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EDC VODcast: Tahira Endean Designing BC Tech Summit

EDC VODcast: Tahira Endean

Designing #BCtech in Vancouver Canada

A first installment of the Event Design videocast featuring Tahira Endean‘s Event Design for #BCtech as part of obtaining her Certified Event Designer designation.

She reviews her Event Design approach as a result of having attended the EDC Event Design Certificate Programme at the University of Amsterdam in Aug 2016.


[00:00:00] So this is the first feature of an Event design by one of the students that the certificate, obviously

to this person envelope a little bit about what we’re gonna address in this next and this next step. What we’re going to talk about. Pet project, the BC tech summit, and it’s been super fun planning it, and this is my second year planning it. So the first year was the inaugural year. We created an event in 16 weeks last time where we really did everything in.

Well, we re we reacted to everything last year. And so this year when they asked me to stay on and do the second year, not only did we stay, but I brought in the canvas at the beginning of the process and have actually found it. It was a great way to start really getting people all moving towards the same way.

So it’s, and it’s been now, we’re, [00:01:00] you know, now we’re 16 weeks away again. And. Excellent. So I was reading about your event is on canvas challenge for the BC tech summit on LinkedIn, where you wrote an article about it. And tell me, what was the reaction of your colleagues when you brought in this methodology to design the second edition of the BC?

Do you know, what’s interesting is everyone was very receptive. And so what we did is we chose three key stakeholders. So one of the things that happened is we have a different event director from the first year to the second year. So when our new event director was coming in, you know, how do you bring somebody up to speed?

Who she was on a maternity leave for the first one? So, because of course in Canada, we get a year for that. So she missed the first one came on site, saw it because she knew she was going to be coming back and would be involved in some capacity and then was brought back in as, as the director of it.

And which is fantastic. But to go from zero to, we need to know everything. And we actually found the canvas a really great way to do that because we have quite a number of stakeholder groups. And so what we did is we went through, we [00:02:00] mapped if you were coming as a paying purchase it is a government led conference.

So if you were coming as a government leader and if you were coming as a sponsor. So we really wanted to look at sort of our big stakeholders and what we found is exactly the same thing that I found when we did the course in Amsterdam, which was empathy mapping is exhausting. You know, it’s, it’s so difficult to go through and really think about that process of, you know, how does somebody really think and feel?

And what do they, you know, what, what do they want to own and gain out of the experience? And it’s such an important part of the process, but we all, you know, we, we did it in, in smaller groups for the different stakeholders and yeah, after like 45 minutes, they’d be like, oh, can we stop? Like, no, you just have two more questions go you know, we’ll bring you coffee, but, but really valuable for everybody.

And really interesting also to see, because we brought in government and some of our team and, you know, people [00:03:00] had attended so some different experiences and to. Yeah, cause you really do start to get a really good sense of what is important to the different stakeholders in a very clear way. Which was, which was very interesting.

So as soon as he mapped up Mia and mine,

Well, we decided that so basically, I mean, the avatars, what they did at the avatars came from a different process. We went through one of our graphic designer when we started to talk about it, made them breath and I was like, wait, these are going to become my stakeholders. Do you mind? Can you change their names?

So we changed their names. So Mike is our government purchasing. You know, and what he really needs to do is, you know, really this conferences is an economic driver. You know, we have an investment showcase, we have B2B meetings. We have a huge marketplace and we have, you know, phenomenal learning but what they need to walk away with is really feeling good about you know, not only that they, you know, Had a good [00:04:00] opportunities to connect with people, to really listen to the people who are their constituents, you know, what do they need, whether they’re a large organization or a smaller organization.

You know, you know, it, again, it’s the government conference. We are also subject to freedom of information as any conference would be, but certainly, you know, we’re one, that’s, you know, more subject to it happening than, than a typical conference. And so. Yeah. With every step that we take, it’s really thinking about what are we doing, that’s bringing value.

And so to really understand what was valuable for them was an interesting part of the process, you know, and what they’re looking for is really the same things that people are looking for. You know, we tend to think of. You know, as a non-government person, we, we quite often will think, well, government’s close to listening, listening to answer.

I need to know the right person, or I need to get past a gatekeeper. And this conference really brings us, you know, there’s no gatekeepers, you know, there’s your minister standing right in front of you. What do you want to talk to them about? And, and they like that. They, they wanted to be. They want it to be in the midst of it.

There was no [00:05:00] protectionism. And to understand that that was important. It’s really cool to know that there’s, those are events. So tell us a little bit about the team that you worked with to design the events. So we worked with our event director. We brought in two of our key government stakeholders, and then we brought in some people who had participated last year.

Both from attending the event. And then also people who work within the innovation council with me here to really look at, you know, what did they think people thought of it and, and really the people who have their ear to the ground. And we were talking to our community every day. And we just went through the whole, we use our facilitation cards, which are fantastic because it really frames what you need to do and keeps you really on track.

