I was at gathering of “change makers”, it was small, yet felt like a conference. There was a stage, chairs, a speaker, an audience. The purpose was to convene a brain trust. There were many smart and generous people. It sounded promising, yet I left feeling frustrated. This get together of innovators and out of the box thinkers left me empty and hungry for exchange, for action, for interaction. It was the usual uninspired setup: one smart person on stage, talking to a bunch of other smart people on chairs, about a brilliant and impactful idea. Why does it have to be so static, one directional and formulaic? My favourite part of conferences and talks is the socializing before and after. The talk we can listen to on TED or YouTube, but the one on one or small group conversations, the quick back and forth – that’s something we can only experience in person.

There’s nothing wrong with someone presenting on stage but why don’t we embrace the group and communal experience more? Is it our effort for individualism – the myth of the lone genius – that brought us here? Clearly the lone genius idea is off (HBR and The Guardian have more to say on that) but why is it so hard to change and reframe?

It could have been a meeting of 40 brilliant minds and 20, 40 or even 60 short, unpredictable yet hopefully deep, curious question filled conversations and exchanges (there are 870 possible conversations with 40 people). Instead of meeting 2 people and unsure how to help, I might have met 10 and found ways to connect, help, support a few of them.

Is it our ego getting in the way of collaboration and exchange? Our fear of embracing the unpredictable and unknown that forces us into stale top down talks? Let’s change that! Lets activate each individual, bring out their strengths, wisdom, expertise and share it, chaotically, serendipitously in ways that take advantage meeting in person.