Meeting and Event Design: Integrity vs Flexibility

FlexibilityWe've had previous blogs focusing on clients who are not open to advice from professional event planners and consultants. You know the scenario. The event requires 4 hours, the client wants it done in 2. All advice about location, logistics, strategies to underscore core messages and even safety are ignored. At the end of the day, when participants are dissatisfied, the event planners are the ones at the front of the room looking incompetent.

In what can turn into a battle royale about the shape of an event, the "I- card" is eventually played. "I" is for inflexibility. It's ironic. The "I-card" is only ever played by clients who cling to their original vision and toss out every suggestion offered by event planners to design effective events that run more smoothly. Now, just who is being inflexible?

Why is there so much resistance?

Scenario: A designer who has worked with the same client for a number of years hit the nail on the head. "The people I've been working with have retired. I have new set of inexperienced contacts who don't have a clue what they're doing. I have to start from scratch to train them and it's exhausting."

This is also showing up on movie and TV commercial sets. Experienced crew members are being replaced by newcomers to meet very tight budgets and they don't have a clue how to work with talent.

There is nothing wrong with being inexperienced. We all had to get our start in life somewhere. It's great to have passion and a vision and to want to make one's mark. However, when you're just starting out, wouldn't it be prudent to take advantage of the wealth of experience from those around you? After all, an important part of their job is to make you look good.

Let's dig deeper. I don't blame the people who are just starting out for this situation. They are being promoted quickly to replace retiring baby boomers and moved into positions without adequate training. (A lot of companies have scrapped management training programs or replaced them with e-learning that hardly the appropriate vehicle for teaching leadership and "people" skills. Some of them are struggling to please hard driving executives who seem to change their minds as often as they change their shirts. It's a tough situation.

What does this have to do with integrity?

IntegrityLet's face it. It's been a tough economy. Jobs are hard to come by and sometimes harder to keep. Faced with these dynamics, some employees just say "Whatever!" It takes guts and a ton of integrity to tell the emperor he has no clothes or CEOs that their plans are flawed.

Some event planners just throw up their hands and do whatever it takes to hang on to the business. As I recently told a North American client:

"Some consultants and meeting planners will take your money, smile and say yes to everything you request but my clients deserve much better than that."

Is it better to have the integrity to speak up when you perceive missed opportunities or a flaw in a proposed course of action? At some point you will be labeled inflexible. What's the alternative? It's safer to just go with the flow, collect your fee and give the client whatever they request. It's a tough call but we all face with hard choices.

What is integrity? According to Oxford Dictionary, it is:

  1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles
  2. the state of being whole and undivided
  3. the condition of being sound in construction
  4. lack of corruption

Going along with an unsound plan just to collect your fee or pay cheek would be displaying a lack of integrity.

I'm sure you've guessed already that my vote is for integrity.

Photo Credit: borderlys

Photo Credit: contemplativechristian

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