Failure Is An Option


Shaping Space: The d.school’s Environments Collaborative from Stanford d.school on Vimeo.

I was inspired today to do a little digging on innovative spaces by the announcement that Event Camp has chosen the Catalyst Ranch in Chicago for its annual meeting in 2011. The only word to describe the Catalyst Ranch is funky — it’s filled with toys and cushions, and decorated with artifacts from 35 different countries. If you want, you can swing in a hammock. Not a safe choice, but, it seems to me, a fitting one for Event Camp, a grassroots gathering of event professionals, which is making a name for itself as a testbed for meeting design. (Read about it here.) Great example: at Event Camp Twin Cities, scheduled for Sept. 8 and 9, organizers will experiment with trading in rows of chairs for balls. And who knows what Event Camp East Coast, scheduled Nov. 12-13 in Philadelphia, has up its sleeve. (The dates were just announced on the #eventsprofs Twitter group this week, with details to come.)

My search for insight about the role of space in innovation led me to a comment that surprised me, particularly coming from Scott Witthoft, co-director of the Stanford d.school’s Environments Collaborative, which designed the d.school space. The new center opened this spring after five years of research and planning.

People ask Witthoft all the time how to make their spaces more innovative, he said. “I think people look to space to solve problems of innovation that are outside of space … Sometimes you have to suck it up and try something you haven’t done before and be willing to fail.”

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One Response to Failure Is An Option

  1. John says:

    Can't say I've met many meeting professionals for whom 'failure is an option.' In fact, I believe the fear of failure and how that'll reflect on meeting stakeholders is one of the key reasons change is so hard to implement.

    Venues represent a particular challenge. The spaces we meet in often dictate certain speaker presentation formats. Presentation formats often dictate levels of interactivity. Levels of interactivity often dictate engagement. Engagement often dictates whether an attendees have a positive or negative meeting experience.

    Until meeting professionals and stakeholders are willing to take some (calculated) risks – for the sake of enhancing their attendees experience, we're unlikely to see much innovation in meetings and events.

    It's hard for me to see who benefits under that scenario – planners, stakeholders, and especially attendees.

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