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THE MEETINGS planning departments at universities have a constant flow of meetings and events on their agendas. Among other things, graduation ceremonies, open days for new students, alumni events, staff meetings and academic congresses. Anna Johansson, head of meetings and events at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, decided to do something to make the purpose, quality and measuring of meetings at her institution more transparent. In 2011 she began training her work colleagues using the ROI Institute’s ROI Method.

“It was a new approach, but just as much a practical method. It felt like the curtains opened right in front of my eyes, and then there was no return.”

She explains that the ROI Method only takes up the confirmation of relevant and measurable goals, and the measurement of results. But transforming goals to good results by designing the experience of a meeting was a real challenge, but a challenge that has provided KTH with instruments that, as of yet, no other university in the world has.

To Anna Johansson’s great surprise she could not find a course in meeting design anywhere. So she designed one herself together with three people from the international meetings industry: Eric de Groot, co-author of the recently published and acclaimed book Into the Heart of Meetings, Event Design Consultant Ruud Janssen, and Doctor Elling Hamso from Event ROI Institute. The programme began with a three-day course, which leads to three months individual coaching of all the participants. On top of this they get a special masterclass course, the aim of which is to put them on a continuous learning curve. Three other universities were also invited to participate: The universities of Uppsala and Lund in Sweden, and the University of Aalto in Helsinki.

Tia Ericsson, conference director at Conference Uppsala, and Chair of Mötesakademin (Meetings Academy), an alliance of meetings managers or meetings planners at Swedish universities and colleges, comments on the first three-day course:

“It’s a basic introduction to becoming a meeting designer, not a toolbox full of types of meetings, techniques and the like. In actual fact, the course contains nothing more than what our lecturers contribute with. I have learnt to appreciate meeting design rather as an art form; fetching knowledge and mental notes from sources within myself. Therein existed innovative solutions that were required to achieve the specific goals of each individual meeting. I found the toolbox inside myself.”

Tia Ericsson says that no matter how good a toolbox is, it does not automatically make you a master builder. You have to learn the craft before you know how to use the tools you have received.

“Now that I’ve begun learning the craft of meeting design, I can search for tools to inspire me, and they’re not so difficult to find.”

The course programme practices what it preaches and is planned entirely using the ROI Method. First it analyses the demands and expectations of the participants, then it identifies over forty specific learning goals. The fulfilment of each of the goals forms thereafter the basis of the learning experiences that are part of the three-day course, the continued coaching period, and the concluding masterclass.

“It made me realise that the ROI Method and meeting design is an integrated collection of skills,” says Eric de Groot. “The ROI Method establishes goals and calculates results, but does not automatically make the meeting an effective learning experience. Likewise, meeting design becomes a strict collection of measurable goals with the result-measuring phase becoming an exercise without goals.”

In the ongoing coaching process, the Murally tool is used ( to make it easier to collaborate online. The software is still in its beta version, but already works without any major bugs. Event Designer Ruud Janssen calls Murally a tool for visual people. Using it is like entering a room with whiteboards on all the walls. Each page is like a mural.

“For people who are used to using conventional online collaboration tools with document lists and discussion forums, working with graphics seamlessly linked to documents, videos, discussions and other resources is a new and refreshing experience,” he says.

Thus far, teachers and course participants are satisfied with the first prototype of the course programme. In order to measure the success of the course, participants have to agree or disagree with four statements. A scale of five indicates the knowledge level attained by each participant. At the start the average grade was 3.3 with 3.7 being achieved in the introductory course. The aim is now 4.0 after the coaching and masterclass period in December.

Source = Meetings International October 2013 – Radar see for the original article