The Chicago Area Power Outage – What Meeting Planners Can Learn

Meeting and Event Planners Should Take Precautions

OK – The power has now into its third day of being out, I just emptied the fridge and freezer and threw away a bunch of stuff and my mind started to wander because I try and apply meeting and event planning to everything I am doing… or because I may be just a little bit crazy. Verdict is still out on that one.

What I realized is that, as odd as it sounds, this situation actually does have something to do with meeting and event planning, especially when it comes to being prepared and having a contingency plan.

Shit happens, we all know that, it is how you deal with the crap when it hits the fan is how people will define you.

In my case, I knew that the storm was coming and I gathered everything I might need.

From flashlights to camp stove, I pulled it all together and had it readily accessible in case I might need it. You will notice that I said “in case”, I was doing all of this before a drop of rain ever fell….

Maybe that is the planner in me or maybe watching Jim Cantore on the weather channel tell me how bad it was going to be spurred me into action, who knows, all I know is that it was done and the camp stove is still coming in handy.

Although that is a lesson in itself, meeting and event planners can also learn a lesson from ComEd… our power company. It is a lesson in being unprepared.

ComEd is on the television and the news telling everyone how bad the storm was and how they are not at fault. The storm was bad, I cannot argue with them on that one, it was pretty scary. But, is it not their fault? I wonder about that. How were they prepared on the front end, what precautions have they been taking? The Midwest is a nasty place, we get bad weather.

Did they cut corners? Have they failed to update equipment that is sorely in need of replacement and did they fail to take the necessary precautions to prevent the outage in the first place? I would bet that the power lines are 30 years old and they are not up to the job like they used to be… again, that is just my guess.

They may have been ready. Maybe, maybe not.

The lesson is, be as prepared as you can be and then do your best, that is really all you can do….if you are unprepared, the situation is going to get out of control and you will be unable to manage it and then that is how they will define you. Instead of managing a crisis, the crisis is going to manage you. instead of attacking a problem, you will be forced to react to a problem.

Knowing you have crossed every T and dotted every I will give you the piece of mind to concentrate on the job at hand without having to wonder about what ifs.

Photo: Roadside Pictures

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Keith Johnston is the Publisher and Chief Writer Guy of PlannerWire | You can learn more about him here , connect with him on Twitter , Facebook , Google + and LinkedIn.

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