After reading Ann Oliveri's Creative Brief post about the new ad for Shredded Wheat (you know, the "we put the NO in innovation" one), I can't help but wonder if sometimes a lack of innovation might not be a bad thing—which by the way is the opposite of the conclusion she reached.
It got me thinking about Gilmore and Pine's book, Authenticity, which while confusing is a pretty interesting read. When I interviewed Gilmore and Pine a couple of years ago, one of the five genres of authenticity they say people are longing for nowadays is just what Shredded Wheat is doing: staying true to your roots. We are what we are, we got it right the first time and don't need none of the new-fangled stuff, etc., etc.
But no, you still can't count out innovation after all. Your meeting of course has to stay true to its roots (education, an incentive to reward a job well done, or whatever that root purpose might be), but the way you do it should constantly be adjusted to bring that message in a way that resonates with people today. People's need and desire for the type of wholesome breakfast grandma made may not have changed, and their need for education itself is probably more essential than ever, given today's information firehose. But the type of education they need likely has changed, along with their lifestyle, their jobs, the way they like to learn (and yes, possibly what they want to have for breakfast at a conference).
So I guess I agree with Ann after all, but I do think we need to be very, very careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. What is it that is at the core of your meeting? Why does it need to happen? If you stay true to that, innovation just gives you a better means to deliver it.