No. 17 Apr 2016 €19 / 165 SEK
PER SCHLINGMANN world-leading communication expert Man’s worst enemy is his own world view GOING THE DISTANCE WILD KNOWLEDGE MEETINGS 3.0 NEURAL NETWORKS KELLERMAN
Unforgettable you can leave the islands, but never forget them
everything seems simpler at a distance, like your new strategy.
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3 Unity in Diversity
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Istanbul Congress Center The biggest congress center in Istanbul
he international Istanbul Congress Center is a venue boasting world-class technological infrastructure, experienced staff, and high-quality service it offers to visitors.
Spanning an area of 120,000 m² on a total of seven floors, Istanbul Congress Center hosts social, cultural and professional events of all kinds, including but not limited to national and international congresses, conferences, symposiums, corporate meetings, fairs, exhibitions, concerts, musicals, and theater and movie premieres. ICC is located at a central region that is close to the historical and touristic richness of the city and hosts the leading hotel chains of the world. The Auditorium with 3,555 seats, 88 meeting rooms conforming to international standards, 6,000 m² open area, 14,576 m² Exhibition Hall and a Car Park with a capacity of 850 vehicles. The auditorium provides many choices for event organizations such as simultaneous translation rooms, theatre or other room styles. Besides the auditorium the venue has foyers which may be
used as the entrance hall in large scale organizations. The foyers may also be used as an extra space for exhibitions, cocktails, coffee breaks. Together with 24 simultaneous translation rooms, the horizontally adjustable flexible structural design and multi-purpose stage with hydraulic lift render let the auditorium to be used as a useful and functional space for all kinds of organizations. Other important parts of the main buiding are meeting rooms ranging from 17 m² to 1,235 m². Rooms can be divided by sound proof acoustic walls in order to create 9 rooms suitable for meetings of different capacity. Each room has its own translation and sound control areas. Multi purpose areas, cocktail and banquet areas are located in the 1st and 2nd basement floor of the main building. They can be used for large scale organizations or as an extra space for exhibitions and banquets. In addition, the entrance and terrace area with 9,609 m² of space are a perfect match for gala dinners or cocktails which is a wonderful alternative for organizations to welcome guests to ICC. To learn more, visit www.iccistanbul.com
Open for business November 2016 – grand opening May 2017
landers Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp is part of the world’s best kept 19th century ZOO, and is located right next to a modern international transport connection housed in 19th century marble splendour … widely regarded as the finest example of railway architecture in Belgium – a true high speed rail cathedral! Imagine starting your day with a morning run alongside the elephants and giraffes. How about some networking, supervised by our gorillas or flamingos? At FMCCA you will experience a magical connection that only happens during live encounters. The new Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp is without doubt the most versatile and lustrous pearl on the crown of the current Meeting Industry (MICE). As the nerve centre and the dynamic, pulsating heart of the convention centre, the centrally located new 1880-seat auditorium is a key asset for event and meeting organisers. With the new Meetings Industry temple, initiator KMDA (Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp) has adapted the technical and logistic possibilities of the 21st century in full harmony with the adjacent classified ZOO monument, and the historically valuable Marble Hall, Darwin Hall, Verlat Hall, and the Winter Garden. The unique concept was developed by the architect firm, Ian Simpson Architects from Manchester UK. “I explicitly choose for
natural light and brightness, versus elegance, as leitmotif in the design. This symbolizes the city of Antwerp, and will serve as a source of inspiration to each visitor”, says Simpson. Simpson Architects teamed up with the Chicago based Kirkegaard Associates who are world authorities in acoustics. Ian Simpson’s team have created an inspiring, flexible, powerful, and energy-efficient building, making extensive use of natural light sources. The bright and elegant building will be a symbol of the city. The connection between the existing historical building and the hypermodern architecture will be a landmark of city innovation. This will boost the international profile of Antwerp to a higher level. The 1880-seat Queen Elisabeth Auditorium is the icing on the cake. Are you dreaming of programming a keynote speaker in the afternoon and a symphonic orchestra in the evening? Here at FMCCA, we make it happen and we bring you closer to what matters. Stretching out over 25,000 m², with 30 rooms and a capacity of 2,500 guests, the Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp will be a global player on the conference and meeting scene. Antwerp holds many trump cards. A trading city that feels like a village, but offers the world: diamonds, history, fashion, museums, great gastronomy, a historical centre, a flourishing port, and an astonishing zoo.
photo Ian Simpson Architects
A Room With a Zoo
a room with a ZOO opening November 2016 www.fmcca.com
source Itp.net photo Dubai Silicon Park Smart City
United Arab Emirates Announces Science, Technology and Innovation Policy
he United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced what the country’s leaders are calling the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, made up of 100 initiatives that will be boosted by an AED 300 billion investment. The policy was announced on social media by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. In his posts, he said that the move was being made to help the country boost its non-oil economy. “The Policy adopted by President HH Sheikh Khalifa has practical initiatives, legislative change and financial investment in a non-oil economy. The Policy encompasses health and education, energy, transport, water and technology and a threefold increase in scientific research to 2021,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote. He added that the policy includes expanding solar energy, nuclear research, as well as R&D in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence and genomics.
Sheikh Mohammed said that the ultimate end goal was for the UAE to develop a non-oil, knowledge-based economy. The country is still very much dependent on oil exports, but leadership figures have in recent years taken steps to plan for the days when the oil might eventually run out. In his posts, Sheikh Mohammed, said that, with these plans in place, the UAE could look forward to not having an oil-based economy. “As my brother Mohammed bin Zayed said, we will celebrate the last barrel of oil,” he wrote.
Viparis unveils the largest conference centre in Europe
aris expo Porte de Versailles is currently the fourth largest event venue in Europe, offering eight large halls equipped with all necessary conference amenities, covering an area around 220,000 m² and hosting around 200 national and international events annually. Paris Convention Centre will help keep Paris the world’s top destination for international business travellers, and will provide the capital with a world-class space that can accommodate the very largest conferences. The Centre is an architectural tour de force that is part of a project to modernise Paris expo Porte de Versailles, the fourth most-visited site in Paris. Michel Dessolain, CEO of Viparis, hailed the project’s outstanding characteristics: “the possibilities provided by the structure’s 72,000 m² – including a main conference room capable of accommodating up to 5,200 people that is directly connected to 44,000 m² of exhibition space – will make Paris Convention Centre the largest such space in Europe, able to meet the needs of the most demanding conferences.” The Centre’s ability to provide bespoke solutions for each project and its outstanding architecture, just 15 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower, will make Paris Convention Centre Europe’s most stunning backdrop for conferences. The work has hardly begun and already the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) will hold its International Liver Conference in the new centre in 2018, as well as the International ADVERTORIAL
Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM). A real vote of confidence and yet more proof that the future Convention Centre is already winning fans. Viparis and the architectural firm Wilmotte & Associés has also announced plans to create a hotel complex within the Porte de Versailles exhibition site. The completed site will include a 440room hotel complex consisting of two structures. Mama Shelter will operate one of the two hotels starting in 2019.
About the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles modernisation project A ten-year programme of work starting in 2015 that will not interrupt day-to-day operations. €500.000.000 in private investment. Renovation of 61 per cent of the existing surfaces. Five world-class architects (including two Pritzker laureates): Christian de Portzamparc, Dominique Perrault, Jean Nouvel, Valode & Pistre and Jean-Michel Wilmotte. 70,000 m² of green spaces, including 52,000 m² of green roofs. Visit the future venue thanks to the augmented reality mobile applications Paris Expo and Paris Congress.
photos © Viparis-L’autre Image
Paris Convention Centre
Your events deserve Paris Palais des congrès de Versailles
HÔTEL SALOMON DE ROTHSCHILD
LE Palais des congrès de Paris
Paris nord Villepinte
Espace Grande Arche Le palais des congrès d’Issy
Paris le Bourget
Carrousel du Louvre
Paris expo Porte de Versailles
A TALE OF TWO CITIES â€”
Let your business demonstrate its flare and imagination by choosing Istanbul as your next meeting destination. Istanbul is uniquely positioned, geographically and historically, to inspire and connect people like you to a cultural backdrop of the old and new. A tale of two cities makes Istanbul like no other.
Istanbul: a unique meeting point for Medical Congresses
he medical infrastructure of Istanbul, including 233 hospitals with 32,000 bed capacity, as well as being home to 17 faculties of medicine in its 53 universities, makes the city a unique meeting place for medical congresses, as well as for science, education and technology. A World Top 10 Congress Destination, the city hosted around 145 international congresses in 2015, mostly from the US, followed by Belgium and the UK. Over 20 per cent of the congresses were medical and 45 per cent of the delegates were part of medical congresses in 2015. The General Manager of Istanbul CVB, Özgül Özkan Yavuz adds: “We are pleased with the quantity and quality of the medical congresses that we have held and will be hosting. To name a few from 2015, we hosted the Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) meeting with 4,000 delegates, the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT), again with 4,000 delegates. We are excited to be hosting the European Society of Cardiology with approximately 2,000 delegates, WFNS World Congress of Neurosurgery with 8,000 delegates and the World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery (WPCCS) with over 3,000 delegates. As Istanbul CVB, we are aiming to have stronger collaboration with local medical assocations, and strengthening our position by hosting even more medical congresses in our city.”
The numbers show Istanbul’s strength as a meeting point A city with a global outlook, Istanbul is a historical meeting point between East and West, as well as being a leading MICE destination offering unique and exciting venues. With its seven convention and three exhibition centres, the city has the capacity to host every type of event, from bespoke incentives to meetings for up to 30,000 – corporate and leisure visitors alike. Accommodation in Istanbul, with its unique Turkish hospitality, is both widespread, at 100,000 plus beds, and diverse, with a selection across the spectrum including more than 194 five-star and four-star hotels, with 103 more to be opened. Easily accessible from around the world, Istanbul is served by most of the international airlines at its two airports. Turkish Airlines, named “Best Airline Europe” by Skytrax for four years running, has a network of more than 280 direct flights, and flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, connecting Istanbul with five continents. Two billion people living within six hours flying time of Istanbul, and being the only city on two continents, gives the city a unique and privileged position.
19–21 April 2016
“We’ve talked, swapped ideas, got business started.”
Fuel up on new ideas For those who work in the international meetings industry, IMEX is much more than a convenient place to network and do business. It’s a place where people come to search for fresh ideas and creativity – a refuelling station for meetings and event planners.
imex-frankfurt.com Call: +44 (0)1273 227311 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet: @imex_group
At IMEX, the launch of new destinations and innovations, and the most up-to-date research, means the atmosphere is crackling with inspiration. And with so many event planners, destinations, venues and suppliers all meeting face to face – rather than screen to screen – even more ideas come to life as new connections are made. There are yet more opportunities to fill up your creative tank at our Inspiration Hub, where you can attend seminars or campfire discussions on a range of topics relevant to your work. Come to IMEX 2016 and leave feeling creatively recharged and raring to go. Register now for IMEX 2016 imex-frankfurt.com/register
The worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events.
