On Getting Out of the Way

 On Honesty and Getting Out of the Way.

Hands up anyone who has done a flawless event? OK, now keep your hands up if you’ve done an event which needed NO correcting hand? No? Me neither.

I have often compared producing a conference to rolling a snowball down hill, you start with the best of intentions, aiming in the right direction, but after it’s left your hands any attempt at steering is minimal, and yet we often pay little attention to those early stages.

In events we don’t design the end experience; we build teams who use the tools they have to cope with changing client needs.

If you've done your job right, and surrounded yourself with good people, then those changes are simply and easily coped with. I had exactly this experience last week. Great team of people more than capable of handling anything that was dealt to them.  

Except. There were people in the way.

I've seen leaders who pursued their own agenda whilst everyone else tried to give the client what they wanted, I've seen people who knew they needed help but were unable to say what that help might look like, and I've seen clients who were mystified as to why their simplest requests were met with barking sarcasm, simply because those requests didn’t fit with the organisers view of what the client wanted.

The lessons I learned last week were threefold. First; if you have great experienced people around you then allow them to do their work, and get out of the way. Second; it is vital that among those great people that there is an atmosphere where it’s OK to say “help!” even if they do not truly understand what help they need. Third that sometimes we hold on to whatever our original idea was to the detriment of the outcome; allowing our personal needs to get in the way of the event’s best outcome.

There’s a saying among poker players that you should look around the table and see who’s the patsy. If you can’t spot him, then it’s you. Look at the team you've assembled, if you can’t see a problem…

This article originally appeared on the Conference News Blog….CN Blog


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