“Design is how it works” is the favorite thing Apple software engineer Ken Kocienda heard Steve Jobs say.
“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it [a product] looks like. People think it’s this veneer—that the designers are headed this box and told, “Make it look good!” That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.“
—Steve Jobs, The Guts of a New Machine, 2003 New York Times interview
If only we applied Steve’s insight to event design.
Good event design is not just about look and feel. It’s not just about novel venues, decor, food and beverage, and production. Dressing up standard conference process with razzle-dazzle glitz isn’t good event design either.
Good event design is about how a conference works.
This implies that good event design requires thinking about issues like:
- How the conference will satisfy the wants and needs of the participants. (Which you can’t do well if you predetermine the topics and issues to share and discuss.)
- The best processes to use during conference sessions to maximize participant learning and useful connection. (Which do not include long lectures, meaningless “ice-breakers”, or the latest “event technology”.)
- Creating an event flow that turns the entire attendee experience into something coherent. (As opposed to a mish-mash of disembodied, content-heavy sessions.)
- How to provide event closings that support participant ongoing learning and change, inspire attendees to take action, and explore new initiatives and build community. (Far more effective and useful in the long run than a speech or two during an expensive dinner.)
You always have a choice. Keep on dressing up the same-old same-old in different clothes. Or think about designing what happens at your events.
Because event design is how it works.
HT to Ken Kocienda for sharing the Steve quote in his excellent book: Inside Apple’s design process during the golden age of Steve Jobs [page 187]