“INSPIRATION ON EVERY CORNER”
LE GA LLY R E SPONSIB LE ED I TO R I N C H I EF Atti Soenarso
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Apr 2016 Embrace Diversity
email@example.com W R ITE R S Tomas Dalström, Fredrik Emdén, Roger Kellerman,
Bryan Ralph, Jan Rollof, Robin Sharma, Atti Soenarso,
Atti Soenarso: “Africa is open for business events.”
Rick Taylor PH OTOGRAP H ERS Sara Appelgren, Lar Leslie, Jenny Leyman, Jonas Lindström, Magnus Malmberg, Karen Nott TRANS L ATI O N Dennis Brice E DITOR Pravasan Pillay ART D I REC TO R kellermandesign.com E DITOR IA L R AYS OF SU NS H I NE Bimo’s cello ensemble +
Meetings Africa 2016 + George Simenon + Birgitta Thorpman + Åbergs Trädgård + Rod Judkins S UBS C RI P TI O N Four issues: Sweden €39, Europe €73, Outside Europe €77. Buy at
Per Schlingmann On knowledge, openness, and attitude.
38 KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE
Derek Hanekom Meeting in South Africa.
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44 MEETINGS 3.0
Meetings 3.0 Part two of Jan Rollof’s four-part series.
52 HUMAN MEETINGS
Form Us With Love Design and meetings with John Löfgren and Jonas Pettersson.
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Africa’s Untapped Meetings Potential Rick Taylor: “Opportunity oozes!”
The 50 New Rules of Work Robin Sharma: “For the producer thinking like a leader.”
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84 BRAIN CHECK
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22 | INTRO
Africa is Open FOR BUSINESS EVENTS Africa is the world’s second largest land mass (after Eurasia) and the world’s second largest continent after Asia, with regards to both surface area and population. With the continent’s islands included, Africa covers 20.3 per cent of the Earth’s total land area, or roughly six per cent of the Earth’s total surface area. The continent is home to around a billion people in 55 countries, currently a seventh of the world’s population. By 2060, there is a good chance that the continent will be home to over a billion middle-class Africans. Governments in African nations such as Cameroon, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zambia and Rwanda have decided: tourism will reach new heights through investment in congresses, conferences and other business events. Rwanda, for example, has adopted a remarkable national economic strategy for poverty eradication, where meetings and events are highlighted as a key growth sector. There has been some progress since 2014 when the country adopted a national meeting and event strategy and also founded the Rwanda Con-
vention Bureau. To meet the rapidly growing international demand for meetings and conventions in the country, the government has invested in a modern congress and exhibition centre The Conference and Exhibition Village in Kigali, which has a capacity for up to 4,000 delegates. The large venue will not be completed until later this year but it accommodated large meetings of 3,000 people during the Trans/Africa Summit, and 1,000 delegates at Interpol’s annual general assembly late last year. All the meetings were held in temporary marquees. The venue should have been ready by 2012 but the Chinese construction company failed to deliver on time. A Turkish construction company stepped in with an investment totalling USD 300m. Later this year several international hotels will opening their doors in the area, including Marriott, Park Inn and Radisson Blu. Meetings do not take place in a vacuum. Where we see economic development and business opportunities we also see more meetings and events. Congresses are implemented when we need to develop, refine and
transfer knowledge and experience within fields such as medicine, technology, innovation and design. The developments we are witnessing have only just begun, and they are rapid because they are needed. The evergrowing middle classes are demanding improvements. I am optimistic over Africa’s development, where meetings and events are important stepping stones for the future.
Swedish-Indonesian Atti Soenarso has worked as a journalist for close to 40 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. photo Magnus Malmberg
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Atti Soenarso PHOTOS
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Per Schlingmann has vast experience of Swedish politics and the business world with several management posts and positions of trust behind him. Today he is one of Sweden’s most influential communication and political strategists, and a leading member of the think tank behind the Swedish Moderate Party’s transformation into the New Moderates, who governed the country in a four-party conservative-liberal alliance between 2006 and 2013. He has written three books. One is entitled Urban Express, which he co-authored with business guru Kjell A Nordström, ‘enfant terrible’ of the new business world. We met up with him in Barcelona – where he was holding a lecture – for a chat about challenges, tacit knowledge and attitude. Per Schlingmann left politics and government office in March 2013 and began writing his book Stå aldrig still (Never Stand Still). He met Kjell A Nordström for the first time at a dinner party and persuaded him to read his first draft. “It was a golden opportunity. We sat talking all evening. Most people who read a manuscript usually have a few opinions. But not Kjell. He had
tons of them, and said: ‘Come home with me’. So I did.” The first time they met for two hours and the discussion took many twists and turns. It was not long before they began working on a job together. After this, and “quite out of the blue”, as Per Schlingmann put it, they decided to write a book about their newfound shared thoughts. They signed a contract with Bonniers publishing house, and said: “You will get a text from us in six months.” Then they began a work process that 2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“ Theoretical knowledge is no longer sufficient”
Per Schlingmann compares with building Lego bricks. They jotted down their thoughts and musings about contemporary life and, as things progressed, put it all together into a story. One of Kjell A Nordström’s earliest pieces of Lego was the significant part about tacit knowledge, with the emphasis on knowledge and learning, which can also be said to be the starting point for how the two men wove the tapestry they call management theories and organisational issues. “I’d never before regarded learning as a management instrument, whereas I had pondered over the challenges facing humanity, both in terms of individuals and companies, as well as places and nations. Basically, it’s all about how we should deal with learning in a time when it’s far too easy to just tag along getting a bird’s eye view of the enormous information flows.” Per Schlingmann believes that we are facing a new phase of globalisation. The first phase was very focused on politically driven development where new countries opened up. Trade has increased, people move around and travel more. He says that we are now in the technologically driven phase. This is more about a MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
common body of knowledge that we share with each other. “But when everybody relates to the same body of knowledge it can get a bit absurd at times. Nowadays things are beginning to look the same all over the world despite the fact that it is originality that creates intrinsic value.” During a visit to Mall of Scandinavia, Sweden’s largest shopping mall on the outskirts of Stockholm, he spoke with Unibail Rodamco, the company that runs the mall. “Their business model is the same wherever they operate, and others are inspired by them. This rather goes against my thesis that originality and daring to break with uniformity creates intrinsic value. There are a few different dimensions to tacit knowledge, that is to say the unwritten, unspoken and hidden vast storehouse of knowledge held by practically every individual. We take this up in our book as well.” He mentions something that he believes is central to this concept of knowledge, adding with a smile that scientists may argue about the true meaning. “One aspect is the above-mentioned tacit knowledge, which we prefer to call wild knowledge, based upon
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“ There was a guy who’d penned a rap song as a CV”
feelings, intuition and experiences. I believe one significant factor to be the subset that creates wild knowledge. And that comes from our attitude towards openness. This is, one might say, my conclusion.” Per Schlingmann’s latest book, Så vinner du kommunikationskriget – med berättelsen som vapen (Winning the communication battle with storytelling as your weapon of war), is on the subject of communication, claiming that man’s worst enemy is his own world view. “Researchers and psychologists have been in agreement on this for quite some time, but it circles around one’s attitude towards openness, to new learning and to self-assurance.” To this somewhat more passive knowledge concept he also adds attitude, as in how open one is for new things. When he held a lecture for a human resources team, something happened that he thought was fascinating. “Just before it was my turn to speak, there was a guy who’d penned a rap song as a CV, which was followed by a long debate on the merits of doing such a thing.” According to Per Schlingmann, it was not so much that the guy had penned a rap song but the fact that he
decided to compile a CV in a different way. “The guy had enough imagination, openness and attitude to think outside the traditional template. That awareness, or what one might call attitude, is central and is almost knowledge in its own right. I think that’s worth its weight in gold today.” Another aspect that Per Schlingmann claims to have in his backpack from his political career, is that the harder they worked – especially when in government – the more they noticed that something was becoming increasingly important. “There’s one task that’s more difficult than all the others, and that’s recruitment. But speak to any CEO you like and they’ll say that recruitment is their greatest headache. In that situation I’d say it’s more important to have the insight to recruit people with diversity. But the person concerned should still be able to fit into the culture that already exists. That skill, the ability to make such recruitments, is probably the most important leadership tool we have today.” Per Schlingmann says that CEOs appear to be completely absorbed by recruitment issues. If everything works as it should then they should not have to do anything, but there is 2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“This has led to the increased fragmentation of traditional knowledge and the increased emergence of wild knowledge”
always a problem somewhere. They focus too much on the skills of the individual. Perhaps a new type of CEO is required. “One interesting aspect during recruitment is the relationship to the others in the management team. Other thought-provoking things to have emerged include something called articulable knowledge and the changes taking place with regard to the half-life of knowledge where the longevity of knowledge is becoming increasingly shorter.” As an example he says that just a few years ago, researchers claimed that the knowledge attained by a lawyer or a doctor would last for thirty years, a figure that is now down to five years. “So it takes five to seven years to learn things that are only useful for five years. Not only is wild knowledge becoming increasingly significant, the longevity of traditional knowledge is getting shorter and shorter. It’s complex. The knowledge levels in society are definitely on the increase. We could put it like this: Theoretical knowledge is no longer sufficient because the necessity level is rising all the time.” MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
We discussed how society is becoming increasingly complex and how the ever-growing body of knowledge requires an ever-larger bird’s eye view in order to understand the tangles of contexts and relationships. There are also several artificial intelligence services that contribute to the growth of the knowledge body. According to Per Schlingmann, this has led to the increased fragmentation of traditional knowledge and the increased emergence of wild knowledge – and also attitude as in the example of the rap song replacing the traditional CV. “It’s good to keep that in perspective today when everything tends to look the same just about everywhere. It is people who dare to challenge who will emerge as the victors.” Prior to the interview, Per Schlingmann read up on the meetings industry. One US report and one from the British Government. He noted that the more he looked at the various factors, the more he recognised his own thoughts in Urban Express. “The venue is becoming increasingly significant. But the venue is nothing more than a place for holding meetings. A combination of wild
knowledge and something we call the digital paradox, i.e. that the value of the digital side of things is increasing. One could call it the new logistics for the creation of economic value, where people interact with each other to create intrinsic value. The biggest challenge lies in what degree the meetings industry manages to grab this by the horns to generate even more meetings.” We go on to discuss the ways that meetings could share knowledge and develop ideas. We are not a standalone industry after all. Per Schlingmann explains that as he has been politically active and is now a free soul, he often finds himself embroiled in discussions about the development of venues. One example is the development of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city. “I’ve always felt that Gothenburg has two strengths when it comes to development. One is the postindustrial society with companies like Volvo and SKF. The other is the meetings industry. The interesting thing is, the greatest challenge for the meetings industry – in which the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre plays a large part – lies in being taken seri-
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“So it takes five to seven years to learn things that are only useful for five years”
ously. The meetings industry could be better in showing that it is a part of a highly qualified sector that creates value. With this I don’t mean value with a direct effect like hotel beds, but more meaningful values that are created when people meet. I think this is the industry’s greatest challenge.” Our discussion returned to whether tacit knowledge and wild knowledge were really one and the same thing. Are they synonyms? “Well, a little maybe. I’d like to add attitude as knowledge in its own right. When Kjell and I talked about this we became more and more averse to using the term tacit knowledge. So we created our own term that won’t be tamed.” Another thing he finds fascinating is the role played by data and algorithms. In a way, it comes down to us having traditional problems, and in abundance. Wild knowledge fascinates through people using it to navigate through increasingly intuitive decisions, like an instrument for using data. “I sometimes liken it to wine. I’ve always been impressed by anyone who knows their wines. It’s an impossibility for most of us considering all
