IS EVERYWHERE PLAN THE LANDSCAPE OF MEETINGS SELF CONTROL MEETING DESIGN AS AN ART KELLERMAN


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home destination! c view Stockholm is a destination management company with extensive experience in handling groups, events, meetings and incentive programs. We package experiences in a creative and innovative way and are proud to provide you with the best our country has to offer. Close and personal cooperation with clients and partners is our key to success in creating an unforgettable and unique stay in Stockholm and locations across Sweden. c view Stockholm is happy to assist you with the design of the destination!

c view stockholm www.cviewstockholm.se

info@cviewstockholm.se

+46 70 733 67 69


MEET SCANDINAVIA


We are compelled to incite. Scandinavia is nature in the true sense of the word. Scenery, wildlife, activities and culture like nowhere else. We are dedicated to offering visitors truly remarkable experiences and opportunities to explore genuine traditions. Do you also want an experience of a lifetime?

Visit www.meetscandinavia.com for more information. Meet Scandinavia – DMC and part of Adventura. Entrepreneur of the year of Swedish tourism 2009.


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Big moose meetings in the forest. Photo: Johannes Holmlund/Skellefteå

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A meeting in a treehouse is really taking the conference to a new level. Newly opened Dragonfly is mounted six meters above ground. Photo: Kent Lindvall/Mirrorcube, Treehotel

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Let all senses get a treat during your stay. Dining in a traditional lavvu is the perfect way of enjoying the Taste of Swedish Lapland. Photo: Markus Alatalo/Lapland Resorts


Comfortable beds with spectacular scenery as icing on the cake. Foto: Håkan Hjort/Lapland Resorts

Getting to know each other doesn’t only count for your colleagues – you also want to get to know the locals. Photo: Markus Alatalo/Lapland Resorts

There are 32 Sami communities in Swedish Lapland and a lot of knowledge about sustainability to help vitalise your meeting. Photo: Carl-Johan Utsi

Every year, crystal clear water from Torne River freezes and a new ICEHOTEL is built in Jukkasjärvi. . Photo: Martin Smedsén/ICEHOTEL

Make sure your business feels like pleasure

ICEHOTEL DMC www.icehotel.com

LapLanD REsORTs www.laplandresorts.com

skELLEfTEå CVB www.skellefteacvb.se

sWEDIsH LapLanD DMC www.sldmc.com


So far north. Still so close.

Dinner On Ice will give you a unique culinary treat. Enjoy a three course candle light dinner with local ingredients and a magical atmosphere.

Member of:

A part of:

Luleå Convention Bureau Phone: +46 920-22 13 30 info@luleacvb.se, www.luleacvb.se

Member

FAVÖR I Photo: Per Pettersson (Dinner On Ice, Brändön Luleå)

It only takes an hour from Stockholm to walk into the experience of a lifetime. Luleå is an ever-changing city where creativity and great ideas get the opportunity to grow. We invite you to be a part of our future. If Facebook likes Luleå, it must be a good place.


Gather around the table, or even better, around the fire in Sweden’s northernmost destination. Scientist predicts Aurora-conditions to peak this winter, providing the best possible conditions for seeing the Northern Lights in the next decade. So let the culture and nature of Swedish Lapland vitalise your perspectives. And the luminous skies inspire your team to excel. We will help your company find the perfect mix between business and pleasure.

ICEHOTEL DMC www.icehotel.com LApLAND RESORTS www.laplandresorts.com SkELLEfTEĂĽ CVB www.skellefteacvb.se SWEDISH LApLAND DMC www.sldmc.com

foto: fredrik Schenholm/Lapland Resorts

Vitalised meetings that put things in a new light


LE GA LLY R E SPONSIB LE ED I TO R I N C H I EF Atti Soenarso

atti.soenarso@meetingsinternational.com  PU B LISHE R Roger Kellerman

No. 12 

Oct 2013 A gift of reading for you

roger.kellerman@meetingsinternational.com  W R ITE R S Tomas Dalström, Hans Gordon, Elling Hamso,

14 INTRO

The PCO Map Is Redrawn

Roger Kellerman, Robin Sharma, Atti Soenarso. 

Atti Soenarso on the consequences of Congrex Sweden’s bankruptcy.

PH OTOGR A PH E R Erika Brice (incl. cover), Sara Appelgren  TR A NSL ATION  Dennis Brice dennis@writingservices.se  EDITOR  Pravasan Pillay  ART DIRECTOR   kellermandesign.com  E DITOR IA L R AYS OF SU NS H I NE  Bimo + cello ensemble +

Media Evolution + Johanna Basford + Mare Nostrum + London Design Festival  S UBS C RI P TI O N Four issues: Sweden €39, Europe €73, Outside Europe €77. Buy at subscription@meetingsinternational.com or www.meetingsinternational.com. Single

18

MEETINGS CULTURE

Lotten Tegstam Welinder, Ikea Good meetings can make a difference on the bottom line in the annual report.

30 PSYCHOLOGICAL MEETINGS

Benny – a Tale of Human Identity Hans Gordon on The Story of Benny.

copies are €15 + postage when ordered online.  CONTACT Meetings International Publishing,

48 THE IMPORTANCE OF A LOCATION

+46 8 612 42 20, Commercial Office +46 72 551 70 97,

Bill Bowling, Supervising Location Manager

info@meetingsinternational.com, ­meetingsinternational.com 

Choose a location that enhances your meeting.

P.O. Box 224, SE-271 25 Ystad, Sweden, Editorial Office

PR INTE D B Y  Trydells Tryckeri – environmentally certified

(ISO 14001)  PA PE R Arctic Paper Munken Lynx 240g/100g. FSC labeled paper Cert No SGS-COC-1693 

63 SHARMA

19 Steps to a Victim-Free Company Robin Sharma on what leaders do that victims don’t.

F ONTS Adobe Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk; DS Type

Leitura Display; Hoefler & Frere-Jones Chronicle Text, Chronicle Display, Knockout.  I SS N 1651-9663

64 BRAIN CHECK

Alf Rehn What happens if you don’t call meetings?

78 KELLERMAN Reproduction of articles and other material, whole or in part, is forbidden without the prior consent of the publishers. Quoting, however, is encouraged as long as the source is stated.

Meetings International is a member of ICCA, MPI, SITE and The International­Federation of Audit Bureaux of ­Circulations, IFABC.

Not Everybody Who Travels Are Tourists What does Kellerman mean by ”a whisper away”?


Fun and games in The Capital of Scandinavia. Chances are that you’ve recently played a game or listened to music on your computer, tablet or phone using software that originated from Stockholm. And that’s no fluke; the entire region is virtually buzzing with creativity and confidence. So why not come and be a part of the vibe – choose Stockholm for your next meeting or conference!

Enjoy candy without the cavities: the sweet and colourful world of Candy Crush Saga was developed in Stockholm and is currently the most popular game on Facebook.


SIME is Northern Europe’s largest conference about the Internet and digital opportunities. This year’s event in Stockholm brings together a vibrant mix of entrepreneurs, executives, academics, marketeers, technologists and aficionados.

”Candy Crush Saga was developed in Stockholm, and we have a lot to thank the city for. Stockholm provides a really vibrant and innovative climate and we’ve just seen the start of what’s coming.” Martin Bunge-Meyer King.com, Stockholm

There is something amazing happening in Stockholm. A ‘third wave’ of tech companies are popping up like daisies and quite a few of them are already growing at a rate that makes the whole world take notice. Where once, everybody wanted to work for the big telecoms in Stockholm’s ‘wireless valley’, now the same people are going it for themselves. And this time around, there’s a whole ecosystem of high tech research, telecom businesses and finance companies already in place and ready to nurture them along. No wonder people are talking about Stockholm as Europe’s #1 hotspot for tech startups. We’re quite sure you’ve heard of some of the following… A new twist on data mining Minecraft is perhaps the world’s bestknown indie game and a truly international phenomenon. Launched in 2009 by Markus “Notch” Persson as a hobby project while he was working for King.com (see below), it quickly captured the imaginations of legions of players who fell in love with the game’s deliberately clunky graphics and creative freedom. Sometimes described as a kind of virtual Lego set, the game has a very loyal fan base, which record their creations and post them on YouTube, stage conventions and spread the gospel. On January 12, 2011, Minecraft passed 1 million purchases and Mojang – the company formed out of the success of Minecraft – hasn’t looked back

since. As of September 3, 2013, the game has sold over 12 million copies on PC, and over 33 million copies across all platforms. Not bad for a hobby project. www.mojang.com

The sweetest game Candy Crush Saga is a puzzle game where you as the player swap positions of differently coloured pieces of candy, in order to create sets of three candies of the same colour. It might not sound very enticing, but Candy Crash Saga has proven fiendishly addictive and has become a huge hit among Facebook members (currently the most popular game on Facebook with more than 100 million players) and smartphone users alike.

The game is rumoured to bring an estimated $850,000 in revenue – every day! Candy Crash Saga was developed by Stockholm based game developer King, the company behind king.com, the largest skill gaming site in the world, with a catalogue of over 150 games available. www.king.com

Conquering the digital battlefield Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment AB, more popularly known as DICE, is another Stockholm based outfit at the very cutting edge of digital game development. Best known for its blockbuster game series ’Battlefield’, DICE was acquired by multinational giant Electronic Arts (EA) during 2004-06


and has since gone on to conquer the world of first person shooter games, with Battlefield 3 representing EA’s fastest-selling title ever. As this is being written, the development team is burning the midnight oil in the company’s premises on ”Söder” in Stockholm, polishing out the last flaws in the code before Battlefield 4 goes on sale this winter. www.dice.se

Soundtrack your life It doesn’t seem that long ago when we all used to buy our music, either on shiny plastic discs or as digitally downloadable MP3-files. A ritual now all but forgotten by a new generation of music fans already used to subscription-based, streaming content. Spotify AB was founded in 2006 in Stockholm by two Swedish serial entrepreneurs and has since gone on to revolutionise the entire music industry. Spotify gives access to more than 20 million songs and lets its users create playlists that can be shared with other users by integrating their accounts with existing Facebook and Twitter accounts. The service is currently available in 28 countries and has some 24 million active users. While Spotify Ltd. now operates as the parent company in London, Spotify AB continues to handle research and development in its new headquarters office at Birger Jarlsgatan in downtown Stockholm. www.spotify.com

Downloading the future of business SIME is Northern Europe’s largest conference about digital opportunities with flagship events held this year in Stockholm and Miami. The theme for SIME Stockholm is ‘downloading the future of business’ and a top roster of speakers will do their outmost to share experience and insights. When asked why Stockholm is the perfect place to go for anyone who wants to stay ahead of the digital game, Ola Ahlvarsson (founder of SIME) answers: “When creativity and entrepreneurship reach a certain density in a city, something magical happens. And it’s happening big time in Stockholm. The amount of fantastic companies that have or will set out to conquer the world is mind-blowing. Think Skype, Klarna, King.com, Spotify, Qliktech, Rebtel…the list goes on”. Expert help – free of charge Stockholm Convention Bureau is here to make things easier for organizers. As a part of Stockholm Visitors Board, we provide a free-of-charge service offering all the support you need to plan a successful meeting. If you want to know more about what we offer and why life science companies and organizations keep coming back to Stockholm, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

For more advice on your next meeting, send us an email or give us a call. Stockholm Visitors Board Stockholm Convention Bureau Phone: +46 8 508 28 500 convetionbureau@stockholm.se visitstockholm.com

Question: what contains more than 20 million songs? Answer: any computer device or mobile phone with a Spotify subscription.


