By Egotist / / By: David Bryant, Chief Creative Officer, Organic ——————– SXSW by anybody’s reckoning is a glorious, sprawling, irritating, amazing incredible mess of an experience. Despite the SXSW’s best intentions and organization, it remains a nearly impossible event to navigate intellectually. Jumping from one lecture to another, listening to oft-conflicting visions of the future and conflicting philosophies at every turn, it’s difficult to get your thoughts in order. SXSW can be expensive, so agencies often end up sending out a handful of senior envoys. The problem is that these guys often get caught up in client schmoozing and can only attend a limited number of lectures. Also they often can’t appreciate the deep technical detailed nature of some of the more valuable and practical session. And they’re often too busy to report back on what they have seen. So we went with swarm intelligence instead. We sent everyone out, hired a cheap(ish) house and filled it with Organicaneers and basically lived out an early 90’s MTV reality TV show. Our objective was not to attend SXSW but research it. So we set everyone a list of questions to answer and went wide and deep on each talk. The questions were: • Find us something we can bring to our clients tomorrow. • Find us something that will scare the hell out of our clients. • Find three people / startups we should work with. • Find something that could destroy our business. • Find ways to create human connection. It really worked. It added focus. It tapped into our natural competitiveness to find insights our co-workers hadn’t seen. People ended up going to talks and events they wouldn’t usually go to, opened-up new opportunities of interest and got us a hell of a lot more out of SXSW than if we’d just turned up and followed our instincts. We had a session at the end and our combined report was breathtakingly wide and deep. We’d finally wrapped our heads around SXSW and won. Hey – this is no big deal. There’s nothing revolutionary about setting yourself the right questions before you go. But we found it so useful we thought we’d share them. Unlike the answers of course, which are all ours and our clients.