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A Recent Mistake in Event Management

The typhoon in October was big, no question.  Many people died and many others were missing.  There is a good reason the news was as vocal as it was about how dangerous the storm might be and to be ready.


This left many school owners in a difficult situation.  For us, we have a set system for when to cancel classes, so that is no longer a point of stress for us.  It simply happens if the conditions for cancellation are met.  Sunday, October 13 was the Halloween event for three of our five event regions and we didn’t have a system for choosing if and/or when to cancel such an event.


We had a weekly meeting the Friday before and discussed what to do.  The media warnings about the typhoon were strong, but they were Tokyo-centric.  There were also indications that things might clear up by Sunday afternoon, when the events would be held.  If we waited until Sunday morning to make a decision, though, it would create uncertainty for our staff, parents, and the shops coordinating with the event.


In the end, we decided on Friday to cancel the events—and that was a mistake.


It was a mistake not just because the weather on Sunday ended up being dream weather for trick-or-treating.  It was a mistake because we lost focus on what was most important—the experience of our students.


The 2011 earthquake happened on a Friday afternoon.  We cancelled classes Friday and Saturday due to lack of power, but were operating again on Tuesday—one of the few schools in the area to do so—even through the fuel shortages.  Many parents thanked us for thinking of the students and getting up and running before other schools.  Our focus was on the students.  Saturday, October 12, the day before the Halloween events, several parents expressed appreciation that even though many of the local jukus had decided to close, we didn’t because we waited to see if the actual conditions on the day merited closing.  Our focus, again, was on the students.


With the Halloween events, however, we succumbed to pressure and worry, rather than having a system in place that would allow us to make a decision based on the actual timely conditions on the ground.  Thus, our students missed out on a wonderful experience on a perfect-weather day.  We failed our students by not putting them first.  We’ll work to keep it from happening again.

Ryan Hagglund
Ryan Hagglund

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2 Responses to A Recent Mistake in Event Management

  1. We also usually wait until the last minute to make decisions like this about events (and classes) for the same reasons you do. Most parents reference the elementary schools, who cancel for typhoons 2-3 days in advance. But most of the typhoons bypass our area and the weather is fine, so it ends up being a waste and a pain for parents.

    An interesting follow-up to this might be your ideas about a system to make last-minute decisions. We would like to use social media, but not enough students are on it. So for now it’s phone calls to class leaders (parents) or individuals for events. We are also considering Line as an option for a less effortful and faster way to contact people.

  2. Lawrence Hong made a great presentation on using Line, with some help from Jared Wangen, at the JALT School Owners’ SIG conference this past Sunday. Definitely got me thinking about creating something similar for our school. Would really help to have something that wouldn’t take so much admin time.

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