micelab:bodensee – seeing transformation of the industry as a positive challenge
Second "micelab:experts" training module an unqualified success
Held at Würth Haus Rorschach in April 2017, the training module brought together fifty MICE industry experts from the Lake Constance area. At the second "micelab:experts" session of the training platform "micelab:bodensee", the participants shared experiences about the changes their industry is undergoing. They learned from and with each other about how to manage the transformation of their sector and how to deal with new challenges. And they did so with ease and with a new sense of their role as genuine advisers.
Personal experiences on the subject of change were the starting point for the second micelab:experts session, which was held at Würth Haus in Rorschach on the Swiss shore of Lake Constance from 11 to 13 April. It was attended by fifty professionals from the meetings and tourism sector. In front of small groups, eight participants told personal stories of success or failure, starting from the premise: I am change.
In several rounds of deliberation the participants together figured out what is necessary if change is to work. "The speakers and the listeners learned that storytelling is a very effective form for the sharing of learning experience. There were eureka moments on both sides," reported curator Michael Gleich. Kongresskultur Bregenz was present itself with five staff members and three of its customers at the micelab:experts session.
The courage to try out something new
Having the courage to task risks as well as being prepared to fail are essential for change to happen. How this can be brought about was shown by another trainer, Christian Maier-Straub, in a playful way. A special area of interest for him is the "inner game", and he uses body movement to raise awareness of the interplay of actuators and inhibitors inside us. He confronted the experts with their innate adventurousness and their feelings of uncertainty by suggesting they juggle. "When asked who would like to juggle, in everybody the inner voice immediately said: I can't do that," Maier-Straub relates.
Yet the participants, progressing by small steps, did in fact acquire some ability to juggle after only a short time. "It was quite an uplifting experience for the 'jugglers' to discover that learning can be really easy, and that all it needs is the readiness to let oneself in for something unknown," curator Michael Gleich says, summing up the experience. This is a realisation that helps in one's private life as well as in one's profession.
Genuine advisers instead of mere providers
Leading on from that, the key question is: how can customers, too, be persuaded to try out something new at events? This is quite a challenge, as Michael Gleich describes: "If an event organiser proposes new approaches or formats to a customer, then he or she is walking a tightrope between the recommendations of an enthusiast and proselytisation by a know-all."
If the event organiser's enthusiasm is genuine it can be infectious for the customer, says curator and event dramaturge Tina Gadow with conviction. It's important to talk in precise terms about the aims of an event. "You don't have to know or be able to do everything yourself. What's important is asking questions in order to get to the heart of the matter and to arrive at a common conception of the undertaking as a whole. Your own role in the process evolves more and more from a mere provider of rooms to a genuine adviser," Gadow says.
Formats act like film music
Almost without noticing, the experts tried out a range of formats. At the end they were surprised how many different methods they had employed in the two and a half days at their disposal. The discussion-facilitating technique fishbowl, the tool event canvas, talk-while-you-walk sessions, small groups, feedback by body language, a mice:slam and above all collective story harvesting were among the techniques they worked with.
"There's an endless number of methods, approaches and formats with great names. Ultimately they always only have a supporting function: they are supposed to help the objectives of an event to be accomplished," says Tina Gadow. The curator likens formats to film music. "They work without us consciously being aware of them. They support, but they are not the story."
People who didn't know each other yet were brought together by using simple techniques. Groups constantly reformed in new constellations. As a result, interaction and exchange among colleagues at the Experts session went beyond regional boundaries and corporate affiliation right from the start. Spending the evening together in an uncomplicated way, staying at the same hotel, random seating plans at the dinner table, and remodelling the conference rooms as a group effort were also effective and helpful.
The experts saw the benefits of this approach. "We got to know each other and trust each other. In future I'll definitely reach for the phone quicker to get advice from colleagues around Lake Constance," one of the participants commented afterwards.
Stimulus for animated events
"The feedback from the experts is a stimulus for the next module," said a delighted Tina Gadow. Something that went down particularly well was the encouragement to question one's daily routine and one's own role. The participants were equally positive about the open-mindedness, the opportunity to think in a visionary way again, and getting tips on how to make events more animated.
The next micelab:experts will be held at Bodenseeforum Konstanz from 6 to 8 November 2017. For more information visit www.micelab-bodensee.com.
Drawings: micelab:bodensee/Jaron Gyger
Photos: micelab:bodensee/Franz Sauerstein