Last month I was made an offer to write a column for a trade publication in the Meeting & Event Community (the Community). The offer surprised me because what I write about suggests a perspective (that frankly) goes against the Community’s practices and thinking. After a few email exchanges, to determine if the publication was prepared to provoke new thinking, the editor withdrew the offer citing my writing is too provocative.
Respectfully I believe the Editor made a safe decision to preserve the publication! Allow me to explain…
What is the purpose of this publication and the Community? Is its purpose to educate, its readers and members, on how to help corporate leaders change organizations to stand-out in an increasingly complex world? Or is it to feed a Community’s ego who is struggling to be relevant and where technology is automating its members’ jobs?
Sadly the Community hasn’t clearly defined what its purpose is.
On the bell curve of the Law of Diffusion & Innovation (it explains how innovation spreads through society), the majority of trade publications and the Community are classified as Late Majority and Laggards. They make up 34% and 16% respectfully on the bell curve.
Late Majority jump on the band wagon after everyone else has. And to quote Simon Sinek: ‘Laggards are the ones who buy touchtone phones only because they don’t make rotary phones anymore.’
Why is the Community more concerned about a group who prevents growth?
How does Community growth and sustainability fit in? Growth and sustainability cannot occur when safe decisions are made and self-preservation is enforced.
It occurs when Early Adopters (the ones who line up overnight to purchase the latest smartphone or tablet) are engaged. They represent 13.5% on the bell curve. Early Adopters greatest contribution is that they recognize the value of new ideas and see the potential for growth. They can also influence the next group on the bell curve, the Early Majority, who represent 34%.
Instead of feeding Early Adopters’ curiosity (huge opportunity for publications to cross pollinate knowledge and ideas) they are being thrown under the bus. While Late Majority and Laggards get all the attention. Why is that?
The community is out of sync with the evolution taking place outside their bubble. No matter what business you are in, the business evolution taking place today is moving fast. Organizations need to keep up with changes taking place around them. And the Community is no different.
Here’s the thing. Publications report on event practices while Early Adopters are seeking more business substance. Let me share an example.
Recently I received an email, from an Early Adopter, who listened to a presentation I did in 2010 on event portfolio alignment. This is what the person wrote…
‘These concepts dovetail with some initiatives that I am driving within my organization and in order to be successful, I need to be prepared to have more structured, less anecdotal, discussions with our executives.’
So how might we fix this?
The first thing one learns in martial arts training is, if attacked, first recognize the situation you are in and accept that there is a problem.
What if the Community recognized and accepted that their fundamental problem is their approach to fixing it, so far, is not working.
They would realize that what’s needed is to let go of ‘command and control’ agendas and practices. In a world of social media where communication is a dialogue and not a directive, control has shifted from organizations to customers.
And what if they entered into a respectful, authentic and somewhat messy conversation with a willingness to emerge a different Community?
Yes this is risky and it is painful. But the truth is the Community has to start somewhere if its purpose is to help corporate leaders tackle their problems.
To help ignite the conversation I challenge you to break free from ‘Community Shackles’ and engage in a respectful, authentic and somewhat messy conversation…with me.
Start right now. Use the blog comment below and share your thoughts. I promise to respond and invite a few friends and you do the same. Together and respectfully we’ll explore why being labelled an Early Adopter is way better than sitting on a fence and being called a Laggard. And just maybe it’s not too late to evolve and align with non-centric Community business imperatives.
Are you game to take the challenge?
Oh…and the last martial arts training steps to defeat your attacker:
- Persuade the attacker to loosen the grip.
- Engage your attacker or run like hell!