Friday, May 24, 2013

Power of the Collective

Collective Lego
Flashmob. Lego Master Builder Creations. Group Yoga. Conferences. 

Nobody makes me smarter than my children. Last week we joined other families at Oakridge Mall in Vancouver where Lego was building an 8' Yoda out of bricks. Each participant had a picture of the small parts they had to do, and an 18" Yoda to show what their collective work would lead to - a very statuesque Yoda.  After Nick had been building for a while, I thought it was perhaps time to go, but he was not ready. I suggested he could still build Lego when we got home, but that was NOT the point. As an experience creator, I should have already known / sensed that this was not about building squares into more squares - it was about how he was contributing to the whole. This took three days of people wanting to participate in a collective win, and they succeeded on every level.

We have seen examples around the world of this - LuluLemon leading 300 people in yoga at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver, Chicago parks hosting a day of exercise, where each hour the activity changed and hundreds participated in each, and marvelous examples such as Diner en Blanc, where it is about being together in a collective experience that is the point. Please do share your favorite examples as well!   

How should this impact our thinking when it comes to events? I believe sometimes we get so wrapped up in the details - number of servers, access to exits, are there enough restrooms, what shade of red is the linen - that we forget the reason we are doing all of this - to create clean, safe environments for people to COLLECT, CONNECT and enjoy SHARED experiences.  If you have ever seen a video game developer conference - hundreds of people in darkened spaces seemingly working alone, heads down, focused on the task at hand - you might think this makes no sense. Until you see them all get up, stretch, head outside to the saunas, peeling off clothes as they go, rolling in the snow, and having beers together and talking about their awesome creations of the day does it begin to make sense as to why they want to be alone together to create.

Flashmobs are another great example of bringing people together in an unexpected way. If you asked most people if they would get up and dance in the middle of the day, in full daylight, in public, they would say "unlikely". But if you get these same people involved in creating the human bonding experience that is a flashmob, where a shared rhythm is found and a connection to the people and place, so in the present is made, they are up for it - and to see these is always a little bit magical.  (we LOVE planning these)

The power of being together, of collecting for idea sharing, for conversation, for the human touch that can only be found live, this is the power of the collective. As meeting professionals we can never forget why we do this, and how much joy we can share.


  1. Awesome post, Tahira. Once again you have focused on the things that make our events memorable and educational - and it's so often the unexpected that really delights and sticks in our minds. I'm hoping more and more event pros are following your lead and recognizing the wonderful opportunities they have to create experiences that bond people together in truly satisfying ways.

  2. Thank you Jenise - it is the best part, when we see the impact of what we have helped create and facilitate.