Archive for December 26th, 2023

Service of the Unexpected That Trips You Up

Tuesday, December 26th, 2023

In middle school my best friend’s father said, “It’s nice that you’ve prepared so well but it’s the unexpected that can trip you up.”

I’ve carried that warning with me whether producing an out-of-town weekend workshop for hundreds of retailers or a dinner party—intimate or grand. That’s why I try to get everything possible done well ahead so there’s time to meet a glitch. I reminded a friend who was freaking at the possible problems for her sit-down Christmas eve dinner for 15 and lunch Christmas day. She said she was detail oriented which is good as she can be a guest at her own party–something I strive to be.

Hitches can be small but intrusive and derailing. My dad had the habit of asking me to get something for him—a photograph to show another guest for example–just as I was about to serve Christmas eve sit-down dinners for 30. He didn’t like to wait. Kitchen work came to a halt.

I had worked out every moment of a set of room changes for simultaneous workshops and events at an hotel with an insufficient number of rooms. When I got to one of the rooms my boss, who hadn’t been part of the planning, made a room change with disastrous results causing countless headaches, destroying the seamless strategy I’d created. The trick was to pretend all was well and as it should be and to smile while wanting to wring his neck.

My first PR client decades ago involved nursing. I read a study in the day that showed that a hospital’s nursing staff could meet an emergency well if it was slightly understaffed, because the nurses were used to working at a brisk pace. If overstaffed they weren’t used to moving at speed and if severely understaffed, there was no flexibility for them to meet the crisis. A cousin of this theory is “if you want something done ask a busy person.”

Do you leave room for potential catastrophes or minor intrusions that derail your plan?

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