14 | INTRO

The PCO map is redrawn The map of the meetings industry in Sweden has been redrawn. Congrex Sweden, Scandinavia, by far the largest Professional Congress Organiser (PCO), has been declared bankrupt and many are amazed at how this could have happened. Congrex started in 1982, and since then has worked around the globe to become a reliable supplier of high competence. The knowledge within Congrex Sweden can hopefully be spread over into other PCOs. These PCOs possibly see their chance to become a major player in the home country and to expand internationally – at a rate faster than planned. The lawyer and bankruptcy trustee Odd Swarting, at the renowned Swedish law firm Settervalls, says that he “has several interested buyers who are in the discussion.” We will found out who these buyers are when the negotiations are complete, but perhaps there may be employees who are prepared to take over at least parts of the business? Today it’s difficult to know how the deal affects Congrex in Germany and Congrex Holding since there has been no communication from the company to the media. That it affects the brand is beyond doubt. Looking forward in the order book, Congrex Sweden has scheduled

congresses until 2018. And just days before the bankruptcy announcement there was a written agreement with Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, one of the biggest universities in Sweden, about taking care of all their meetings. Examining the financial statements from 2012, it looks a little strange that they had a significant slump in sales, but maybe it’s related to the major conferences which took place in that particular year, or the lack of them. In 2010, Congrex reported a turnover of 49 million euro, with earnings before taxes of almost 1 million euro. The following year, 2011, they reported a turnover of 57 million euro, outlined the operating profit (EBIT) of 0,6 million euro, but it had a loss of about 0,1 million euro. At that time there were 135 employees. Last year, sales fell to 38 million euro, they employed 100, the company made ​​an operating profit of minus 1.8 million euro, and had plus 0.37 million euro on the last line. In 2013, several associations lost their entire congressional capital managed by Congrex. When we get to see the list of debts it will probably be worse than many can imagine, which must be the reason why attorney Odd Swarting from the outset excluded the reorgan-

isation of the company and went on to the cutting and sales line. Maybe we will know the facts at the ICCA congress in Shanghai, but it’s clear that the bankruptcy is spectacular and eyebrow raising in the association world. What will Congrex Sweden’s economic collapse mean in the long run? In Sweden, no association with their brain intact will ever allow their PCO to take care of Congress capital, without having secured the right to get their money if something similar happens. It will also almost certainly create more in-house bureaus. Here some of Congrex’s employees can contribute with expertise as it is only the management and owners involved in the business bankrupcy, and not those who are responsible for the operational work. Soon we will know where the competence is going. We have talked to several very informed sources, and have taken note of their opinions on why the company went bankrupt. We will save that story until all the paper work is on the table. If the stories we have been told are true then we will see a drastic change in the association market going forward.

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.

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013


lounge with a spectacular view of stockholm

Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre

a strong injection to Stockholm as a convention city There are many who say that the Stockholm Waterfront Congress

the airport in 20 minutes by train. They can walk directly from Arlanda

Centre has become a strong injection to Stockholm as a convention

Express terminal to the congress centre.

destination. From here, in the city centre you have a view over the City Hall,

– When we told a U.S. customer that we have over three thousand hotel rooms within five minutes walking distance, she did not believe

with the Blue Hall, where the winners and their guests eat the Nobel

that this could be true. Of course it is also important that Stockholm is

Award dinner. You can also overlook parts of Sweden’s third largest

a safe city to walk in, says Kenth Larsson.

lake, Mälaren, and a great portion of the city’s beautiful buildings and scenery. – When we meet with clients around the world we can see that our

Collaboration is key to Stockholm Waterfront and they see themselves as a complement to the activities that are otherwise in the Stockholm meetings market and the cooperation with competitors

efforts have contributed to a renewed curiosity in Stockholm. Many

floats very well. They provide each other with guests and their part-

organizers see another reason to have Stockholm on their short list of

ners will find new business for Waterfront, because the others cannot

cities in Europe, says Kenth Larsson, Director of Sales & Marketing.

take congresses up to 3,000 guests in size, but it also means that the

Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre have found their specialty

Waterfront provides many hotels with many guests when large meet-

and the competitors have to focus on their own niche even more

ings and events are in the house. Up to 3,000 people is not enormous,

than they did before. That means that Stockholm has become even

but perfectly adequate, as approximately 80 percent of all large meet-

stronger as a convention and event destination.

ings and conventions are somewhere between 500 to 2,000 people.

– When we make a bid to try to win an international congress, we

The combination of hotel and congress centre in the same building

normally compete with three to ten destinations – and today Stock-

is unique in Europe and with this city position – in the world. Before

holm is often on the list when it comes to cities in Europe for the major

breaking ground Sam Holmberg and Kenth Larsson went around the

conferences, says Sam Holmberg, CEO of Stockholm Waterfront Con-

world for inspiration.

gress Centre. He also believes that it is important that they are in the city centre of Stockholm, but also that their customers can get from

– Hotels are easier to compare, it’s about the same type of, as an example, procedures and logistics, but when it comes to the congress


Stockholm WaterFront congreSS centre

centre, there was no place that fully met our thoughts and ideas. We

stimulating way. There is free wifi, which Rezidor was one of the first

did find bits and pieces for our concept in different places.

hotel chains in the world to introduce.

The congress centre is flexible, with movable walls and platforms.

When John McEnroe stayed at Waterfront, he was impressed that

It offers small meeting rooms and large conference rooms, which seats

he at a first class hotel could walk directly from his room within only

up to 3,000 people and has a ceiling height of 17 meters. They also

two minutes and play tennis in the redecorated adjacent Congress

have a separate AV team and their own equipment. Some of the major

Hall. McEnroe took part in the tournament Kings of Tennis, which

conferences that have been here are FERMA 2011 (Risk Manage-

included Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg and others. Other well-known

ment with over 1,500 participants), Escaide 2011 (European Scientific

artists who played in the main congress hall are Sting and Bob Dylan.

Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology), SpaceOps

The Dalai Lama also held a highly acclaimed lecture here.

2012 (International Conference on Space Operations), Eurotox 2012

When Sting was here, he said at the end of the concert that he

(Congress of the European Societies of Toxicology), IFPA 2012 (World

liked the acoustics very much and it was one of the best facilities he’d

Psoriasis & Psoriatic Arthritis Conference), and ICSC 2013 (Retail Real

played in.

Estate Industry). That the brain is the goal of all communication Waterfront takes very seriously – which has resulted in the concept ‘Experience Meetings’. One example: We have all sat and nodded off after an ordinary

– Good sound is one of the key success factors we planned before building the place and that has worked very well. I am very proud of that, says Sam Holmberg. Waterfront has invested in solar energy and on a sunny day it has

– conference lunch – which resulted in the body’s satiety signals which

the power of one megawatt, which among other things is enough

restricts our ability to be nimble and absorb information.

to produce the hot water needed. In the basement there is also the

With the help of experts, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group developed

possibility to freeze up to 250 tons of ice in five large containers. This is

the concept Brainfood, which helps us stay more creative throughout

to create cooling in parts of the house that need it. At Waterfront they

the day.

redistribute the heat – from surplus to shortfall – through an advanced

Another example is the creative ‘Brain Box room’ – which all guests in the house can reserve and use. Here’s a big wall to write on, stimulating colors, more reclining seats and the ability to surprise in a

climate control system.


a1 auditorium

Both the hotel and congress centre are certified by Green Building

STOCKHOLM WATERFRONT CONgRESS CENTRE

certification and the hotel was the first Swan eco labeled hotel on the

Location Stockholm City

same day as the opening.

Opened January 2011

Responsible Business is Carlson Rezidor’s CSR program which the

Powered by Carlson Rezidor Hotel group

hotel and congress centre belong to. The program has 3 pillars: Think

Total area 14,000 square meters that can be sec-

Planet, Think People and Think Together. Ethics is one of the guiding

tioned and combined into a large number of different

principles and the hotel group has been a 4 time winner of the World’s

solutions - for 500, 1,000 or 3,000 persons. The

Most Ethical Company Award.

venue can cater for gala dinners up to 2,000 persons,

Sam Holmberg and Kenth Larsson also note that they can have

concerts, large business meetings, exhibitions etc.

as many flexible and movable walls as you like, superior technology

Foyer Additional 3,000 sqm of possibilities.

and design – but it’s worth nothing if the service culture is not in the

Largest congress hall 3,000 people

house 24/7. The ’100 % Satisfaction Guarantee policy’ is of course

Other meeting facilities More than 20 rooms. From the

something else that’s a great tool that’s good for both the guests and

VIP room for 12 and others up to 600 people.

the employees.

Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel, first class facilities with

– My philosophy is that everything starts with employees. Often you start at the other end by primarily looking at profit, then the customer and ultimately the employees. We must give employees the opportunity to do their job in the best way by giving them strong tools, training and good working conditions. When they know what to do, what is expected and when they enjoy their work, it becomes rather obvious. The result is that the customers will be happy and when they are satisfied good results will follow, says Sam Holmberg.

direct access 414 rooms Within 300 meters 3,500 extra hotel rooms


18 | COVER STORY START

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013


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TEGSTAM WELINDER TEXT

Atti Soenarso PHOTOS

Erika Brice

2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013


MEETINGS CULTURE | 21

“We who work with administration at Ikea spend between 35 and 50 percent of our working hours in meetings. The total cost of holding all our meetings is well worth discussing. Good meetings are forums for business development and could make a difference in the bottom line of the Annual Financial Report.” So says Lotten Tegstam Welinder, Process Owner Meetings/Regional Manager, Group Meeting & Travel, when we meet at her workplace in the old sugar refinery in Helsingborg, where several of the top notch departments in the Group have been brought together. Meetings are going on everywhere and employees come from all corners of the earth to the southern Swedish city. She thinks that a good many business trips by international corporations could easily be replaced by phone, video and online conferencing, and that we can and should be more critical about choosing travel over other ways of meeting. But this requires a new approach in the company from the top down. “It all hinges on the attitude of top management. We can change if we want to. It needs management awareness, leadership, refinement and control. Change is a process, not a one-off thing. When we have to meet face to face we do everything we can

to make the meetings well worth the effort.” With 301 lifestyle stores in 44 countries and a workforce of 139,000, countless internal meetings are held every day with suppliers and partners. Purchasing and planning meetings, meetings between staff teams and offices are just a few examples of the kind of meetings that are held. “Travel is a consequence of the meeting, not vice versa. Travel is a way of getting to the face to face meeting. Internal surveys show that around half of our meetings use up more energy than they give. Therefore, the onus was placed firmly on creating a meetings culture with staff who are skilled at generating effective interactive meetings, meetings that reflect Ikea’s core values like simplicity and humility, which also create added value for business development.” Lotten Tegstam Welinder not only works with virtual meetings, she is also in charge of the meetings pro2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


22 | MEETINGS CULTURE

“ Employees must also be sustainable, that is to say from a life balance perspective”

cess globally. In her role as regional manager she is responsible for how the implementation of the strategy ‘Meeting the IKEA Way’ is managed in ten or so countries. This entails having several coordinators who report back to her and liaising with the management team about everything concerning meetings and travel. “We are a staff function here in the building. We work with and equip all the Group’s organisations with guidelines and tools for meeting in the best possible way. We’re not looking to replace the face to face meeting, but we need to introduce more nuance into the ways we meet.” Large meetings, usually called events outside Ikea, is another type of meeting that she strives to create a joint way of implementing, a framework where all the important parameters are included. “Our meetings culture is the cornerstone of all our meetings and we strive to ensure that every meeting reflects the company’s culture and values in the best possible way. It could, for example, be simplicity; that everybody can take on a leadership role and be cost-minded.”

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

Lotten Tegstam Welinder began her career as a tour leader, mainly in the Alps but also in warmer climates. She also worked with marketing and project management before trying her hand at organisational and personal development. In addition, she has been involved with coaching and the development of individuals, groups and organisations. At Ikea she has worked with customised training courses and activities, and has been in charge of the professional development of the company’s internal instructors. With the growth of the global role of meetings and travel, the meetings culture became increasingly important and she was given the opportunity to take up the job that she now holds. The past five years has seen a rapid increase in virtual meetings within Ikea. Since 2008 the number of online meetings has risen from 14,000 to 140,000 a year. There are special rooms set up for video conferencing at 173 venues around the world. “This has led to great savings that are seen in the reduced travelling expenses. We’re developing our own technology, and naturally also the


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MEETINGS CULTURE | 25

“ Travel is a consequence of the meeting and not vice versa”

knowledge and skills of our staff with regard to meetings. “One of the first things to decide is whether you need to meet face to face, and therewith travel, or whether a virtual meeting would work just as well. In which case, what type of virtual meeting is best suited? ”This is not only about functionality, but just as much about how I create the ultimate meeting. This is where our meetings culture comes in again and we have to induce all our employees to find the best solution they possibly can. Not only from a cost and time perspective, but also to balance their jobs with everything else in their lives.” When asked whether virtual meetings would become larger than face to face meetings or remain as a supplement to real meetings, she says that she does not think we have reached an optimum maturity level in our use of virtual meetings. “We have a bit left to go before we can feel that the soft skills are being utilised optimally in our virtual meetings. How do I get everybody engaged in the meeting, how do I create unity and drive in a meeting where people can’t see each other? These are just

some of the skills that need to be improved.” She also predicts an integration with new ways of meeting virtually, large and small hybrid meetings, for example. “Creating a relationship is best done through some form of face to face meeting. Chemistry, aromas, feelings, etcetera are difficult to put across at virtual meetings. A mixture of both is probably best.” Exchanging knowledge and experience is very useful and many people in the industry organisations are very good at it and share the notion of the meeting as being integrated in the development and success of the organisation, she says. “Of course, we would like all meetings to have a clear purpose and goal and to contribute to the desired outcome, but the great change will come about when we connect the work drawing up a business plan to our meetings structure. “That is to say, to plan a landscape of meetings that, in design and approach, help us to achieve our goal. The view of meetings has to be revised because they are an underrated management tool. In my con2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


26 | MEETINGS CULTURE

“How do I get everybody engaged in the meeting, how do I create unity and drive in a meeting where people can’t see each other?”

tact with other companies I see that they often start by putting in place the purchasing process and the measurable parts within it. We have begun with the needs and process aspect and changing our approach to meetings before gradually adding transparency and measurability.” As regional manager, Lotten Tegstam Welinder also has the task of establishing the company’s global strategy, where she works, together with the meeting and travel coordinators who represent each local organisation in the company. “We work closely and each regional manager is in charge of ten or so countries. We also work with other departments with an interest in this area, such as Human Resources, Finance and Administration, and Corporate Communication, on both global and local levels, and have established a cross-functional organisation, Digital Workplace, which involves HR, IT, Corporate Communication and Meeting & Travel. All the digital tools required are provided by that organisation.” Within Ikea, sustainability is not an isolated thing but an attitude that is integrated in everything the MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

employees do. This entails a strong focus, not only on environmental work and corporate social responsibility, but also things like the code of conduct of the suppliers to the Group’s stores, which, incidentally, are being equipped with solar panels and wind farms. Large meetings are mainly held on internal sites, where Lotten Tegstam Welinder’s department has established what is internally known as Green Meetings, which includes all aspects of sustainability, such as premises, food, waste management, materials, documentation and logistics. “Three things are considered before we decide to even have a meeting: Do we really need a meeting? Why? Who for? This is sustainability from perspectives such as the human factor. Employees must also be sustainable, that is to say from a life balance perspective. The total cost is so much more than just money; it’s also about time, motivation and being meaningful. This couples back to the importance of always reflecting over why a meeting should be held and what the outcome should be.” She explains that expenses are also related to sustainability and

that all the accumulated costs should be taken into consideration when deciding if the meeting can be held virtually. There are several examples within the Group of large face to face meetings that have successfully become interactive virtual meetings. Internally, the idea of sustainable large meetings is spread through the organisation via the company’s framework for large meetings and the local coordinators in respective markets. With regard to thinking Return on Investment (ROI) for meetings, Ikea has come a fair way along the road but there is still plenty to do. Lotten Tegstam Welinder says that thus far the reasoning has been around clear objectives and goals, and making the goals measureable and possible to follow up after the meeting. It is also recommended to follow up not only decisions taken during a meeting but also what happens afterwards. How are the participants affected? How do you see the changes/improvements? “We are looking into possible measuring instruments, but have not implemented anything as of yet. The next two years will see several changes, such as a joint approach to


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“We’re not looking to replace the face to face meeting, but we need to introduce more nuances into how we can meet”

planning, implementing and following up the large Group meetings, and instruments that help to improve measurability and the evaluation of meetings and events quantitatively and qualitatively.” Lotten Tegstam Welinder also takes part in international events like the Imex in Frankfurt and the Fresh Congress in Copenhagen. “This enables me to learn things from people in the know that I can take back to Ikea as a source of inspiration that can be transformed into activities and new awareness.” Within the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) she is part of a group setting up a European meeting committee, where members will not only have the opportunity to compare and exchange knowledge and experience, but also to weigh up the various perspectives in order to get a full picture of how to create a sound, balanced and business-enhancing meetings culture. “My main contribution is the human aspect. We are people who meet. If we know how to go about planning, implementing and following up meetings optimally then it contributes to the bottom line and a

healthy organisation. In Sweden the Swedish Business Travel Association (SBTA) is a good forum for benchmarking and forming relationships within the country. There are several players there who also act globally and there’s a lot to gain from exchanging ideas with them.” Lotten Tegstam Welinder is inspired by innovative people who think outside the box. She mentions Maarten Vanneste, author of the book Meeting Architecture, and Elling Hamso, who works with ROI at the European ROI Institute. “Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver, co-authors of the book Into The Heart of Meetings, stress the potential of meetings for planning purposes and to gather people for a certain reason and with a certain objective. How do you do this in the best way and how do you achieve the best outcome?” In the summer of 2015, if all goes according to plan, Ikea will be opening a new office and a new hotel in Hyllie, where the new Malmö is growing, creating 600 new jobs in the process. The new office next to the Svågertorp store will have a great many meetings environments.

“The aim of the new office is to give a good example within the Group of how to create good fruitful meetings, face to face as well as virtual, that contribute to development.” Within Ikea a scheme is underway to make managers aware of the fact that when they compile business plans and set up targets they also create a meetings structure for the year. What sort of meetings are needed? Method and form? Who should participate? “When we have come that far we will have a connection between meetings and our business development in place. Not only that individual meetings are good and results-driven, but also by an approach to meetings that has a natural connection to the development of the organisation.” Before saying our goodbyes, Lotten Tegstam Welinder quotes one of Ingvar Kamprad’s expressions that has left its mark on the world: ‘Most things still remain to be done. A glorious future!’ “This also concerns the development of meetings.”

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YOU ARE HERE 30 | PAGE TITLE 30 | PSYKOLOGISKA MÖTEN

MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

© iStockphoto.com/mstroz/Mark Strozier


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Hans Gordon, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Authorised Psychologist, specialised in Aviation Psychology. Authorised psychotherapist, since 1987 running Gordon Consulting. Has for decades been engaged by airline companies, among them SAS and Thai Airways International.

