Business Events News

It’s a Paradigm Thing


“PARADIGM shift”. I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase many times. It’s often misused or used as a cliché. It was coined by American physicist and philosophe­r Thomas Kuhn and first appeared in his book The Structure

of Scientific Revolution­s in 1962. Your paradigm is the way you see the world – the big picture that forms the model that supposedly correspond­s to reality.

For almost 1,500 years, from the first century A.D. to the 16th century, all the smartest people in the world believed that the sun revolved around the earth. All the world’s leading scientists believed this and created models of how the earth was the centre of the universe and that the sun, planets, moon and stars revolved around the earth. Experts modelled it and wrote equations explaining it.

It wasn’t until the time of Galileo and telescopes that people started to notice that the planets weren’t where they were supposed to be. The data was at odds with the model. A “paradigm shift” was needed for people to believe the new reality…. that the sun was the centre of the universe and everything, including our own planet, revolved it.

So what’s all this got to do with our game – meetings, conference­s, events?

Most meeting planners today are being asked to do more with less. This has been the case for many years – ongoing budget scrutiny and demand for cost reductions. Why? Because most events are not seen as being all that valuable. And so the mainstream current thinking is this: If we have to hold it, how can we spend less on this meeting? How can we reduce costs? Well, a decision could be made to use a 4-star hotel or venue instead of a 5-star but that may cause brand damage.

Numbers attending could be reduced or limited but that means leaving people out and you not engaging with all those you should. And, of course, every supplier will be pressured and squeezed on their prices to the detriment of the industry.

But at the end of the day, cost cutting does nothing to improve the quality and value of events. If an event only costs $5,000 but is not valuable, it’s $5,000 wasted. This is why a paradigm shift needs to occur in our industry.

Instead of the thinking going straight to, and only to, cost reduction, it should go instead to this: How can we make our event more effective and valuable?

A 10% increase in effectiven­ess and impact delivers a far better and longer-lasting benefit than a 10% reduction in cost.

Who’s out there talking to meeting owners and senior management to create this shift in thinking?

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