Between the Lines Vol. 13 Hawaii 3-0: Preparing for the 2016 Industry Summit

Hawaii 3-0, the 30th anniversary of our industry's trade conference takes place in less than a month.  This year's summit runs from February 21st to the 25th and will bring together licensors, manufacturers, wholesalers, hobby dealers, and publishers. 

The summit goes beyond a typical trade show, by offering unique opportunities to interact with industry players in a series of panel discussions and idea exchange sessions, as well as informal social events.  Attendees will have multiple opportunities to participate in discussions  regarding the possibilities and challenges facing our industry, and inevitability will be asked to "brainstorm" ideas.   

Brainstorming has been touted as a way to problem-solve and make an organizational culture more innovative.  However, decades of research challenges this conventional wisdom.  Typical brainstorming sessions can lead to conformity and fixation on one or two ideas.  As well, sessions tend to be dominated by a few vocal participants while the majority stay silent.  Though brainstorming can lead to spontaneous free-flowing ideas, they often go nowhere because they are unrealistic and go beyond the scope of what organizations are willing to consider.

 A recent article in Psychology Today reported that brainstorming groups actually come up with fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and then pool their ideas.  We can use this knowledge to plan for a more successful Summit.  As you finalize your travel plans, think about what you can contribute to the discussion regarding the state of our industry and its future.   To get you started, there are a number of recurring themes at every industry trade conference. They include:  

1) how do we "grow the business" through innovative products, use of technology, and promotions that engage new collectors (i.e. youth, female consumers)?; 
2) how do we foster regular communication between industry players throughout the year and not just at yearly summits?; and
3) how can we increase trust between consumers, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers?

Thinking about these issues before your plane lands in Hawaii will help avoid the common pitfalls of idea fixation and conformity.  Come prepared by taking stock of your business over the past year - what worked, what could have improved, what additional supports could you have used?  What are some of your most important concerns for your business and the industry as a whole?  In the hockey trade this year, we have seen tremendous growth due to a great rookie crop; how can we leverage this growth beyond this year?  

After 10 years on the mainland, the Summit returns to Hawaii, where it all began with pioneer Kit Young.  I encourage you to attend, and to bring your best ideas with you.  Leave any cynicism you may have about trade shows at home and bring a positive attitude.  I guarantee we will have a successful Summit.  To encourage attendance, Universal Distribution will be sponsoring attendance for a number of retailers. If you haven't yet registered, you can find more information at