Banners at roadshows

Every six months or so Matt Church and I run a Thought Leaders Roadshow - a 3-hour conversation about how to run a successful thought leaders practice. (It’s coming up next month in Melbourne and Sydney, which reminded me of this story).

A few years ago I was about to jump into the car to drive to said roadshow, when I saw the Thought Leaders banners sitting in the corner of my office. ‘May as well chuck them in the car,’ I thought to myself. And so we had banners at the Melbourne roadshow.

Given we had them in Melbourne, it didn’t seem fair that Sydney didn’t get banners too. But I didn’t want to carry them on the plane (I never check luggage), so I had them couriered up to Sydney.

Matt correctly pointed out that I shouldn’t be lugging around banners and organising couriers … and I had a stroke of genius. Given our printers prepared brochures etc for each roadshow, and couriered them to me, maybe they could hang on to the banners and then send the whole lot to the venue. The printers generously agreed, and now we were all set with a new system, and banners at roadshows.

Except … now roadshows were more stressful for me. The printing really needed to be there, and when it was sent directly to me I knew that I had it (obviously). But now that it was being couriered with the banners I was never sure until I actually arrived.

And for all the additional stress, the banners don’t actually make the roadshow any better.

Each individual decision in isolation made sense, but the overall result didn’t. So we stopped bringing banners to roadshows, and I’m much more relaxed again.

Now, banners at roadshow is a code for us for complexity bloat. Over time it’s easy to accumulate more steps in a process, more features in a product or just more stuff. Without noticing the incremental cost.

It’s worth taking time to step back every now and then to look at what you’re doing, to check that it actually makes sense.