We are biased against creativity. Though most people say they admire creativity, research indicates we actually prefer inside-the-box thinking.
“In an article for Slate, Jessica Olien debunks the myth that originality and inventiveness are valued in US society: “This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like it.” She cites academic studies indicating that people are biased against creative minds. They crave the success of the result, but shun the process that produces it.” —Sarah Kendzior, The View From Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America
I’ve experienced plenty of bias against comprehensive event design since I began developing participant-driven and participation-rich meetings in 1992. Despite over 25 years’ evidence that such designs improve meetings for all stakeholders, most traditional event owners shy away from exploring change that is creatively significant. Even potential clients who are experiencing some combination of falling attendance, evaluations, or profits have a hard time facing changing what happens at their events.
Can we overcome bias against truly creative event design? Though millions of meetings take place every year, thousands of meeting organizers know how to create truly creative conference designs. The steady rise in popularity of participant-driven and participation-rich designs like Conferences That Work continues.
We can do better than novelty at our meetings. The first step is to acknowledge our bias against creativity, and how we distract stakeholders with novelty instead. The second is to incorporate truly creative design into our events and experience the resulting benefits.
Novelty has its place in meetings. The latest cocktail. The hot new band. The color of the year. But novelty doesn’t have lasting impact. The first time, it’s an enjoyable transient experience. The next time it’s old.
Better however is a whole different kettle of fish. Better lasts. Better has long-term value.
So don’t fob off your meeting attendees event after event with an ever-changing stream of “new” or “different”. Go for better. You can reuse better over and over again—and your attendees will appreciate it every single time!
Makes sense, right? So why do we rarely shoot for better? Apple’s Jony Ive explains:
“‘Different’ and ‘new’ is relatively easy. Doing something that’s genuinely better is very hard.” —Sir Jony Ive, Apple Senior Vice President of Design, quoted in Business Week in 2009