30 May 2020
5 years of creating one of the most important events, where business meets design
This year we are celebrating a special 5th edition of collaboration and connecting of both design and business. It's a great time to conclude and analyze everything that happened over those 5 years and share our thoughts with you. It's also a perfect moment to admit the most interesting – that it wasn't always so smooth and easy.
The beginning of the years is usually a time where the entire Change Pilots team meets up and goes over the strategy for the next 7 months. This is why we associate January with excitement, but also a slight tension. On one hand, there is an event planning for 350 people, over 20 guests and experts from Poland and the rest of the world, which is a great responsibility and hard work. On the other hand, it is a unique chance to be able to invite those people, who inspire us, our competitors(with whom we love to collaborate!), and everyone else who digs this matter.
Below you'll find the most essential lessons, moments of triumph, but also slip-ups and failures, which we want to heartily share with you. We hope they will serve you and allow you to look at this event from another angle – from an exclusive behind the scenes of Design talks Business Summit.
Lesson no. 1 – Inspiration at every turn
Once an attendee asked us how to prepare for coordination of an event like this? Now we know, that there is no clear answer. Frankly, we think about DtB all year long. Before the official planning, each of us reflects on what happened in his or her life this past year – what inspired us, intrigued, or had the goose-bumps effect. We all have been participating in various events, hackathons, meetups, and festivals these past 10 years. As an attendee, speaker, or volunteer. Watching how those events work made us gather our base of inspirations, knowledge, and hints. Here at Change Pilots we believe, that every experience teaches you something. Automotive show hints on how to go into a live interaction with the audience. Hairstylists' event might show how valuable workshops can be for attendees. Our advice – look for answers in the places you wouldn't think about – you might be surprised :)
Lesson no. 2 – A stranger is a friend that you haven't met yet
During years of our practice of strategic consulting, we noticed, that there is no better approach to a client, speaker, or attendee than a friendly one. We're talking about a high level of empathy, but also about understanding who is the person on the other side. Those are our golden rules we follow when approaching new speakers or experts for Design talks Business. Friendly but authentic communication is key when building new relations. Thanks to that we managed to invite amazing people we now consider not only business partners but also true friends. Of course, it wasn't always easy to get a ,,yes'' from a speaker. Long e-mail exchanges and endless explanations about why our event is valuable. There were times of negative replies and rejections – not this time, not interested. When something like this happens it is useful to find out why. Doing that helped us to excel and improve. We also experienced a few last-minute rejections. It hurts, but we realize that each of us is just a human being and it is useful to have some sort of a backup. One time we were stunned when our befriended trendwatcher managed to prepare to substitute for an absent speaker in just 24 hours. Or when one of the best strategists in the country proposed to stand behind the decks for our event. Our advice – it's during those crises when you can see who cares about you, your team, or event. Don't be afraid to ask for help or counsel.
Success no. 1 – Team builds the success, not just one person on the stage
What we consider as our greatest success is the team we build over those 5 years. They give their hearts and energy into the event. We remember our first edition when 3 people responded to our volunteer search – Marta, Łukasz, and Kamil. We had no idea that we would grow from just 5 people team to... 17 members. It's because of everyone's engagement that we managed to create a family atmosphere – our DtB trademark. Tight relationships between organizers, team, attendees, and speakers. It quickly turned out that we want to stay in touch even between events. We feel that it was the key to making a great atmosphere throughout the entire DtB. Additionally, the main organizers of the festival were always by our side – helping, advising, treating as a team. Our advice – remember that how the speaker feels on the stage is the direct result of how they felt before the presentation.
Success no. 2 – When a brand starts to speak for itself
The beginnings of Design talks Business weren't easy. We've spent long hours explaining the idea and value DtB Summit is bringing. Intensive email exchange, endless phone calls – so we could infect others with our vision. Sometimes rejections were hurtful and demanded rates – out of our reach. We proceeded with the belief that invested energy will not go to waste but will actually benefit. And this happened when we heard from one of the biggest design and strategic studio in the world – DtB Summit reached them and they wanted in. We knew that we did a good job and all this invested energy and work is simply profitable. This was our tiny cherry on top saying: this is the right direction and let's think even bigger about DtB Summit. Our advice: beginnings are tough and difficult. It's easy to lose motivation and urge to work. It's important to, despite challenges, constantly keep on building your idea/project. Moment of result-harvesting will come quicker than you think.
Slip-up no. 1 – Better safe than sorry
Everything was crystal clear and we knew what was it all about. Speakers arrived on time, presentations were checked, everything was going according to the plan. Except for one basic thing – the lecture became a subtle auto-promotion. Instead of knowledge and experience sharing with attendees, we were looking at a charming brand presentation. Long conversations, preparations, and rehearsals didn't work so that the presentation was 100% dedicated to attendees. Design talks Business is not a platform for self-promotion – that's not why we do this. The line between talking about your experience and talking about yourself is very thin. It's normal to cross it sometimes. We learned to stay in touch with our speakers and explain to them in great detail what are our goals and ideals. What's the main theme and which values speakers could pass on to attendees, so it would correlate with their competences and experience. This type of deep communication aims to build mutual trust, making sure everyone understands their roles and that we all have one goal – sharing knowledge and experience. Our advice – communicate yours and your audience's needs from the very beginning. Repeat them like a mantra and remind them to the speaker right before the event.
Slip-up no. 2 – Something goes wrong every time
It doesn't matter how many times we check the equipment, wires, cables or rehearse – there's always something that can go wrong. Despite all crisis scripts, plans and back-ups there's going to be some sort of a slip-up – in our case – the infamous clicker. Such situations call for intuition, flexibility, and improvisation. Those features allow us to test the team, see what wasn't supported enough, or was the pressure just too high. Are we fine-tuned and do we communicate well enough? What are some of our best competences? Those cases tell us how the audience reacts – are they supportive, amused, or awkwardly silent? This is the time to learn how to lighten the mood when the pressure gets to the speaker. One of our amazing guests once told us a story about a workshop run in the candlelight – not for romantic purposes, but because of a power outage. Attendees remember this workshop to this day, for sure. The same goes for the last year's edition of DtB Summit when one of the speakers got rooms wrong. It happens. Our advice: there's always going to be this one thing that'll go wrong. Accept it and try to approach it with a big dose of laugh and flexibility.
Change Pilot is not an event agency. It's funny because after all, we do organize one of the biggest design/business meetups. When someone asks why do we do this we just say that it was the right time and place to engage in this topic in Poland. We wanted to bring those two worlds closer in the time when they didn't have much in common. We were focused on building a platform to connect design and business. It occurred to us that there were not enough tools to make those areas cooperate. Also far too few meeting points allowing to exchange thoughts and competencies. Design was always associated with detachment from reality and artistic approach, business – with cold calculation, and focus on clean profit. We wanted to take a step towards the skillful sustainability of potential between those two worlds because we believe that is where the needed change comes from.
Design talks Business is an excuse for us to constantly talk about what design can do for business.
the article was created with substantive support of Marta Adamska