Are You Prepared?

In the production world, it’s not too far-fetched to expect the other teams we interact with to come to the table prepared for the task at hand. These expectations aren’t necessarily wrong, but sometimes we hold our own preparedness in such high esteem that it becomes a badge of honor.

“You mean you weren’t prepared for every eventuality, Mr. Music Director? Wow, sure glad MY team was. Move over and we’ll rebuild your Pro Tools show file. Obviously you can’t do it.”

Sound familiar?

Well, perhaps you haven’t actually SAID this but have you ever thought it? I certainly have. But how often have we given OUR systems and processes this same scrutiny? If I’m going to expect the other guys to ALWAYS have their crap together, it’s only fair I should have to use the same set of rules, right?

Do you have a process that works REGARDLESS of the personnel involved?

If a process or system crashes and burns when a personality within your team changes, you DON’T have a reliable process. Your process should work regardless of who is involved or who is leading.

For example, we probably do more audio line checks in a week of events than most places do in a month. I instituted this simple process many years ago like this:

If an audio line and/or device is power cycled, unplugged, or disconnected, then it should be treated as if it’s a dead line UNTIL a line check can be done to verify continuity and connectivity.

So if you disconnect a sub-snake from the drum riser in order to move something else, those drum inputs are considered dead and suspect until you can line check them all. Annoying right? Perhaps. But when was the last time we had a dead input during an event? It’s been so long, I can’t even remember it happening. That’s a reliable system.

If that system didn’t function properly every time I was off property or while out traveling then it wouldn’t be reliable, correct? The trick is training every single person that will EVER work in your sphere this is just simply what we do with our audio lines every single time the above happens.

I’m not going to say it’s 100% flawless—our teams are human after all—but the point is the SYSTEM works no matter who is running the event or who is at the helm. A good system transcends the individual personalities associated with your team.

Think ahead and prepare for the unavoidable failure.

Preparing for failure doesn’t mean you’re a negative person. Preparing for failure with the right motive actually means you are ready for the inevitable! Almost everything we work with involves some kind of electronics. Failure WILL happen somewhere, why not prepare in advance?

Years ago, our equipment failures were so frequent a system had to be put in motion on what to do when/if something died during an event. If everyone just stood around waiting for me to always make the call, it might get us past the crisis, but it simply wouldn’t be scalable for growth. Not to mention that kind of terrible system meant I would ALWAYS have to be present.

Instead, we built a system to ensure every single event, no matter how big or small, had a team leader equipped to make the right call when the inevitable happened. Be prepared. What CAN go wrong WILL go wrong.

Are you so familiar with your event that it’s committed to memory?

Seriously, I haven’t stayed glued to runsheet info during an event in many years. I’m certainly not a golden god, just someone who’s found my reaction time to be faster once I’ve internalized information versus reading it.

Think of it this way: Wouldn’t your events, teams, and pastor be better served if you’re able to react and pivot on the fly, operating out of internalized heart and head knowledge? And you thought you wouldn’t have to memorize anything once your school days were behind you? Think again professor.

Don’t overlook the details.

Who cares about details, right? The only thing separating a great event from a good one is details. I learned a long time ago the value of details as they were literally the only thing I could figure out how to do better than the next guy. When you’re self-employed and your reputation is on the line at every gig, finding anything to separate you from the fray is a necessity. Boom, the power of details for me was born.

Look at it like this: what’s just one detail here or there? Consider how big your problems become when you add up all those seemingly minor details and realize you’ve got an almost insurmountable pile. Welcome to your world of suck.

Being prepared means not missing the details.

For our teams, there is absolutely no room for being unprepared. Being prepared for the task at hand is second only to coming to work with clothes on.

“Hey team, don’t arrive naked tomorrow and, oh yeah, don’t arrive unprepared.”

I wonder if this thought of preparedness may be something that can ease some tensions as we once again move into one of the busiest seasons of the year. Think of the win it could be if we were all more prepared on a personal level, our teams were more prepared, and our systems were more prepared for whatever gets thrown at us.

When it comes to how we serve our church and one another, being as prepared as possible just makes sense.

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Andrew Stone
Production Manager
Andrew Stone is the Production Manager and Audio Director at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. His 27 years of touring experience have brought a unique, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to his approach towards production in the church. He has been a key part of changing the culture behind COTM's live events and he loves sharing his knowledge with other churches. He's been married for 20 years, rarely wears anything but black, and genuinely loves to rock. You can find him on Twitter (@stone_rocks), Instagram (stone.rocks), and is a blog contributor on Seeds, COTM's free resource site.
@stone_rocks