Benny

A TALE OF HUMAN IDENTITY Benny, age 51, got his name from a request by his father’s older brother, a true jazz aficionado, who idolised Benny Goodman, ‘the greatest musician in the world.’ He would have preferred Goodman as the surname too, but Larsson was deemed good enough. Benny lives in a shabby one-bedroomed apartment in a Stockholm suburb, is thickset and has the makings of a fine beer gut. This is my little beer keg, he usually says to one of his few friends as he gives his stomach a rub. His black hair has begun to recede and is showing streaks of grey. Benny has lived alone since he left home at the age of twenty-five. He has never had physical contact with a woman – or a man for that matter. He has a non-completed upper secondary education behind him. He chose business studies because at the time he was planning to start his own firm one day, maybe a shop where he could sell interesting stuff like computers and other electronics, cameras and the like. His father had once suggested it at the dinner table. “There’s money to be made there,” he’d said. “People are crying out for those kinds of gadgets nowadays. I think you should give it a go.” His father’s interest in money was apparent. Not that he made

that much from his business contacts between Swedish sawmills and timber buyers in southern Europe, but when he was at home he spent most of his time in his tiny office planning business trips and doing his bookkeeping. Little Benny often felt in the way and clung to his mother, a fulltime care worker. She had an anxious disposition herself, and despite giving her only child all the care in the world, she still transferred her anxieties over to him. Life was dangerous and you could never trust anybody. Benny developed a typical mother fixation and mourned intensely when she contracted a particularly virulent form of cancer and died. He was only seventeen and had just begun working as a shop assistant in a paint store. At home he mainly sat in his room playing computer games while his father remained engrossed in his financial accounting. They often ate breakfast and dinner together and the absence of the housewife was felt. The diet was simple and relatively meagre. Through his job at the paint store Benny got a trainee position at a small firm of painters, which later led to employment. He was quite happy in his work. He became good friends with a somewhat younger work colleague and through him came into contact with another man 2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“A large streamer flutters lightly in the evening breeze: Come on in and meet your new family!”

who worked as a postman. Sporadically, the three met in their spare time, went to a pub, drank a few beers and talked about football. But they seldom went to a match. So Benny’s sitting there in front of his computer connected to some online game. After an hour or so he turns it off and goes out for a walk. He usually does that to loosen up a bit. It’s nothing like a power walk, just a nice calm walk for half an hour or so. If he met anybody who asked how he was he would lie and say fine. I’m fine, he’d say. Everything’s fine. But that’s not really true. He feels empty, no spark. He has since his mother died. He may live it up a bit when he’s at the pub with his friends, but once back home the weariness and dejection takes over again. Computer games are a jailbreak to another world. It helps a bit, for the moment. He’s out taking his walk. In the field he sees something white and large. A tent. A huge marquee tent. Curious, he heads in that direction. He hears music. It sounds like an accordion and a guitar. And now somebody’s singing. A man’s voice: What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and griefs to bear. Benny MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

slowly approaches the tent entrance. A large streamer flutters lightly in the evening breeze: Come on in and meet your new family! Benny is standing there at the entrance when he suddenly feels a warm arm around him. A tall woman is standing at his side. She smiles softly at him. Ten minutes later Benny is on his knees with his head in the lap of the tall women. He’s crying his heart out. Two hours later Benny is signed up as a member of the nonconformist church. Three days later Benny exclaims that he’s seen the light and for the first time in his life has met God. Three weeks later Benny has handed in his notice at the firm of painters to dedicate his life to the church for three meals a day and part of his rent paid. Six weeks later Benny is debating his newly found beliefs with those he meets, including his two former friends. He’s now completely engrossed by his new church and declares it to be the only true church because it follows the gospels and other scripts that no other church has access to. Who am I? Who am I to ask who I am? In his writings, Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor (1931–),

maintains that personal identity is something that develops in a person when they are consciously striving to understand their place in a cultural, social and historical context. It is not until we realise how all the deeply rooted cultural values in the society in which we grow up function as vaccination shots for the people there that we begin to understand what and who we are. The individuality of each child is shaped by the dogmas and social restraints of their families and schools. The process thereafter continues through various other affiliations: new relationships, working life, club activities, etcetera. Therefore, a person cannot answer the question of who they are without taking all these influences into consideration. Taylor does, however, point out that there exists many types of affiliations in modern society that prevent or obstruct a person’s learning and their interest in self-reflection. Instead, we stick simple diagnoses and labels on each other, which can easily lead to delusion and social dysfunction. But self-reflection in itself is not sufficient to understand who we are, says Taylor. The shaping of identity and personality is so complex that


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“As long as we enter into dialogue with each other, we make it possible to continue to develop and even change our identity”

it requires hours of investigative dialogues with others to unravel the accumulated mass of social, ethnic, religious and historical processes. Such dialogues must be carried out in rooms with high ceilings to stimulate total freedom of expression, that is to say democratically constructed rooms. The now 84-year-old German philosopher and sociologist, Jürgen Habermas, has also emphasised the need for an open, deep and frank dialogue in investigating personal identity. He says that identity must not be confused with our lust to, like woodcarvers or clay sculptors, define the person outside ourselves. This belongs to the simpler form of neobehaviourlistic puzzle laying, where relationships between people are validated through simple labels and simple assessments on who is best and who is worse. Human identity is an expression for an ongoing process, claims Habermas, a process that actually never ends. As long as we enter into dialogue with each other, we make it possible to continue to develop and even change our identity. Habermas is an ardent advocate of pluralistic MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

societies held together by the need for affirmations or emotionally-charged confirmations in harness with a curiosity and preparedness to receive people who come with other perspectives and life experiences. It is in contexts such as these that we broaden our outlook and develop as people, and that is when we attain a deeper knowledge of who we are. In some psychology books, even those in modern format, it is sometimes claimed that personal identity is an expression of a feeling of being a unique individual with clear boundaries between oneself and others, and that it is I myself who is responsible for my own thoughts, decisions and actions. But that is reducing oneself to an I Ltd, an own, self-made form, an own personal construction. Invariably, such a form is closely linked to terms such as narcissism and chauvinism, and on a broader social level, ethnocentrism and tribalism. This is when personal identity gets boiled down to a complexity of social problems with segregation and threatening waves of violence as the aftereffect. Benny found a tent and was embraced by the nonconformist

church. Therein, he finally received confirmation and a feeling of belonging that he quickly learnt to put his faith in. But he could just as easily have found a supporters club to a football or ice hockey team. There are great similarities between these two churches. They cultivate their beliefs, they look for confirmation from those who are qualified to step in over their boundary lines, and they get together and assert their group identity, not through investigative dialogue and calls for self-reflection, but through external symbols and diverse historical stories. Today Benny has found salvation and tries to save others through his newly found beliefs. But he could just as easily have ended up waving a colourful scarf singing “We Are the Champions”. This is where the dialogue-stimulated meetings with the others end abruptly, and then you are nearing the end of the road.


Home of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013

Photo: Justin Brown/imagebank.sweden.se

Photo: Fredrik Johansson/Malmö Tourism

The obvious choice for Your next meeting too!

Having both Copenhagen and Malmö international airports within 30 minutes from the city centre and many top modern, easily accessed congress venues for up to 15.000 delegates, meetings in Malmö are always close. Adding reliable infrastructure, focus on sustainability and the attractive compact city, Malmö offers you a modern destination outside of the ’been-there-done-that’-league. Oh, and by the way, did we mention that the Eurovision Song Contest continues less than 30 minutes away next year? Yes, Malmö is always close.


Colourful Helsingborg — Helsingborg is an exciting city in the south of Sweden, only a stone’s throw from the bustling metropolis of Copenhagen. Helsingborg offers an exquisite mix of everything you need for a perfect meeting or conference. It is a beautiful city with several attractive shopping streets, friendly cafés, sights and good hotels. Everything in easy reach. You will find cultural treasures in the form of castles and famous gardens, all types of golf courses and culinary experiences to make your visit a memorable one. Warm welcome!

Dunkers Culture Centre for memorable meetings in a cultural oasis. The centre has a beautiful location by the harbour.

Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine on a visit to Sofiero Castle. The Castle was once King Gustav VI Adolf’s summer residence.

The Helsingborg Arena is newly built and located just a short walk from the city. Perfect for conferences, congresses, fairs and indoor sports.


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— with a royal touch! It takes only 20 minutes by ferry to Kronborg, Hamlet’s Castle in Denmark. Kronborg is one of Denmark´s bestknown attractions.

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Malmömässan Exhibition & Congress Centre A modern and flexible venue only ten minutes from Copenhagen International Airport The venue is located in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city. An upcoming star as a meeting destination. Known for it’s welcoming atmosphere, short distances and the water and beaches surrounding it. Compared to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Gothenburg – all well know destinations – Malmö can offer the same quality at a smaller budget. The entire venue is equipped with broadband internet access up to 100 Mb/s and wireless network is available throughout the whole building. We have the latest IT and audiovisual technology and everything is easy to use.

Malmö’s 4000 hotel rooms are just minutes away, and in 2015 we have the first of two hotels in direct connection with the venue.

The venue is approximately 20 000 m2 and contains, besides the large exhibition hall (14 000 m2), a conference & congress centre with sixteen meeting rooms for 20 up to 2000 people and two restaurants. Because of the great flexibility, competent restaurant and large space,

Malmömässan can arrange complex events with meetings, food & beverage and exhibition for up to 5000 people.