the vineyards and grapes in the world. So what do we do? Well, we choose a Chablis or a Rioja. Then we can shut off everything else. You can’t do that in our business.” Per Schlingmann had more than one answer to the question concerning the consequences of digitalisation. One consequence is the increase in the value of non-digital. Wild knowledge is consequence number two, while the third is a new communication landscape that allows many people to communicate with many other people. “If you want to reach out you have to make sure that others want to talk about it. You have to create a subject for discussion. The interesting element here are the strong stories.” Per Schlingmann worked with these issues in the government offices where the task was to enhance Sweden’s image. He wondered how Sweden had such a relatively strong image with such a small population. “I came to the conclusion that nobody was telling the whole truth about Sweden, just bits and bobs. When you set up a frame around yourself, the anecdotes are strength-
ened, and I think that’s a challenge in itself.” At the government offices he also had the opportunity to immerse himself in future perspectives. He maintains that it is the most difficult thing today for leaders and people in general. He uses the word ’foggy’ in as much as the future is impossible to predict. “We instead gravitate over what is or what was. But all decisions that people make are about the future. You have to dig in to a person’s personal perceptions of the future. What is it that drives a person to get on in life?” Per Schlingmann says that the most captivating thing is what places us in the future. What are the symbols of the future? “They’re very clear for the meetings industry. What’s happening now is a trend of trying to find venues that aren’t designed to hold meetings in order to provide an unforgettable experience. That’s what it was like when I first entered politics in 2003. The first thing I asked was how people perceived the future vision of the different parties. Nobody knows what the future holds. You either perceive that you are standing on the brink 2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“In the future I think that a lot of what the meetings industry represents will become a lot more important”
of the future, in the here and now, holding on, tipping back and forth the whole time, or you have two pairs of Google Goggles.” Per Schlingmann believes that we have a very positive future ahead of us. He thinks that the Nordic countries have a good potential if they do away with everything cyclical. Looking at the structural side he believes that the greatest challenge for the Nordic region lies in preserving the industrial communities that are more labour-intensive. “Here I’m referring to vitalisation and robotics, not migration. Naturally, if you have very high work costs then it’s profitable to replace people with robots.” This means, he says, that somehow we must renew the Swedish and Nordic model in which many people participate. “In the future I think that a lot of what the meetings industry represents will become a lot more important. Companies that collaborate with each other will also become more influential. I believe we can have a positive vision of the future. Somewhere along the line it feels like an incredible number of people MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
are just standing around dithering. Is it light or is it dark? On one occasion I asked three economists the same question and got three different answers. It’s going up and down, but nothing seems to be happening. This says something about our time. If you want to succeed then you need to think positively.” Per Schlingmann maintains that the challenge for Sweden lies in the fact that the country is coming out of an engineer-controlled industrial world. “Other things have started to happen, just look at the creative sector, among it the meetings industry. It feels as though the political world has difficulty adopting the new trends. Industry and Volvo are a lot easier to understand. You only have to listen to Stefan Löfven, the Swedish prime minister. He lives and breathes industry. He’s an industry marketing manager. There’s very little of the new industries in his thoughts. But that’s probably the case with the entire political spectrum. We have to create a clearer picture of what the new industries entail, particularly the meetings industry. We’re back at that gravitation. You hold on to the
past. People are needed who dare to think differently, get new ideas and thoughts.” One thing that inspires Per Schlingmann is popular culture. He says it is interesting because it always has to adapt. He is also inspired by people with lots of imagination. “Sometimes I’m asked if I have a role model. My honest reply is Swedish author Astrid Lindgren (1907– 2002). To create such amazing stories and characters in the media world of her time was simply inspirational.” The Kneippbyn Resort on the Baltic island of Gotland have reproduced her workplace. Per Schlingmann usually stands looking at it. “It’s incredibly fascinating. She must have been a wonderfully freethinking person who could associate with things that nobody else would ever dream of. Kjell A Nordström is also such a person. He draws, writes and thinks and we send texts to each other. It has been very good to systematise this unknown material. It helps to put things into context.”
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38 | KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE
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South Africa GOING THE DISTANCE FOR THE MEETINGS INDUSTRY TEXT
photo © SKA Organisation
Bryan Ralph Speaking recently at an industry event, the Minister of Tourism for South Africa, Derek Hanekom, said: “South Africa offers the business events industry excellent value for money and delivers authentic, memorable and enriching experiences in one of the most captivating, safest and beautiful countries, that I am proud to call my home.” Meetings International recently talked to Derek Hanekom to find out more about how the meetings industry is developing and how South Africa is successfully attracting events, even though many perceive it as a destination disadvantaged by distance. South Africa is a well-established and increasingly popular meetings destination. The growth trend was given a further boost in 2012 by the establishing of the governmentfinanced South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) with a mandate to “grow the business events industry in South Africa.” In 2014, South Africa hosted 124 international association conferences – 81 per cent of which were international rotating events – attracting close to 70,000 industry professionals. Derek Hanekom has been involved in politics since the late 1970s and became a member of the then banned
African National Congress (ANC) in 1980. He was arrested on charges relating to his political activities in 1983 and served three years in prison. After a period of exile in Zimbabwe, he returned to South Africa in 1990 to work for the ANC after the ban on the organisation was lifted. He was appointed Minister of Tourism in May 2014 and can draw on a wealth of varied experience from previous ministerial roles, including spells as Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, and Minister of Science and Technology. You have highlighted the significance of the meetings industry for South Africa at many international conferences. How do you see the relationship between the meetings industry and the tourism industry?
“The meetings industry is such an important part of our tourism package and bringing people to South Africa. These types of events are very different to leisure tourism in that delegates would not otherwise have come to South Africa. It helps to change perceptions of our country in a positive way and our research shows a very high return rate for business event visitors as tourists. Bringing people here and giving them firsthand experience of South Africa has
huge value for the future growth of the economy, and tourism in particular.” Being a knowledge hub is becoming increasingly important for attracting events. How is South Africa positioned as a knowledge hub?
“From my time as Minister of Science and Technology, just before I took the position of Minister of Tourism, I came to understand the value of knowledge exchange, of bringing people together in conventions and congresses. These events have immediate economic value by bringing people to the country, but also lead to long-term benefits such as research collaborations and investment decisions. “You cannot compare our spending on research with countries like the USA and China. But, it’s not how much we spend on research, it’s the quality of the research. We are definitely a knowledge hub in certain specialised areas. We have a good reputation for research at our universities and research institutes in areas such as water, forestry and agriculture. We have particular knowledge and expertise in health and medical research, especially concerning AIDS and tuberculosis.”
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“I came to understand the value of knowledge exchange, of bringing people together in conventions and congresses”
How has the meetings industry developed and what effect has the SANCB had?
“There has been good growth in this area. South Africa has increasingly become a chosen destination for a number of different associations and international congresses. For instance, the International AIDS Conference will be held in Durban for the second time in July 2016. Durban is the only city to have hosted this conference twice and it is a huge event with around 20,000 delegates. “The segment was growing anyway, but the establishment of the Convention Bureau showed a clear commitment to an area that brings benefits for the economy. Growth has really escalated in the past few years due to the SANCB. And we can see from the number of bids for international association conferences that the SANCB has already secured for the next five years – over 160 – that this growth is set to continue.” Why do you think South Africa has been successful as a destination for business events?
“We have established a reputation as a destination that can offer professionally-managed large-scale events MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
and conferences in safe environments. We have good infrastructure in place – roads, airports, conference facilities, etc. – in the cities that host big conferences, such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. But we also offer something different, a good break for professionals in a good climate – a chance for many people to escape winter – with plenty of things to experience and enjoy outside the events. Everyone needs a break sometimes.” There are some exciting projects in South Africa that are attracting international interest and have global significance such as the Cradle of Humankind and the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope. Can you tell us about their current status?
“My wife has been very involved in the work at the Cradle of Humankind and was one of those responsible for it achieving UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Exciting discoveries are being made there and another new species was identified just recently. My wife took a party that included David Scowsill, President of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), on a visit to the Cradle of Humankind. Everybody wants to go
there. It has become a sort of pilgrimage to a site that can tell us a lot about our origins and how we have evolved. “The Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope will be the world’s biggest telescope – and much of it will be built in South Africa. It will have a collecting area of about one square kilometer and will be 50 times more sensitive than any existing telescope. The first stage will be completed next year – 74 huge dishes. It’s a massive project, there will be around 3,000 dishes when it’s completed in 2026.” What do you consider as the biggest challenge for the meetings industry in South Africa?
“Our biggest challenge is distance. What may stop people coming to South Africa is that it’s a long away from everything else. It’s easier to bring people to Paris, or Stockholm for that matter, than to go to the southern tip of Africa. It is a long and expensive flight to get to South Africa. That means we just have to make it much more attractive for people to arrange their events here – and we are succeeding.”
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RADAR | 43
A Stunning MEETING PLACE The multi-award winning Cavalli Stud & Wine Farm in Stellenbosch, South Africa has quickly established itself as a venue renowned for fine wines from self-produced grapes, integrated and sustainable design and architecture, a restaurant, gallery and vertical garden, and, last but not least, stunning surroundings. Art and gastronomy in harmony in a leisurely environment where form follows function and function follows form – and the horses. The architect Lauren Smith, whose family owns the stud and wine farm, created the venue together with Bouwer Architects. During a visit to the winery we are reminded of something that Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry once said: “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”
Cavalli Stud & Wine Farm is designed to host a range of corporate events. The largest room has a ceiling height of four metres and offers a generous view of the majestic Helderberg Mountains. The downstairs floor boasts one of the largest private whisky collections in the world, a wine vault with room for tasting Cavalli’s fine wines, including the prize-winning wines. The restaurant, Equus Dine at Cavalli, attracts foodies from far and wide and accommodates 250 guests. Weekday lunch is served from a bistro-inspired menu while evenings and Sunday lunches are more inclined towards fine dining. The different sections of the welltended Botanical Gardens can serve as lounges for various events. There are ponds, aquatic plants, ornamen-
tal grasses and flowering perennials that line the walkways. The actual vineyard is 110 hectares, but there are also olive groves, lavender fields and grazing horses. It is a very leisurely environment. The Cavalli Stud Farm and Training is world famous and anybody with the slightest interest in equestrian sports would find the venue – and the horses – well worth a visit. Designers, architects, landscape architects, food and wine professionals, and gardeners are but a few of the people who would find it an inspiring and wellspent study visit.
