Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Panic First, Ask Questions Later

In my experience, there are two types of people on a tech team, probably any team. Those you want standing next to you when the building starts on fire, and those you hope have that day off.

After reading Change Your Brain Change Your Life I believe it’s just the way people are wired. It’s fascinating to watch though, especially if it’s not an actual emergency where someone’s life may be in danger.

Let’s say, we’re talking about putting on a church service. Is this important? You bet. Is someone going to die if we mess something up during the service? Unlikely. For example: the band is about to finish the last song and transition into a bumper video before the pastor comes out to deliver a message. The person at the Media computer says there is a big question mark where the video is supposed to be. There is about half a minute left to find the video and start playing it, or come up with a plan B.

Image by Ryo Chijiiwa

There is a type of person that when subjected to this scenario is going to freak out. Blood pressure will skyrocket, face will turn red, aimless running, perhaps some screaming. Maybe you pictured someone you know. Or perhaps you are that person. That's ok. Even better if you know it.  

The second type of person will calmly search for the video while simultaneously communicating to the team to get the pastor ready to go on early. You can almost see the internal clock ticking down while they are determining at what point they bail on the search and load the Pastor. This happens to be an actual event and there were less than 10 seconds left when the video was found, relinked and ready to play. The congregation never knew there was a problem. Despite the chaos created by several freak-out prone people in the booth at the time .

I raise this observation because I think it’s important to know how your key people are going to react in a stressful situation before the situation becomes stressful so you can plan for it. If you have a talented person in your FOH booth that you know is going to cave when the ship bumps into an iceberg, it doesn’t mean they can’t serve in the booth. It means you might want to have a buddy in that booth that can handle the pressure. Also, you probably don't want to leave two freak-out prone people alone in the booth at the same time. Although entertaining, that may be more of a disruption than it’s worth.

I have come up with a handy little checklist to help determine if a person is prone to panic.

Is swearing louder than 92 dB this person's first response to stressful situations?

Does this person lose all ability to communicate when something goes wrong?

Under stress, is it normal for vomiting or loss of other bodily fluids to take place?

If you answered yes to any of these, that's what we call a "red flag".

Luckily, I have been very fortunate (actually, as a Christian I think I'm required to say "blessed") to work with people who I'd want next to me if the building literally started on fire. I think it's good to have an educated guess on how all your key people would react if that actually happened. You might want to take it into consideration when you build and schedule your teams too.

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