Weathering Wet Weather at O-Week: A Masterclass in Organisational Agility

18 FEB 2020

Let’s get real, ‘organisational agility’ is a major buzz phrase that’s thrown around a lot. But seeing it in action is an entirely different thing.  

Planning for any event is never easy – you’ve got all the moving parts, all the people, and just all the things that need doing. And UNSW O-Week is one of the largest calendar events of the year, with months of planning building up to a full week of campus orientation activities, sponsor stalls, and major night events. 

But as a forecast for heavy rain and thunderstorms rolled in over the weekend before O-Week, both a literal and metaphorical cloud hung over us. What could we do to make sure that every one of the 20,000 students and staff expected on Monday would still have the best O-Week to date?

With so much in the balance, these were the top 4 things that the Roundhouse team used to help keep the O-Week show running: 

1. Simple and Strategic Planning

Our team knows that at the core of organisational agility is anticipating and preparing for changes; changes to your organisation, your plans, your team. And with our gorgeous new skylight and expanded space, the Roundhouse was the perfect indoor alternative for O-Week. With the new air conditioned main room, we could provide a safe haven from heavy rain while also letting in the natural light. Knowing this in advance, the team was able to adapt event schedules and room usage to clear the way for a seamless O-Week.

2. Flexible space management

When planning your event, you’ve obviously planned around your ideal location. But backup plans often mean adapting spaces that aren’t always optimised for the event. When the wet weather plan was called on the Monday morning, our team worked closely with the O-Week organisational team to quickly accommodate an entire campus worth of over 250 student clubs societies, 40 sponsor stalls, 10 Arc @ UNSW settings, and 6 major activations, inside the Roundhouse. 

3. Team Mobility

It’s one thing to make plans. It’s an entirely other thing to put them in action. Building on an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach, the Roundhouse team responded quickly to the rapidly changing conditions of O-Week with everyone pitching in to move (heavy!) trestle tables, set up new stations, and coordinating thousands of university students, staff, and sponsors inside the building. 

4. Organisational transparency and feedback

Who understands events better than the people on the ground running the events? Here at the Roundhouse, we know that our teams on the ground are the driving forces behind the success of an event. The success of O-Week was built on clear and open communication between our teams on the ground and the executive team – and more importantly, listening to and acting on the advice of the on-ground team to optimise the outcomes for the event. 

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