2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
44 | MEETINGS 3.0
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MEETINGS 3.0 | 45
Meetings 3.0 PART TWO OF FOUR TEXT & IMAGE
Traditional meetings formats shine through in many ways; agendas, lists of speakers and minutes-taking being the most common. Project-, negotiation- and sales meetings have developed formats that work for their particular issues. Context Adapted Decision Structure (CADS) is a method specially designed for Meetings 3.0 and C Tasks (complex, cognitive, conceptual and collaborative). Why “context adapted”? Because the methodology can be adapted to various contexts with the help of selected techniques and questions. Why “decision”? Because many decisions are made at meetings. Opinions, interpretations and ideas discussed at meetings can also affect decisions that are made in other contexts. Why use a methodology? Working methodically and structured could be perceived as somewhat rigid. It also demands a certain amount of discipline. Never underestimate the importance of discussing the motives for using a carefully prepared methodology:
So that meetings are of value to the delegates. Some examples: gather
suggestions that assist you in your own and your joint tasks; exchange knowledge and ideas; get used to a structured approach; participation and visibility; new insights and a broader field of view.
To make good use of a meeting’s resources. Good meetings utilise the
underlying potential of the delegates’ ideas, skills and experiences. The utilisation of these central resources is vital in achieving a good result. It is also about responsibility. Ignoring others’ views and suggestions and not questioning assumptions is the height of inefficiency and only creates new and bigger problems. “Most meetings items per unit of time” is hardly the right recipe. To bring stability to the meetings process. A good structure keeps the
meetings work moving forward from one stage to the next. This reduces the risk of ‘only’ generating more information or getting analyses 2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
46 | MEETINGS 3.0
paralyses. The various elements each contribute to the bigger picture: the goal is a synthesis that highlights mechanisms, relationships and dependencies. A methodology is often perceived as being objective and neutral, and reduces the risk of disagreements and conflicts. It could help to steer things away from the usual thinking traps. Does a conflict exist between working methodically and providing
tion, and three questions that should work in most contexts. They can be complemented with specific questions suited to the task at hand and the situation. Each main element also includes special techniques and some templates for extra support. Five main elements
The bigger picture always gives full value and is why we have to work through the five main elements. The
“Good meetings utilise the underlying potential of the delegates’ ideas” room for creativity? No, not in my opinion. Lack of time (a packed agenda) is a bigger obstacle. And the spirit in which a meeting is held has a great significance. Interest, involvement and respect create a fertile ground for new ideas and approaches. Complex tasks often touch upon unclear phenomena and varying degrees of uncertainty. In such cases a good structure and a methodical approach could prove invaluable. Questions
CADS is based upon questions that challenge assumptions and open up for many different answers. A question like “Have we come up with any options?” is relevant, but altogether too easy to confirm without the need for reflection. Questions can be formulated in a way that makes people reflect over whether they have missed anything. For example: “Which assumptions about the causes of the current problem have we not yet questioned?” It is not as easy to evade a question when put like this. Each element includes a basic quesMEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
aim is a multifaceted picture. A synthesis can accommodate contradictions, but a composite image can also accommodate openings and alternate routes. Simplifications may feel like a good fit but they restrict the ability to act and think outside the box. 1. Understanding
Basic question: What do we know – and what don’t we know? Complete understanding could be an unrealistic goal. But we need a good idea of what the task entails. Which phenomenon, event or problem should we work on? Identifying what you know and don’t know is a way of broadening your field of vision and is also useful for other tasks than the task at hand. What do we know about the causes, consequences and significance? How trustworthy is the information we have received? What is uncertain or unknown? What can demonstrate that the assumptions and hypotheses are wrong?
What possibilities and problems have we identified and which could we have missed? 2. Options
Basic question: Have we come up with any options that give full force and value? (solves the task) One option is not enough. Options allow you to compare strengths and weaknesses. If there is only one option on the table then it is automatically best, even if it is not. Several suggestions pave the way for combinations. Decisions are never better than the best option. This is why it is important to get beyond the obvious and conventional suggestions. Also, see if the suggestions can be further developed. What would an ideal option look like? Is it clear what the various options entail, and are their advantages and disadvantages highlighted enough? Do they differ or are they too similar? The advantages and disadvantages of different suggestions must be made known, along with their potential. When options are discussed, the procedure is important: begin by mentioning the advantages followed by any disadvantages. Unexpected factors, dependencies and risks should also be highlighted. 3. Consider the options
Basic question: How do we avoid options being favoured or disfavoured? It may seem obvious to assess the options based on their inherent force and quality, that is to say on objective grounds. But advantages and disadvantages could consciously or unconsciously be presented to make the options look better or worse
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MEETINGS 3.0 | 49
than they actually are. An example: a choice between A or B. A gives a 40 per cent probability of success. B gives a 60 per cent risk of failure. The two are based on the same statistical assessment but the formulation could affect the choice between them. Word choice (exaggerated or forceful descriptions), the order in which suggestions are presented and their
What decision would another group have made (a group with similar or other skills who lack our background and dependencies)? Are the different elements of the decision clearly highlighted? 5. Effect
Basic question: What are the three most crucial factors for ensuring a decision has the desired effect? One common view is that once a decision
“We like to think that decisions are made on logical grounds”
is always further down the road. One can never be certain of what tomorrow brings. But you still have to try. Questions can be of help here as well: How can the impact vary between different situations and contexts? Which dependencies could play a role? Who does what for when – are the tasks and responsibilities clear? What resources are required, how should the decision be put across in order to be clearly understood? How should it be followed up? Times for stopping and evaluating? When, how and by whom? What effects are particularly important to pay attention to? Summary
graphic form could be significant. Are they presented in a consistent and truthful manner? Can they be presented in random order? Are the unique aspects of the options made clear? 4. Decisions
Basic question: Which decision is regarded as wise and well-considered even outside this meeting, in another time and another situation? We like to think that decisions are made on logical grounds, but many factors turn decision-making into a strictly non-rational process. A few thought traps: selective choice of arguments, defence of previous decisions, blind faith in the ability to predict and control future circumstances. On top of this, irritation, tiredness, stress and anxiety could also have an impact. Questions can provide room for thought: How do other people regard the decision? How do we and others look upon it after some time has passed?
is taken, ‘all’ that remains is its implementation. This view is linked to the illusion of the perfect decision, so perfect that nothing could possibly go wrong when it is launched. And when you have a consensus for the decision, you think it is just plain sailing … unfortunately, reality always comes home to roost. A decision is made and sends ripples for some time to come. Conditions can change rapidly and drastically. And when a decision is put to work, with all the responsibility and resources that entails, it soon becomes clear that the consensus was based on false hope. A consensus is highly-rated, but is a decision really that good just because everybody nods their heads in approval? A bigger picture is a great resource when reality comes home to roost. It provides you with optional routes, allowing you to retake your bearings and plot them again. It could be difficult to admit that some parts may be wrong or incomplete, but which decision is ever 100 per cent perfect? The true impact of a decision
CADS, context adapted decision structure, is designed to give stability to work on complex tasks. Letting creativity, knowledge and expertise come to good use is one clear goal. Divergent and convergent elements combine to provide a solid basis for understanding, decision and action. The methodology is here presented as a linear process, but complex phenomena are seldom simply linear. You would have to go back to the different elements of the methodology to reassess and add what you have missed. Methodology can be used flexibly and adapted to the task at hand and the situation. CADS does however provide a direction and forward motion. The various elements are not strange in any way. The challenge lies in working methodically and structured, and I would argue that it is well worth the effort.
2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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INTERMISSION | 51 PAGE TITLE | 51
photo Karen Nott
Every fragrance tells a story and sometimes the story of a fragrance is just as exciting as the contents of the perfume bottle itself. Tammy Frazer from Cape Town in South Africa is the perfumer behind the handmade, ecological brand Frazer Parfum. She fetched inspiration for her Namibia collection from the Himba people who live in the sparsely populated north western part of the country. They live in much the same way as their ancestors have always done. To protect against the sun, the women cover their skin and hair with a mixture of aromatic herbs, red ochre and milk fat. This gives the skin a reddish tint that is part of the Himba’s beauty ideal. Tammy Frazer collected the raw materials together with a female guide from the Himba people. Slowly easing the stopper from the adorable tiny bottle to release a gentle whiff of the exquisite perfume from the Himba people in Tammy Frazer’s creation is a moment of sheer delight. Expect the unexpected.
2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
52 | FORM US WITH LOVE
MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
HUMAN MEETINGS | 53
Form Us WITH LOVE TEXT
photo Jonas Lindström
Fredrik Emdén Earlier this year, the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair was held, an event that organisers Stockholm International Fairs calls the world’s largest meeting place for Scandinavian furniture and lighting design. As is the custom, one of the halls was devoted to young, unestablished designers, selected by a jury to display their designs. The exhibition hall goes by the name of Greenhouse, and it was here that design studio Form Us With Love had their breakthrough a decade ago. This year saw a fond reunion, as the studio, led by founders John Löfgren and Jonas Pettersson, were given the honour of designing Greenhouse. In the ten years that Form Us With Love has been active, the importance of Greenhouse has hardly diminished. It is still a springboard for the dream of being discovered, forging contacts and snatching up ideas. Here young designers meet the press, producers, investors and other key players. That is how it happened for Form Us With Love. John Löfgren and Jonas Pettersson now had the chance to do the same for others. They spoke to Meetings International about the assignment.