Mässgatan 6, 215 32 Malmö, Sweden Office: +46 40 631 11 10 Email: info@malmomassan.se

www.malmomassan.se


© iStockphoto.com/Bertlmann

INTERMISSION | 39

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” John Lennon 2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

Anna Johansson, Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan Photo: Sara Appelgren

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Swedish universities TAKE THE LEAD IN ROI AND MEETING DESIGN The meetings planning departments at universities have a constant flow of meetings and events on their agendas. Among other things, graduation ceremonies, open days for new students, alumni events, staff meetings and academic congresses. Anna Johansson, head of meetings and events at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, decided to do something to make the purpose, quality and measuring of meetings at her institution more transparent. In 2011 she began training her work colleagues using the ROI Institute’s ROI Method. “It was a new approach, but just as much a practical method. It felt like the curtains opened right in front of my eyes, and then there was no return.” She explains that the ROI Method only takes up the confirmation of relevant and measurable goals, and the measurement of results. But

transforming goals to good results by designing the experience of a meeting was a real challenge, but a challenge that has provided KTH with instruments that, as of yet, no other university in the world has. To Anna Johansson’s great surprise she could not find a course in meeting design anywhere. So she designed one herself together with three people from the international meetings industry: Eric de Groot, co-author of the recently published and acclaimed book Into the Heart of Meetings, Event Design Consultant Ruud Janssen, and Doctor Elling Hamso from Event ROI Institute. The programme began with a three-day course, which leads to three months individual coaching of all the participants. On top of this they get a special masterclass course, the aim of which is to put them on a continuous learning curve. Three other universities were also invited to participate: The 2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


Tia Ericsson, Akademikonferens Photo: Sara Appelgren

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“It felt like the curtains opened right in front of my eyes, and then there was no return”

universities of Uppsala and Lund in Sweden, and the University of Aalto in Helsinki. Tia Ericsson, conference director at Conference Uppsala, and Chair of Mötesakademin (Meetings Academy), an alliance of meetings managers or meetings planners at Swedish universities and colleges, comments on the first three-day course: “It’s a basic introduction to becoming a meeting designer, not a toolbox full of types of meetings, techniques and the like. In actual fact, the course contains nothing more than what our lecturers contribute with. I have learnt to appreciate meeting design rather as an art form; fetching knowledge and mental notes from sources within myself. Therein existed innovative solutions that were required to achieve the specific goals of each individual meeting. I found the toolbox inside myself.” Tia Ericsson says that no matter how good a toolbox is, it does not automatically make you a master builder. You have to learn the craft before you know how to use the tools you have received. “Now that I’ve begun learning the craft of meeting design, I can search

for tools to inspire me, and they’re not so difficult to find.” The course programme practices what it preaches and is planned entirely using the ROI Method. First it analyses the demands and expectations of the participants, then it identifies over forty specific learning goals. The fulfilment of each of the goals forms thereafter the basis of the learning experiences that are part of the three-day course, the continued coaching period, and the concluding masterclass. “It made me realise that the ROI Method and meeting design is an integrated collection of skills,” says Eric de Groot. “The ROI Method establishes goals and calculates results, but does not automatically make the meeting an effective learning experience. Likewise, meeting design becomes a strict collection of measurable goals with the result-measuring phase becoming an exercise without goals.” In the ongoing coaching process, the Murally tool is used (www.mural. ly) to make it easier to collaborate online. The software is still in its beta version, but already works without any major bugs. Event Designer

Ruud Janssen calls Murally a tool for visual people. Using it is like entering a room with whiteboards on all the walls. Each page is like a mural. “For people who are used to using conventional online collaboration tools with document lists and discussion forums, working with graphics seamlessly linked to documents, videos, discussions and other resources is a new and refreshing experience,” he says. Thus far, teachers and course participants are satisfied with the first prototype of the course programme. In order to measure the success of the course, participants have to agree or disagree with four statements. A scale of five indicates the knowledge level attained by each participant. At the start the average grade was 3.3 with 3.7 being achieved in the introductory course. The aim is now 4.0 after the coaching and masterclass period in December.

2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

Photo: Sara Appelgren

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RADAR | 45

Into the Heart of Meetings A BOOK REVIEW BY ELLING HAMSO, EVENT ROI INSTITUTE

Authors Eric de Groot and Mike van der Vijver claim to have written the first book ever about meeting design. You may have to read the book before you agree with them. This is the craft of meeting design, going deep into the heart of meetings. You don’t appreciate the title either until you are well into the text. This is not a meeting designer’s toolbox, there are no tools or interactive formats or recipes for integrating social media, apps or interactive technologies into meeting design. A toolbox doesn’t make you a meeting designer, the authors would argue, just like a cabinet maker’s toolbox doesn’t turn you into an instant cabinet maker. You have to learn the craft before you can put a toolbox to its proper use. This is a book about the craft. Not a Quick Read

It follows from this approach that it is not a quick and easy read, just like there is no quick fix way to learn meeting design. I enjoyed every page of analysis and illustrations from the authors’ many years of meeting design practice, but its 320 pages are not skimmed through in a couple of afternoons. In fact, if you are really serious about learning the craft of meeting design, it may take a second read through to really get it, that’s what happened to me. I asked myself at times, how could they perhaps have made it shorter and more accessible,

but there was nothing I would want to miss. Anyway, it takes more than a book, however substantial, to become a meeting designer, but wherever you are on that path of becoming a professional in what the authors refer to as the ‘applied art’ of meeting design, this book will take you several steps further. The Characteristics of Meetings

Every concept is new, or presented in a new light, at least to me. The first of the book’s three sections deals with the Seven Characteristics of Meetings. Different approaches to analysing and understanding what happens in meetings, the insight required for good meeting design. Such as the connection between the sensory organs of the body and the mind, drawing on the new and fascinating science of social neurology and applying it to meetings. “The physical presence of participants is the most important characteristic of meetings as a means of communication.” As obvious as it is unexploited in the design of the meeting experience. Another perspective is to look at meetings as a stage. “Meetings aren’t really about what happens at the meeting, they are about something happening somewhere else.” I know, you have to read it twice and think before it starts to sink in, but it is absolutely true. This is also the power of meetings, being able to leave reality behind

and experiment with things that you couldn’t otherwise do. In fact, this is the strongest overall impression this book leaves me with. Meetings are a stage. The good meeting designer is a theatre director. Not surprisingly the professional background of one of the authors is that of an actor and director. Allow me to comment on just one more of the seven characteristics. Knowledge is Everywhere. We have all read Surowiecki’s Wisdom of the Crowds and we know that different meeting formats may encourage participants to share what they know. But only the craftsman designer really understands how to put that knowledge into practical meeting design. It is not a matter of formats, but rather a deep understanding of the mechanisms at play when different people meet. Read the examples in the book and you will agree. The Purpose of Meetings

The second part of the book deals with the purpose of meetings. The role of the Meeting Owner and how the behaviour of participants is the only mechanism by which the meeting owner and other stakeholders, including the participants themselves, derive value from the meeting. I like one of their standard meeting owner questions, asking him to make a list of verbs of what he would like the participants to do. The second 2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“Meetings aren’t really about what happens at the meeting, they are about something happening somewhere else”

part also deals with content. What makes the content ‘hot and sticky’, having the powerful impact on participant behaviour that the meeting owner desires? Designing the Meeting Experience

The third and final section of the book is about the task of actually designing the meeting. By the time you get this far, you probably have a different view of the purpose and nature of what you are going to design. This part of the book drives home three key concepts; Content Flow, the Experience Concept and the Togetherness Environment, the latter being the shared comfort zone of the participants. The idea of content that ‘flows’ took some getting used to. When knowledge flows from one person to another as it is shared, it doesn’t diminish. It is not like the flow of money, if you give some away, you are left with less. Rather to the contrary, if you give knowledge away, you are likely to be left behind with more. The authors are not the first to focus on the role of content and content flow and they duly recognize the work done by Maarten Vanneste in his book Meeting Architecture. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

Content flow is not just about it being shared, but also how knowledge changes its meaning and significance as it develops during the meeting. In their briefings with meeting owners the authors will ask him to make a drawing of how he sees content flow during the meeting. I bet you don’t ask meeting owners that question. I am not sure if I would have the confidence and courage to do so, but some of the answers that Mike and Eric got are truly intriguing. The same content flow may take place under very different experience concepts. Even the most simple content flow of imparting some piece of information from one person to another may happen in a myriad of different ways. The notion of the experience concept includes the entire physical and emotional ambience of the meeting and all the sensory perceptions of the participants, and more. Everything that happens at a meeting is embraced by content flow and the experience concept. It is not an easy task to do justice to such a groundbreaking book in just a few words. Mike and Eric are not the only expert meeting designers around, there are many others

like them, with deep insights into how to design meetings in order to change human behaviour. But until now, this expert knowledge has largely remained inside the heads of these clever people, not codified and presented to others who would like to learn the craft of meeting design. What is the difference between this book and its notion of meeting design from the popular movement of Meeting Architecture, you might ask. There is no difference, it is all the same. In his book Meeting Architecture, Maarten Vanneste didn’t finish with the traditional list of references, he made instead a list of books to be written. Books that would bring knowledge to bear on meeting design from different disciplines, such as the theatre, from which this book draws a lot of its wisdom, sociology, neurology, psychology and of course the craft of meeting design itself. This is one of those books, a very significant one, deserving a space on the bookshelf of every serious meeting designer.


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BOW LING TEXT

Atti Soenarso PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

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Large-scale film production normally entails massive financial investment and a demanding schedule with hardly any margin for error. Preparing a meeting or event is not unlike filming. One similarity is the importance of the location. Location managers are the people who seek out locations that best fulfil the vision of the film director. A film production could employ anything from one to twenty location managers. “Just like meetings and events planners, location managers are responsible for finding and arranging locations, monitoring them and getting things back to normal when the event is over. Nothing is left to chance. We’re talking about a film’s branding. With anything up to a few hundred million dollars invested in a film we can’t afford to make mistakes. It’s the same for the meetings and events industry.”

