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The Performance Perspectives Blog: In praise of agilty
Delaney Turner 270002T14M firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  cognos performance_management
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Few things are better for a blog than an Olympic long weekend. For the past three days I've been watching and writing, watching and writing about the links between the Winter games and performance management. (Get ready, this is but the first in a series of Olympics-themed posts)
Of course there's the obvious connection - the best performances win the highest awards. But Friday's opening ceremonies (and the coverage and commentary they generated) has yielded other, less obvious parallels and more useful lessons.
First, on the importance of agility in decision-making:
Kudos to opening ceremonies producer David Atkins, whose quick thinking prevented an international embarrassment during the lighting of the cauldron in BC Place.
To recap: there stood Canadian sports legends Wayne Gretzky, Rick Hansen, Steve Nash and Catriona Le May Doan. They stood, torch in hand, ready to light one of four pillars that would rise from the floor to create an enormous cauldron. It would cap off a flawless, spectacular production that had Twitter channels buzzing.
With billions looking on, only three pillars emerged. Suddenly, Le May Doan was the odd girl out.
Short of catching the next plane to Sydney, what would the Australian-born Atkins do? First, through an earpiece that each performer was wearing he communicated to Le May Doan to remain still, while he and his team raced through alternate scenarios.
They considered re-routing the trap door system. No time.
They considered scrapping the moment altogether, leave the cauldron unlit and have Gretzky leave the stadium to light the replica second cauldron in the downtown core. No good.
Instead, Atkins instructed Le May Doan to salute and the others to light their pillars. Then, as planned, Gretzky made the trip to the city center to light the outdoor cauldron, cheered en route by thousands of fans. An ouctome not exactly as planned, but far from disaster and embarrassment worldwide.
The lessons in this?
First, be ready to change, no matter how much you’ve prepared. Atkins’ team had been through nearly 60 practice runs with the cauldron in the weeks before the games; two with the final torchbearers. But on Friday night, reality dictated a different course.
Second, communicate clearly, especially when things go wrong. Atkins kept everyone in the loop throughout the entire process. “He said to us, 'Stand by. We're having a technical issue,'” Le May Doan told CTV. “He wasn't leaving us in the dark. He guided us."
Atkins’ quick thinking was aided by the professionalism of the perfomers, clear communications and a shared understanding of the stakes. Many clients say they see the same benefits from their performance management deployments.
Ms. Le May Doan says she has received hundreds of e-mails since the ceremony. Many people did not notice anything go wrong, she says.
When something in your business doesn’t go quite as planned, will you know all your options? Will you be ready to change course?