Caryn Taylor Lucia On Innovation and Engagement

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FICP, SEI
Lucia has created a variety of teambuilding activities, from interactive wine tastings to rowing events.

Caryn Taylor Lucia, FICP board member and director, corporate events at SEI, discusses the importance of engagement, and her company’s Innovation Initiative.

Prevue: What types of creative peer-to-peer teambuilding activities have you organized in the past?

Caryn Taylor Lucia: Our team has created activities including interactive wine tastings, top chef competitions, rowing events, softball tournaments, carnival games and scavenger hunts using smartphones. Recently, we have had puzzle solving ‘competitions’ with various business units around the company. It’s a fun, interactive exercise where participants learn collaboration, communication and team work.

Where does the goal of maximizing group ROE stand in comparison to ROI these days? Is the scale balanced or tipping more to one side or the other?

The engaged employee is more loyal and productive. The disengaged employee is physically present, psychologically absent and not very connected to the company.

It is crucial to have a high level of engagement during client events, as well. If our clients feel connected to us and we offer them a committed and caring client experience, their loyalty to us will lead to more referrals.

ROI, while important to measure, is more black-and-white. It’s important to know what is being spent and what the return on that investment is, but the most successful companies look beyond that. They are constantly finding ways to engage employees and clients, and it’s definitely the enthusiastic, engaged people with whom I want to work.

Have you noticed a growing demand for right-brain (creative and abstract) meeting/event activities? If so, how has it changed the way you approach the planning process?

Absolutely. Our company is undergoing an Innovation Initiative. This is a far cry from an old PowerPoint training class where folks are half listening and half asleep. Each employee attends a four-hour session that is interactive, creative and lively; employees work together to solve problems and come up with innovative ideas. Any idea, no matter how crazy, big or bizarre, is OK.

We have also tried the open space concept. Chairs are put in a few large circles in the room. Each group has a main topic of conversation with one facilitator in each circle and participants may stay for as long as they like. This really puts the attendee in the driver’s seat to decide which topics they would like to engage in.

We are always looking for new meeting formats. One of our first questions is always, “How can we accomplish our objectives, and can we do it in a more engaging and fun way?” Fortunately, being involved in FICP affords the opportunity to attend meetings where new formats are always being used.

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