A couple of years ago, in one of the first media conferences I attended, there was a presentation from a well-known media company I was looking forward to. They were going through exciting times of change and I hoped to learn about their innovative approaches and exploratory work on how to adapt their traditional business to the current digitally connected society.

In the end, the presentation turned out not to be as exciting as I expected, but quite dull. For some reason, their presentation turned into a 30 minutes advertisement – no challenges, no process, no how-to… only well measured successful outcomes. A “How wonderful we are!”

At that point, the boredom turned my attention to the twitter discussions, which to be honest I found much more relevant than the presentation itself. Everyone in the room was seeing the same I was: a long boring advert.

Since then I have gone to many more media conferences, and every now and then, a PRESadTATION appears. When presenting our work we tend to have an Ego moment, I have been there myself. We want to show off our successes and keep to ourselves the terrible mistakes we made. But the truth is that those mistakes are the ones that shaped our learning curve and enabled us to reach those successes. So why not to share them?

Working in a cross-sector environment, I have realised that many of the challenges media companies face are transferable from sector to sector. My great wonder is: are their solutions also transferable?

These and an insightful conversation with the director of the digital department of a media company in Glasgow triggered an idea: to hold a failure conference. A conference in which the speakers would not share their successes but how they overcame the challenges faced during a project as well as the failed approaches and ideas.

I am sure this is not a new idea, and it has been done somewhere else before. However, I would like to see it done here, in Scotland.

I don’t know either if I’ll ever be brave enough to organise such a conference and able to find speakers happy to share such a valuable assets of their companies. However, the idea is there, and I invite you to take up the challenge.

So far I got the project I currently work in – Moving Targets – to test the concept starting small. We have decided to run a wee workshop (what did we learn?) to explore those ideas of transferability and the value of sharing the learnt lessons.

Though valuable, sharing can sometimes be challenging. But maybe if we do it in a visual and active way it can become easier.

I am now exploring activities and tools that can facilitate that exchange of knowledge between the participants. I am looking at various approaches: storytelling, mind-mapping and template based. Soon we’ll be testing these within our team to see if they work with our own projects. We’ll see how that goes.


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