And that was really helpful. And so we just spent some time literally in a room with post-it notes and, and went through each, each one, one by one to really say, you know, like what’s gonna, what’s this really gonna look like? And so this is Lindsay and I explaining you know, this is now we’ve moved on to [00:06:00] taking our experience design.

So this is our experience design board, which lives behind me. Now you can see it there. And so it’s, every time somebody comes in and says, I have an idea. You know, it’s our program is all mapped out yet. We turn it around and we say, okay, you know, what is, this is the, are the assumptions that we made is still correct?

You know? So we ask ourselves that almost every day, you know, our focus is obviously, as you can see, it’s right there in pink. You know, our focus is on jobs. It’s on making sure that we have a strong diversified economy here. And for people to understand that technology is everywhere, it underlies everything.

What does that mean? Well, it means that you need to have a lot of people who are with new skills, you know? So how are we, you know, from a secondary to a post-secondary to a working perspective, Building the skills for people. You know, we have, obviously we live in Canada, it’s beautiful you know, clean tech and the technologies that we’re building around clean tech, the way that our forestry and mining our core natural resource industries are [00:07:00] transforming using technology.

They’re really big part of our story. And it’s interesting, we’re seeing, you know, traditional, you know, groups like finning as an example, you know, have opened finning, digital and are building that you know, best buy, which has been a traditional big box retailer you know, massive online consumer presence.

Well, what does an online consumer presence mean? Well, from our perspective, that means that we need to have technology that is around FinTech and. We need to, you know, we have a session that’s called CX is the new UX, because it’s about how do we design, you know, customer friendly experiences in a web based environment.

So really taking the things that are those, the skills that people need to understand and talking about those skills. And bringing them to life and, you know, and again, every time that we can map it back to our original stakeholders we can, we can go back to every decision that we’re making and really look at.

Yeah. This decision still makes sense. Let’s, let’s keep moving forward on that path, you know, and of course, like any large conference[00:08:00] you’re asked to do a lot of things that might have a more solitary or singular focus and. Having the map to go back to you and the objectives very clearly mapped really lets us say, yeah, this fits or you know, this, this is a great event on its own and this is a great fit somewhere else.

It’s just not a great fit at our summit. And feel good about those decisions. We don’t have to waver go back to a big committee to have a discussion many times. Of course, sometimes you still need to do that, but lots of times you don’t need to because. The information is already there. The framework is already there for those decisions to be made.

So if you compare your design process in year one to design process here to what, what, what are the key differences that you. Well, our design processes, your one word hit the road go, you know, we we didn’t have as many processes. We certainly had a framework of the five [00:09:00] components. So the key components of what we wanted to do did have it fundamentally changed tying into our overall strategy of jobs and capital and mark.

And talent growth that hasn’t changed. The ability to to truly understand the demographic of who came and the demographic of who. We want also to have here this year is really what is, what has helped us drive that process. So, you know, when we look at obviously we want to have technology companies there, you know, there’s a huge place for investors and buyers of technology, you know, it’s, we tend to forget.

I dunno, pretend to forget that’s the wrong terminology. You know what I didn’t understand. Before I started this job, having not worked so closely in a technology environment was how many small companies sell to how many big companies because [00:10:00] sometimes you want to innovate from inside. And sometimes you’ll when you start to look a little externally, you’ll find that that innovation that you need to, that you need is already over.

And when you can have that need, that’s already out there it’s met through a B2B meeting or meeting somebody on the marketplace floor or hearing their pitch in an investment showcase. Almost, you know, you have a lot of aha moments and that’s really cool. So it’s about making sure that the right people who can deliver those are here and creating content that, that attracts them so that they can have those conversations face to face.

Do you find that the like in involving stakeholders and having clarity about. The different stakeholders on what their needs are. Does that help you build a program more specifically? Or does it a hundred percent? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, last year, last year we had a great program. This year our program is triple what it was last year.

Wow. Yeah. So what we found, you know, last year, you know, if you came and you [00:11:00] were, you know, maybe working in a creative area, there was a great session on creative. But it was 45. This year, we have a four-hour stream. You know, if you worked in agriculture, Or natural resources. You had a 45 minute session this year.

We have, you know, a couple of hours on agriculture, a couple, you know, a four hours stream on natural resource transformation because we’re seeing so much happening there. There’s so much to talk about. And how technology is really, and technology is changing really simple things. You know, you know, if you know what the, you know, crazy things like if you know, what, if you have a sensor that is telling you what your tire pressure is.

