• Ian Crocombe

Don't settle for 'patch up & carry on'

What do all the following have in common?

• Dave Grohl - Foo Fighters

• The Edge - U2

• Tre Cool - Green Day

• Bryan Adams

• Matthew Bellamy - Muse

Well, the answer is they’ve all taken a serious tumble off the stage they were performing on.

Whenever that happens, I always think first, ’ouch that must have hurt’, second, ‘here we go again’ and third how impressive it is that the ‘show must go on’ mentality is alive and well.

The thing is performers keep falling off stages and as a repeatable problem you’ve got to wonder what is being done about it.

You could expect people to embrace education ‘don’t fall of the stage ‘cos it will damn well hurt’, you could expect people to try training as part of the pre-show rehearsals ‘don’t go so close to the bloody edge’, you could redesign stages to improve visibility under show lighting conditions, build better barriers near the edge or at least put some crash mats near the drop zone.

The thing about stage falls and operations failures is that we tend to patch ‘em up, dust ‘em off and then go back to what we were doing in the first place. We might occasionally trot out the ‘we will learn lessons to make sure this never happens again’ but there are so many high profile, repeat ‘failure events’ that it’s patently clear the one thing we don't do (by and large because there are some exceptions) is learn and then do something about it.

Why is that?

Well, one thing is for sure. The investigation of root causes, the analysis of the improvement / prevention options and the deployment of those options isn't at the glamorous, rock ’n’ roll end of the operations improvement spectrum.

Well, let’s have a think about that. In our organisations the impact of repeated failures on customers and colleagues is debilitating, it’s a chronic condition that affects costs, income and service over time and it wears people out. It encourages expectation of failure, creates a negative vibe and encourages operations failure excuses. It’s not a great gig.

So should we concentrate more on making the next show better than the last one, removing the technical problems with the sound and lighting, making sure everyone knows the running order and keeping a few spare pairs of drumsticks? Of course we should.

Our people want to generate audience interest - even excitement and nobody, but nobody wants to publicly fall off the service / operations stage and especially fall off stage twice or more.

So why not raise the profile of understanding what went wrong and why. Why not show we value figuring out what needs to happen to prevent a recurrence and really let loose the brains within an organisation to really implement and embed a true solution not a sound bite. We can’t all be lead singers, but the band won’t be great without great guitarists, drummers, roadies, electricians and drivers as well as a lead singer.

People in the middle of operations or performance failures often know what needs sorting out, people who interact with processes every day understand the power of acknowledging a problem, proving it has been taken seriously and showing off the specific things that will prevent a recurrence.

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