I had the great thrill of attending the TEDx event TEDxColumbiaSC on Monday. For those of you unfamiliar, TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a non-profit organization about “Ideas Worth Spreading.”
Each year this organization holds two global conferences (the one in the United States is just called the TED Conference) where speakers give short “TED Talks” to a live audience about various subjects that force the listeners to think and ask questions about concepts and the world around them. In addition, many regional sites will hold mini-conferences licensed by TED, referred to “TEDx events” with local speakers. On Monday Columbia held their second TEDx event in as many years.
It’s one thing to watch a TED Talk online (of which there are many, many great ones with big-name speakers) but it’s a totally different experience to attend a TEDx event. You’re surrounded by individuals who not only want to learn but are also open to have their minds changed and horizons broadened. Twenty or so individual presentations provide exposure to different forms of art (such as interpretive dance or classical guitar), philanthropy (recycling of normally-discarded food in school cafeterias for use at homeless shelters or prenatal care for Columbia’s growing Hispanic population), civil rights (women’s rights and equality), education (did you know video games are good for you?), and climate change is a core principle of TED.
In my days working with small businesses and sports organizations, I don’t always get exposure to such various viewpoints and topics. As someone who coaches and teaches change management and continuous improvement, it’s important for me to also keep an open mind about ideas I’ve either disagreed with in the past or to which I’ve never given much thought.
TED and TEDx aligns itself with continuous improvement pretty favorably. The first step in learning and making improvements is recognizing that improvements won’t happen unless change is involved. Folks who are set in their ways and not open to change, well, they don’t attend TEDx events and they don’t like continuous improvement much either.
TED uses speakers and independent researchers to expose all of us to problems out in the world and typically shares potential solutions to those problems. Without identification of problems how would we know where we can find room to improve and how would we generate new ideas?