For Jeeping Events, Projects, Trail Cleanups and Meetings/Conventions
Visualization is a term I use to describe the mental/visual step by step process to “see” your event, trail cleanup, conference/meeting or project before it ever takes place, then to plan for it to be successful by “seeing” the routes around any potential obstacles.
You must get the picture in your mind into the minds of your workers. And that picture needs to be accompanied by the process to make it a reality – the plan.
For our purposes, the visualization technique will be defined as the step by step “run-through” of your event or project. It is done by yourself or with a small Planning Team.
Each step of your event, from start to finish, is addressed and planned for. Possible road blocks or problems are mitigated in the planning process (visualization). Supply lists are made as you go along. Staffing becomes pretty apparent. The project or event takes on a new life and your job becomes a lot easier.
In my experience, planning by visualization is a four-step process: 1) See the overall event; 2) Outline the sequence of events; 3) Layout the down and dirty details; and 4) Write the plan. Let’s take a look at a couple different ways to apply planning and visualization.
Conference or meeting example…
You are in charge of a large conference for your association. You have a small Planning Team to help you plan the conference. You have one year before your event. 300 folks will attend. Now let’s see how visualization works for this conference.
STEP 1: See the overall event. You have your mission from the association leadership, and hopefully you also have received the expectations and objectives for the conference. With your planning team, you develop a mental (and perhaps) physical picture of what the whole thing should basically look like and feel like, based on these criteria. You get a general gist of your conference and what the outcomes are likely to be.
Here’s where visualization really comes into play. You designate one person to take notes (a flip chart really works well), then you lead the team through a “talk-through” of your event. Everyone puts on their thinking cap and tries to “see” the event through the eyes of a participant.
A “talk-through” is merely a verbalization, in somewhat of an order, of the sequence of events, and how the whole thing should come down.
Here’s an example of a “talk-through:”
“Knowing we need a couple seminar rooms, one vendor room, one main meeting room and a command post, we first select our hotel and get it booked. We then announce the conference dates and location to the association and give them the RSVP info. Naturally we’ll have to have folks lining up vendors and sponsors in the meantime. But for now let’s jump ahead to the participants arriving at the conference.
Then your “talk-through” would cover food, snacks, coffee breaks, registration and so on. You keep this up, talking through the sequence of events, while your note taker is busy jotting down key points for later follow up, until you talk through the event from start to finish.
Perhaps your Planning Team is very visual, so you draw a sketch of the conference on a flip chart/easel board, so people can keep that visual in front of them during the visualization process.
Figure 1: A sketch of the overall event help planners better “see” what you need to plan for and how the event will come together.
STEP 2: Outline the Sequence of Events. Now take your “talk-through” and organize your list of lists – or the outline of the sequence of events so that you don’t forget to plan for each step (sequence) in the conference. Your conference sequence of events may look like this (and it may not be in order until you work on it a bit with your team).
Figure 2: Outline your sequence of events on paper where your planners can better “see” what you need to plan for, one step at a time.
Work your list over until you have all the subject areas pretty much covered. In our case here, we have the hotel, the announcement, speakers, vendors, banquet, and travel arrangements. These are things that we want to talk about (ie. plan for) in our Planning Team visualization process.
To get my Planning Team moving on this exercise, I like to say things like:
“Ok, let’s formulate our outline of the main things, topics, if you will, that we need to talk about and plan for.”
You may have to come back to your sequence of events list as you go along because new things will crop up that you forgot the first time around. That’s ok. But this sequence forces you to start putting your plan in order.
Step 3: Layout the Down and Dirty Details. With our sequence of events (topics) established, we begin to work them over, one at time, jotting down the things we need to consider or do to make them successful. Again, we visualize a participant for example, actually walking up to the registration table after they’ve found a place to park.
We ask ourselves, what will they see, feel, hear and touch? What will they need? What problems will they likely encounter? How can we mitigate those problems? One by one, we work through each sequence of events until we have a plan that covers the contingencies.
Some folks use “what-if” planning as part of this process. It’s the same thing. To frame this process in the “what-if” mode, we might ask ourselves questions like:
“What if the hotel parking lot is full and folks have to be shuttled from nearby?
“What if there’s not enough room in the lobby for the registration process?”
“What if we get a lot of walk-ins that aren’t pre-registered?”
“What if a speaker arrives without his handout material?”
Again, we are walking through, talking through, the whole event, one step at a time, finding out what we need and where the problems might be.
Step 4: Write the Plan. With the sequence of events clearly lined out, and the mitigation measures defined, you can now write your plan. There are several ways to do it, but I like to use the sequence of events as my outline for the actual plan. Start with your very first step, Arrange Hotel, and work your way to the end of the conference, Clean Up and Pay Bills. J
Using this visualization process will get you more organized and help you to cover for any contingency. It will make you a happier camper in the long run and provide the participants with a much better activity.
You can apply this process and these steps to any project, cleanup, event, race, or whatever.