What do Broadway and associations have in common? To understand this question, we have to head back to about a month into the COVID-19 pandemic. At that point, we still had a glimmer of hope that we just needed another couple of weeks and we would be able to resume our regular lives. Board members and volunteers had one question – when will we get back together? They needed a marker to navigate the road ahead.

After some pondering about the question, and how to give an honest answer that didn’t raise expectations necessarily, we settled in on the answer that we would use for the next year – let’s talk when Broadway announces its reopening.

It was easy the give that answer to the regular questions we would get asked. It was a truthful answer, yet an abstract answer as well. What the answer essentially did was buy us some time. Time to study and figure out what a live event might look like during a pandemic. Not to mention the time to worry about just about anything else other than live meetings because there were certainly more than enough fires to worry about. The return to live meetings was an abstract concept and there was a heck of a lot of other priorities to focus on instead.

So here we are, with Broadway announcing its intent to reopen in September. Add to that the fact that all around us, mask mandates are coming down and attendance limits at everything from restaurants to Citizens Bank Park where the Philadelphia Phillies play is going away.

So with Broadway’s return announced, I can’t turn anymore to my stock answer. With that in mind here’s what I’m thinking about these days with the return to live meetings.

  • Ramping (and amping) up the conversation. The return to live has a myriad of interrelated topics to which no group will be perfectly on the same page. If this isn’t already a recurring topic on your board agenda, it’s time to put it on there in permanent ink, at least for the foreseeable future.
  • Know where you are. One of the ways to get the level of discussion you want from your board is to model the behavior yourself.  The more you clearly articulate how you are thinking about re-entry, the better your Board will do the same. The better the conversation, the better the outcome.
  • How can I stay off the bleeding edge? There are going to be a lot of people (and groups) rushing to get back in person. Those on the leading edge will be facing a lot of questions that have never been answered in the past – they are the guinea pigs in every sense of the word. I’m not sure that being the first to move has that great a benefit in all this, so we’re talking with groups about how to ease into this new reality…slow and steady wins this race.
  • What are our guiding principles?  My undergraduate degree is in political science and my interest has always been the campaign side of politics (vs. governing). One of the first rules of any campaign is to write the plan before you get in the heart of the content…and to have a set of guiding principles that you can lean back on in the heat of the moment. We have those for each of our clients as well as our company too. Having an agreed-upon framework for decision-making can really help out.

For over a year, “wait until Broadway” was a security blanket that we could fall back on. Now, it’s a catalyst to making sure each of our client’s houses are in order to both make some initial decisions about what’s next, but also have a framework for navigating the unexpected twists and turns that are sure to come up over the coming weeks and months.