Strapped into bucket seats, suspended by cables 25 feet in the air over a mirror polished metal floor, sealed off from the chaos of the event by a giant fabric enclosure glowing with a dazzling display of projected shapes of light, was the setting for a 30-minute discussion on moonshot ideas with 5 other people. Moonshots are ideas that seem as impossible as their namesake idea did in 1962 when John F. Kennedy proclaimed we are going to the moon. That is the C2MTL experience at its core. It is only once you leave your comfort zone, can you begin to think in new ways.
The otherworldly creative forces of Sid Lee and Cirque de Soleil have once again been combined to create a juggernaut of an event; C2MTL 2017. The record breaking 6,000 attendants from over 50 countries working in over 20 industries got to experience a new direction over the past years. 2017 is the year of the Ecosystems with 5 primary focuses; Talent, Marketing, Entertainment, Cities, and Moonshots.
Over the 3 days of speakers, of experiences, of interactive workshops, a concept has emerged; ecosystems will not be created in boardrooms by executives designing carefully crafted strategies that will be marketed to the masses for adoption. Ecosystems are created organically through the creative interactions between human beings that share common goals, tastes, desires, and needs.
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, a teddy bear of a man apply nicknamed The Woz, perfectly expressed this idea. He never started out to build a juggernaut of a company that will change the world. He started by doing what he loved and he recommends we all do if we want to find success. The secret of Apple’s success is they focused on the human aspect of technology; how people need to interact with technology.
Most companies at the time chose to ignore the human element for pure technology development based on corporate goals. Most of those have been left behind as footnotes to tech history. To this day, some 40 years later, Steve continues to press this concept into the industry. It is not the boardroom that decides on a product’s success, it is the ecosystem of users that do.
The most expansive elements of C2MTL are The Labs as they are called. Interactive experiences and activities designed by Cirque de Soleil and Sid Lee to break you out of your thinking patterns to embrace new ways of looking at the world or working on its problems. Reclaim your youth by using a logo to collaboratively plan the city of tomorrow and see what an urban environment really needs to livable. From a virtual reality tour of Mont-Royal to a tablet powered guided augmented reality tour, to discussions in floating chairs, Labs push your creativity and concepts of collaborations to areas they have never been before. They are the C2 theme in action.
Let us not forget that too much human input has its limitations. One of the most prominent Labs was Cake. 4 times a day groups of 10 or more people participated in the discussions while baking their part in a 12-layer cake over the 3 days of the event to be shared by all as a closing celebratory dessert. What emerged was a cornucopia of flavors and textures as diverse as the people who made them. While some layers were quite good, others are best described as edible if you are hungry enough.
The lesson of Cake is clear and exemplary of C2MTL 2017 as a whole. Ecosystems are built layer by layer and on top of each other’s work. You will only get of your ecosystem what you put in so choose your collaborators carefully. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure their layer of our ecosystem is being built properly or some of us get a delicious slice of life, while others have to live with other people’s failures. It is each one of us that must take on that responsibility.