The modern world is in constant flux, perhaps never more so than in recent times: professional communicators are facing an ever-changing landscape. Recently, the Dow posted the highest level for the past five years; the Euro soars and plummets to near collapse after Cyprus hits the news; the economy flirts with recession; and a feeling of constant uncertainty pervades our lives. And the uncomfortable reality is that no one – experts included – understands why any of this is so.
This wild unpredictability has been captured in a great metaphor that was recently coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: the “Black Swan”, in other words an event that most people believe to be impossible but that shockingly turns out to happen. A Black Swan can be a game changer which forces us to rethink our understanding of the very context in which the event takes place. Think of the Arab Spring, the financial crisis, the recent surprise election results in Italy, as well as the relentless impact new technology is having on human communication. All these are examples of Black Swans.
It is hard, if not impossible, to come up with a convincing theory about what is causing these Black Swans, but what is self-evident is our urgent need to adapt to their effects. This pressing need is why we chose the title “Disruptive Communication for Disruptive Times” for this year’s IABC EuroComm conference. As Nicholas reported earlier, we at ZN have been involved with the IABC for some time, and we could not resist the opportunity of using EuroComm 2013 to explore the consequences for communicators and political organisations that follow when a flock of Black Swans swoop into our world.
We have chosen to host EuroComm 2013 in Brussels at the Solvay School, which gives us us a chance to invite people from a range of different backgrounds and points of view to come together and exchange experiences as well as advice on how to cope with the profound disruption that is going on. The exciting range of speakers is wide and deep: from the EU Commission, and its drive to connect with its citizens, to the European Parliament, and what it is doing to prepare for the upcoming elections; from the Pirate Party, whose players bring a totally new perspective on politics, to the Red Cross, one of the most recognised brands in social media. We will definitely be exploring some fundamental questions in a unique setting.
We have also introduced some new formats to the event. Our experience at launching and supporting TEDxBrussels over the years, made us think of trying out the 18-minute format to get speakers to condense their ideas in short, energetic bursts that can inspire the audience. But in the age of crowdsourcing, the audience (the famous YOU!) is the main reason people attend these events, so we will also introduce a PechaKucha-like concept. This enables the audience to get their “five minutes” in the limelight. Finally, the conference will also be a chance for me to get some of the stars of my book HyperThinking to share their own personal experiences of change and how they developed (or already had) the “agile” mindset that enabled them to overcome some of the challenges they faced.
This will be a great opportunity to be inspired, share new ideas and continue the learning we so badly need in these trying times. So drop by or join us online.