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Leaning Into Change

Leaning into Change

The idea for this blog has been in my mind for a while. Little did I realize that it would take on a whole new turn as the world changed in early March.

Leaning into change is vital for any organization to survive. Our world has become a series of soundbites, memes, and experiences. Adaptability is key and involves consistently learning new things and collecting new ideas to provide the change we as a society crave. In order for it to be successful, you must be able to develop a plan, communicate effectively, monitor the results, and provide that extra effort to create that “wow” factor to make the change a memorable and positive experience for your audience.

Change is important for an organization. For staff and as a CEO, it is important to make sure that everyone knows that the change is going to happen, what will occur, and the anticipated results. Communication is key as well as listening to your various constituencies. For the leader and those in charge of the change, you know what to expect. You are also anticipating results and clearing the path for the next set of changes. You anticipate what coming down the road and as the leader, working with staff to clear out any difficulties for the organization to move forward.

Simple, right? I thought that was the plan when some change came in my personal life late last summer and fall as my father has some medical issues and needed help. My sister and I were ready – once we knew what was going on, we put a plan in place and then were implementing the plan. It was easy to get the work done and the work kept us busy – packing up his house, determining what we wanted to keep, and devising what was needed to move him to Florida. Also, we already had a plan of where Dad could live and set that in motion. We anticipated the issues and any questions that would arise. We had answers and reasons. We moved my Dad to Florida and got him settled in a new place with new furniture his photos, clothes, and things. All was fine and we were all settling into our new roles.

However, even with all that planning, one thing stood out. Even thought my family knew the change was happening, there was the fact that the change occurred and dynamics shifted. I was not longer the child in the relationship, but the adult, and my father was more of the child in the relationship. It happened – but it was not really planned for nor did my family realize the change in the dynamics.

I was in my event mode – working and getting the tasks done, getting the changes ready, looking a few steps ahead. My family never had an opportunity to see me in that role as many of my events in my career happened throughout the world. (There was not much time onsite during those days to go into details on what was going on, especially when 13 hours away. Social media and cell phone cameras did not exist, but I had a flip phone!) But now, here we were in implementation and in change, and it was new dynamics for everyone.

As we are now getting used to these new roles, the angst has subsided. It is a new normal for the family, but communication on the roles and honesty in those communications are key. Even though we all knew the change was happening, and were a part of it, there were differences in everyone’s roles and lives.

With changes in your organization, and changes in your events, it is important to have open communication on all sides. If there are issues, talk them through and listen. The board should be there to help amplify and communicate the changes. There should be one voice and one message. Multiple messages do not work out the public realm. If there are issues, and there will be, talk them out and leave that meeting as a unified force to implement the change and succeed. Anticipate the new normal and dynamics and discuss with your major shareholders how that is proceeding.

And now, festivals, events, and nonprofits are working and changing their dynamics again. With the pandemic striking everywhere, organizations are modifying plans and looking at new ways and technologies to interact with their audiences. It is amazing to see what has happened in the past month or two. People are working to help first responders, events and attractions creating virtual ways to engage an audience that is now staying at home, and plans are being implemented as we slowly move back out into society.

Take the time and research organizations that are creating virtual events to help keep their audience engaged and entertained. Everyone is pitching in to work together to take care of each other – and that is due to human nature and the importance of communicating needs. There are great ideas and resources – take those Zoom meetings and webinars, exchange ideas with other organizations, and follow associations like the Florida Festivals and Events Association and the International Festivals and Events Association. These resources are key into what is happening and what you can expect as we face a new dynamic and new normal.

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