How Can Meetings Change the World?

rain_cloud-wallpaper-1280x1024When I read A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas and interviewed author Warren Berger for our upcoming September issue cover story, I was especially taken by how he thinks organizations are better off changing their mission statements to mission questions. A mission question suggests a journey, Berger says, and invites people to join the cause, rather than thrusting a statement at them that they can either accept or reject.

For the meetings industry, I propose this mission question: How can meetings change the world? It’s both aspirational — how can we get better about creating conferences that bring about positive change? — and demonstrable. Because we see evidence of this all the time.

Just last week, Scientific American published a story on how dust might solve California’s drought. According to the story, new research suggests that dusty air blown across the Pacific Ocean from Asia and Africa could be influencing how much rain falls on California. The research was presented by Kimberly Prather, Ph.D., from the University of California, San Diego — at the American Chemical Society’s Chemistry & Global Stewardship national meeting and exposition, held last week in San Francisco.

I wonder: Who among Dr. Prather’s colleagues who heard her speak at the meeting might be inspired to add a piece to her research or work with her to move it forward to the next step? And who reading the Scientific American article might come at her research from a different vantage point — perhaps technology — to propel it forward? Or perhaps a reader might be inspired to fund her research?

Because Dr. Prather spoke at a meeting, her insights and ideas have been sprinkled and swept along — like the dust she studies — to potentially solve an age-old problem. Now that’s pretty mind-blowing.


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