The case identifies the process involved in the planning of a public event. In this case, the Sloan Women in Management club presidents are faced in a dilemma on whether to proceed with a planned annual conference or cancel the conference due to unpredictable weather forecast on the day of the conference which could pose a significant problem to the participants. The case is a dilemma because the event is close and cancellation of the event could disappoint the members who had already made travel plans to attend. On the other hand, the weather can inconvenience a majority from attendance which will lead to poor attendance. Therefore, rescheduling the meeting could positively impact attendance and at the same time could disappoint those who have already planned to attend.
The primary cause of the dilemma and the need to cancel or reschedule the annual conference was due to the unpredictable weather which posed a risk to the number of the people who will attend the conference and also posed a risk on the safety of the attendees if the conference was to continue. The further complication was the cost that SWIM had already incurred in planning for the meeting. Previously, SWIM had held successful conference meetings and the cancellation of the 2013 annual conference will affect the reputation of the organization. Despite the weather reports and anxiety cancelling the conference would have a negative impact on the organization future conferences attendance numbers, ability to secure sponsorship as well as the conference speakers. In addition, the organization had to live up to its theme which was based on taking risks.
Key Decision Criteria
The decision on whether to cancel the or continue with the conference should be based on the decision effect on the reputation of SWIM, the cost that was to be incurred in case the meeting was cancelled and also the need to assure the safety of the attending people who were mostly students and professionals.
The main alternatives was to continue the conference meeting, cancel the conference altogether or conduct a half day conference. Since it was the last minute, it was too late to cancel the conference which could have had a negative implication on SWIM reputation and the ability to hold future successful conferences. Further, the organization had spent a lot of time and resources planning to hold the conference in which all the presidents and directors had invested significant amount of time to ensure that the conference was a success which could have determined their legacy as SWIM leaders since it was their last year in school. Holding a half day conference was feasible because it could have ensured the conference happen which could save the organization embarrassment. On the other hand, both the decisions are insensitive to the safety of the attendees as well as their contributed capital in terms of ticket cost and logistics to attend the conference.
The most recommended alternative was to hold a half day conference which was to ensure that SWIM protects its reputation and was mindful about the safety of the attending people. An half day conference will ensure that the conference continues since the services such as catering which had already been paid for could not be cancelled for a later date due to the perishable nature of the catering products prepared for the conference. Further, making sure that SWIM holds an half day conference shows that the organization lives up to the theme of the conference. However, SWIM will have to reschedule the speakers by reducing the time allocated to each speaker.
Action and Implementation Plan
SWIM presidents should communicate the change in the time schedule of the meeting to the attending people as well as the speakers to ensure that they are prepared for a half day conference. The speakers should be notified in time to ensure that they restructure their speech content to reflect the limited time that will be given to them. Communicating the conference change to the attending parties will increase the number of the people who will attend and ensure that the organization create more space for the extra tickets sold of those in the wait list. It is also important to notify the school of the meeting change and also look for an alternative potential venue in case the school closes overnight due to the predicted snow storm. However, the history of the school shows that the school had only been closed twice before in its existence and not because of weather related factors which indicates a low possibility of the school closure. Further, SWIM should bring in medical stuff and put the authorities on alert in case any rescue activities needed to be planned as a contingency to ensure the safety of the people attending the meeting.
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