It may come as a surprise to some that I spent most of Friday morning watching the Royal Wedding coverage on BBC. I didn’t watch it all, but had the TV on from about 0730 and finally turned my back on it after the fly past (which, prior to the day, was the only thing that I was interested in).
So what got my attention? Not the hats nor the dresses, nor, although I do love it, the pageantry. No, it was the organisation.
I grew up organised, even if I didn’t realise it for until well into adulthood, but my father was a gardener by profession and his bible was the Raeder’s Digest Gardener’s Year. He would pore over this time a couple of times a week, making his plans for the next 3-4 weeks and comparing where he was against his plan. He was never formally taught project management, but learned it along the way.
In similar vein my mother was a professional cook, and whereas Dad would be planning his projects in weeks and months, Mum would be planning in hours as she would juggle all the elements to land each course of the meal just when it needed to be served, regardless of whether it was a light meal for one or a banquet for a hundred. For both it was all about being organised and organising others.
Maybe then it was natural that I would end up working in areas where organisation and planning were crucial. From teenage work on the farm to my early days in retail and wholesale logistics through running M&E tenders to computer programming and IT project, corporate strategic planning, logistics management running big sheds and on to FM the one key thing that kept me climbing the ladder was that I got things done, and that came, directly, from organisation and planning. Perhaps it was truly bred into me.
Coming back to the Royal Wedding I was sat with the Berkshire Belle enjoying a mug of tea and watching the crowds enjoying themselves when the timetable for the event came up (the Wonder of Wokingham herself is an ace planner; she used to manage distributions for the largest retail network in Europe). One of the experts on TV was asked about the time that the Royal couple would emerge onto the balcony, and said that it would be between 1315 and 1325 as they wouldn’t want to miss the fly past at 1330.
Now this was before 9 and we got to speculating on the organisation that went into an event like this and what it would take to pull it off over the course of the day, and that was what really got me riveted. Later in the programme Sir Malcolm Ross gave some insight into how they did things and I have enormous professional respect for the likes of him and those who put these events together.
As an FM I have been involved in all sorts of special events, including conferences and Royal and VIP visits and know what those take, so the sheer scale of something like Friday’s wedding fills me with awe, but also with pride. In the UK we know how to do these things and to pull them off with such élan.
We have the advantage of Royalty, tradition and venues, but that would be so easy to waste. The eyes of the world were on the UK last week and they were treated to a fantastic spectacle of pageantry that ran like clockwork. To those who made it happen, I salute you.