“Why should I do a site plan now when I know we’re just going to change it anyway?”

“Why bother with wet weather plan? I don’t have time and we’ll figure it out on site”

Over the years I have heard these statements and many like them. I’ve even made them myself multiple times (usually in an exasperated tone!) as I am sure most event professionals have.

It can be frustrating to have to divert energy and time to compiling yet another plan when you’re already stretched thin in getting the event across the line in the final run in. 

The key thing that is easily forgotten is that all the small plans, documents and permit applications are important steps not just for compliance, but they also help to form an overall picture in the planning of the event.

To use a wet weather plan for example, when drafting the plan you are putting considered thought into it which might lead you to realise the hall that you intended to move everyone into is too small or is actually owned by a community group that isn’t willing to provide access.

If you had winged it, solving these types of challenges just might not be possible on site in amongst the many other (potentially crisis level!) demands you are dealing with.

In these situations I often think of an old military refrain “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything” which Dwight Eisenhower used about his experience in World War Two. 

Essentially, it’s only by doing the draft plans, maps, applications and other documents that you develop a detailed understanding of your project. Through the process of writing a plan you’ve already considered and weighed countless possible options, you have a good sense of your resources, timelines and the likely success of an idea. It hones your ability to be able to pivot and come up with a solution in the heat of the moment. 

Without having prepared and written all the plans I doubt you could come up with as effective a solution to a crisis that you might find yourself in, ‘on event’.

So next time you find yourself cursing about having to complete yet another plan, remember It’s the planning process, and the knowledge and preparedness that it fosters, that is critically important. It doesn’t matter if stakeholders don’t examine your risk matrix or if the client doesn’t read your event plan, the fact that you have done the planning means you’re prepared. You might throw the original plan out the window, but you are now capable of dealing with whatever comes your way – although, hopefully you’ll never have to!

By Mark Liddle:  Project Lead for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

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