The Age of Ready, Fire, Aim

Without going into details you likely don’t care about, last weekend there was this small convention. It was a defiant, some might say petulant, response to a larger, established, professionally-run convention. The mini-con was organized, using that term in the broadest sense, by a 19-year-old woman. She hired a production company to run it, but there’s no evidence that they’d ever run this sort of event before. In fact, “they” was basically one person, a 21-year-old who billed himself as the CEO of the company. He’s a DJ, and his resume seems limited to booking club events and parties. They threw this convention together in about a month, from initial idea to people showing up at the hotel. Ready, fire, aim.

The convention crashed and burned in a spectacular way, of course. There’s all sorts of disinformation that too many people showed up and they weren’t prepared for all the success. They claimed that there were 20,000 people, but in the age of cell phones everyone took pictures and shot video and there weren’t nearly that many. The facts, as they can  be verified, are that the venue only holds around 800 people, and they sold 5,000 tickets. This left people lined up in an asphalt parking lot, in Southern California, in late June, waiting to get in. No shade, no water, no food, for about six hours. The police and fire marshals arrived and shut the thing down early in the afternoon of the first day.

The Age of Ready, Fire, Aim

I don’t want to cite the numerous political examples of this sort of behavior that I could give, because I just don’t want to talk about politics in this space. There are other examples that I could give, mostly from businesses and the entertainment field, but meh, they aren’t worth the effort. The pattern is the same. Someone gets an idea and thinks that just declaring it to be so will be enough to make it real. That force of will, a strong desire, or a sincerely held belief will lead to something spontaneously erupting into existence.

Things that are worthwhile require planning, especially large-scale operations with a lot of moving parts. You should start with a clear idea of what you want to get out of it. What’s the end game? What problem are you solving for? Hint: scoring points with your fan base probably isn’t a food enough reason to do it.

Look at the resources it will require to implement. Sometimes, it will be too costly, or won’t give you the return you’re looking for. There may be issues that you need to account for, other impacts to other people or projects. Analysis of the situation, however brief, might show that unintended consequences are likely to arise. In that case, it may not be worth doing.

Think Before You Act

Which is why making grand proclamations and charging ahead without thinking things through completely is always foolish. It might sound like a cool idea. People might want it and even be willing to support it. That doesn’t make it a good idea, or a thing that is necessary.

Granted, sometimes you need to do something. A problem arises and it needs to be addressed immediately. In those cases a temporary fix is often better than nothing. Stopgap measures can buy you some time while you work on better, longer-lasting solutions. That’s not the same as ready-fire-aim, though. Being in a reactive mode and not having the opportunity to think things all the way through isn’t equal or equivalent to not being bothered to think at all.

In business, I need to assess risk. I also know that when things take an unexpected turn they can’t always be salvaged. Sometimes it’s best, and easiest, to admit that you made a mistake, drop the failing project like a hot rock, and move on. It sucks, but it’s better than trying to press on and creating a bigger mess that will take even more resources to clean up.

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