By Denise A. Jurca, Steven R. Koss and David A.
According to Ray W. Ward, CFE, founding member and current Dean of The IAAM
Graduate Institute, and past CEO of the Oakland Coliseum Stadium and Arena
Complex, “Event Management requires lots of MAMA: Marshaling,
Allocating, Monitoring, and Adjusting resources.”
When an event manager oversees new venue construction,
responds to a DHS ViSat mandate, manages some high-profile Super Bowl-scale
event, or sponsors an unfamiliar technology project, MAMA isn’t enough.
Every event manager learns that her job demands some DADDY, Determined
Appraiser Designated to Disappoint You, (aka,
Project Management), too.
The marriage of MAMA event managers with
DADDY project managers is not always easy. Whether the union becomes
harmonious depends upon both partners understanding some basic facts of
Fact of Life One: You’re
to Do Some Things Only
Newly-wedded event and project managers see different horizons. Much of an
event manager’s world must be managed as an endless-evolving series of
similar experiences. Over time, as each repetition informs future
iterations, the whole operation should mature, as shown in the following
So, while the event manager focuses her energy on creating satisfying
individual events, she keeps one eye on the far distant future: repeating,
defining, managing, and optimizing for the longer-term. (See Maturity
How many new venue constructions will an event manager
oversee in her career? MAYBE one? These blue-moon events cannot be managed
with the same evolutionary eye that guides normal operations.
The project manager brings a narrower view—a sharp
focus upon maintaining a sharp focus—interested in defining and then hitting
a much more distinct target.
You will find your DADDY disinterested in
optimizing. He might find your eternal focus upon domestication equally
distracting. Get over it!
Fact of Life Two: You’re
Going to Experience Your World Differently
What do you see in this picture? Some see an Eskimo peering into a dark
cavern while others see the profile of an Indian Chief’s head. Seeing the
Eskimo might prevent you from shifting your vision to see anything but
an Eskimo. Others see only the Chief.
The project manager understands that every project
starts off as a Bright Idea: peering into a dark cavern, more cloudy
aspiration than guiding light. He shifts everyone’s focus Eskimo-to-Chief
away from whatever each might have innocently mistaken their effort to be,
redirecting attention toward what every-one must see together to succeed.
DADDY says: “If I can’t disappoint you
today, I won’t be able to delight you tomorrow.” This is the most caring and
difficult sort of relationship to create. It’s hard on you both. He
understands that merely satisfying you every step of the way won’t make
anyone successful, so he judiciously injects the necessary spoonfuls of
disappointment that curiously comprise a delightful meal.
He’ll re-open the one can of worms you thought you’d firmly sealed,
then challenge and re-challenge your purpose for initiating the effort until
what you were certain you understood reconfigures itself. He trades in the
control of uncertainty, where your certainty—along with his—are the
most insidious barriers to achieving results. So, while your instincts
expect a certain Marshalling, Allocating, Monitoring,
and Adjusting, he will be poking at that deeper purpose and helping
you discover the real project lurking behind your Bright Idea.
Any event manager might think their DADDY crazy,
but there’s true wisdom in his madness. Like a rocket scientist, he
understands that the rocket must be on course only that last inch of its
flight, and that it can be trending toward proper trajectory—”off
course”—the rest of the way.
If you expect MAMA’s clockwork precision in
DADDY’s methods, you’ll never discover delight together.
Fact of Life Three: The
Rhythm Method Works
MAMA event managers’ and DADDY project managers’ unique
pe¬spectives can bring real strength to any venue, but can also encourage
divisions. Each move to
a different natural rhythm: MAMA’s more cyclical. DADDY’s more
In David A. Schmaltz’ best-selling book The Blind
Men and the Elephant, Mastering Project Work (Berrett-Koehler 2003),
Schmaltz retells the fable of six blind men who decide to “see” an elephant.
Their attempt to see together rapidly degrades into a battle, as the one who
encounters the tusk experiences the
as being “rather like a spear,” then argues with the one who, finding the
trunk, concludes it’s really more like a snake.
These theological wars can only be won by
choosing not to engage in them. Each of the blind men are right, while all
of them are wrong. And each special event—each once-in-a-lifetime
initiative— will challenge MAMA’s sense of propriety with DADDY’s
sense of mission. Well- coordinated, the elephant can reliably appear.
Failing to understand that blue- moon events disrupt normal rhythm can
create the very mother of all unmanageable dilemmas: organizational
Fifteen hours prior to kick-off time for a Monday Night
NFL Football broadcast, the entire Oakland Coliseum Complex suffered a power
outage. This unplanned event utterly disrupted the usual,
managing-toward-optimal preparations for the event, but MAMA had met with
DADDY to consider this contingency beforehand. Quickly
switching to the appropriate rhythm, a generator soon rolled into place and,
working frantically with PG&E, the team brought the power online in time to
make the elephant ... er, event ... appear.
Find the natural rhythm and match your actions to it.
If you can’t find that rhythm, it won’t much matter how you try to control
the initiative. If you can find it, it also won’t matter what you do to try
to control it, but it’ll work. Find that rhythm, match it, and DADDY
it just works!
Happily Ever After?
Yes, IAAM fully acknowledges that event management and project management
are getting hitched! This is no shotgun ceremony, but the result of a
natural horse-and- carriage courtship. Whether our differences work together
like right and left hand or right brain and left foot depends on both
MAMA and DADDY appreciating that our differences ARE our
strengths. We couldn’t have either without each other!
Jurca, MBA, PMP, consults with organizations deploying project
management programs and is active in the Project Management Institute (PMI)
Sacramento, California Chapter. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steven R. Koss, MBA, is an Implementation Consul-tant for Agresso North
America. He serves on the Industry Affairs Council and Press & Publications
Committee of IAAM. He spent 18 years performing various roles at the
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex. Steve.Koss1@att.blackberry.net.
Ms. Jurca and Mr. Koss are providing MAMA and DADDY project/event
management skills to the World-Reach 2008 World Tour and Life Without Limbs,
David A. Schmaltz is
the author of The Blind Men and the Elephant (Berrett-Koehler
2003), the founder of True North project guidance strategies, Inc., and
author of True North’s Mastering Projects Workshop. email@example.com, www.projectcommunity.com