Wednesday, February 23, 2011

GMIC - 20 final thoughts

As I have mentioned, I live in Vancouver, where we do consider ourselves sustainable - not perfect but certainly taking some great steps. This week it was awesome to see, as they self - referred, the "Choir" of Green Meeting and Event Professionals at the GMIC event at the Doubletree Portland. By all accounts, a hotel ahead on sustainability, while still maintaining very high standards, excellent food quality and presentation, and yes, the warm cookies. (hello!!)

I blogged to support the (Spruce Almighty) team and became a virtual extension of the event. As they did say in their final wrap-up to keep communicating the message, I have just a few things to continue the conversation. I will note here that I have a lot of thoughts on being green and even more on being sustainable but as I have covered these in the blog links here, I won't rehash my pretty strong feelings and amazing examples. Instead a focus on the awesome information, lessons and next steps that came out of GMIC.
  1. This is the "choir" who must now continue to spread the message of sustainability.
  2. Social gaming, when properly structured, is an amazing tool for increasing the depth and breadth of learning, engagement and relationship building. Make the time to plan for it, communicate it, and promote it. Then debrief it.
  3. Meeting and event professionals are ideally positioned to make huge impacts if we take even small steps on each meeting to make them more sustainable.
  4. As strategists, we need to maintain our seat at the table, and ensure that sustainability is high on the agenda of every event's basic structure.
  5. Open source your knowledge. When we share knowledge we open ourselves up to even more opportunities to learn and grow.
  6. We must consider our entire supply chain, and engage suppliers in discussion about our objectives and expectations around sustainability.
  7. We know sustainability is high on consumer and client wish lists. But "green" is just one factor. They also want to know if the people producing the product are being treated fairly, if there is cooperation, and that we care about where our products are being made and how.
  8. We need to not only engage in discussion, but we need our suppliers and stakeholders to own the process with us and share responsibility for sustainability.
  9. Social media is an amazing tool, not just for hybrid meetings, but also for continuing the discussions and growing the reach of the messages.
  10. The messages must be consistent.
  11. SMART goals are both important, but are also something as event professionals that we can work with our clients and stakeholders to better articulate - leading to meetings that are more productive. (pick the words that fit you best)
    1. S - specific, significant
      M - measurable, meaningful, motivational

      A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

      R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

      T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable
  12. Experimentation in safe environments is important to growth. Accept the growing pains, enjoy the innovations gained along the way. (no experimenting = no innovation)
  13. Collaboration is the most important transformative tool.
  14. Collaboration is "easier" when started face-to-face. It can be started with off-line tools, but it is trickier - off-line is an awesome way to continue the conversations. Indefinitely.
  15. Standards can be sexy. Ask anyone who has given their time (and it takes TIME to reach consensus) to bring one standard after another to fruition.
  16. The only way for standards to become standards is if we engage with and use them.
  17. Think in bulk - save packaging where you can. Bring your own water bottle or mug for example and encourage others to do the same. (hotel soap / shampoo, condiments and so much more)
  18. Apparently bags are on the way out (btw check these out - made from fabric reclaimed before it becomes landfill and sewn by home sewers)
  19. Be a champion. Embrace the challenge. Sustainability is not an option.
  20. Our First Nations ancestors plan ahead for seven generations. What will our world be like in seven generations if we don't step up and take responsibility now? 
    1. Be the change you want to see!  Thank you so much to the board, leaders, speakers, presenters, staff, team and volunteers who all made this happen.


  1. Tahira,

    These are EXCELLENT points. Thank you so much for your prolific contributions during the #GMIC conference. As I was only there for the opening session, watching your tweets and blog posts gave me a lot of information about it from the view of someone attending virtually. This post in particular is extremely intelligent and thoughtful. I think many people will find it very useful. I know it has me thinking.

  2. Tahira, as Jenise says, great summary. As the leader of the conference design team, I was watching the Twitter stream on-site as well as talking and listening to the "players" onsite to get real-time feedback that will enhance the gaming structure next time. Players took our structure and said YES! and (improv rules!)...and built on it in so many ways. Amazing to see. Thanks for participating!

  3. Thanks for taking time to compile this wonderful summary that anyone looking to improve their meetings/events can act on! Great list.

    I would add a key learning, for me:
    When we aren't 'preaching to the choir', we need to start talking about "Socially Responsible" rather than just 'sustainable' or 'green'... according to GMIC speaker, this terminology resonates with more people... we need to find ways to connect with others, open a dialogue about why this needs to happen and spur people to action... LOHAS are a ready group of consumers!

  4. From @susanradojevic

    Tahira – while I am not as familiar with sustainability and the resources and tools used to deliver the events, I do see the rationale behind most comments made here.

    And just to add to the chorus, the points made in the post, primarily, address the ‘what and how’ (the tactics) questions of delivering green events. For me the step that’s missing is the answer to the ‘why’ (the strategy/goals) questions.

    And here’s why I say that, if the ‘choir’ wants to continue to spread the message, as you stated, and move it up the chain of command to the corner office, where decisions are made, then the ‘why’ questions need to be addressed.

    For instance, why should sustainability be on the CEO’s agenda? Can sustainability impact an organization’s performance or profitability and how?

    These are the kind of questions the new breed of professional planners needs to answer whether they are talking about green events, sales meetings or conferences. This is how meetings and events will get on CEOs’ agendas. Otherwise (incoming tough love) the choir is just preaching to the converted.

    Susan Radojevic, President
    The Peregrine Agency Ltd.
    Event Alignment Strategists

  5. So many excellent comments that have definitely added to my initial thoughts - thank you so much for this input.