Most Innovative Meetings 2012: #4 Boston Scientific Expo

The medical device company created seven interactive cafés to engage and educate employees at its annual meeting.

By Mitra Sorrells July 19, 2012, 2:15 AM EDT

The layout of the expo had arrows pointing to the central Patient Café.

Photo: Noah Wolf Photography

Building on the success of its 2010 meeting for employees of the newly formed Cardiology, Rhythm, and Vascular division, Boston Scientific again turned to Cheryl Kranz of Creative Events by Kranz to produce its 2011 meeting at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The event was intended to motivate employees for the future, strengthen their commitment to the company’s vision and values, celebrate their success, and promote confidence in leadership.

Kranz and her team modeled the meeting on the concept of neighborhood cafés, based on the idea that these are places where people meet friends, build affinity, share news, solve problems, and mark important moments. The 4,700 employees arrived in groups of 300 to watch a three-minute video hosted by C.R.V. division president Hank Kucheman, who explained the concept and layout. As the video ended, a curtain opened to allow the employees to enter the main event space, an open floor plan with seven distinct areas marked with signage to indicate themes such as Innovation, Quality, Community Service, and Learning and Development. To highlight the fact that patients are at the core of the company’s mission, organizers placed the Patient Café in the middle of the room with large arrows on the carpet pointing to it.

The goal was to create comfortable settings that would encourage conversations and education around the specific topics of each area. The cafés included soft lighting, a mix of lounge furniture and high-top tables, and quiet areas for private conversations. Some had small stages where employees and company leaders could give informal presentations and many offered hands-on activities to encourage employees to interact. In the Community Relations Café, employees assembled gift bags and wrote thank-you cards for local fire and police organizations. In three of the areas, attendees tested their knowledge of C.R.V. products and values by answering questions on iPads. Employees had helped to create the questions, which added a layer of engagement.

Once all employees arrived, Kucheman gave brief welcome remarks and presented employee awards. Organizers placed 1,500 chairs in front of the stage, but the presentation could also be seen and heard from anywhere in the room, for those who preferred to roam. The rest of the four-hour event was unstructured, so employees could choose where and how to spend their time. For lunch, each café offered self-service lunch options such as salads and sandwiches. Organizers polled attendees after the meeting and found nearly 80 percent felt they had increased knowledge of C.R.V. products and services, and 92 percent said they believed strongly in the goals and objectives of C.R.V. and felt more connected to patients and how C.R.V. positively affects their lives.

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