“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein
Moving from your inspiration’s concept to planning how to make it a reality is like anything in life worth doing. It takes creativity, passion, and the forethought to be proactive rather than reactive by putting together a plan early and editing it as better ideas make themselves known.
In my case, I start with a framework of ideas that come to me at odd times. When something pops into my head whether I’m at work or home or the grocery store, I e-mail the thought to myself and save it in a folder of “great” ideas. Alternatively, I’ve written notes, cut out articles from magazines, or even recorded voice memos on my i-Phone in an effort to preserve my thought process. I recall reading once that author Stephen King stated that the difference between himself and other “would be” authors is that when he has a nightmare in the middle of the night, he wakes up and writes it down. The lesson to learn here is to not lose great ideas by relying on your own memory. Take that extra moment to record it in some form.
Next, verbalize for your planning team what you envision for the event. I’m often guilty of starting with grandiose plans that get brought down to earth by my team, but also believe pushing the envelope of possibility is imperative to put together the best event you can design.
Continue to adjust your plan mentally, sharing it verbally with those individuals whose opinions you respect and trust. At this point, I don’t have a detailed document created for the event. I find that ideas percolate and change as you verbalize them, and I prefer to have the concept fluid until the ideas expand and finally solidify in my mind first.
Once the plan has come into focus in your mind, then it’s time to create the Event Requirements Document (ERD) to track all the facets of the project. Think of the ERD as simply a written yet evolving roadmap covering every aspect of your project. I simply use an Excel spreadsheet with tabs for each of these areas, which could include everything from marketing, compliance, coordination with external parties, supplies, prizes, volunteers, management approval, and more as the complexity of your event dictates.
The most vital part of the ERD documentation process is creating a project timeline. As I do with my client timelines at work, I begin with the date the event will take place, and then work backward to identify the tasks involved, finishing with the beginning of the project. This is the most efficient way to be certain you’re being realistic when it comes to allocating your time to get the event off the ground and on schedule.
Set up and schedule a regular meeting time for your event management team to discuss the project plan. My team tends to meet at least weekly for 60 to 90 minutes to bring the plan together, flesh out any issues with the overall event, and determine whose skill-set best matches each part of the design.
Keep the meeting atmosphere upbeat and free-flowing to encourage those moments where a great idea presents itself, and be certain that all attendees feel they are an important part of the team (the old adage “there is no I in Team” comes to mind here) and that their input is valued by the group. Everyone should know the premise of the event and be able to articulate their position on some but not necessarily all aspects of how it will play out. You’re only having open ended conversations at this point, with the plan clicking further into focus with each meeting.
2018 EVENT UPDATE: With this summer’s game planning in progress now, “Humans Vs. Zombies 2” will follow much of what we did from a planning perspective during our original 2012 version for continuity purposes, but we realize it’s important to change things up and add new and unexpected elements to the 2018 iteration of HVZ to keep players engaged and excited for what’s to come. When meeting with your own team, collectively share your ideas, and then brainstorm to seek out faults in your thinking or execution (in some cases completely reject the idea as unworkable and move on), and lastly add those enhancements to make it even better than you imagined.
Thanks again for your interest in the MotEVENTure blog, and I look forward to sharing more about planning an impressive competitive event in the coming weeks.
Coming soon…the recurring MotEVENTure Memorable Moment!
Until next time…