Tire on a mining truck and you keep that pressure and an optimal pressure all the time. You can save $50,000 a year on fuel costs, significant from a sensor, you know? So it’s those kinds of technologies that we don’t think about at all that really are, you know, making. [00:12:00] Small fundamental shifts in how we’re doing things right up to, you know, how are we using drones to select which trees are being cut down in a forest because that drone is going in and telling us about the tree health and the, and the tree size and all of those things.

And so we can do selective logging, but from sitting in our office in Vancouver and not from standing in the field necessarily yeah, just really interesting things that I’d never thought about.

The game of drones and project runway. So tell us a little bit about what, what that is, because it seems, so these are my fun sessions. These are the sessions where I like all of these sessions because these ones, I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. So game of drones, w you know, we started talking to people who said, you know, we’re using drones to, you know, the tree example, we’re using drones to monitor our whales.

And we can see from our real pods when they start to get skinnier that maybe that’s an area that’s being over fish because there’s not enough food for them there. I’m like, [00:13:00] that’s an interesting story. Now that to me is not a one-hour session, but that’s an awesome six minute story. So come and tell us that story.

You know, how we’re using them to herd cattle, how we’re using them, you know, all kinds of really interesting ways. You know, we have a session on autonomous vehicles where it’s not just cars, it’s submarines and it’s sky trains. You know, how, how fundamentally are autonomous vehicles shifting the world you know startups and small places, you know, you live in a small place in Switzerland.

You might have a very vibrant startup community, but that vibrant startup community is 12 people instead of 350 people. So where do they find resources? Project wearable runway. My pet project didn’t happen last year. I really wanted it to, but we ran into. There’s so many cool things that wearables are being used for, you know, IBM has this amazing dress that they just showed at world of Watson that was designed with mark hazah, I’d say, you know, it’s a million dollar dress basically with all kinds of cognitive responses that happened within a dress.

We don’t get to have that cause it just went into a Smithsonian. I [00:14:00] tried. But you know, whether it’s a fitness wearable, whether it’s something, a belt that you wear that tells you when you’re at yoga, how you’re breathing. If it’s something that is a technical apparel that is, you know, has sensors built into it.

That is telling us if our athletes are staying healthy. Is it something that’s helping us? You know, there’s a local Vancouver company that just did sleep sensors that they use with the Cubs. He just won the world series by monitoring their sleep and making sure they were getting enough. Yeah, so there’s these really amazing stories.

And so we use project wearable runway to tell those stories and I, we have a few in already and I’m just looking forward to getting more because I just, it it’s endlessly fascinating to me, the technology we’re creating. Very cool. Bring it back for a minute from you. If you like to your. Back in August, you took a course in Amsterdam certificate course with the people that are on the screen here.

Have you been in touch with [00:15:00] any them or how, what was that like? So many great things about the canvas story that I really liked. So I. First learned about the canvas a couple of years ago. And I thought it was interesting then, and it’s been interesting for me to watch the evolution that you guys and the place that you’ve brought it to and to see how committed you’ve been to.

Something that I think is a really great process for the entire meeting and event industry. I think that, you know, we, we so often. The strategic piece of it for lots of reasons. But mostly it’s time with our stakeholders. And so, because we know we’re not really going to have time with our stakeholders, we tend to not spend enough time on the strategy process.

Whereas with this process we’re able to go through and this, I love these pictures and we can, now we really can deliver in one page what this is going to be and say to the stakeholder, this is what we. You’re going to want, are we right? And to have a 15 minute conversation with a stakeholder three months [00:16:00] ahead of time, instead of three days ahead of time, which is often the case.

And I think that’s really important. What I realized when I went through and did it with our team is that. I was gap there’s the gap for me. And I couldn’t really put my finger on what the gap was. I said, you know, we’ve gone through and we’ve done all of this mapping and it’s provided some clarity, but how do I really apply this to the, to the design, the experience design, you know, beyond, you know, intuition and experience, and to be able to go and do the certificate and Amsterdam.

With a group of people who are all equally committed to understanding the strategy and the objectives behind an event for all of their clients, not just, you know, I happen to have one specific project right now. That’s not the norm. It’s not the norm for me. And it’s not the norm for most of the industry.

So for everybody to have a toolkit that allows them to create. [00:17:00] Opportunities for their events is, is pretty neat. And to be in a room with this group of people who all want to be part of that process it’s pretty special. And I think, you know, one of the things that that we did is we as so often happens now as you’ve finished these groups and you have there’s another group because we were somewhere that was using.

You know, we were from 10 different countries, I think. Right. So it’s easy for us to connect on WhatsApp and you know, now it’s months later and we’re all still connected on WhatsApp and everyone’s now starting to share their finished canvases is our deadline looms. So you know, and we started to see a lot of post-it notes going up and we started to see people sharing their experience.

And we’re able to support each other and also to ask questions and to say, you know, I’m having this challenge, you know, how can you, how can we talk about how I can overcome a challenge you know, in the coaching session. So I think the whole process. You know, I am definitely a lifelong learner.

