MeetingsNet: Tell us about your work reinventing CIC's APEX standards.
Lawrence Leonard:
Over the past two years, APEX has gone through a process of reinvention. APEX has a rich history dating back to 2001 (with roots that go back even further) and has produced a number of important best practices and templates for core business processes. But as a volunteer-powered initiative, we had gone into a “maintenance mode,” working to keep those resources and our industry glossary current.
When we looked at the industry experts we had around the table, we knew we had the talent, energy, and opportunity to do more. This industry is dynamic and always evolving, and its professionals need to be ready to adapt to current issues and trends.
The main APEX Standards Committee focuses on scanning for those broad trends and issues, and we challenge them to be “free range” and explore lots of ideas. Workgroup volunteers focus on projects where they have a particular passion or knowledge.
MaryAnne Bobrow: As an inaugural member of the APEX Standards Committee (recruited by then–APEX Commissioner Terri Breining in 2008), I noticed an interesting dynamic: In the early years, we fulfilled our tasks and then, as those tasks were completed, we began to truly think outside the box and approach the initiative from a far more strategic level. The end result was that APEX is now recognized as a strategic initiative for the industry, that CIC has become the aggregator of industry best practices, and that the Standards Committee helps to keep APEX fresh and relevant by tackling industry issues and disseminating information and best practices.
Just a few short years ago, we were privileged to be assigned Lawrence as our staff liaison. His talents and strategic thinking aid the committee to continue to work at a much higher level.
I step off the committee at the end of this year. But change is good and fresh ideas will always energize this committee.

MeetingsNet: What changes are coming?
Leonard: Our last environmental scan produced at least two pages of bullet points. Technology is a big driver of change, so that area will likely draw particular interest. There’s also a need for continuing dialogue around some of our industry’s core business processes and concepts.
I’m also doing some really cool work on CIC’s other programs and initiatives, like the Certified Meeting Professional program and Hall of Leaders. It’s an exciting time for our industry and for CIC.
Bobrow: For me, anything that adversely affects our industry is fair game for change. Right now, I am working with a stellar group of individuals as an APEX workgroup to combat hotel piracy. While we know we will not resolve all that ails us during the life of the workgroup, we also know that a coalition will be formed to take our work and push it to the next level.

MeetingsNet: How do you view change?
Leonard: One of my favorite books on change is Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath. They use a very powerful metaphor of a person riding an elephant. The elephant is emotion and the rider is the conscious mind. Which of the two is really in control in that relationship? How do you direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and shape the path?