Bill Bowling is a supervising location manager, production consultant and expert in international film production with over thirty years’ experience spanning all the large Hollywood film studios. He has extensive knowledge of searching for international locations, a task that has taken him to over ninety countries. “The location has to work perfectly without any hitches. The right location not only carries the story forward in a film, it also creates the meeting. It’s like giving the director a clean white canvas to paint on. We always try to create magic in a film, something the meetings and events industry should take on board. A film 2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“ With anything up to a few hundred million dollars invested in a film we can’t afford to make mistakes”

location should always enhance the story and be logistically accessible to make the filming more efficient. Sustainable production is just as important as keeping to the budget.” Bill Bowling previously worked for Warner Bros Pictures as worldwide locations executive and production consultant, helping governments around the world to develop their film and media industry. This he does by holding seminars on international film production, encompassing large feature films, independent film productions, TV productions, TV advertising, printed local advertising, new media and online productions. He has held seminars and courses in South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Chile, Jordan, Indonesia, Sweden, Austria, Spain, Costa Rica and Abu Dhabi, as well as in several US states. People in the film industry describe Bill Bowling as an expert in building structures and pointing out the benefits of a film location. Thanks to his international network he is good at enticing film productions to the destinations he is involved with. He is a member of the Directors Guild MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

of America, a co-founder and former director of the Location Managers Guild of America, and advisor for the Asian Film Commission Network. He is also on the advisory board of the Association of Film Commissioners International. Beverly Hills Cop, The Horse Whisperer, Red Dragon, The Insider, Enemy of the State, Saving Private Ryan and Just Cause are just some of the forty films for which he has been location manager or involved with in one way or another. He has also written a screenplay treatment called Gulf War which was optioned by Oliver Stone. On top of this he has written numerous reports for the film industry and is author of Location Guide, the world’s leading book on film production. When not traveling he divides his time between West Hollywood and Portland, Oregon. Bill Bowling says that in most film productions a location manager is first on the employment list. Sometimes this is done by the producer or the studio, and sometimes even before they have chosen a director. He explains that location scouting could take three to six months, with


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Artist: Daniel Knorr Artwork: ”Natural Cultural” Färgfabriken

“ A film location should always enhance the story”

a further three months to shoot the film. This is followed by post-production, by which time the location manager has usually left the production. It takes a further three to four months before the film is ready for distribution. If it has plenty of visual effects then it could take a lot longer. Film production teams face constant change and shifting demands, but this gives them a creative energy boost and gets them thinking outside the box. “Location managers try to find locations that best fulfil the vision of the film director, but directors don’t always know what they want until they’ve seen a proposed location. This is where you work closely with the creative film team in trying to think outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes a location could become more powerful during the film take than we realised at the beginning. It’s similar to when characters develop during filming.” The location can also support the underlying theme of the story. Bill Bowling describes a large deserted prairie.

“It’s winter, the wind is howling and the snow is whirling around frozen, unmoving cattle. That picture describes more than several chapters of a book and could shape the context of the whole story. For the most part, a lot of stories rest on the choice of the film location. It could be decisive and underpin the whole story.” Not unexpectedly, Bill Bowling sees the creative side of filmmaking as the most interesting part. He explains that when you go out looking for film locations you become acting director. You know what a scene requires. You take your camera (most often stills) and photograph suitable locations that you later show to the director and production designer. “In a way my job is more fun than a director’s because nobody’s keeping on at me about the high budget, I don’t need to play up to celebrities and I don’t have to give instructions to a hundred or so film workers.” Bill Bowling says that the ability to communicate with other people is a vital skill for a location manager. You could find yourself dealing with homeless people one minute and the CEO of a large corporation the next. 2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


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“Directors don’t always know what they want until they’ve seen a proposed location”

You also need an understanding of townscapes and landscapes, and the needs of on-location film production. Above all, you need knowledge of photography and filming and what it takes to wade through government and company bureaucracies. A location manager also scouts locations, that is to say they search for possible filming sites in the location. A location scout only looks for film sites and is not involved in logistics or filming. A supervising location manager could be in charge of a scout department with ten or more location colleagues, handling scouting, preparation, shooting and wrap up. As well as a supervising location manager, the credits we see rolling after a film could contain several location managers, location scouts, location key assistants, location assistants, unit managers and possibly also a coordinator at the location office. Or as Bill Bowling puts it: “A good many strong wills that have to agree to disagree.” Careful preparation is an absolute must. “I always read through the manuscript twice to be sure I don’t miss MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

essential details. The first time to become engrossed in the story, the second time to identify the film locations. One important rule when scouting for locations is never show a director a place that is not available or is practically unusable. Film directing is a very creative and emotional process. Some places just don’t feel right. It’s normal for a director, location manager or production designer to fall in love with a place and convince themselves that it’s perfect despite nobody else agreeing with them.” The usual approach is to inspect and photograph at least three suitable sites that are worth presenting to the director. The director always makes the final decision, a process that has been known to rumble on. At one film shoot that Bill Bowling was involved in, the director rejected a hundred sites before finally making up his mind. “A lot of it had to do with his own motives for choosing that particular place. You never know when something like that is going to happen. I can see this happening in the planning of meetings too. How often does a meetings or event organiser come

up with three alternatives based on their suitability for the meeting in question?” Throughout his life Bill Bowling has been interested in the ‘power of place’, how psychological feelings are influenced by the design and appearance of a space. “This comes from studying architectural history and working in film, where one instant of seeing a certain kind of location or set can tell so much about the story and characters. At one point I wrote a masters thesis called “Design Approaches to Therapeutic Environments.” This was about how the physical qualities of an office can affect outcomes for psychotherapy. The conclusion was that design can have a strong influence on therapeutic outcomes. “So it is clear to me that the environment where an event takes place can have significant impact on the experience of the participants. One of the key elements is for a space to be ‘special’ in some ways. It needs to help bring people out of their ordinary routines to realise that the experience is fresh and unusual – opening


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THE IMPORTANCE OF A LOCATION | 59

“In a way my job is more fun than a director’s because nobody’s keeping on at me about the high budget”

them to new messages, and hopefully involving them more in the process.” If, as a location manager, you are not aware of the local stipulations at a destination then government authorities could put a spanner in the works. Bill Bowling would go so far as to say that these people are the most important of all. “A location manager must know how to get permission for a film shoot. There’s nothing worse than an official suddenly turning up and shutting down the shoot because something’s not permitted. To take one example, the area could be a military zone without the team being aware of it. As a rule, representatives of a destination help to acquire the permission needed because most of them realise the importance of the film being made where the director wants it to be made. A film production is often out in the open in streets and squares with a great many safety concerns. Loud noise is also very much part of the makeup. Some scenes take a very long time to film. Setups with multiple takes is not unusual in one day.”

When asked if there are any destinations that welcome film crews, Bill Bowling ponders before answering that it is a case of being flexible. A lot of places are aware of the needs of a film production team and are prepared to receive them with open arms. This could mean plenty of parking spaces, no limitations on a working day and ease in acquiring the necessary permission. But you also have to get the local people onside. “Most people like the idea of having a film crew just down the road from where they live. A film shoot employs a lot of people who spend a great deal of money on things like hotel accommodation, restaurant visits, catering, car hire, film site rents, etcetera. Filmmaking is a tourist magnet for a lot of places.” But what the host city wants to show does not always tally with the film team’s needs. Over the years, Bill Bowling has come into contact with a great many convention bureaus and people in the tourist industry. “When we ask convention bureaus for help, the same problems usually arise. They nearly always want to show the best side of their destina-

tion, the places we have no interest in filming. But the best films are dramatic films that are rarely made in beautiful surroundings alone. Most film commissioners and other people directly or indirectly involved in the global film industry understand this while convention bureaus and tourist industry people find it much more difficult to comprehend.” Location managers are not a large occupational group in the film industry, but many work within the same geographical area. Bill Bowling estimates around 500 in California alone, 500 in the rest of the country and probably a further 500 in the rest of the world. The need for a certain type of location manager has greatly reduced in recent years due to the sharp increase in the use of visual effects. “One is a backdrop being placed against a green screen, which dispenses with a lot of people in a film team. Digital cameras, the Internet, Google and Google Maps have also made it much easier to find locations. Another big difference is the fact that films are made all over the world today.” 2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


60 | THE IMPORTANCE OF A LOCATION

“The best films are dramatic films that are rarely made in beautiful surroundings alone”

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Bill Bowling says he was lucky to get a job at a hotel. He was soon working as a chauffeur for a film company, after which he wrote film scripts. It was not long before he got his first assignment as a location manager. He has also worked as an assistant director, production manager and associate producer. “I’ve been lucky to have worked my whole life in the film industry. I’ve travelled to a lot of countries and met hundreds of fascinating people. I’m now sharing what I know with students all over the world. It’s a singularly wonderful job.”

Artist: Daniel Knorr Artwork: ”Natural Cultural” Färgfabriken

An event in 1978 was the turning point in Bill Bowling’s career. A Hollywood location manager died of a sudden heart attack in the middle of filming the TV series Barnaby Jones. “They needed somebody who could slot in quickly. The previous week I’d given away one of my business cards with Location Management under my name. Somebody saw the card, called me, and later the same day I began working as a location manager. That event shaped the rest of my life.” Bill Bowling’s first taste of filmmaking came in 1972 at Portland State University in Oregon. It was here, after leaving four other universities, that he began studying film, a subject he had always loved, both in theory and practice. He made six documentaries and began teaching film production. “I only went to Hollywood to learn advanced techniques and become a better teacher. I arrived in 1975 with eighty-five dollars in my pocket to meet the only two people I knew there. But they quickly dissociated themselves when they realised we had nothing in common.”


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Welcome to the Swedish capital of Textile trade

boras.com/meetings


63 | SHARMA

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.

19 Steps TO A VICTIM-FREE COMPANY At my Lead Without a Title presentations for The Fortune 500 like Starbucks, Nike, FedEx, GE and Oracle as well as for the fast-growth mid-sized companies I work with, one of the things people find most valuable is my “Victimhood Versus Leadership Matrix”. Just imagine a company (or a community) where everyone has learned how to shift from victimhood into outright leadership of themselves, their performance and their results? Essentially, I teach our beloved clients that each day at work – with our teammates, customers and suppliers – we really only have one choice in every engagement: we can behave like poor little victims (giving away our power to be innovative, excellent and awesome) … or … we can step up and demonstrate some real leadership (which is not about a title but about delivering impressive outcomes). If you like the idea of the people you work with becoming leaders within their roles (and the CEO of their job responsibilities), then please study, debate and share the following ‘19 Victim Versus Leader Distinctions.’

1. Victims talk about people. Leaders talk about ideas. 2. Victims procrastinate around their goals. Leaders execute on them. 3. Victims enjoy watching things (like TV and video games). Leaders like making things. 4. Victims are distracted. Leaders are concentrated. 5. Victims abhor change. Leaders adore change. 6. Victims read what everyone reads. Leaders read what few do. 7. Victims associate with other victims. Leaders spend most of their time with superstars (and thereby dramatically elevate their productivity and success). 8. Victims are stuck in the past. Leaders are inspired by the future. 9. Victims resist hard projects. Leaders seek them out (knowing it refines their chops). 10. Victims work at mediocrity. Leaders view work as an opportunity to pursue mastery. 11. Victims give most of their time to leisure. Leaders spend a ton of time on their learning.

