Friday, 29 May 2015

Best Made Plans Usually Change

Change agility seemed like a fitting topic for my presentation at ProjectWorld conference this week. 

A month ago, I received an email from a client stating that I was needed in Dubai the day I was scheduled to speak at the conference. I felt one of those 'oh no' moments when things don't go as planned.

My first action was to check flexibility on the Dubai date. Although it was part of a three-day conference, my session needed to come first.

My next step was to check flexibility with my flights. The earliest I could be back in Toronto was 11:35 am on Tuesday. It would require taking a 1:35 am flight from Dubai to Frankfurt and a connecting flight to Toronto three hours later. 

I called the conference event director to see if my session could be moved to Tuesday. Fortunately, I could change spots with someone presenting at 1:30 pm on Tuesday. I would have almost two hours after landing to get home, shower and travel to the conference centre. It would be tight, but I was feasible. We assessed the risk of travel delays and decided to go for it.

The first leg of my journey home went well. The plane took off and landed on time. I got four hours sleep on the six and a half hour flight, above average for me.

I showered in the lounge and finished final preparation for my presentation. Things were going as planned. 
At Scheduled Landing Time
The second flight also took off on time. I got another four hours of sleep on the eight and a half hour flight. I felt jet lagged and was dropping things, but mentally I was alert. An hour before landing, I asked a flight attendant if we were on time. She said landing had been delayed by 45 minutes. Things were not going as planned. 

My backup plan was to go directly to the conference centre from the airport. I had packed an extra dress shirt and would wear the jacket and pants I had worn in Dubai. If needed, I could be at the conference centre in 35 minutes. It was time to activate my plan.

I shaved in the washroom and emerged a wrinkled version of presentable. Traffic was good and I was in my presentation hall with 30 minutes to spare. I was ready to talk about change agility. 

My schedule was too tight for comfort and I will avoid reliving this experience. I jotted down these notes after my session:

  • Avoid over-scheduling your calendar--risk of poor performance and stress are high costs of doing more
  • Share risks with your partners--taking them is a joint decision
  • Options lead to solutions--always have a back up plan
  • Open presentations with a personal story about your topic--it demonstrates relevance and establishes a bond with your audience
My next session is in two weeks with no schedule conflicts in sight. I will pack an extra set of clothes. Anything could happen.


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