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Lessons I learned after Leading an Event

We at Digicorp agree with this phrase “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy” and we firmly believe that creating the right social environment for employees is just as important as keeping productivity high.  So we plan numerous events round the year.

Recently, we participated in a talent show organised by GESIA, a state level association of IT and Electronics companies.  While participation gave us a great sense of accomplishment and an immense opportunity of learning, it also came in with a lot of challenges.

Let me share the biggest challenges we faced.

To get 6 participants on board

For participation, we required minimum 6 and maximum 12 people to qualify as a team. I announced the event company-wide and 8 of our employees showed their willingness to participate and perform a dance number. I arranged for a choreographer to help them prepare a dance-form. Choreographer arrived, first practice session happened, and 3 participants gave up for different reasons. And on the top of it, one did not perform well. The count was down to 5 including an average performer. Wearing the hat of a People Manager at Digicorp, I tried to convince the other 3 who gave up, but my efforts were in vain. And finally I had to jump in to fulfill the eligibility criteria and that too with the leadership label attached to it, by default.

Striking a balance between work output and practice sessions

At Digicorp , we are expected to give average 40 hours of throughput every week, which comes to 8 hours a day.

Our dance team comprised of 2 Product Designers, 2 Developers, a Social Media Strategist and myself from the HR department.  So we planned our practice sessions in the morning before the office hours to not disturb our daily work schedule. But the practice sessions lasted longer and started affecting our work schedule. Again 2 hours of exhaustive practice plus 8 hours of work output was becoming difficult for each one of us to cope up with. And on the other hand, our Product Managers started raising concerns for the obvious reason.

However, we did not give up, we tried and planned our day effectively, took minimal breaks and somehow managed to take our managers into confidence that work won’t be affected.

Auditions cleared, suggestions received but no choreographer to help

And it was time for auditions, there were 14 teams in all. We were all decked out in our performance costumes, and prepared to give our best. And YES, we did it, we cleared the auditions. I am out of words to describe that feeling of accomplishment and being on cloud9.

Digicorp team in GESIA talent show

Next day, the association had planned for an interactive session with the judge, for receiving tips and suggestions on our performances.  We got our dose, and there were a few improvements to be made. I spoke to our choreographer on the improvements, but she had her own views, unfortunately a lot different from what the judge suggested. Finally she backed out.  Pressure started building up as we were left with just 5 days to make all the necessary improvements in our dance, arrange for the props and new costumes and on the top of it, a new choreographer.

I didn’t want these disappointments to become a reason of our distraction. So I browsed through my contact-list, made a few calls and managed to get another decent choreographer and we moved ahead.

Keeping the tempo up

It wasn’t over but, one of our team member caught high fever and another got an ankle sprain due to overexertion.  And all this happened just 3 days before the Grand Finale. Our situation reminded me of a similar plot in a famous bollywood movie “Jab we met” wherein Geet (Kareena Kapoor) says – babaji ab is raat me aur koi excitement mat dena, boring bana do jee is raat ko bas’. (God, please now make this night boring, no room for any excitement.)

But that urge to win and the desire to reach our full potential did not let our tempo down. In spite of all the odds, we practised and we practised more.

Arranging for the props

As per the suggestions received from the judge, we planned to perform a shadow dance for making a dhamakedar (grand) entry.

We needed a similar structure and that too 3 in number, for 3 girls.

Digicorp's dance prop at GESIA talent show

We desperately needed a carpenter to make such wooden structure. We also got one, but this time, the overall cost of creating this structure came really high and looked unreasonable for our one-time use.  Again I was landed in a tension building phase.

I couldn’t agree more to the saying, “A will finds a way”, one of our office boy approached saying he can build a similar sturdy structure with PVC pipes and that too within our budget. He turned out to be a real messiah for us.

Have a look at the final structure:

Shadow image dance prop

Finale Day

Lots of confusion, team nervous and anxious both to perform with new edits, new props and new costumes. There was fear, anxiety, nervousness to perform live in front of huge audience,  but at the same time we all were determined to put our best foot forward.

Rehearsals were planned on the same day, we were to rehearse at the actual venue in the afternoon with finale planned in the evening. There were a series of instructions to be given to the light man for creating that perfect shadow light and also the lights to be cued in particular order as per the performance, also to that sound manager for special effects.  Managing the props and creating the shadow-structure at the venue too required a lot of coordination.

Thankfully I got help from the upper management and it really helped to move things along. I was then able to let go of my TO DO list and slow down in my present.

My biggest takeaways after the event

  1. I did not focus on pre-planning and organizing. Pre-planning would have helped me to expand my focus and organize and turn it into something worthwhile.
  2. I learnt that no matter how much time you spend on planning your event, something will inevitably go wrong. But Instead of stressing, you should embrace it.
  3. The most important, I realized that one is a very small number for achieving greatness, instead Teamwork makes the dream work.
  4. IF you’re one of THE Participant, try to avoid being the co-ordinator on the day of the event. We need helping hands and minds of other people as well to achieve success.

Alas, we did not win, but ours was the most energetic performance of the night. Check out:

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