Post-mortem – it’s a dark joining of words referring to the time after death. It’s also what any convening of the event planning forces, post event, is called. Throw a big party then schedule a post-mortem to talk about it. Get a huge festival off of the ground then schedule a post-mortem… are you getting the idea?
Upon thinking about it, post-mortem really should be reserved for events gone horribly wrong. You know, the outdoor concert called off because of flooding only minutes after it strikes you that maybe you should have picked a venue on higher ground? Or perhaps the one where the local fire department comes in to make a big scene about not having enough exits when you are clearly using an outdoor space with plenty o’ exits (I’m pretty sure the packed bar across the street would have been a worthier recipient of the Fire Marshal’s attention). However, those events never seem to have a post-mort meeting. Perhaps we want to block those events in a small part of our memory – in that space where we hide less successful activities in order to make room for the hugely successful ones. We are human, after all, no one wants to talk about their failures.
Are they really failures, though? I’d like to consider them chapters in my text book. I’m not sure which class I’m taking, whether it be Life 101, How to Succeed in Business When All You’re Doing is Trying Your Darnedest 101, or Fake It ‘Till You Make It 101… whichever it is, I’m filling up chapters left and right. I’d rather not continue to hide those so called failures, I want to pull them out, dust them off and learn from them. I want to have a post-mortem meeting (alone, mind you, I’m not quite ready to admit some failures to the world) for each and every one of them. Where did I go wrong or did I even go wrong? Did I surround myself with the right team and would a different team resulted in a completely different output? It’s time to look at these and use them as professional (and perhaps personal) growth opportunities. It wouldn’t be smart of me to sit around and wait for the learning opportunities to only come to me at conferences and because of new events at work. I’ve got plenty lined up in the dark corners just waiting to be pulled back out and studied. I should never be out of perfect opportunities for improvement at this rate.
Upon my return from the conference I’ve thought a lot about how that one week in Phoenix will shape me. Coming back from conference can often have the opposite effect that you would think. You come back with such a driving force of inspiration behind you only to be faced with the same old challenges you left at the beginning of the week. They are exhausting, tiresome, and old. You were desperately hoping for new challenges, but there the old ones sit on your desk, smiling their sly, weaselly grins, beckoning you to sit down and try to sort them out in the same way you failed at before.
I will not fall for their tricks.
I’m going to approach them at a different angle. I’ve got new weapons and if I still need to acquire some, I know where to get them. It’s time to broaden my horizons as it seems my current horizons were not enough to solve these problems. As the Booking and Events Manager at my venue, I’m queen bee when it comes to booking spaces. I know how to space events out to avoid timing conflicts (and how to calm people down when my attempts at this are overridden), how to communicate what set up needs there are, and how to get the team working towards great events. I know how to draw up a space use and promoter contract. I know how to negotiate figures so that both parties come out happy (and if they don’t, I know how to get over it). I know how to train a House Manager, how to evacuate the hall in the event of an emergency and how to handle the FOH for a 10,000 seat concert in a hall that isn’t even ours. It isn’t what I already know that is going to be my success. It’s that in combination with what I don’t know.
If this personal post-mortem of my past experiences has taught me anything, it’s that the time has come to jump out of my box and learn some new skills. It’s time to step backstage and learn a bit more about Production than I already do (you know the phrase “I know just enough to get me in trouble” well, that’s me to the “T”). It’s time to sink my teeth into our ticketing and patron database software so I’m not left having to go to others every time I have a question. This girl’s horizon is going to be broadened and no one is going to do it for me, this time it’s up to me.
So I go into the work week ready to ask my peers to become my teachers. I’m ready to learn from them. I’m ready for my workplace to be just as inspirational to me as a conference is. Conferences come a couple of times a year, your office environment is there 365 days (those of you not in the event industry might think I’m exaggerating but I even got emails about work last Christmas day… it doesn’t end, but it’s worth it when the end result is spectacular). Why not let each day be just as inspirational as a conference session?
Dear Friends – what can I learn from you?