The Innovation Roller Coaster…Enjoy the Ride.

September 1, 2011

The Thrill of Innovation.

It’s no surprise that Midori and I,  along with our community of colleagues love to push the limits of creativity, try to things and help people, associations, events and companies embrace technology. However, in order to be successful at moving the communications and gatherings through the journey to progress, it is important to do it at a pace that promotes the right balance of comfort with a mild degree of discomfort.

Helping people learn to appreciate technology and welcome innovative design is a bit like helping them climb onto a roller coaster.  The anticipation can be downright painful. The ride can be filled with a mixture of thrill, fear and pure joy. And when it’s over you feel the aftermath of adrenaline pumping through your body.  Change is scary, but it can be wonderful and can lead to results beyond your wildest dreams.

So what is the right balance? How do you get people to even get in line for the roller coaster, let alone climb aboard and go for the ride? How do you convince them that you are not insane and that your ideas are not handpicked from a sci-fi novel?

Enjoying the Ride

1. Ride the ride and show them that it is not scary. I am a big believer that you have to walk the talk. If you haven’t tried something before, try to use an example of someone that has. In most groups, there is someone who is willing to take the first step. If you are innovating, get committee members involved and your industry thought leaders to take the first steps and lead the way.

2. What if the ride is brand new?  The difficult part about being innovative is that someone has to be the first to try something. Talk to them about  the first time they  rode a ride that seemed frightening and then when it was over they were glad they rode it. Think about some other business activity where it seemed risky, but resulted in a great return.

3. What if they have never been on a roller coaster? Start slowly. Maybe they need to ride the merry-go-round before they flip upside down.  Rather than completely changing an event or marketing campaign, small changes can make a big impact and can go a long way in gaining buy-in for the future.

4. What if they refuse to ride? OK, we know there are some people that just won’t embrace technology. Perhaps they are more of the type to savor the cotton candy and indulge in a deep-fried Twinkie on a stick. There are always alternatives to get people involved and have them benefit from trying something new without having to actually do it. As a planner and marketer, you may have to offer options that are substitutes to the main event. This can be frustrating to people who want everyone to buy in to the latest and greatest ideas, but this simply won’t happen. Sometimes you have to accept that you can’t change everyone. You can, however, try to offer “reasonable” accommodations. Remember, you will never make everyone happy.

Mapping out the Park

Not everyone has a fear of change and technology. Some people really appreciate it and want to incorporate it into their business model. But even the most adventurous riders need a strategy. They need to figure out which rides to go on, what is the best time of day to ride The Hulk, and which rides to avoid because they are boring. Whether it’s amusement park navigation, building a hybrid meeting or simply adding a Twitter feed to an event, good planning is never a bad idea.

What are your tips on easing into change and innovation without making your client and attendees dizzy?