Medicine in medieval times consisted of blood-letting, exorcism of devils, spells, incantations, and a proscription of bathing. It didn’t work. In fact, like traditional management, it made things worse. Doctors who had been taught to do it believed in it. The establishment defended it. The universities kept teaching it. So people went on doing it, despite all the evidence to the contrary. It took hundreds of years before these counter-productive practices were set aside in favor of modern medicine. Eventually, people awoke from their collective delusion.
—More or less innovation? Duh? by Steve Denning
In the above quote, Steve Denning describes the persistence of the fledgling medical establishment in inflicting medical treatments that didn’t work. He draws an analogy with how managers still cling to traditional management practices, despite a century of calls for change, and mounting evidence of the social and economic damages they are inflicting.
Let’s hope it isn’t much longer before we face the stultifying effects of traditional conference designs on hapless attendees, and take the necessary steps to change our designs, based on what we are learning about how adults best learn and connect.