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How MPI (re)designed their flagship event

July 17, 2019

This article shows how mobile ethnography has been used to help redesign the World Education Congress #WEC18.

How MPI (re)designed their flagship event #WEC18?

What happens, when you suspend your disbelief to redesign the World Education Congress?

After 26 editions of hosting the World Education Congress since 1992, it was time for serious change. A user centric change. Time to walk the talk and apply Event Design doing instead of just Event Design Thinking.

As the professionals association of the people who organise and create events, the team at Meeting Professionals International, MPI has embraced the Event Design using the #EventCanvas™ methodology in September 2017 to completely rethink their annual event.

If you are struggling with how you are spending the time of your participants and in charge of your events, this article might just be for you. Be warned, the team at the Event Design Collective get really geeky about this subject matter and it is reflected in the article below. It is a mini documentary of the design, execution and reflection all wrapped into 1 article.

It is broken up into 3 parts:

  1. Design – The Event Design & Making of the World Education Congress
  2. Event – The actual documentary style video recaps of the World Education Congress #WEC18 in Indianapolis
  3. Reflection – Suspending your own disbelief that you could actually do this and steps on how to use Event Design for your event.

Ready? Here we go:

1) Design – The Event Design & Making of the World Education Congress

The design spark was initially lit when now Certified Event Designer Miranda Van Brück, CED, Program Director, Events for MPI took the lead in proposing this as a project during the Event Design Certificate Programme at the University of Amsterdam in August 2017.

Subsequently, Miranda took her ambitious prototypes from the EDC programme and got the endorsement from Paul van Deventer, President and CEO of MPI and Matthew Marcial, Vice President Education & Events, to get the full MPI team involved in the Event Design for MPI’s pinnacle event.

In a series of event design sprints, the team led by Miranda van Brück and supported by Terri Breining have analyzed and aligned the stakes of the various stakeholders, framed the design and then prototyped options for WEC. This led to multiple prototypes which were ultimately drilled down to one event design and a strong event narrative.

After validating the design with the Executive leadership of MPI, the Chair of MPI Amanda Armstrong and the Host Committee chaired by Amanda Cecil in Indianapolis, the full WEC18 team was on the same page and ready to put the Event Design into practice.

The Event Design narrative was subsequently visualized by Dennis Luijer, Story Engagement Engineer of the Event Design Collective into the WEC18 #EventCanvas™ to enable everyone the share the narrative of the Event Design.

In addition to that, Dennis has also detailed the Event Design steps taken and future steps to follow in a comprehensive scrapbook.

WEC18 in Indy is a completely redesigned education and engagement program unlike anything MPI has done before. In an entirely new design setting, WEC18 ignited new ideas and connected you with the people you need to meet. With this new format it struck a chord with Meeting Professionals and meeting owners.

MPI is taking risks so you don’t have to

Here’s how MPI marketed it :

3, 2, 1, START #WEC18

So who was in charge of the Event Design for MPI? Well that would be Miranda Van Brück

So how did they do this?

It takes a village to pull off an event of this magnitude but the Event Design has helped craft a narrative that enables to team to deliver it with verve and delight. The teams at MPI, Visit Indy and a whole series of vendors collaborated meticulously to craft this epic event. Also that “Making of ….” story was available onsite in a special “panel” session featuring 5 Foam boards and the 5 key players dissecting the creation of #WEC18 in an engaging conversation with those keen to know how this was done.

Here is “The Making of #WEC18 recapped in 60 seconds

And here is what it looked like onsite at #WEC18 in Indianapolis in 86 seconds

Opening Night Celebration #WEC18 (in 63 seconds)

Day 1 of #WEC18 (in 6 Min) – Day of Inspiration

Day 2 of #WEC18 (in 8:11 min) – Day of Ideation

Day 2 Evening MPI Foundation Rendezvous – (in 46 Sec)

Day 3 & 4 of #WEC18 (in 60 Sec) – Day of Activation

Off boarding at the Indianapolis Race Track (in 60 Sec)

Get a glympse of the Event Design using the #EventCanvas Methodology timeline in the Mural below:

Want to contribute?

Event Design Baseline & how to become an Experience Experiment Test Pilot

MPI is keen to share their Event Design timeline and experience with you as well as the way in which the Event Design was assessed by participants and stakeholders of the event whilst onsite. Event Design Collective with Team MPI were able to baseline the performance of the event by enabling participants to become an Experience Experiment Test Pilot onsite at #WEC18 .

Those who opted into this role, were enabled to consciously assess the Event Design and how the Experiences were for them as they went through the event. Using a user friendly special ethnographic research app 131 participants logged > 400 touchpoint in their Experience Journeys giving both MPI and Indianapolis the ability to “look” through their eyes at the experiences they self reported.

Team Event Design Collective had an Event Design Room set up as well as multiple Event Design Sprints where small groups of stakeholders (6 x 15 persons) have participated in this event baseline.

Furthermore, with the help of the collective memory of the participants at #WEC18, we reconstructed the World Education 30 year timeline from its 1st edition in 1992 in Detroit all the way through to the future design of #WEC22 (destination unknown).

Watch this space for more updates on how you can contribute and support MPI in building experiences that matter for future World Education Congresses.

For more information on this Event Design by team MPI please connect with Miranda van Brück.

For more information on the Event Design Certificate Program or the Event Design using the #EventCanvas Methodology please contact Ruud Janssen.

So what was it really like?

Check out the “Event Designer’s” perspective on the actual experience onsite at #WEC18 debriefed in 30 minutes to colleagues from the EDC class of University of Amsterdam. Please acknowledge this was less than 24 hours after landing back in Switzerland with a slight jet lag and still decompressing from an intense experience in Indianapolis!

On behalf of the Event Design Collective Team, we are delighted to report that this event was a true milestone event. Just like launching the #EventCanvas methodology back in #WEC14 in Minneapolis in a 15 minute flashpoint session on Main Stage, we now have made a giant leap with the (nearly) full team of the Event Design Collective GmbH at the World Education Congress 2018 #WEC18 in Indianapolis for @Meeting Professionals International.

The Bottom line: Desired exit behaviour =

1) Design Consciously onsite (evaluate #WEC18 onsite through eyes of the MPI + Design #WEC22 onsite) ✅

2) Bring the team together (our team + MPI Team + MPI Community as a team) ✅

3) Create the Event Narrative for #WEC22 (+Test #WEC18 Event Design narrative) (work in progress, watch this space).

We are keen to push on and on to rid the world of mediocre events by enabling teams to Design Events that will change (y)our world.

Can you suspend your disbelief and design extraordinary experiences?

Yes, with a team, some time and some space, you definitely can. Are you game? Get started whilst you’re inspired by downloading your free copy of the #EventCanvas (under CC4.0 license) and/or the first 100 pages of the Event Design Handbook . Want to be like Miranda van Brück by becoming a CED – Certified Event Designer? Check out the upcoming dates of the Event Design Certificate Programm.

Read up on the full event design and onsite experience.

Map out your research findings