Great Ideas 2011

ASAE Great Ideas Conference logo with tagline:  An Innovative Learning Experience

Earlier this week I attended the ASAE Great Ideas 2011 Conference.  Once again I came away with pros & cons of the mainly f2f conference experience.  In this case, there definitely were more positive than negative results.


1. Fabulous setting with convenient access.  The Conference was held at The Broadmoor quite near to the Colorado Springs, CO, Airport.. Certainly top-drawer service across The Broadmoor sprawling properties made the experience enjoyable.  This five-star property at the base of Cheyenne Mountain in the foothills of the Rockies is spectacular.  The smaller airport was a welcome destination. Vote: thumbs-up.

2. Conference content generally was  substantive. Having planned several conferences and hundreds of professional development meetings, I know how challenging it is to hit all the content marks: best practices, cutting edge, political favors, wide ranges of audience experience and expertise, etc.  On the whole, content at Great Ideas 2011 provided valuable insights, ideas and tips for work in and with associations.

3.  Conference schedule offered multiple networking opportunities. One of the main reasons for attending f2f meetings is the networking, actually shaking the hands of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook colleagues.  I was glad to visit the on-site bookstore and have the complimentary shipping service.  Through the various types of sessions, breakfasts, breaks, luncheons, receptions, et al, the ASAE planning team receives very high marks for arranging a terrific conference schedule.

Cons?  Not really but I do have a major suggestion:

Seamless event-centered wrap-around social media and interactive supports are needed.  ASAE has chosen to manage these supports internally yet I wish for a more open, easily accessible, broader array of interactive tools.  Maybe I just missed them but it seemed to me that the Great Ideas 2011 social media tools were late coming and limited not open.  I want ASAE events to be truly digitally dynamic.

My best experience with wrap-around digital tools was SXSW 2010;  even though I could not attend 2011, I am still in the digital loop — especially through Twitter.  Those of you who have attended South-By know that from the moment of registration, you are engaged.    SXSW reaches out:  e-mail, surface delivery, votes on presenters, opt-in features within the SXSW website, opt-out features, scheduling your sessions, interacting with others who are attending the same sessions, scheduling meetings with colleagues, etc, etc.  Since associations are all about associating, I highly recommend that ASAE build, expand and maximize event-centered, wrap-around,  digital tools.

One of the apparent goals at Great Ideas 2011 was increased attendee participation in sessions.  Standing by a flip-chart or around a table chatting briefly with other session participants are not my ideas of 21st century group participation.  Keep the small group interactions, if you like, but launch them before conference, continue them during the event and sustain post meeting via virtual engagement.  Full-throttle use of digital tools — before, during, after  — combined with the traditionally rich content and superb schedule in an amazing setting will make Great Ideas really great.