Why I’m Going to BIF-7 by Amanda Fenton

I drank the innovation Kool-Aid. I can’t help it; daily we’re surrounded by ideas, technology and enough design thinking to convert anyone into an innovation junkie. The BIF Summit, in its seventh year, has become our signature event. Storytelling, cross-collaboration and a sea of great minds—you can’t beat that! Hearing it from us is expected (of course we love it)! So please turn your attention to a wonderful reposting by Amanda Fenton, a fan of the BIF community and proud future attendee of BIF-7. --Katherine Hypolite

When I crafted my bucket list I knew the Business Innovation Factory’s Story Summit needed to have a place on it. Turns out it was an item not meant to gather dust – I’m headed to Rhode Island this September to partake in the innovation feast. This week as I gazed slightly star-struck at the attendee list a little voice asked me “Why?”

Pardon? Why? Well, um, hmm. Why am I going to BIF-7? Why am I going to BIF-7?

To answer those questions, I present my top ten list of why I’m going to BIF-7:

  1. No PowerPoints – only stories.
  2. A geek’s version of the famed backstage pass. Some people dream about meeting their favourite rock stars. I want to go listen to people tell the story of how they’re changing their corner of the world.
  3. Super smart people. Think of the old “five people alive or dead you’d invite to dinner”.  This is a whole conference filled with the kind of people I’d want at my dinner.
  4. Cross-pollination. Ideas for change and innovation are rarely found within your industry, and I love that BIF is not for any one industry or profession.
  5. Horizons. Stretching them. This literally means swapping my west coast horizon for the east coast, but also in the folks I’ll meet and the work they are doing in this world.
  6. RCUS. I share Saul’s view that innovation is found in random collisions of unusual suspects. As a host of conversations that matter, I want to explore how I can facilitate that sort of collision. Who was the most unusual suspect that became involved? What worked in getting them to the table? Who would have made a tremendous difference had you involved them earlier?
  7. The way the chairs face. TED, PechaKucha, Ignite, Design Week, fill in the blank conference… most of these events feature a similar one-to-many model. My hunch is that BIF creates space for more turn-towards-each-other conversations while keeping the catalytic spark of inspiring stories. I’m excited to learn more about the conference design, what works and how it taps into the wisdom in everyone present.
  8. Innovation. The challenges we face in the world, our work and our communities will not be solved by incremental improvements (those are needed to hospice the dying systems). I’m keen to learn the warrior tales of those playing in an emergent new world. What are they doing? What failed? What worked? Who are their networks, their communities of practice? How are they helping the old systems die gracefully without harming all the inhabitants? How are they building bridges to the new? My scaffold will be the two loops and I look forward to sharing my learnings with the walk-offs I know.
  9. Hosting conversations that matter. I don’t really have a cause; no specific fight I fly the freak flag for. On the second most important day of my life (thank you Richard Leider for that beautiful story) I discovered my place in this world is hosting conversations in service of those who have the calling to create change in this world. The people at BIF could be the callers I hope to be of service to one day, and what better opportunity to learn how I can grow and learn and develop to prepare to host the conversations of tomorrow. Who knows – maybe next year I’ll be back at BIF-8 to host that kind of conversation.
  10. Because I can. Marianne Williamson said “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?  Your playing small does not serve the world.” My lizard brain would have loved me to look at this event and say next year or oh that’s not for you. But that playing small wouldn’t have served the world. My lizard is packing her reptilian baggage and getting on that plane because I can. And I’ll be ready to silence all the doubts and fears she’ll hurl at me in the quiet moments before the opening breakfast. Because I can.

Where do you want to go in your life? What’s your top ten list for why you should go?

This article was contributed by Amanda Fenton. Check out her blog!

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