MPI DialogTag 2009: Like the abbot of a monastery

Different. While ex-monk Anselm Bilgri, now a consultant for corporate culture, interprets the 1,500-year-old Rule of Saint Benedict as the “yardstick of value-orientated management”, Joey Kelly talks about his six-day tour through 240 kilometres of the Gobi desert according to his motto “Don’t stop until it’s over”. Later Andreas Count Bernstorff talks to a spellbound audience. Thanks to him and his Greenpeace colleagues it has been illegal to export toxic waste since the Basel Agreement. The former campaign manager delivers an in-depth account of the planning and precise realisation of events and campaigns that have gained world-wide attention.

Just three of many speakers invited by MPI Germany, and first and foremost President and axica CEO Jochen A. Lohmar and Managing Director Uwe Klapka to the 2nd MPI Dialogue Day at the Congress Center of Messe Essen on 15/16 January 2009. “We deliberately focused on themes that were not purely or exclusively related to events,” comments Lohmar, “but wanted the Dialogue Day to reach a wider target group than MPI members only,” he adds. “In the last nine months, since the survey at the last Executive Meeting in Frankfurt, we have been working on the wish list,” says Klapka. “And the result was the Dialogue Day.”

Meeting Professionals International with over 2,000 members in Europe has awoken from its long sleep in Germany. “We want to send out a clear signal and show how modern MPI is,” points out the head of MPI Germany. The focus was on an interactive experience of the industry sweeping away barriers between speakers, themes and audience. In this vein, Swarm presented its alternative to Powerpoint, and at the end of the first day artist-cum-consultant Jolly Kunjappu got delegates in the mood for the evening event at the coal washing plant of the Zollverein Mining Complex.

Among other things, Kunjappu has worked as a studio percussionist for the Rolling Stones, composed ballet music for the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and carries people away with his sense of rhythm – despite the flu. There can be no doubts that his speciality is interaction. What appears, on the face of it, too much like a typical industry meeting-cum-exhibition or fun and games outside the office, proves to be based on the sound foundations of procurement, quality management, return on investment and crisis management. Topics that are quite demanding for the audience as is the pattern breaker seminar “Leadership – the New (Life) Experience”.

Elling Hamsö, the European representative of ROI guru Jack Phillips, travelled specially to the Ruhr metropolis to talk about procurement. He also loves interaction and round-table discussions, according to the motto of the meeting: “Influence the audience to do something that generates an added value for everybody at the lowest possible cost.” The discussion often focuses on the “Bermuda Triangle” of meeting planners, marketing and procurement. A challenge that Elling encourages his audience to accept. “Procurement challenges you to generate more added value for your event. You must convince your colleagues in procurement of your needs.”

Leading, listening, understanding and crossing boundaries – topics that run through the wide choice of lectures. “Whenever a decision has to be made in a monastery, the abbot has to convene the congregation, listen, confer and then decide,” says Anselm Bilgri. Monastery stands for company, abbot for boss, congregation for staff members. “The abbot must be willing to listen. If we were willing to really listen to what our stakeholders have to say, we would perceive a huge pool of knowledge, opinions and ideas,” he entreats meeting pros to keep their ears wide open.

“Great speakers and a lots of different topics – something to suit everybody,” says a happy Andrea Bangert. The senior officer of Messe Essen was also pleased with the smooth handling of the event in “her” convention centre, befittingly overlooking preparations for a concert in hall 3 booked two weeks beforehand and expected to draw an audience of 10,000. And the positive feedback from the guests puts a smile on her face. “Makes a difference!”

Find the seminars (partly in German, partly in English) here...