Jonas: “We remember how important it was for us. It put us on the map. Back then, ten years ago, Greenhouse was the place to be. We basically nagged our way in. We first sent an entry that was discarded and were given a few days to create something new. We were so desperate.” John: “Exhibiting there meant everything to us, it was a springboard. We were based in the south of the country and had only had the company for six months or so when we were invited up to the fair. But we forged some spontaneous contacts, got some business done and could suss out the industry for the first time. After that fair our confidence grew.” Jonas: “When we were asked to design Greenhouse, we reflected over how we planned our exhibit ten years ago. Then it was all creative zest. Everybody focused on making the perfect product then just stood there hoping people would come. This time we gave some thought to helping the exhibitors become more proactive. That was more exciting than creating the perfect exhibit. What the exhibition hall looks like is really secondary, first and foremost you have to create
a backdrop that helps exhibitors. Who will a young designer love to meet today to make their dream come true? Who would they like to meet during the week and can we arrange that? The fair was built around such questions. And we wanted the exhibitors to ask themselves the questions before they arrived at the fair and to contact the people they wanted to meet a month before. Today we’re seeing a great interest in the skills of young designers in other industries. Therefore, the fair should target entrepreneurs or start-up companies and other areas of expertise.” John: “I can still see myself standing there. There’s an artistic integrity in what we do that makes selling and meeting the right people less important. It naturally stems from the education. A lot of students would like to start their own studios but are taught nothing about running a business. They learn about some of the alternatives they have when they graduate. Of course, the main focus has to be on the creative side but as it stands, people can study for five years and still know nothing about running a business. This is why the fair has 2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“The meeting is ever-present in most things we do”
such a vital role to play as a meeting place.” Jonas: “We’ve decided to gather statistics. The design world is so full of creative zest that it is all too often labelled as ‘softy’. We want to turn that around so with the help of a survey company we’re going to ask students a series of questions. If 50 per cent would like to run their own businesses but are taught nothing about it at school, it should spark a debate on the subject.” John: “We were given a free hand by Stockholm International Fairs to design the hall as we wished. We had the framework in place with the premises we’d been given, but other than that they didn’t get involved. It’s a bit scary having all the options.” Jonas: “Two years ago we designed the Swedish section of the Milano Design Week. The fair attracts a million visitors. Meeting the right person is difficult, standing out from the crowd nigh on impossible. But we came up with a concept we called Milan Midnight Dinners, an event that began when all the others had finished. Midnight may seem like a strange time to have a meeting, but many thought it was fine. They were MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
hungry, they got to meet us and a host of exciting people. In this way we got to meet everybody on our list.” John: “That’s how we want it. The meetings that took place in Greenhouse had to be kept within tight reins and relaxed. We wanted the visitors to relax and take it easy. Do business and make unexpected encounters. We design environments to hang out in. They should be inviting without the need to put up a hammock. They should feel like a comfortable dining room.” Jonas: “At a fair, exhibitors want to meet each other and create things together. You no longer have to meet a producer to sell your concept. It’s not the only route anymore. You can of course put things up on Kickstarter. If two people have the same interest then they only need to call each other. This is important to understand. If, as a designer, you want a leg up onto the international scene, this offers a good opportunity. The fair is literally swarming with international guests and journalists. The physical meeting is important, and the fair is the place to initiate useful contacts. Skype is fantastic, but I couldn’t plan a meeting without first meeting up. Meeting
somebody in a factory or at home is still unbeatable.” John: “Visitors to fairs are less impressed these days than they were ten years ago. It has to be amazing and something special. Technology has also done its bit to change the behaviour patterns. You can watch the whole fair on your smartphone and don’t need to go around it all. This makes the human meeting invaluable.” Jonas: “Since we first exhibited, the role of the designer has changed dramatically. Ten years ago you were the lone designer. This was a remnant of the 1950s, the superstar designer. We understood early on that our output was dependent on teamwork; that the work was complex and we needed a good understanding of the industry and human behaviour.” John: “When we first exhibited, we ran around trying to get people to visit our stand. We didn’t reflect over other ways of doing it, but after a few years we understood that the visitor figures would be much improved if we were to invite them for a beer or a coffee instead of a glimpse of a picture on a computer screen. You have to respect the fact that many are still fo-
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HUMAN MEETINGS | 57
“Meeting somebody in a factory or at home is still unbeatable”
cused on their creative art. Many who still believe in the power of design to speak for itself.” Jonas: “The pitfalls we’ve encountered? Well, a few obvious things. In Milan our table was too big. It affected the meetings because we sat too far away from each other. With a long table you can only talk to the people sitting opposite, a squarer one lets you speak to five or six people. We set up a dinner table in the middle of the hall with exhibitors on either side. This ensured it was occupied all day, thus generating natural encounters. People just bumped into each other and began to talk.” John: “We try not to make it look artificial. We don’t have to give it all we’ve got, just keep it simple. It could have a poetic touch without going overboard. We’ve learnt that much. In some productions and environments we’ve created there have been bits that have added absolutely nothing. Just served to make things vague. That’s something we work on daily; how can we refine this concept? It’s better to let the material express its true self than get tied up in knots.” Jonas: “The meeting is ever-present in most things we do. We were
three when we started Form Us With Love. You have to collaborate in order to advance in creative art. Adding new team members was natural progress, a question of how we collaborate with each other and how we collaborate with the industry. That’s not done behind a computer or by phone. We travel around visiting people regardless of whether they’re in Beijing or southern Sweden. We have a meetings-based recruitment process. We offer traineeships to graduate designers; ten from eight different countries. We close the studio for a week and work together with them. Arrange dinners and parties to see how they function in a group. It takes five minutes for them to drop their guard. Teamwork is crucial. That’s what we do. If we don’t have a team that pulls together then the whole thing collapses. Not investing in that would be ridiculous in my view.” Jonas: “The product itself is rarely something we get off on. Can we design a lamp? Sure we can, but we need to know what kind of people they are and why they want a lamp. This is where meetings come in. How they socialise at home, how they behave at work. Many of our products
can be tied to meetings, and we’ve had a lot of launches that have been connected with meetings. When we were students we arranged a masquerade to bring design students closer to other students, we were that far apart. That’s basically how we’ve worked ever since. We had to arrange events to have a chance to talk to each other.” John: “Do we suffer from performance anxiety when creating design for design people? No, we’ve done it too many times, basically once a year. I feel confident these days. As long as we’re satisfied, that’s the main thing. We want it to be as successful as we are satisfied.” Jonas: “We’ve got used to it. A lot of the things we do become public anyway and people think what they want. This only makes us more determined to put as much time and energy as we can into what we’re doing. But creating nice environments is actually secondary. A lot of people can do that. The important thing is to be aware of what it is that would make us stop.”
2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
TAYLOR | 59
Rick Taylor of The Business Tourism Company is a leading African tourism development consultant spearheading the Continents’ advance to becoming one of the world’s hotspots for business events. photo © The Business Tourism Company
Africa’s Untapped MEETINGS POTENTIAL For years, like many of my peers, I have been passionately up-selling the African continent as the next frontier when it comes not only to tourism per se (i.e. leisure), but specifically Business Tourism or M&E (Meetings and Events) – still fondly referred to as MICE in many countries; the many countries north of South Africa that are precisely where the South African MICE industry (yes, we called it MICE then too!) was some 16–17 years ago! For the past eleven years The Business Tourism Company has been privileged to work on over 50 diverse tourism advisory and training projects across the Continent (in Cameroon, Tanzania, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zambia, Rwanda, and others), and remains totally committed to seeing tourism, and business tourism specifically, reach its full potential. With over a billion in population today, a middle class of 1.1 billion is predicted by 2060. Opportunity oozes! Over the years I have always, perhaps doggedly, maintained that Africa should be business tourism led with the significant leisure sector working in tandem. It is Business Events that will attract and drive Africa’s tourism
potential and acceleration: the great news is that governments throughout Africa are now really starting to discover and appropriately oil this economic piston. We have a continent filled with iconic abundance; the Nile, Zambezi, Great Rift Valley, the Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Lalibela, Victoria Falls, the great Lakes across Uganda, Malawi, Burundi … Lake Victoria is as large as Lake Michigan! … the list is never ending. As the world’s second largest continent Africa is well endowed with a variety of resources that offer meeting buyers and planners, who are seriously looking for true delegate differentiation, a bouquet of choices. We have to step off the edge, explore Africa – and fly. A handful of long-established players in South Africa are a perfect example of this. Dragonfly Africa’s achievements throughout Southern and Eastern Africa have been globally recognised seven times by SITE Crystal Awards as a result of their unique intoreal-Africa incentive programmes; whilst another SITE Crystal Awards recipient, Walthers Destination Business Solutions, has been offer2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“The African continent really should be more top of mind with the global meetings industry”
ing innovative business event travel programmes throughout Africa for over 30 years. As a growing appetite emerges among the global meetings community to convene in Africa, a deeper understanding of the continent and its regions will become increasingly beneficial for meeting professionals and their clients. Recognising the ability to boost tourism receipts via the sector, infrastructure development throughout the continent has accelerated; world-class state-of-theart convention centres, hotels and meeting facilities are being developed and the establishment of convention bureaus identified as a priority in many destinations. Ethiopia launched the first annual business events trade show platform outside of South Africa, MICE East Africa, in June 2015 in Addis Ababa. It is these structural investments and industry development initiatives that inevitably lead to the transfer of invisible tangible assets, in intellectual capital, supporting the drive towards a knowledge-based economy and ultimately a fully employed workforce. MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
Success, we have discovered, relies heavily on a winning team attitude and a common vision towards achieving a reasonable return for all stakeholders. Rwanda, for example, has adopted a remarkable and robust National EDPRS2 (Economic Development Poverty Reduction) strategy in which Meetings and Events are highlighted as a key growth sector. In support of EDPRS2 the destination has made tremendous progress since 2014 with the adoption of a ‘National MICE Strategy’ by Cabinet and the establishment of the Rwanda Convention Bureau. To cater to international demand for meetings the Government of Rwanda invested in a modern tented Conference and Exhibition Village in Kigali, with a capacity of up to 4,000 delegates, where the 3,000+ delegate Transform Africa Summit and 1,000+ Interpol Annual General Assembly were hosted in late 2015. Rwanda’s capital will unveil the new US$300 million iconic 2,600 capacity Kigali Convention Centre in mid-2016, and will shortly see the opening of a number of top international brand hotels such as Marriott, Park Inn and Radisson Blu, alongside
robust development in local and regional hotel brands. Rwanda has, over the past two years, firmly established its global position as a nation capable of staging world-class meetings, evident in its move up the ICCA Africa rankings list from 21st to 13th place in 2014. With its untapped magnetism the African continent really should be more top of mind with the global meetings industry. Strong international currencies, and an ever-increasing buyer’s eye towards delivering ROI, increase Africa’s attractiveness as a fantastic value-for-money proposition. Our work in Africa comes with enormous professional reward; we at The Business Tourism Company remain driven to continue convincing a world trapped in Afro-pessimism that Africa is the future and the best stop for that next meeting.
