John's Jottings

153. The show-runner - March 2019

Posted on February 28, 2019 at 5:45 AM

A few weeks ago we heard about a nearby club. For many years, the organisation of their show had revolved round one member. He knew how to do everything, be it putting up the banner on the front of the hall, getting leaflets printed, or placing posters in shops for miles around. Everybody else seemed quite happy with this situation. They just accepted that somehow all these tasks, and many more, would be completed on time, and were thankful that they were not involved in any of them.

The organiser rationalised this state of affairs by assuming that members were lazy, or incompetent, or both. Doing it himself was so much simpler than seeking volunteers, explaining what they had to do, and checking that they had completed their allotted task on time and to an acceptable standard. It also meant that he didn’t have to waste time preparing formal proposals to put before a committee and then wasting more time while they discussed, often at great length, decisions that were glaringly obvious.

By contrast, the members rationalised this state of affairs in several ways. Some thought he just wanted to show off his organisational skills. Others thought he didn’t want or need any help. A few decided that there was nothing to running an exhibition. ‘It’s not my job’ was a common attitude.

And then there was the member who was asked to do a simple job. “I won’t help with the exhibition, because you enjoy doing it so much,” he replied. Was this just the way he justified to himself his remaining totally inactive?

Then came the year the show manager was involved in an accident. He was in a coma for some time. Everybody knew that things had to be done, but nobody knew exactly what or how. Where was the banner kept? They didn’t know as they’d not seen it in the storeroom, or thought to ask of its whereabouts. Where was the ladder? Was there a master for the leaflets? Where did the refreshments come from? Who supplied the exhibitors’ meals? What exhibitors were coming? Had the show guide been written? The list of tasks seemed endless. And the more they thought, the more tasks they discovered.

“There’s nothing for it, we’ll just have to cancel the show” was one member’s blunt recommendation.

But then the club secretary started to receive enquiries from exhibitors. They had not received their promised pre-show information packs and could not get any answer from the exhibition organiser.

When the organiser regained consciousness, the club secretary went to see him. He revealed that there was a folder on his bookshelf at home in which everything was set out. There was a list of jobs, details of how each was done, and the date when each should be completed. There was also a list of exhibitors and what each required in terms of transport, expenses, meals, tables and chairs, lunch-time relief, and so on.

When the secretary got hold of the folder he was amazed. He hadn’t realised how methodical the show organiser had been. His only lapse was not letting his wife or the club officers know of the folder’s existence and its location.

“I think we should learn from their experience,” our Chairman said. “I propose that at least two members know how to do each exhibition task.” And we all agreed, though it remains to be seen how many actually volunteer and get involved.

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