Friday, March 21, 2014

Lessons from Ants

This week, TED moved its annual conference to Vancouver, to celebrate its 30th year in a city I love, and which TED recognized was a great fit with the culture of energy and innovation they have created for their participants. I had the opportunity to attend a sanctioned session at the Wosk Centre for many of our city's meeting / event and hospitality leaders where we were able to enjoy a live stream of an afternoon of sessions, along with three excellent live presentations from TED All-stars.  These are of course designed to inspire and ignite ideas, and this definitely happened.

A session we watched by Deborah Gordon included in the Signals section of the program focused on her 28 years of research into ant colonies, looking at the many varieties of colonies which vary to suit their natural environments, ants being found around the world in many climate conditions, as well as their approach to interaction and security, and even a look at ants in space managing in their own micro-gravity colony. 

One of the key take-aways for me was the notion of clustered resources, such as ants would find when they march into your picnic. Ants are smart, and they share information well, so when they find a plethora of clustered resources, such as the luscious food sumptuously available at a picnic, they are eager to share the information and to rally their team around maximizing these resources.  If we consider a conference or trade show as an ultimate "clustered resource" for a specific industry, what are we doing to maximize the opportunities to work together (as a colony) and make the most of the limited time to maximize the opportunity?

Is your environment set up to ensure the people 
  • can hear the information
  • contextualize the information (reflecting alone or discussing with others)
  • share what is relevant and may spark an idea or innovation - at the event, at home with their peers, other ways?
  • can build relationships based on shared ideas or potential opportunities
  • are comfortable enough physically in the space to be pushed mentally or emotionally by the content
Is your content and the presentation / presenting  
  • a great mix of storytelling and technology
  • visually stimulating
  • touching multiple senses
  • compelling
  • engaging
  • thought-provoking
  • captivating
Are the connection opportunities
  • spread throughout the available time and space
  • open and welcoming
  • facilitated when this will increase the breadth of discussion
  • supported by technology ie. a mobile app with messaging option
  • meant to build a community that extends beyond just the event 
I would love to hear from you on what you are doing to maximize your clustered resources - your planning team including vendors and the participants who arrive ready to be part of a greater whole.

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