social innovation | November 22, 2012

How the Collaborative Economy Can Benefit Meeting Planners: Tonya Surman

Last week, Tonya Surman—co-founder of the Centre for Social Innovation—gave a fantastic talk to Meeting Professionals International. “After the talk, she had a long line of people waiting to speak with her,” said Lavin’s Meghan Elenbaas, who was on hand. “She brought up a lot of ideas about ways to create engagement and to achieve better networking at events.” During her keynote—which covered everything from the new collaboration economy to shared workspaces—Surman showed meeting planners the relevance of social innovation and how it applied to their industry.  It's not just about networking. It's about initiating better conversations, bringing people from varied backgrounds together, igniting meaningful brainstorming sessions, asking plenty of questions, and creating more space for idea growth. This model, essentially, is what has made Surman’s own CSI Centres in Toronto so world-renowned.

“Tonya got people engaged by asking questions,” says Elenbaas. “At first, everyone was reluctant to put their hands up, which is pretty standard at most talks. But due to Tonya’s friendly demeanor, her credibility, and her openness and encouragement, a lot of hands ended up shooting up!”

With her CSI buildings in Toronto (and soon to appear in other cities), Surman brings like-minded but vastly different social enterprises together under one roof. The goal is to remove logistical barriers like overhead costs, to make the spaces more cost-effective. Surman makes a strong case for the importance of sharing values, spaces, costs, and of course, ideas. As she showed the MPI audience, these innovative methods can be applied to virtually any industry, big or small.

Up Next

social change | November 21, 2012