A is for Agility:

The essential tool for today’s event planner

It is in an event organiser’s DNA to have to deal with unpredictability throughout the event planning cycle and delivery process.  Strategies like risk assessments and contingency planning are not only advisable but necessary to manage unforeseen circumstances, fluctuating priorities, and last-minute changes.

But even the most seasoned event planner has had their abilities (and patience!) tested in the last 22 months.  A linear approach with a sequential plan, where each phase depends on the outcome of the previous one, is no longer conducive to the speed of response required to react and adapt and in a constantly shifting industry landscape.

What does it mean to adopt an agile methodology?

An agile methodology emphasises and relies on a continuous improvement of processes and an acceptance of change.  It helps event organisers to be flexible with their plans and ensure their event meets its business objectives even in these unprecedented times of uncertainty.  Many organisations and teams that have switched to agile working methods also claim it improves team collaboration, saves time, and reduces risk.

Let’s take a look at some of the guiding principles behind agile working and how they can be put into practice during the event planning process:

  1. An agile approach is iterative.  It’s unrealistic to expect to get everything right first time, or that one size fits all.  Accepting that a process will be iterative, i.e., repeating the same steps over and over to refine the system, not only allows for changes in the plan but the opportunity to embrace them if they are beneficial to the process.
  2. An agile approach improves transparency.  Agile teams are in constant contact through daily check-ins and frequent, short meetings.  This level of enhanced transparency comes with a lot of added benefits such as improving team spirit and increasing efficiency.  Importantly, it reduces communication errors, as all stakeholders, internal and external, are kept aware of progress at all times.
  3. An agile approach gives you more flex.  As most of the work is done in “chunks” simultaneously instead of sequentially, an agile plan makes it easier to be flexible and more decisive when needed.  Carrying out multiple tasks in tandem decreases planning time, which in turn leaves more time to identify risks, respond to them and manage complex changes.
  4. An agile approach helps you learn.  The focus of agile planning is on getting the work done on time, even if this means it hasn’t been perfected, which provides scope for learning, development, and improvement.  It stresses feedback, self-assessment, and reiteration – the process never ends, which allows for a relentless refining of strategies and procedures.

The most successful event professionals do more than just accept change, they anticipate it.  It’s the reason agility has not only been the single most important quality for event planners over the last two years, it’s also a trait that will be central to the industry’s recovery as it emerges from the pandemic.

Audiences will demand more choice in how they engage from now on, which means that content, conversation, and experiences will have to be provided on their terms.  Future-proofing event strategies with an agile approach will make this process more manageable, more constructive, and ultimately more effective.

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