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3 ways being stupid can make you better

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The Gruen Transfer’s Dan Gregory on why being stupid will make you a better event manager.

Thinking Stupid may sound like an oxymoron, but it is in fact a critical strategy for success. It doesn’t mean being stupid, it really means factoring for failure in the design of your event – something we rarely think to do.

In fact, most organisations design their processes and systems with scant thought for what could go wrong and instead expect success to be.

Contrast that with the aeronautical engineering. For decades, the engineers who design aircraft have been building planes that can stay in the air and land safely, even when one of the engines goes out and reduces them to 50% power. What would happen at your event if only half of your support staff or registered delegates showed up on the day of your big conference or festival?

So how do we factor for failure and ensure success in a world of human failings? Thinking stupid is really about biasing the way we work towards success.

Consider adding the three filters to the planning of your next event:

1. Keep it simple
One of the risks in event planning is that in our efforts to deliver the innovative and the new, we overcomplicate the way our delegates can interact with us and with each other. The more complication we add, the more failure points emerge.

2. Make it easy (which really means, make it easy to be lazy)
The easier it is for me to arrive, register, move between session and stat connected throughout the conference, the more likely I am to engage. If I can do what you need me to do with little effort, I’m far more likely to do just that.

3. Make failure difficult
If there is a critical function in your event, make it (literally) fool proof. If you want me to recycle, put the recycling bins in my direct path, if there’s a must see plenary, make sure you schedule a reason for me to be in the room well ahead of time Thinking stupid is actually pretty intelligent. Ultimately, it’s about making success more likely.

Dan Gregory is an internationally-renowned experts in human behaviour and creativity and authors of Selfish, Scared & Stupid, a book about performance, engagement and influence.

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