InnovativeMeetings By Corrie Dosh
Taking an Unscientific Approach
Boston Scientific broke all the rules for its annual All-Employee Meeting— by letting attendees follow their own path.
When5,000 Boston Scientific employees were led by groups of 300 into a darkened room at the Minneapolis Convention Center last September, they could tell immediately that this annual All- Employee Meeting for regional operations would not be the usual fare of general-session speakers and panel discussions. After a short video, the cur- tain rose toreveal an open, bustling floor filled with intimate gathering spots, iPad bars, and large-screen monitors broadcasting presentations going on throughout the center. Instead of all the attendees filing into a gener-
al session, they gathered in café-style salons for short, engaging presentations and discussions. In other words, they participated in a total sensory experience. “Boston Scientificwanted to inspire the employ-
ees and celebrate their success,” said Samuel J. Smith, event technology consultant andmanaging director of Interactive Meeting Technology, who was hired by Boston Scientific for the event. “The company had been doing a lot of great things… [and they wanted] to help people reconnect with the core purpose of thecompany, so they [would] walk out with a renewed sense of passion and hopefully remember why they actually joined Boston Scientific to begin with.” With a wide range of employees—from fac-
tory workers to senior executives—attending, the challenge was to engage and give everyone the individualized content they needed, Smith said.A year earlier, the company had used a “museum- style” approach to increase attendee interaction. (Read a Convene article about the event at convn.org/no-small-change.) This year, senior executives asked, could Boston Scientific get the same kind of return at a lower cost?
“We tried to create that type of environment to
get people to talk to each other on the things they were passionate about,”Smith said. “Ifwebuilt the content in these cafés, people would engage with that content in different ways, and that wouldhelp spark passion, plus create space for conversation. Whenyou look at engagement, people don’twant to participate in the sameway.Somepeople create, some people critique, and some people collect things.”
Thought leaders and facilitators at the eight
cafés generated conversations, gave short presen- tations, and kept discussions on track.Oneof the cafés was a 1,500-seat theater, Smith said, designed to create a more intimate experience for everyone. Award ceremonies and patient case studies at the theater were broadcast throughout the convention centeronlarge-screenmonitors so attendees at oth- er cafés wouldn’t miss out. At one café, you might have a raucous, highly
active discussion, Smith said, while across the hall, a group would be quietly riveted to a case study presented by a colleague. Chances were, though, both groups were hearing the same mes- sage, Smith said, “presented in different ways, so that people could get the information in the way they wanted.” The iPad gaming bars incorporatedcontent into
games—such as a “leadership line-up,” in which players tried to identify photos of company exec- utives. Activity on the gameboards was streamed in real time to organizers and analyzed for senior leadership.With 1,200 gameplays in two hours, organizers knew that employees were actively learning and engaging with the content — and company executives had no problemgreen-light- ing the café concept for their other meetings.
ON_THE_WEB:Watch a video of the café-style format at Boston Scientific’s All-Employee Meeting at convn.org/bostonsci-video.
30 pcma convene April 2012 ILLUSTRATION BY MICK WIGGINS
Follow the Leader(board) At Boston Scientific’s All-Employee Meeting, 300 iPads were placed throughout the Minneapolis Conven- tion Center, each filled with hundreds of questions written by employees on themes such as leadership, company initiatives, and new products. Correct answers boosted players’ scores for a chance to win an iPad and to see their name and photo displayed on a leaderboard. “For some folks,
the prize was getting on the leaderboard,” said Interactive Meeting Technology’s Samuel J. Smith. “It was a glory moment. And, they learned fromeach other. If they got a wrong answer, they would pass or they would ask each other for help with the ques- tion. It became a way for people to really connect with each other and ideas. They learned more about the company from doing this than any of the other challenges.”
Corrie Dosh is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn.
Innovative Meetings is sponsored by the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau, www.irvingtexas.com.