In an inflatable meeting space on the edge of IMEX America's massive exhibit floor, James Morgan, a senior lecturer at England's University of Westminster, presented recent research that focuses on ways event planners can bring more creativity to sessions with educational objectives, and to those with entertainment objectives.
During a session titled "Managing a Creative Environment," Morgan emphasized that planners must support the development and analysis of ideas not only from people within the events department, but also from others in the organization who have different backgrounds and business experiences. Further, if all participants are briefed on why their creativity is needed—and encouraged to look for ideas all year long rather than when the event-design process begins—the planner ends up with more ideas to work with.
One other interesting nugget from Morgan's research: When people are asked to propose ideas without regard to quality, they actually generate more high-quality ideas than if they are asked to put forth only what they would consider high-quality ideas. What's more, "many ideas only need some group discussion to lead to a new idea that becomes high-quality and useful," Morgan said.
Lastly, Morgan stressed that the best ideas should be prototyped and tested ahead of an event, then critiqued by the participants as well as by observers from inside and outside the events team.