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ASK, NOT TELL

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Preparation – the fine balance between ‘task’ and ‘people’

Updated: Mar 13

I have written quite a number of posts on preparation (link) before. I strongly believe in preparation. “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” I called it PPPPP in short form.


I always require the room to be set up the day before. I am passionate to have ticks in all the boxes on the material list the day before. I always arrive at the training site at least 1 hour before the official start. When the others e.g. room administrator is involved, I will push very hard to get things ready. I would send out emails listing out very clearly who to do what. And I set clear deadline. If the others miss it, I would put them under spotlight.


I however realize some changes in my behavior recently. This happened in Beijing, in where I was writing this post. I ran 2 days of big-scale learning-related program here. There were around 40 people on each day. I arrived at the site the day before. Unfortunately, the room administrator failed to get the room ready even at 7pm the day before the program. The video cable was not long enough to put the facilitator table at the designated position. The audio cable simply did not work. And worse, after we set up the tables and chairs, another group of colleagues went in to use the room. Set up got messed up!


I would probably have shown my emotion about all these, but I was not this time. Somehow, I realized that being upset was of no use. Some people have been working on this. I got to tell myself that things will be alright. More importantly, I got to let the others feel the same way (well… provided that they are already working hard to fix the problems.)


I guess I learnt these from the KL experience. Before the program started, there were still a lot of ‘missing pieces’. Instead of complaining against the organizers, the lead facilitator tried hard to keep everyone in good spirit. Reflecting on the whole process, I realized better the fine balance between ‘task’ and ‘people’. You are not wrong in pushing hard for the ‘task’. But when you push too hard, you pay the price on the ‘people’ issue. Others may feel upset and seamless cooperation becomes impossible.


After all, organizing an event is a team sport.

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