Last week the Value Web team was in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico supporting the Young Global Leader’s Annual Meeting. Around 250 YGLs were there, spread out from the pool to the restaurant to the window-less conference room.
Our challenges were many. I’d like to describe 2 of them and hear your thoughts on ways that you’ve managed similar conditions.
Challenge numero uno: how do you herd a band of cats? Even in the best of times, the YGLs ignore our timing in favor of their networking conversations. Here, with a pool and a beach and an all-you-can eat buffet, we knew we’d have to up our game if we were to ever gather them.
Imagine my surprise when the team met to talk about herding and el Nacho came up. I’m no newbie to wrestling: my 17-year-old son is a fan. But who would have guessed that a 30-something Swiss dude would kiss his 2 biceps and call out El Nacho? The next thing that emerged was a team member who volunteered to dress as el Nacho and run through the resort ringing a Swiss cowbell. We bought a Nacho costume (they were plentiful in Mexico) and (mostly he) planned his entrances.
But our response was nothing compared to that of the YGLs. El Nacho turned into a meme! He reminded us of our playful sides and irrepressible spirits. The YGLs invoked el Nacho in presentations, in conversations and in calls for him to be part of the ‘family photo.’
We couldn’t have planned this. The idea caused us to erupt in laughter—always a sign that something is worthwhile. It occurred to us spontaneously as our team came together to troubleshoot thorny design issues. The subject was dead serious. The solution erred on the side of playfulness. I intend to err on that side again.
Challenge numero dos: The marker boards were unfit for use and forced us to mostly abandon them and change the design at the 11th hour. Our design had tricky transitions — moving the boards around to enable 250 people to break into small groups in the aforementioned windowless ballroom. All of these plans had to be scrapped in favor of immobilizing the boards and finding a solution for 14 additional breakouts.
Once again the team huddled together with our sponsors. We arrived at a brilliant solution that was so much better than our original ideas: Let the participants work outside in the gorgeous environment. Duh.
Originally, we were working under the assumption that if we ‘let them out’ they would never come back. That proved to be false. In fact, by allowing them to work outside the participants didn’t feel like they were ‘missing out.’ We were pleasantly surprised at how prompt they were in coming back to the ballroom when el Nacho rounded them up.
I’ll question our environment decisions differently from now on. I see how much value can be gained by completely using the environment offered. I believe that this action alone increased the participant engagement more than any other design decision we had made.