If you are planning a company get together or an away day, whether it’s to reconnect people or to launch your new business plan you might, like many people, be keen to avoid what is known as “Conference 101” – the standard fare of coffee-welcome address-presentation-presentation-lunch-presentation-presentation-wrap up-finish that far too many people envisage when they talk about such events.
The problem is, with Conference 101 you know what you are getting. It might be desperately dull, but it’s safe… which brings us to the next topic in our run-through of event planning: permission.
Years of experience have taught us to recognise the hunted expression in the eyes of someone who has been tasked with planning an event. There are a million-and-one things to do - from invitations, to venue sourcing, to catering, to agenda creation, to supervision of content from your speakers – and that leaves precious little time to think about that most difficult of subjects: how can I make this event special?
Let’s not ignore the fact that putting on an event requires some serious financial outlay. Venues, food and accommodation are not cheap, and if you are taking your workforce off the day job for an extended period of time there is an attendant pressure to produce something that represents a good Return on Investment. Perhaps there is something to be said for “safe, but dull” after all…
We don’t think so. As we say on the front page of our website, “we’re sick of boring conferences, and we think you should be too.” Your people deserve something better than the expected, the standard, the run-of-the-mill don’t they? But how can you do that on top of everything else?
What you need is permission. That doesn’t immediately mean the green light from your superiors to spend a fortune on lavish effects and dramatic venues – although we’ve seen plenty of them being used in lieu of actual human engagement – but rather permission to dream.
Some time ago, the Disney Corporation had a rule whereby the people who created the stories and imagined the films were insulated from the accountants and the practical people by a special buffer group that acted as a go-between. The reason for this is that if you have a fantastic idea that has cold water poured upon it by people who can’t see your vision you will never be able to give full expression to your idea. We see the same in some organisations and our role is to help you find a way to make your idea work somehow.
That’s not to say we can work miracles or arrange for Take That to reform and perform in the breaks at your conference, but we can take the essence of an idea, develop it with you, and find a way to make it work. It comes from our commitment to the principles of improvisation: to build something you have to find a way to add to what is offered… to say “yes, and…” In other words, to give you permission to imagine something different.
We can’t convince a sceptical holder of the purse-strings that your idea is a good one or the right one, but what we can do is take the kernel of your idea and help you shape it into a form that is more likely to gain approval, and then help you execute it so no one has to put up with another boring conference.
Colour; Noun (Vicky Holding and Howard Karloff)