details, details, details

the infamous cue book and cow bell

I was in a meeting yesterday where we worked through the details of the upcoming Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit.  We had 3 hours scheduled to go through 2 day’s worth of content, but by the time it was all said and done, we had been there for 5 hours.

At a certain point, I was thinking to myself “Are you kidding me?  Do we really need to have a meeting that is almost half as long as the event itself?”  Once I got over my impatience, I was able to see the value of the conversations we were having.

Many of us are in similar situations each week (maybe slightly less complicated), where you are having to hammer out every little detail about your services.  How many vocalists?  What will be on the screens during announcements?  How do we get a drama set in the same exact spot as the band?

As a production person, figuring these types of things out is what I am about.  Many of us want every detail laid out for us, and for nothing to change.  I don’t know that this is realistic, so over the years I have concluded a couple of things.

My job is to prepare like crazy.  If I can nail something down, I will.  If we can know how many verses and choruses of a particular song, let’s write it down now.  I am going to do a line check before the band arrives.  I am going to watch the video all the way through to make sure it plays right.  I am listening to the music so I know how to program the lights before the on-stage people get there.

Here’s the kicker for me.  I go into every production with the expectation that I am going to be about 80% prepared.  With some hard work, I think we can know about 80% of all the things that will happen.  I am going to go after every possible detail I can know.   No one else knows what I need, so I will look under every rock for the last scrap of information I can find.  If I can help it, I am going to kill it on 80%.

For those of you good at math, what about the other 20%?  There will be 20% unknown.  In my opinion, this 20% is unavoidable, and necessary.  Seeing something in the room for the first time and realizing it isn’t working.  Adding a song at the end of the service because the Spirit was moving.  A power outage at the beginning of a service.  These things happen and if we are ready for the 80%, we’ll have capacity for the unknown 20%.

Going into this year’s Global Leadership Summit, I know that we are 80% ready.  And that is about all we can expect.  I am proud of my team for how prepared we are for the 80%.  I also know there is 20% hanging out there, that we won’t know about until it is happening.  I am also proud of my team for how we will respond to the 20%.

What  can you be prepared for and what do you need to be OK not knowing?  Do you need every detail?