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Business IS PERSONAL The comprehensive education programme at IMEX in Frankfurt this year is set to shine the light on personal development, with sessions by renowned experts from across the world. Business is Personal is a key theme of the show, which takes place 19–21 April at Messe Frankfurt, and has been designed to help buyers and exhibitors grow and develop both professionally and personally. Educational tracks focussed on Business Skills and Personal Development explore this theme with sessions on leadership skills, develop-
ing confidence and fostering strong connections. Jonathan Bradshaw, CEO of the Meetology Lab, delivers The Meetology guide to influence and persuasion, sharing little known tips, tools and techniques including how music can change behaviour. Kaaren Hamilton, Vice President, Global Sales at Carlson Rezidor, and Kaori PereyraLago, Senior Director of SMM Business Development EMEA for BCD Meetings & Events, give advice on Dealing with challenging people in a WINiT (Women In Travel) session. She also explores the ‘confidence gap’
and shares personal stories about how confidence impacts success and career growth in the session Confidence=Impact: Three Steps to Bridge the Gap. Develop your authentic leadership skills is covered by R. Michael Anderson, creator of The Executive Joy Institute, which specialises in teaching organisations and leaders how to become even more successful through the psychology of happiness. The latest research into the brain is explored in How passion and focus will boost your productivity and fulfilment, led by certified Passion Test 2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“The sharing economy is one of the hottest topics of 2016”
facilitator, Elizabeth Pine from Pine Communication plus Training. Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group, explains: “The world of work is rapidly evolving and, in order to keep up, we need to ensure our professional and personal well-being doesn’t fall to the bottom of the to-do list. Our Business is Personal theme has been developed in response to changes in the industry and requirements for new skills. This year both our personal development and well-being tracks offer dozens of new ideas and fresh angles on how to change old habits of mind, body and spirit.” There are also numerous ways for both buyers and exhibitors to join the Business is Personal theme off the show floor, via meditation and yoga sessions in the new Be Well Lounge sessions, brought to you by Inner Sense and supported by Weichlein Tours plus Incentives and Munich Convention Bureau, or by joining others for an energetic start to the day on Wednesday at the IMEXrun, inspired by Rio de Janeiro. Fresh from its success at IMEX America, the Play Room will host its interactive ‘quirkshops’ in Frankfurt. Play With A Purpose brings this new feature to the show, providing a creative, interactive, hands on “play MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
space” designed to provide a fresh look at meeting planning. With over 180 education sessions this year, visitors are sure to find sessions that match their needs. The Inspiration Hub, home to all the show floor education, will host experts exploring Business Skills, Creative Learning, Diversity, General Education, Health and Well-being, Marketing/Social Media, Personal Development, Sustainability, Technology, Trends and Research. CMP/CEU and ISES Points can also be accrued at many sessions. The sharing economy is one of the hottest topics of 2016, and one that’s not likely to go away. To help all sectors of the global meetings and events industry better understand the implications of this new business model, IMEX has created a series of presentations running during the three days of the trade show in April. They include a new seminar: How can we work with the new sharing economy? on Wednesday 20th April. The highly knowledgeable speakers, with several sharing economy entrepreneurs among them, will cover various aspects of this new approach to business.
They include Caleb Parker, CEO of MeetingRooms.com; Jean-Michel Petit, CEO and co-founder of Vizeat. com; Gary Schirmacher, SVP of Experient, A Maritz Travel Company and Damian Oracki, co-founder of Showslice. Moderated by Greg Oates, Senior Editor of Skift and Padraic Gilligan, Managing Partner of Soolnua who, during his introduction, will exclusively reveal the thought-provoking findings of recent research carried out by IMEX in Frankfurt among hundreds of meetings industry specialists across the world. The research reveals the views, experience and concerns that meeting industry professionals in different parts of the world have about the sharing economy. They also share their thoughts on how the sharing economy will progress and evolve over the next five years; on the issues, challenges and opportunities it faces and whether usage will decline, plateau or increase over time. All sessions are free to attend and open to all.
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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. photo Sara Appelgren
The 50 NEW RULES OF WORK For the performer thinking like a victim, there are messy times ahead. Geopolitical strife. Overleveraged economies. Climate transformation. Uber-volatility. Yet, for the producer thinking like a leader (no matter what their formal title and authority is), the future presents gorgeous opportunities. To innovate. To contribute rich streams of value. To enrich communities. To inspire teammates. To unleash potential. To uplift the world. To serve your rise to your best, I humbly offer you these 50 New Rules of Work with the hope that you quietly consider implementing them as well as discussing them at your next team meeting: 1. You are not just paid to work. You are paid to be uncomfortable – and to pursue projects that scare you. 2. Take care of your relationships and the money will take care of itself. 3. Lead you first. You can’t help others reach for their highest potential until you’re in the process of reaching for yours.
4. To double your income, triple your rate of learning. 5. While victims condemn change, leaders grow inspired by change. 6. Small daily improvements over time create stunning results. 7. Surround yourself with people courageous enough to speak truthfully about what’s best for your organisation and the customers you serve. 8. Don’t fall in love with your press releases. 9. Every moment in front of a customer is a moment of truth (to either show you live by the values you profess – or you don’t). 10. Copying what your competition is doing just leads to being second best. 11. Become obsessed with the user experience such that every touchpoint of doing business with you leaves people speechless. No, breathless.
12. If you’re in business, you’re in show business. The moment you get to work, you’re on stage. Give us the performance of your life. 13. Be a Master of Your Craft. And practice + practice + practice. 14. Get fit like Madonna. 15. Read magazines you don’t usually read. Talk to people who you don’t usually speak to. Go to places you don’t commonly visit. Disrupt your thinking so it stays fresh + hungry + brilliant. 16. Remember that what makes a great business – in part – are the seemingly insignificant details. Obsess over them. 17. Good enough just isn’t good enough. 18. Brilliant things happen when you go the extra mile for every single customer. 19. An addiction to distraction is the death of creative production. Enough said.
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20. If you’re not failing regularly, you’re definitely not making much progress. 21. Lift your teammates up versus tear your teammates down. Anyone can be a critic. What takes guts is to see the best in people. 22. Remember that a critic is a dreamer gone scared.
30. Say ”please” and ”thank you.” It makes a difference. 31. Shift from doing mindless toil to doing valuable work. 32. Remember that a job is only just a job if all you see it as is a job. 33. Don’t do your best work for the applause it generates but for the
“An addiction to distraction is the death of creative production” 23. Leadership’s no longer about position. Now, it’s about passion. And having an impact through the genius-level work that you do. 24. The bigger the dream, the more important the team. 25. If you’re not thinking for yourself, you’re following – not leading. 26. Work hard. But build an exceptional family life. What’s the point of reaching the mountaintop but getting there alone? 27. The job of the leader is to develop more leaders. 28. The antidote to deep change is daily learning. Investing in your professional and personal development is the smartest investment you can make. Period. 29. Smile. It makes a difference.
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personal pride it delivers. 34. The only standard worth reaching for is BIW (Best In World). 35. In the new world of business, everyone works in Human Resources. 36. In the new world of business, everyone’s part of the Leadership Team. 37. Words can inspire. And words can destroy. Choose yours well. 38. You become your excuses. 39. You’ll get your game-changing ideas away from the office versus in the middle of work. Make time for solitude. Creativity needs the space to present itself. 40. The people who gossip about others when they are not around are the people who will gossip about you when you’re not around.
41. It could take you 30 years to build a great reputation and 30 seconds of bad judgment to lose it. 42. The client is always watching. 43. The way you do one thing defines the way you’ll do everything. Every act matters. 44. To be radically optimistic isn’t soft. It’s hard. Crankiness is easy. 45. People want to be inspired to pursue a vision. It’s your job to give it to them. 46. Every visionary was initially called crazy. 47. The purpose of work is to help people. The other rewards are inevitable by-products of this singular focus. 48. Remember that the things that get scheduled are the things that get done. 49. Keep promises and be impeccable with your word. People buy more than just your products and services. They invest in your credibility. 50. Lead Without a Title.
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All meetings are strategic by definition. So claims Ebba Fåhraeus who, after twenty years as a boardroom professional, or boardroom worker as she prefers to call it, has seen meetings improve in achieving their purpose
IN 1986, a Swedish press item used the word Styrelseproffs (boardroom professional). This may have been the first time the word saw the light of day. It was in a piece by ecologist Björn Gillberg who wrote: “Boardroom professionals on high fees, who sit on many boards with the main task of giving the companies respectability, should be replaced by people with specialist expertise who play an active part in managing the companies.” It would take another twenty years for the word Styrelsesproffs to be listed in the Swedish Academy Dictionary. It goes under the short description: “A person who devotes their time to sitting on company boards.” It could easily have said, “Person who takes part in an awful lot of meetings.” That is what Ebba Fåhraeus does.
When we meet she has just returned from giving a lecture to upper secondary school students. To tired ears she talked about her pet subjects: male and female leadership, leading oneself and others. “The youth of today don’t want management positions,” she says. “Yet it’s precisely that which poses the greatest challenge today, leading people like them who are accustomed to constant feedback, who would rather be working on their own projects, who almost resent being expected to dedicate more than 70 per cent of their working time to the company’s customer projects,” she says, with a wry smile. But something she said had them sitting on the edges of their seats. It was when she stressed the importance of networking, attending break2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“Boardroom work was mainly about supervision in those days”
fast meetings and other free events where there was a chance to meet others. This aroused their interest. “I usually say meet at least one person on each occasion. That’s how you build up your network. You’re employed mainly based on your network today.” It is impossible for Ebba Fåhraeus to say how many meetings she has attended. She has almost lost count of the number of boards she has sat on. Does she remember her first board meeting? It must have been a youth wing political meeting during upper secondary, but she has no recollection of what it was about. She is not comfortable with the term ‘boardroom professional’, preferring to use ‘boardroom worker’, which she feels is a better description of what she does. Ebba Fåhraeus is accustomed to multitasking. She is currently a member of several boards and is CEO of Lund Life Science Incubator. Meetings make up a large part of her day. She sits quietly counting then estimates that various forms of meetings make up 70 to 80 per cent of her working time, maybe more. But her answer to what constitutes a successMEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
ful meeting is very quick: “A meeting at which the purpose is achieved.” Whatever the purpose of a meeting, everybody should leave feeling a mutual affinity. Ebba Fåhraeus does not agree that meetings are held just for the sake of it. She says that all meetings are strategic by definition. There is always a purpose. Who should take part and what is the context? How do we go about achieving our aims? “Meetings have no intrinsic value but always have a purpose. The purpose could simply be for people to meet and network, that’s quite normal. People come to do business. Then they have to be able to do that. So you create a space where it is possible to meet. If you intend to allow discussions between the agenda items then the programme should be designed accordingly.” What makes a good boardroom worker? “Integrity, courage, curiosity, inquisitiveness and broad experience. Also highly skilled, a specialist in some field or other. My strength lies in having experience of many different types of organisations, different operations. A good board has a bit of
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“ The board of today is there to make a difference”
everything. The important thing is to have different individuals, not just five experts.” In the fifteen years that she has devoted to boardroom work she has seen it become increasingly professional. Just the fact that boardroom work has become a profession in its own right is recognition enough. Working professionally with boardroom work is a skill. That there should exist any clash of interest between those on ‘high fees’ and those with ‘specialist expertise who play an active part in managing the companies’, as Gillberg wrote, no longer applies. “Boardroom work was mainly about supervision in those days. The board of today is there to make a difference. The difference between boardroom work then and now is that the participants are better prepared nowadays. They’re more professional. Just about everybody reads the meeting materials in advance these days. You never see anybody opening the envelope containing the documents during a meeting anymore, or for that matter an email attachment. This is out of respect for the company, the shareholders and the task at hand.”