It’s really important to me. And I think as [00:18:00] conference planners, it has to be important to all of us because really we’re fundamentally, we have jobs because people require lifelong learning. If we can make every lifelong learning experience more valuable, because we’ve taken the time to empathize with our stakeholders and to understand their needs versus our assumptions.

It’s an important, it’s an important thing that we’re starting to do. If there’s one thing you could change about the certificate in November design, what would it be?

I don’t think I would changed anything, actually. I think. I, I, I think one of the things that I liked about what we did in Amsterdam, you know, we started with a bit of a circle of love but just a time to really get to know each other. I think it’s important. Important part to me of that exercise was, you know, we went around in the circle and you just really had to remember people’s names and where they were from, which sounds incredibly simple.

Ultimately creating experiences about [00:19:00] creating human interactions and to understand how to create those human interactions and why it matters. Which, you know, as we went through that process and it’s interesting, I I’m really good at names and faces. I, I found that really easy and for me to watch other people really struggle with that was interesting.

And when we started, when you started to talk about why we did it and and the, you know, the, sort of the thinking behind the process, those are always for me in any kind of learning environment, the moments where somebody is explaining why we’re doing something are so important. And then I think the whole rest of the time, I thought it was.

You know, it was a good balance of time to reflect and think and just go for a walk and chat. And this was my favorite part was right here. When you guys got to lunch your book which is great, the book is it’s, you know, the book is well-written it’s, well-designed, it’s thoughtful, it’s useful.

I read a lot of business books, a lot of meeting books. I [00:20:00] find this is one of my. Which I’m not just saying, because I’m talking to you at the moment, because that would be nice, but weird. You know, it really is it’s well done and to be able to to be there, to celebrate that. One of my favorite pictures,

what I love about this picture is that this was Mari just like sitting there with her feet up. Cause we were so exhausted from empathy mapping and I was like, you’ll be like peace out. Cause this was a factor, but after that, hold on, let me, let me find it because I think the order is a bit mixed up, but we have the.

We have the moments of

because it’s, it’s, it’s true. If you recognize how you just kind of give into it. And I think that’s also important, right? You can just try and find it, but it’s really a lot of energy in the room all the time. Was thinking and doing, and like you said, empathy mapping is, is, is pretty intense. And then you get to the design part.

I need to chill your brain. You need to really step [00:21:00] away from it and then go back to the prototyping at a later stage. And I think that you know, people are like three days out of the office. Oh my God. This three days went by like, you know, five minutes. It was so fast. And yet, you know, we’re able to all come away with a really solid takeaway.

And I think that if you’re going to invest three days in anything, you need to have a solid takeaway and it would be difficult. You know, of course, everybody’s going to push you to do it in a day, do it in half a day. You can start the. You know, as I started it on my own, I’m absolutely a hundred percent you know, and you can get the facilitation cards and you can go through and you can build great empathy maps, and a great event design canvas by following those.

For me having the thinking behind the thinking has just made it that much stronger. Right. I would, I appreciate your time to hero, to tell us about your experiences. I’m really, really keen to see. How the BC tech someone is going to work out and how it’s going to be delivered. Well, you’ll be able to watch it [00:22:00] online.

So most of, most of the plenary sessions will be online. So w two will be great and everything else will get archived. So we’re super excited about it. All right. What I love is the which I know will happen again, is the sheer energy of seeing those people come together. You know, someone said to me last year, I don’t understand, you know how you treat.

Such a big event and made it feel like home. And to me, that was just the biggest compliment. And I look forward to that happening again, and I’m sure it will, with your talent on the way that you approach. I’m not really, I mean, you know, it’s not, not just the talent of having empathy, but taking the time to think about all the different perspectives to understand what’s important to people.

It sounds like there’s some really, you know, technology’s called, but the way it’s being addressed is really. Cool. It’s like Canadian. Cool. I can just feel that exudes Canadian pool it’s like, I would say go observing you know, whales with drones and then analyzing the environment based on that our tree, I mean, it’s especially would not recommend [00:23:00] that because they don’t have oceans.

Right. So let alone from that. You know, you really have a, you know, you really have something really cool on your hands here. I think we should organize a little viewing party with all the certified event designers from. I like it. Let’s see as of March. Yeah. We’ll do a hybrid event. Yeah. We’ll do like a little seating or something, but let’s, let’s figure out what we can do the event.

I think that’s a cool idea. I like it too. You’re now in charge, volunteered for something.

Well, thanks so much for talking to us today. We love to hearing about your design and we’re going to talk to some of the other people as well that were in the class. And I look forward to seeing what their experiences were. All right. Thanks so much. You’re welcome.[00:24:00] [00:25:00]