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This blog post is not about politics; though the name suggests it could have been.
Politics is a unique animal of its own kind which happily feeds on the very people who once rode it. But this is not our topic.
Some people do not agree to staying away from politics. They feel it is our privilege and duty to join political activity being a responsible citizen of the country. More on that later may be.
This blogpost is about management; about organizing shows of various types.
As a manager, organization of events is a recurring activity. It could be a weekly meeting, a monthly sales review meeting of the team, or a larger regional meeting. As we grow, we get involved into large conferences such as annual sales conferences which are truly big events spread over few days and gathering couple of thousand people may be and inviting all tiers of company hierarchy.
Before we dive deeper into this subject, I wish to take you to personal ceremonies. Let us say it is the Wedding ceremony of your daughter or son. You are going to invite 300+ people. You choose a good venue, a good menu (though choices are limited due to one-dish), a good décor and a good photographer. But you do not choose ‘Master of the Ceremony’. I go to such events and watch with amusement when the ceremony is proceeding aimlessly, without consideration of guests or time. No one knows what is going on, no one is taking decisions. In short, no one is calling the shots. This is not an uncommon sight; disorganized and disoriented ceremonies are more than common than the better ones. This is poor management.
Now come back to office scenario. Senior Managers spend a lot of time in meetings at office. It may consume more than 50% time of work. But what happens during the meetings? Most meetings move on their own pace. The duration of meeting is either not given or is not followed if it is there. The discussions drag, the arguments become long (and sticky), and even then, the meeting remains inconclusive. This is also a common sight.
What is the common missing factor in these cases? Good organization.
Managers are required to have ‘Organizing Skills’ as integral to the job description. It describes organizing of resources to produce optimum results. Resources include the team, time, support and material items. Managers who deploy these resources strategically and efficiently are way more successful than those who do not. Organizing also includes events organization.
Much has been written about how to conduct effective and productive meetings, so we can skip it here. We may take up this topic specifically later and review various recommendations. For now, we shall focus on other events.
An event of any size is an ‘Activity In Motion’ and may be likened to a ‘Dance’. The key to dance performance is ‘Choreography’. The choreographers conduct the dances, whether these are performed by a single person or a large group. The choreographer chooses the moves and the sequence of moves and how much time a move will be seen. Without a choreographer, most dances will end up as jumble. Classic dance is different; it is a way of telling a story through dance movement. The classic dancer is trained in the trait. Even a classic dance would be enhanced by the choreographer.
What I mean by Master of the Ceremony in an event is akin to the Choreographer. The Master predetermines the timing of each segment and then ensures that these do not spill beyond allocated time. If the sequence of segments is logical, and the flow is smooth, the event remains interesting.
When you are assigned to organize an event next time (at office or at home), Please keep the following in mind.
Running Theme: What is the spirit of the program? For example, an annual sales conference has two running themes. First is celebration of the previous achievement. Second is building up of energy and morale for next growth. The first segment is noisier and hyperactive. The energy is consumed in bulk and goes down. The second segment is more thoughtful, learning and building up sustained energy to take home for future use. The activities, timelines, participation, color schemes, games must conform to the running theme so that the desired impact is achieved.
A wedding ceremony is a happy occasion and everything from the décor to the flow of segments to the music should reflect it. You would not like to run sad music or decorate with dull, sad colors.
The Running Theme is designed to achieve the desired objectives and is therefore critical.
Time Division: If a segment drags beyond a reasonable time, at first it loses its impact and then turns negative. All your efforts and investment of resources goes waste. If it ends up quickly, it may not achieve desired impact. Time allocation should be done carefully and followed religiously. Being Master of the Ceremony and the Choreographer, it is your job to ensure everything happens by the clock and with the desired spirit.
People Projection: It is another critical area. You will be required, and you must project right people at right times to support the running theme. After all, people are who make or break occasions. Projecting right people at right times will enhance effectiveness of the event. What we try to tell through words is more graphically described by the deeds. Do take care that the projection is entirely based on merit and not cadre. And that the exposure time is enough.
Beginning and End: ‘Well begun is half done’ is an old adage. It is still a valid principle. It is important to begin in a great manner. A good beginning builds receptivity and anticipation which helps to maintain attention over longer period. Similarly, a great closing leaves behind impression which helps to maintain energy long after the event is over. Take an analogy from Olympic Games. The opening and closing ceremonies are becoming more and more innovative and elaborate. The take home becomes the closing ceremony. Office events may not be as elaborate but should be designed to leave a nice flavor behind.
Organizing and running an office event is just like designing and running a show. Unfortunately, it is not taken in that spirit probably due to consideration that the participants can be forced through the event. It may be true, but it speaks amply about ineffectiveness of majority of such events.