Blogger: Barry Siskind
Author of Powerful Exhibit Marketing

Murphy’s famous law states, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Captain Edwin Murphy, an American engineer, was the law’s author, but with his insight he could have just as easily been an exhibition organizer.

Exhibition organizers know that last minute problems are part of our business and while they try to deal with them as expeditiously as possible, they steel themselves in constant readiness, knowing that Murphy’s Law will prove itself true over and over again.

Exhibition organizers know that lurking in the corners of each facility is a demon looking for opportunities to cause havoc.

Problems were the topic of a recent TED Talk with, economist journalist and broadcaster, Tim Harford. The title of his presentation was called, “Messy Problems can Inspire Creativity.”

Listening to Harford supported my belief that good exhibition organizers are prepared for the unexpected and react quickly knowing that they are in a race against the clock. Experienced exhibition organizers can instantly deconstruct the problem and based on past experience can identify the cause, adjust, test and then if necessary re-adjust and test again. This learned ability is what differentiates the good exhibition organizer from the neophyte.

But great exhibition organizers do something different.

One technique, that Harford addressed, was that messy problems force effective people to slow down. This has two results. It motivates them to find creative solutions and triggers a stronger memory that can help create new policies and procedures that will minimize the affects of similar problems in the future.

In addition great exhibition organizers have learned to reframe the multitude of distractions. Harford said, “Learning to cope with distractions helps us think out of the box because (for those who get used to distractions,) the box is filled with holes.” Good organizers know that constant distractions on the show floor can inhibit the flow of work and result in being a reluctance to instantly address the problem. Great organizers know that just because they don’t like to be distracted does not mean that it can’t be helpful. When these people face distractions head on, they tend to be better at finding creative solutions that might have been overlooked.

Another attribute of great exhibition organizers is that they can be great teachers. These people who have harnessed time and distractions know the value of what they can do. They know that one of the best ways to teach junior staff is to help them experience the realities of an exhibition. One technique they use is when everything is going smoothly they interject something messy into the equation and leave it to their student to find their own solutions. It an uncomfortable teaching method and causes the junior angst and uncertainty. But in a controlled situation what they learn often has a long lasting affect.

This TED Talk teaches us that great exhibition organizers have a healthy attitude towards last minute problems, take the time to uncover the root cause, look at distractions as opportunities and teach others the lessons they have learned.

Good or great…it’s up to you to decide on how you want to be perceived.