The familiar quote from Isaac Asimov says, “the only constant is change.”
But it goes on to say “…continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
This state of constant change was recognized by the Romans years before and entrusted to the god Janus. Janus (depicted with two faces, one looking towards the past and the other the future) is the god of beginnings and transitions, and for whom the month January (the beginning of a new year) is named.
Doors, bridges, archways, and gates – as places where one transitions from one place to another – are the domain of Janus. And these places were cared for by “Janitors”, directly relating to the god Janus. Janitors being much more than simply cleaners, they were caretakers of the god’s domains.
Recognizing a “Janus Moment” (as I call it) when a new norm arises, is essential to ensuring successful marketing in general, and events specifically.
These Janus Moments can be personal, cultural, organizational, etc. They can occur in social, technical, economic, or political realms. They can be predicted or come on suddenly; thus the need to remain focused and attentive.
The unique nature of events comes from the shared experiences in a moment in time by the participants. With the pressure at events to deliver the experience in real-time, and without the opportunity to “re-do” it, the alignment of norms to your participants’ expectations becomes essential to both ensuring the experience is not “out of sync”, and reaching the objectives of the program. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
The science is in the “alignment of norms to your participants’ expectations”. A new norm for one is a new cutting edge experience for another or worse, “passé” for a third. If you are responsible for the experience at a shared moment in time, you are its janitor, it’s caretaker.
The Janus Dialogs are designed to be a forum for discussions on new norms – those just beginning, establishing, or suddenly appearing. Dialog is encouraged as are submission of entries and articles for inclusion from anyone. Since each caretaker will need to make their own determination of the alignment to the participants’ expectations, we will not look for conclusive direction, but insightful exposure and exchange.