Is there not a risk for something falling by the wayside with a board made up of professionals only? A football team with a Zlatan Ibrahimovic in every position is not necessarily better than a team with one Zlatan Ibrahimovic. “Nobody is an expert in everything. What you have is experience and references to sift through. If you sit on a lot of boards, you’re exposed to a whole range of issues so finding somebody on the board who ‘knows anything about this’ is less acute.” At most, Ebba Fåhraeus has sat on six or seven boards at the same time. That is where the line goes for how much you can share your commitment. “Being chairman entails more work than just being a board member. The workload also depends on the type of company it is. A larger company with a lot of staff is usually easier to work with because they most often have well-prepared documentation with plenty of factual information to consider. In a small company with fewer resources and less capacity, the board would most likely have to compile most of this information themselves.” 2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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“Breathing space is important before a meeting”
Many of the companies that Ebba Fåhraeus is engaged in are what is known as start-up companies, that is to say small, entrepreneurial companies with a clear business plan. “A start-up company has to reassess its existence the whole time, its products, working method and market. There is less predictability because the product or service they provide is usually new and unheard of. There are no competitors. Then there’s a lack of resources, a small staff team and no real management group. When the MD lacks a management group then the board of directors has to step in. They take on different roles. The board of smaller companies is made up of experts. This heaps more responsibility on the board as it’s the only resource the company can afford. Decisions have to be made among greater uncertainty, the companies can’t afford to pay for professional help so decisions are based on fewer facts. This is something we boardroom workers have to get used to. In this situation there is always a risk that the board meeting becomes too operative. The aim is always to avoid it getting that way, but if the MD lacks an interlocutor on operative issues then the board MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
has to take on that role. I find that fascinating. It often works better than expected. The notion of the everworking and unstructured start-up business owner is just a myth. “Meetings that are not professionally prepared are few and far between. It’s the same in all other companies. Well, those with a board of directors in any case. Start-up companies know they have to get maximum value from a meeting. So they manage them professionally. The wise startup companies ensure that they get a good board. Things won’t become unstructured then. It’s self-decontaminating.” The difference between meetings in the academic world and the private sector – Ebba Fåhraeus moves freely between them both – is usually the purpose. “There’s a greater sense of urgency in the private sector, business to be done, finances to be sorted out. ‘If I send these two members of staff then I expect them to return with some business’. ‘If we exhibit here that it has to generate income’. The academic world is usually much more vague.” During the years that Ebba Fåhraeus has sat on a variety of boards, she has seen two important
developments: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and communication. Many issues are preceded by ‘What does this entail for the community?’ Nearly all issues by the question ‘Will this be interpreted in the right way?’ “CSR still hasn’t been given the ample space that it should be getting. Communication expertise has become increasingly important. Knowing how the company’s message can be received is vital. A board of directors – and a meeting – benefits from having a variety of people involved. Somebody who’s a driving force, somebody who’s reflective, somebody who questions things, somebody who’s positive. A good blend gives a better outcome in all situations.” You become more aware, and increasingly tolerant and reflective of, the need of people from all walks of life to be part of a good group, she says, and mentions how a Swedish retail chain recruited a world-famous fashion model to their board of directors. “That was an all-time first. This put ‘who is the customer?’ in a different spotlight. A group of 60-year-olds can’t make a decision for 16-yearolds.”
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“You need time to reflect”
There are more women on boards today than fifteen years ago. That is good, but not good enough, she says. When is enough sufficiently enough? “When we have diversified boards that are representative of the products and services their companies sell and own.” She points out that many companies have one of the state pension funds as shareholders, in which case a 50 per cent gender composition would be natural considering that half the customers are women. But she is against statutory quotas for private companies. “It’s not very smart for private companies not to have diversified boards, but it’s nothing to legislate for. They lose in the long run because research has shown a link between higher returns and diversified boards. I don’t like the way they carry on but it’s their choice to shoot themselves in the foot. However, those companies with pension funds as shareholders could introduce a quota. A five-year quota would do, then there would have to be some sort of market logic. A board shouldn’t be too large either. Rather a Board of Directors who co-opt experts than a large group with a lot of people.”
How do you put together a dream board? Ebba Fåhraeus gladly returns to the question, ‘What is the task?’ This is equally important at the boardroom table as when composing a board. “Simply base it on that. Different boards have different tasks. But they’re normally dealt with efficiently by well-composed boards. You should be on your guard when recruiting from your personal network. Board members become friends, there’s no getting away from that. But if you have too many ties outside the boardroom it could be difficult to question your colleagues. It’s best to stay neutral. If you recruit from your personal network you run the risk of too much back-patting. It’s better to select people you don’t know.” How does a boardroom professional prepare for a meeting? “Read a lot. And compose yourself before the meeting starts. Breathing space is important before a meeting, always prepare even if you’re not chairing it. Minutes before I think to myself ‘What is the most important item?’ then I clear my mind of all other thoughts. I usually drive to meetings and run through everything in my mind. That time to adjust may
be short sometimes, but is crucial. I don’t meditate but what I do works for me. I don’t have a ritual but I make a little space for myself where I can focus on the meeting. I fast-forward through the meeting and form a picture of what could take place. I visualise events in case I’m expecting a stormy meeting. I sort of get into my stride before it starts.” Surely Ebba Fåhraeus has entered a meeting without preparing? No, not as she recalls, but she remembers poor meetings. “If you turn up at a meeting unprepared then you should expect the worst, especially if you’re chairing it. If you run from one meeting to the next then you’ll never gather your thoughts. You need time to reflect, otherwise you just become a meetings addict and get nothing out of the meetings at all.” She once sat on the same board as a man who suffered from dyslexia. He is one of her role models. “He’d done his homework thoroughly. There was no way he could read and understand everything during the meeting so he did it all before.”
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“It’s important to question things. It’s a way to verify that we’re on the right course”
How much space does she herself take up at a meeting? Taking up space is not an end in itself, she says. “If I have a lot to contribute then I take up space. But then the meeting is emanating from me. I’m not afraid to take up space. Whereas getting others to take up space can be problematic. Some are extremely talkative, others have good ideas but are not prepared to share them.” But aren’t all boardroom professionals extrovert chatterboxes? “No, all types are needed. Even in the boardroom.” Ebba Fåhraeus enjoys her role most when the subject entails some sort of change. “It’s always enjoyable to turn old truths on their head. Working with start-up companies entails constant change. Changes in large companies are usually large and demand another type of process − and more than one meeting. This is where you start lifting the stones, turning the screws, which could take a year perhaps. You have to be certain that it’s not change for the sake of change.” She strikes a blow for the stubborn people at meetings, the ones who dig in their heels, saying that the naysayers are important members of the MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL No. 17 2016
group. Not long ago, Ebba Fåhraeus belonged to the Let’s Do It! group. “Nowadays it all depends on the context, it’s more situational. I gladly take on the opposite role of putting on the brake and going against something. It can be tough, but somebody has to do it.” It happens that she sometimes takes on the role of naysayer even if she’d rather say yes. This is to elevate the discussion to the right level. “It’s important to question things. It’s a way to verify that we’re on the right course.” She feels she is less prestige-minded these days than when she began working on boards. “I’ve always been afraid to ask questions but have become less afraid as years have gone by.” The courage to be ‘awkward’ comes with age,” says the 52-year-old, pointing out that when you get older you’re allowed to ask any question you want. But of course she gets prestige-minded at times, despite her experience. “If I’m about to do a presentation and the speaker before me swept the audience off their feet, I might wonder how I’m going to follow it up. It’s easy to be self-critical. People aren’t
as critical as you might think. If you show passion and engagement then that’s sufficient. My tip is to talk only about things that you’re engaged in and don’t compare too much with anything else. I recently asked upper secondary students the worst thing that could happen. Losing face is not the end of the world. Audiences remember the good things.” Being non-prestigious is also about having the ability to change things around and do the right thing. To have the courage to back off and say ‘I was wrong’. “I’ve chaired meetings that I’ve felt were not good at all. I can usually talk with a colleague and say ‘Our message didn’t come across’. Taking time out like that is important. A good way to end meetings is to ask, ‘What worked today and what shall we do differently next time?’ Everybody should do that, I’m not the best in the world at that either. But at least you get honest answers.”
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Tomas Dalström PHOTOS
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John Axelsson is a sleep scientist at the Karolinska University Hospital in Solna. He has specialised in the link between sleep and health, the pertaining mechanisms, and how we are affected by, and adapt to, a lack of sleep. How do you define sleep?
“The definition of sleep has changed over time. Today we define it as altered brain activity. It’s another state of consciousness. Basically everything sleeps. Some scientists have even begun to study plants, which also have periods of activity and rest.” What happens when we sleep?
“In the past, people thought it was a period of non-activity. We now know that much of our sleep is there to help us function optimally during the day. We recover, build ourselves up and adapt to the environment we are in. One theory is that everything that moves − all organisms that are active and have a central nervous system − have to sleep. One of the functions of sleep is to ensure that we maintain a ‘plastic’ nervous system, meaning it’s changeable and can learn. When our sleep is disturbed it leads to a host of
biological consequences. One could say that sleep deficiency puts a strain on all the body’s systems. The brain also cleans away the synapses that is doesn’t need. We have somewhere around 100 billion neurons, or brain cells, that are linked to something called synapses. The brain creates new synapses all the time that are linked to what you do when you are awake. Each brain cell has roughly 10,000 synapses and they use an enormous amount of energy. The more synapses we use, the more energy we burn. Sleep is the brain’s way of removing unused synapses.” How does it do that?
“Synapses get weaker and weaker during sleep.” Do they rest and become strong again the next day?
“Yes, they rest. Those that aren’t used on a daily basis will eventually be cleaned from the system.” 2016 No. 17 MEETINGS INTERNATIONAL
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Is there a trash can or where do they go?
“It’s a closed system so they are reused and transformed into new cells or synapses. The brain adapts itself to the environment you happen to be in, so when you do new things it will learn them as well.” So I build up neural networks?
“Yes, the brain strives to be effec-
They sink to a basic level?
“Exactly, and this means you have a more synchronised brain.” I’ve read that the brain slows down when we haven’t rested due to the brain cells needing an energy boost. Could you elaborate on this?
“Research has been conducted into the speed of the brain. Sleep deprivation makes us slower. But
“When our sleep is disturbed it leads to a host of biological consequences” tive in the environment you happen to be in. This we do by spending our nights working through what we did during daytime. We halt the memory at the right place. When we do something urgently, we use certain areas of the brain where it’s placed temporarily, lobus temporalis, but the memory is moved to other areas during sleep where it is stored long-term. This is naturally a simplified explanation.”
that’s not the biggest effect. When we use one area of the brain for a long period, the energy levels drop and all the areas of the brain become tired. Because the cells are exhausted and lack energy, they are shut off at intervals. This results in the brain having less staying power, meaning it can’t concentrate and maintain its focus. This is where a lack of sleep really kicks in.”