12. Victims tear people down (because it makes them feel ­better). Leaders lift others up. 13. Victims are rude. Leaders are polite. 14. Victims practise negativity. Leaders are unreasonably positive. 15. Victims can’t wait to retire. Leaders are afraid to retire (why retire when you’re having so much fun building something important, growing more leaders and producing value for the world?). 16. Victims waste time. Leaders exploit time. 17. Victims achieve things for the applause. Leaders achieve them for the fulfillment. 18. Victims sleep late. Leaders rise early. 19. Victims view work as a means to pay the bills. Leaders view work as a way to change the world. My great wish is that these ideas inspire you to Lead Without a Title, lift your teammates to their next level of wow and grow a great company.

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A

BRAIN PAGECHECK | 65 TITLE | 65

REHN

TEXT

Tomas Dalström

PHOTOS

Sara Appelgren

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BRAIN CHECK | 67

Alf Rehn, professor in business economics, was born in Finland but grew up in Sweden for the most part. He began studying at Åbo Academy University before transferring to the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm where he defended a dissertation on gift economies. He is also interested in philosophy, anthropology and other business economic subjects, and has written several books. He currently lives in Copenhagen. Alf Rehn is president of the Finnish advertising agency, Satumaa, located in Åbo and Helsinki. The company also works with the Baltic countries and Ukraine. He lectures and works with several companies in a range of fields. The Sex Pistols is one of his favourite bands. You once said that conferences usually gather birds of a feather; ‘we who understand.’ The conference is a way of escaping the other, irritating people. Who are these irritating people?

“It could be our customers, or, if an MD meeting, the employees. They’re not here with their irritating questions and their moaning. Everybody here is on the same wavelength

and can sit and amuse each other. At conferences like this, delegates can rapidly regress into not seeing new impulses, but instead seek confirmation of their worldly notions and delusions.” So the comfort zone plays a vital role in this process?

“I speak at countless meetings, conferences and events, and usually point out that we believe that the comfort zone, the idea that we get locked into our own thoughts, for the most part affects somebody else. We find it very easy to point the finger at somebody in their comfort zone. It could be a good thing when you meet at a conference, for example, to real-

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“I’ve spoken at plenty of events that I’ve afterwards regarded as a lost opportunity”

ise how easy it is to make it a comfort zone. I’m not saying that all meetings and events turn out that way, but they do run the risk. We attend conferences to challenge our way of thinking, to get new impulses. At least that’s what we say, but we already have a pretty good picture of a lot of the things presented at such events. Themes like: we need a new approach; technological development is steaming ahead; some American companies are very adept. The fact is a lot of things are just repeated and are not really as new or radical as we imagine them to be. We attend and present things that people recognise, things that are a soft challenge.” So we receive confirmation of being good enough?

“Yes, we’re presented with a case that feels hip, innovative and radical. We recognise it and feel a bit better. I’m in control, I can keep up. And when the great innovation guru speaks and everybody laughs at the same time, it creates a feeling of togetherness.” So it could become too cosy?

“There are many ways for a meeting or event to become too cosy. Naturally, one doesn’t attend an event to MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

feel uncomfortable the whole time, but I think it’s important to be aware of these things. A meeting can provide an opportunity to shake up our thoughts and challenge our comfort zone, but only if we’re aware of how we function. It could easily go the other way. We slap each other’s backs and think we’re so special, we who understand, we who are in the know. It becomes a case of us and them, those who are not here. “This especially concerns the two things that I work with: creativity and innovation. A ‘we believe in creativity and innovation’ feeling is created, somewhat like a revivalist movement. When we return to work, some of the warm and cosy atmosphere disappears and we begin leering at the others, those who weren’t there, who don’t understand, and we start to project our discomfort onto them. We think if only they’d been there they’d also realise that I’m right. None of these examples mean there’s something wrong with meetings in general, it’s just a way of saying that we have to watch out for consensus and affinity; the straightjacket of positive feelings that events can sometimes create.”

This must put demands on meetings organisers, which of course could be unpleasant.

“Of course it’s easier and more fun to arrange something where you can minimise friction using fun and games, where a great time is had by one and all. But if you’re an MD looking to bring about changes in your organisation then you won’t be looking for wide grins and group affinity. I’ve spoken at plenty of events that I’ve afterwards regarded as a lost opportunity. For a brief moment I had the chance to delve into issues that were difficult for the organisation to handle and for the delegates to work on. Instead of entering the unpleasant and problematic sphere, we took a coffee break and afterwards a stand-up comedian made fun of how we misunderstand each other in an organisation. I let the chance slip away in preference for optimising the cheerful atmosphere.” One of the largest speaker agencies has said that most customers want speakers who are amusing. One speaker said he arrives in the afternoon like a chocolate cream with the coffee after the MD has presented his boring report. If that is anything


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70 | BRAIN CHECK

to go by then people would appear to only want to have fun.

“I should point out that I’ve got nothing against humour. Humour can be an excellent way of getting close to the unpleasantness. You have to get people to drop their guard, which is why so many really good speakers use humour. To get really close to an issue you have to get people into a zone.

If you set the wheels rolling then surely you must be prepared to take care of the aftereffects?

“That is, of course, crucial, something you should always talk with the organiser about. It’s strange that people who organise meetings and events don’t consider the aftereffects. When asked to speak, I sometimes ask customers what kind of atmos-

“Instead of entering the unpleasant and problematic sphere, we take a coffee break”

Not necessarily a comfort zone, but a zone where you can show them how limited they are by ransacking things and getting them to process the message in another way. If I just stand shouting at them because they’re locked in their thinking, all I get is resistance; ‘yet another arrogant professor giving a sermon.’ You have to get around that.” What kind of meetings do you speak at?

“Events, mostly. It could be internal; an MD giving the troops a pep talk type of thing. But also customer meetings to which they invite their closest 200 customers and suppliers, or branch and organisation meetings. They basically follow the same pattern. They’re attempting to tackle a difficult issue like leadership, motivation, globalisation or cultural diversity. Difficult and problematic issues that meet with all forms of resistance. But at the same time they’re handling it with kid gloves for fear of hurting somebody’s feelings.” MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

phere they’re expecting afterwards. Do they want people to go home with a smile on their faces or to feel that they are receptive to change. In other words, what kind of mindspace do you want people to move into? The strange thing is, they seem surprised that they’ve never thought of that before. I say that if I’m at my best and people are really into it, within an hour I can give people one thought to take with them out of the room. If I’m absolutely fantastic I can get them to remember it the next day, but not the day after. That’s as far as a speech can propel them forward. I ask them what they’ve planned for the day after tomorrow. Not many think that far. You can’t just arrange an onward ho! meeting without following it up in the organisation afterwards in the hope they’ll remember the message anyway.” I spoke with a person who had worked with meetings for thirty years. He was of the opinion that

nothing much has changed with regard to meetings content.

“I understand what they mean and agree to some extent. The main purpose of a meeting is communication, and that hasn’t changed much since the ancient Greeks. It has become more common to organise our activities around meetings, but the soul of the meeting has changed very little. I once said that meetings have become more professional, but they are basically unchanged. We speak for the same amount of time, that is to say twenty, forty-five or sixty minutes. There should be a keynote-speaker, something amusing and something proactive. There should be coffee at points A, B and C. The same old … But we do it better and more professionally today.” Why is it so unchanging and why does it take so long to implement change?

“Part of the answer is that people don’t like change. We feel safe in our comfort zone and hate having to leave it. It’s a myth that people like change. They like just enough creativity and nice and cosy innovation. They show enormous loathing towards real change. When I come in and say we’re going to do something really different and suggest a few things, I get to hear stuff like ‘we have to take this up, and the MD wishes to say this’.” Have you ever suggested something that you got no response to?

“Several times. On one occasion we suggested that a large company should have a devil’s advocate popping up at a large event. It would be fun having somebody who challenged the MD and the hired guru. Somebody would give a five minute anti-speech saying everything was bullshit. They replied that it sounded really good and they would consider it for another event. That’s the type of answer we get. I can understand it


BRAIN CHECK | 71

Thinking outside the box is no easy thing

1 2

The box – what you are normally aware of and think about. Also known as the comfort zone.

The outer secret box – a realm beyond what you normally regard as a realm because you are not

normally aware of what is in it. It controls the thoughts in the box (1) at any price in order to create harmony. The outer secret box does this using a number of barriers designed to keep thoughts inside the box within the framework of the outer secret box. We are locked in by boundaries that are formed by our education, our cultural and social background, and our class identity. In the same way that the outer secret box shuts out things that it finds unpleasant, it will automatically ignore things that our culture and upbringing teach us are improper.

3

The self-evident realm – when we get too close, the brain secretes stress hormones to stop us chal-

lenging the outer box. When the brain meets something new that

fits within the framework, it rewards us with dopamine. What Alf Rehn has chosen to call real creativity lies beyond the self-evident realm. To get there we have to come to terms with our desire to stay within the box, or comfort zone. We have to consciously re-evaluate what we find unpleasant to think about, and rethink.

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At this very moment new ideas are being created by delegates. Be part of it.

AustriA-Center.Com messeCongress.At viennA.Convention.At

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BRAIN CHECK | 73

“The most successful innovation speakers in Sweden deliver a can of processed hot dogs”

to a certain extent. Event organisers want to deliver a quality product, so take as few risks as possible. Taking risks could result in them not getting more events to organise. They emanate from the customer’s conservatism. Sometimes it’s a correct stance, but sometimes a little over the top about how unwilling customers are to try new things. The thing we are most afraid of in experiments like this is for it to turn out corny. Each and every one of us has probably endured more than one meeting – I’m referring to small meetings here – where we played games to get to know each other better. At times like that I wish I had a machete to chop myself free. It’s often embarrassing, and that’s a legitimate feeling. I understand why many people feel that way.” Then it is safer to let things be as they are?

“Think about how unpleasant it becomes when we insist that people not sit in their usual places at a meeting. It’s not easy. ‘I would prefer to sit next to Ulla from the accounts department if possible.’ We’re not only locked in by others, we’re also locked in by ourselves in our endeavour to find a comfortable and con-

trolled place. And to make it safe and secure we repeat the same procedures at all large meetings. The same introductions and conclusions. The same directions to the toilets and where coffee is served. Be back here by ten past one. It’s a bit like flying.” We people think 50,000 thoughts a day and 90 percent of all thoughts we think today are the same thoughts as we thought yesterday. What can we do to change that?

