I Love it When a Plan Comes Together
Way back in grade six I was a huge fan of the A-Team… so big in fact that I even had the lunch box. Watching Faceman and B.A. Baracus mess-up those bad guys was a great way to unwind from a stressful day in the classroom and the pressure of practicing my Corey Hart lip sink act for the all-school air band competition. However, it was Hannibal (Col. John Smith) who made that show one of my all-time favorites (Knight Rider and Air Wolf were #2 and #3). What inspired me about his character was that he always new how to deliver justice; he knew that the only way to fight chaos was to make a plan and then kick some ass. I like that kind of action.
In the event world planners so often tackle their projects by simply focusing on the logistics and I think that’s only half the plan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of managing an event project scrupulously but event planners need to realize that so often they’re brought in to make sense out of chaos but that’s only a small part of the bigger picture. Simply cleaning up someone else’s mess is not a great scenario for a professional who knows how to make a gathering into a memorable event that has a flare no one else but you can bring. Now, if the event is reoccurring, or you’ve been slotted in as the flavour/planner of the year, or you’re taking over from an employee, you’re likely to have very little input into the strategic nature of the project. The best you’ll be able to do is simply organize the tasks, deliverables, timelines, suppliers, and people in order to pull off the gig. That’s just the way it is sometimes.
Now, please know that I wouldn’t recommend to any event professional that they mess with an event right out of the gate as it’s important to build trust with your client. As well, you rarely know all of all the factors, stakeholders, and have a big enough picture when you first get involved. However, if you’re going to do more than be an event administrator you’ll need to put a plan together that does more than just make sense of chaos but it actually helps transition the project into an event that creates better results and elevates you to the stakeholder level. It’s like your own little act of justice against the previous perpetrator (planner).
I suggest creating a report that shows your client the best and worst of their event and make sure your recommendations are quick to follow. Do this by doing two simple things: 1) Take detailed notes throughout the project planning period and the actual event that shows the growth areas and strategic outcomes that were missed. Then, with permission of course, send out a detailed post-event evaluation for stakeholders, suppliers, and guests (personally I like to use SurveyMonkey) so that you can collect feedback to support your vision. Try not to ask to many leading questions but highlight the areas that you perceive as critical to helping your clients get the most out of their event.
At the end of the day it’s all about putting a plan together and making sure that it’s helping build your legacy with the event and your client. Trust me, the A-Team is never wrong.