The nerve cells in the cerebral cortex synchronise during sleep and are desynchronised while we are awake. What does that mean?
The frontal lobe is usually called the smart part of the brain. How is it affected by loss of sleep?
“When you are awake your cells do different things. You could say that the brain is working and sending signals at different frequencies between its different parts. It’s about different high frequencies where the different brain cells work independently to each other. This means that our brain cells are desynchronised when we’re awake and synchronise while we’re sleeping, which means the frequencies get lower.”
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“The frontal lobe is the most affected. Control and focus are examples of things that are affected when we get tired. They are energy demanding processes.” How does the brain know when to wake up?
“That’s a good question. We don’t really know how it happens. There are several mechanisms at work. The homeostatic mechanism regulates alertness and sleep. The longer you’re awake, the more you have to sleep and the longer you have slept, the less you need to continue sleeping. It appears
to be partly driven by the number of synapses. The more synapses you get, the more you need to sleep. We also have a diurnal rhythm that ensures we are awake during the day and sleep as much as possible when it’s dark. This is when we are most effective. In the mornings we have very little need of sleep, but the longer we’re awake, the more we have to sleep. We get tired around 10pm. The long period of wakefulness and the diurnal rhythm together ensure that we get tired, but exactly when is individual.” I freeze when I’m tired. I recall doing that when I worked shifts.
“The diurnal rhythm controls the metabolism. People who work nights are greatly affected.” I find that a blindfold helps me sleep better.
“This is very individual. Some need complete darkness while others sleep well with some light. It depends on how sensitive you are and what you’re used to.” Which type of sleep is best?
“Deep sleep is the most important. When the brain goes to sleep it enters what’s known as non-REM sleep. It tries to enter deep sleep as quickly as possible because that’s where recovery lies, in the nervous system. Whatever time we sleep during day or night, the brain always tries to reach a deep sleep as quickly as possible so as to recover. Then there’s the third phase, REM sleep. The longer we sleep, the less deep sleep we need, which increases the amount of REM sleep.” So the brain processes our memories during sleep?
“Yes, during all three phases. We have areas in the brain where the memories are stored temporarily during the day. To make us more stable they’re moved to the long-term memory, a consolidation that mostly takes place during non-REM sleep.
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In the next phase, which takes place during REM sleep, the brain appears to process that which we have just moved over, checking that it’s been written over correctly and that it’s working. This theory has most support today.” Where does the processing of muscle memory take place?
“Procedural memories, that is
How important is a power nap for our performance levels?
“It takes quite a long time for the brain to recover. Therefore, we have not really understood why naps are so effective. New studies show that a nap helps us to recharge our batteries with new energy. Even short naps are effective. They can, presumably, boost energy levels and remove residual
“Memories mean nothing if they don’t have an emotional element” to say all movement memories, are processed during REM sleep. This concerns all movements, from picking your nose to skiing. The process programs and fine-tunes the premotor cortex, motor cortex and nerve paths all the way out to the muscles. This takes place during REM sleep when we are paralysed anyway and are unable to carry out the movements that the brain is processing.” So REM sleep also supports the emotional processing of the memories?
“The brain processes the emotional content in the memory in another way. Memories mean nothing if they don’t have an emotional element. Emotions give memories a value. The stronger the emotion, the more important it is for you. When a memory has been moved to the longterm memory, the emotional content is then connected to it. The brain decides what emotion to attach to this memory, what value it should have for you. This advanced processing is supported during REM sleep.”
products. This results in increased attentiveness and concentration levels. A power nap cannot replace deep sleep. It’s hard to be super-efficient all day long, but power naps will help to raise your energy level a few notches.” Some successful people claim to need little sleep. Is that a myth?
“No, a lot of successful people probably get little sleep, but that doesn’t make it a good thing. It doesn’t come cheaply either. It’s a risk factor like smoking or not exercising enough. We age quicker too. Everybody needs sleep, it varies depending on how good we are at coping with lack of sleep. If you’re highly motivated, fit and in good balance then you’ll cope better with less sleep. There are clear individual differences.” Some people say that they sleep less to get more done. That doesn’t sound like a good reason.
“No, it doesn’t. We’re generally poor at getting our priorities right, which is a problem. We tell ourselves that what we are doing is really important, or that we are really important, or that we are so important that
we can’t stop. Some put this above sleep, which is a bit of a no-brainer.” So it becomes a downward spiral of poorer quality as the day wears on?
“Yes, and if you follow large groups, seven hours seems to be the healthiest amount of sleep, although eight hours would be preferable for many. Those who sleep seven hours often have a better lifestyle generally. They’re married, have a job and exercise a lot. Those who sleep longer are not usually as active.” How does sleep affect the learning process?
“A great deal. To improve in a sport, or some other exercise, you need to train − that is to say repetition − and you need REM sleep. These are the only factors we know of that make you better. If you practice something during the day then you will reach a peak. Exercising alone won’t improve you, but once you’ve slept you come to a new level. Then you emanate from there the next time. You finetune your motor memory, which has a great effect.” That surely applies to swotting for an exam as well, or writing something? There’s an old saying that goes “it’s good to sleep on it.”
“That’s right. When you’re learning, you code the information into areas where it’s only saved for the day. Moving it to the long-term memory suddenly gives you access to a lot of other memories. This increases the probability of associations. There are interesting studies that have given the participants underlying solutions to make them easier. Normally, only around twenty per cent can see them, but when the participants were allowed to sleep on it, the figure rose to 60 per cent. The brain has processed the information, seen it in a new light. When a memory is in the right place it’s easier to link to other memories
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that give us the new solution. So yes, it’s good to sleep on it.” How does sleep affect creativity?
“There are very few studies, but there are some that show a link between sleep and creativity. There’s also support for the theory that a lack of sleep, to a small degree, helps us let go of our inhibitions, which makes some people more creative.”
“A lot of successful people probably get little sleep, but that doesn’t make it a good thing” Is our mood affected by lack of sleep?
“Yes, it is. We could get in a bad mood, feel sick or even depressed.” Why do we dream?
“There are several theories. The latest, and more applicable today, is that the brain carries out memory processing. There are studies during which people have had to do certain tasks before going to sleep. They are then woken up to see if their dream is connected to the task in any way. Those who never played the game Tetris got to play it before they fell asleep and were dreaming about it when woken up during the first hour. The things you think about before going to bed you will dream about during the first hour of sleep. Later on you will only dream about certain aspects. Our dreams reflect what we’ve done during the day, but only to a certain degree.” I wake up at intervals during the night with my thoughts spinning in my head. Why, and what can I do about it?
“Waking up after a few hours of sleep is a fairly common sleep disorder. The explanation lies in a probable high stress level. If you have less need for sleep then you’ll wake up after a few hours. Plenty of people do anyway, but you can’t go back to sleep due to the stress. You’re too stressed and need to wind down in some way. Meditation and relaxation exercises sometimes help.”
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How can I improve my sleep?
“Physical exercise is the best way and you should always give yourself time to wind down before going to sleep. If you have more serious disorders, a lot of people have found cognitive behavioural therapy to be very effective.” Research shows that if I use a tablet computer before going to sleep, the blue light will have a negative effect on my sleep. Why?
“All forms of light wake the brain, but the blue light blocks melatonin. This could have a drastic effect on the diurnal rhythm.” If I want to solve a problem in my sleep, how do I go about it?
“If you think about something just before you fall asleep then you’ll dream about it.” And dreams are also about problem-solving?
“Dreams are about adapting the brain to learn for the future, so we process memories and emotions, and create new connections. This process could lead to you finding a solution or seeing things from a different angle. If you come upon something good during a dream then make a mental note of it at once or chances are you won’t remember it when you wake up.”
photo Sara Appelgren
Tomas Dalström is an author, journalist, lecturer and innovator with a passion for the brain. Author of the book “Bäst i text · Läseboken/Skrivboken” (Best in Text · The Reading Book/The Writing Book) about writing texts that communicate on the terms of the brain, he also runs veryimportantbrains.se and blogs about the brain and communication at bastitext.se.
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Roger Kellerman Publisher, business intelligence analyst, trend creator, educator and networker. Has over 30 years’ experience of the global meeting industry. Founder of Mötesindustriveckan. twitter.com/thekellerman photo Sara Appelgren
Meetings Create Events EVENTS CREATE MEETINGS A few years ago we realised that it was not in parliament or the government that we would find the politicians who understood how a country develops through meetings and events. Over the years we have followed the Politicians Forum during IMEX Frankfurt, where we have learnt that politicians mostly speak of tourism. As though the only thing of importance was to fill hotel rooms. But as the old saying goes: Seek, and you will find. And we did. The deeper we dug, the finer the treasures we found. Among others we found mayors in Seoul, London, Rotterdam, and in Tórshavn on the Faeroe Islands. The thing they all have in common is that they understand the importance of welcoming and nurturing the knowledge that comes to their destinations through science congresses, corporate meetings and events. Suddenly, Derek Hanekom, South Africa’s tourism minister, appears on the scene. As luck would have it, we managed to get an interview with him, during which he said: “The most important thing we can develop within tourism is meetings and events.” For our part he is the first tourism minister we have met in thirty years who has expressed themselves in
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that way. Maybe it is his background. Derek Hanekom was former Minister of Science and Technology so he knows from experience how knowledge is shared, developed and transferred when scientists meet during a global conference. He also knows how significant the knowledge generated at an international meeting is to the host country, that professional events create meetings and that meetings create events, and how it all ties together. Because it is all tied together. An example. A large sporting event could generate ten meetings or conferences relating to the sport in question. The delegates could be the doctors who make up the sport’s medical teams. A large congress could also generate several events surrounding the main meeting. It could, for example, be cultural meetings within music, literature or film. We only have to learn how to produce events when we implement meetings, and we create meetings when we implement events. It is about a new approach through which meetings and events in the spotlight of each other create something much bigger. It generates contacts and knowledge, helps to form long-lasting networks between many
people, and could lead to new innovations. Companies and organisations can grow and, of course, one or two individuals or research teams could well be nominated for the Nobel Prize. We should elevate politicians like this. The ones who, from new perspectives based on vast experience and business intelligence, help to give us all a better world.
Conventions don´t have to be conventional A business trip to Madrid seems less like hard work than most. Sunny weather, conveniently located conference venues and gourmet lunches are just some of the bonuses for when you visit on business. Aer a busy day, Madrid’s famous museums and elegant stores are a great way to recharge before sampling the vibrant nightlife. Relax over tapas in an outdoor café or dance until dawn. Whatever you do, Madrid is the business.
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At this very moment a group of scientists is falling under a cat’s spell: Schrödinger’s. Time to give your participants a similar treat? ACV.AT MESSECONGRESS.AT VIENNA.CONVENTION.AT
Erwin Schrödinger, Austrian physicist, Nobel Prize winner © Bildarchiv/ÖNB