“With regard to yourself, you should ask whether you’re getting enough impulses. Do you force yourself into a sphere where you can’t fall back on the routines you’ve used to solve the problems you’ve had before? With regard to meetings, you should ask the question: What is it we want to achieve? Do we just want to repeat a discussion we’ve had many times before and take in the safe speakers, those who deliver and know exactly what they deliver? The most popular and bestselling speakers in Sweden today are people who deliver a lecture exactly the same every time. It fits like a glove; they have a good stage setting, they’ve worked out exactly how to move on stage and the jokes come in

exactly the same places. It’s safe to buy because you know exactly what you’re getting. There are no surprises. Success for many in the speaker business is down to their exceptional non-creativeness. They’re not a semi-manufactured article but the finished article. This concerns innovation speakers in particular, which is the most paradoxical thing of all. The most successful innovation speakers in Sweden deliver a can of processed hot dogs.” Do meetings follow trends?

“Most definitely. Standing meetings were very hip at one point. Sometimes large meetings are in fashion to give everyone the chance to speak, other times it’s small meetings that are the trend. But they appear to be just ripples on the surface because standard meetings seem to have a permanent shape and have survived endless trends.” All organisations have a lot of meetings and the number of meetings has risen sharply in the past ten to twenty years.

“Today they have routine meetings for just about anything. Routine meetings have become a plague in modern organisations. We call

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“We call meetings because we don’t know what would happen if we didn’t”

meetings because we don’t know what would happen if we didn’t. We’re expected to say that meetings are important and meaningful. It’s important to communicate. If a consultant visits a company and asks if meetings are important, they expect everybody to say yes like a flock of sheep. They wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if the answer was no. “There are people in large organisations and within the public sector whose main task is to glide from one meeting to another. They don’t actually do much, but because they sit in at so many meetings nobody actually questions their role in the organisation. They’re just room meat, bodies at a meeting. These are not serious meetings we’re talking about but a blot on the landscape. “There appears to be a whole tribe of people going from seminar to seminar. Their main task seems to be to attend seminars, or to network, as it’s so quaintly called. You wonder where our world is heading when attending meetings has become a crucial supplement to productive work. It’s become an occupation in its own right.” MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

How do organisations utilise the knowledge amassed by these travelling meetings delegates?

“I doubt that they have that much knowledge to pass on. Some individuals I’ve met just glide from one place to another without contributing anything in particular. One could say that there are people who simply never find their place and it’s only in fleeting meetings that they find some relevance in their lives. I see them more as a spin-off of the modern organisation. That is to say we’ve elevated meetings to something self-legitimate. You don’t need to explain why you’re attending a seminar or a meeting. It’s the natural thing to do. So normal in fact that a person who does nothing other than glide from seminar to seminar can find their place, so to speak.” How would you go about creating a new type of meeting to shake delegates up a little?

“If we’re talking about meetings in an organisation, we all have a responsibility to try to minimise them. Make them as painless as possible. Ensure that we don’t get stuck at the fun and games stage, but find ways of pushing people forward and getting

things done with the greatest possible efficiency. By this I don’t mean some neoliberal effectiveness audit. When I work with event managers it usually focuses on designing meetings to be productive, to lead to more lasting change, to step out of the comfort zone. On the other hand, I’m quite often asked to give forty-five minutes of amusement or provocation. At the end of the day it’s the customer who decides. When I work with MDs and the like, I usually ask what they do to minimise the number of meetings and to maximise efficiency and the positives in the meetings they arrange. “As a professor I’m also head of the institution. I’ve introduced meetings that are no longer than twenty minutes. It’s a simple but brusque framework. I say we have twenty minutes to deal with this. It makes people choke on their coffee, saying ‘But we’ve got lots to get through’, to which I say ‘No! We have twenty minutes.’ We can sit here and grumble or we can try to come to an action point. If you can get people to say, ‘The most important thing is …’ then you’ve taken a good stride forward. Somebody has tried to prioritise, somebody has thought


»

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lonely planet ’ s best in travel gothenburg the no .

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Photo: Gothia Towers/Svenska Mässan, Kjell Holmner, Shutterstock, Kim Svensson, Thorskogs Slott

World-class meetings Lonely Planet picked Gothenburg as one of the best value destinations in the world 2013. With the beautiful archipelago around the corner, we guarantee a whole new meeting experience.

Our bustling city often arranges major international meetings, sporting events and concerts. Metropolitan benefits are combined with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment are within convenient walking distance. We’re building for the future and several facilities are currently expanding or renovating. In 2015, the Swedish Exhibition Centre and Gothia Towers will be the largest fully integrated hotel, exhibition and conference facility in Europe.

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BRAIN CHECK | 77

about what is the most important thing on the agenda. Another thing that I’ve done is to check how much employees run off to meetings. I’ve even banned people from attending meetings. ‘You attend too many meetings and don’t get enough work done. You’ll have to say no and say that I’ve forbidden it’.” Why do we attend so many meetings?

“One of the things that drives people more than anything else is the fear of missing out on the real life that is happening elsewhere. You attend meetings as a sort of risk management. You suffer when you’re sitting there, but at least you haven’t missed any vital information or decisions that could be crucial to you. This is one of the main reasons. We’re so afraid we’re going to miss something.” How do you handle people who sit fiddling with their laptops and smartphones?

“People have no interest in ninety-five percent of the things that take place at a meeting. They sit there waiting to hear something that could be of relevance to them. This makes the meeting the most ineffective organisational form we have. You take, say, twenty intelligent and productive people who waste ninety-five percent of their time waiting for something of interest. Our processes are not as good, well-considered or systematic as we think. On the contrary, most of our organisational processes are very clumsy, but they are good enough, or at least not bad

enough, to warrant an immediate end to them.” Do you tell people to shut off their laptops and phones?

“If I’m running a meeting I try to make sure there’s not a lot of time to sit and look at something else. I’m not one of those who likes to control things like that during a meeting. If I’m in charge and we’re working at a rate of knots and everybody has some sort of focus then that’s good enough for me. I notice when a meeting is moving into low gear. Somebody takes a quick look at their phone, followed by two more, then four. Then it accelerates. The dynamics disappear in a natural way. This is where I usually say we’ll finish here. If somebody says we haven’t taken up this or that, I say we can take that at another meeting when everybody is as alert as at the beginning of this meeting. People are looking at their mobiles. It’s pointless continuing. There’s no rush, so we’ll end here. They’re not always so happy about it because they’d expected another sort of person holding the baton. And some even see it as being somewhat impudent of me to just close the meeting like that because of general tiredness, but when you’re in charge you have to be prepared to make that type of decision.”

“Sitting in a meeting is a physical thing. We find a position and a way to control our bodies in a meeting room. This is interesting from a power-theoretical perspective. We learn while at university to sit properly at meetings, take notes and not visit the toilet until the break. Another thing is, each meeting room is built in a certain way and locks us in in a certain way. They usually have oval or rectangular tables, which enables the person at the front to chair the meeting and control things. There are technical aids, like a projector to fix a picture at the front, and there’s a whiteboard. This is all structure, technology that makes it difficult to break the meetings pattern. The room defines the meeting. So, we’re people who control our bodies in rooms of controlled technology. And we wonder why meetings never change. There are so many layers of control that it becomes nigh on impossible.”

We have not talked about the room, which also affects the meeting. There’s a big difference between a classroom and a meetings room.

Tomas Dalström is an author, journalist, lecturer and innovator with a passion for the brain. He’s the author of the book “Bäst i text · Läseboken/ Skrivboken (Best in Text · The Reading Book/The Writing Book)” which is about how to write texts that communicate on the terms and conditions of the brain. He runs the websites veryimportantbrains.se and readrunner.se.

2013 No. 12 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL


78 | 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

Not everybody WHO TRAVELS ARE TOURISTS In 1950, a few years after the Second World War, there were 25 million tourists in the world. Twenty-five years on the figure was 222 million. But not even then, in 1975, was there concensus over what a tourist actually was. Tourism was not seen as an industry but a constellation of a variety of industries. This question was also asked: is business travel and tourism the same thing? They could not agree so the compromise was travel and tourism because they shared the same infrastructure. Many thought that it was strange that tourism into a country is labelled as export in the books and tourism out of the country is labelled as import. But that’s the way it is. It’s the reverse of normal product export. The Swizz soon realised that this industry would need a lot of trained hotel and kitchen staff so began courses that are still ranked among the best in the world. In the 1970s, travel and tourism advertising was the single largest form of advertising in US newspapers, and Americans swarmed over to Europe. Many of them had a thin little book with them from 1960, Europe on $5 a Day, written by Arthur Frommer. The first edition sold 5,000. Frommer quit his job as a lawyer, changed careers and set up a successful travel book publisher. He wrote 58 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 12 2013

books on travel. He was also the first to call tourism an industry, which is nothing more than a declaration of size. When the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989, followed by the Soviet Union in 1991, tourism across the world began to take off. 1989 and 1991: It feels like yesterday. At the same time China opened its borders. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, among others, became nations in their own right and many people yearned to travel. Before 1990, tourism in Western Europe was the great winner with over 60 percent of the world’s tourists choosing Europe as a destination. James Robinson III (make a note of the name) was then CEO of American Express. In 1988 he invited a number of actors in the travel industry to a meeting in Paris where the decision was made to compile tourism data. The task went to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. James Robinson III was also behind the World Travel & Tourism Council that was set up in Washington in 1991. The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development began talking about setting up what is now known as the Tourism Satellite Accounts. The UN took this over in 2001. That’s just a whisper away on our timescale.

In 2007, figures showed that world tourism had a turnover of $7,000 million and had already become the largest employer in the world. 25 million tourists in 1960, 250 million in 1970, 536 million in 1995, 922 million in 2008 and a billion travellers in 2012. An increase of an average of six percent a year. If it does not tail off we are looking at 1.6 billion tourists by 2020 and we will pass the two billion mark in 2024. But that is not right. Because not everybody who travels are tourists. The largest group of travellers is not made up of people going on holiday. It is people travelling around the world for research and export purposes, who build global industries, who make amazing educational contributions, lifesaving missions, who build peace and liberty for increasingly more people. Those who travel five days a week, 42 weeks a year. For your sake and my sake. Not for their own sakes.


Profile for Meetings International

Meetings International #12, Sep 2013 (English)  

Meetings International #12, Sep 2013 (English)