LITTLE FALLS, NJ -- Frank Supovitz, who has been at the helm of the most high-profile events in sports and entertainment over the past 30 years, shares his years of wisdom as featured in his new book, What to Do When Things Go Wrong, a publication that is more timely than ever.
Supovitz, who has managed events such as the Indy 500, the Super Bowl and the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia, is the CEO of Fast Traffic Events & Entertainment. He has been a sought-after speaker, where he often talks about what happened when the events he produced did not go as planned.
“Frankly, not everything you’re going to do is going to be perfect,” Supovitz said. “But, you learn, and you learn more from things that go wrong than things that go right.”
Supovitz said that merely planning for a problem can prove to be inadequate. “Planning is not the very first thing you do. The first thing you do is imagine: imagine all the things that can go wrong,” Supovitz said. “If you’re planning, you’re just figuring out how to get from Point A to Point Z. When you imagine, you may change what that plan is.”
In 2013, the NFL Championship was being played between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers at the Superdome in New Orleans, Lousiiana, when the stadium experienced a blackout. "We hadn't practiced for a power failure scenario, but responding to that problem was no different to responding to other surprises we had rehearsed for," Supovitz said. Along with communication to the live television audience, properly updating event attendees were a priority concern to make sure that there wasn't a panicked rush for the exits in the stadium.
"The priority was to determine and deliver the proper message for the audience, and if our event team hadn't rehearsed for that kind of communication, we would not have been prepared," he added. Due to their preparation, Supovitz's team was able to act quickly when the blackout occurred because they had considered the potential necessity to communicate to the event audience in the case of an emergency several days prior to the big game.
Imagining problems also allows you to develop a template for how you will respond. “Although problems don’t have a pattern, the way you respond to them do,” Supovitz said.
And when things do go wrong--as they inevitably will at some point, Supovitz said--assigning blame is not constructive. “In the heat of the moment, blame is not important. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was--it’s your problem,” said Supovitz. “You may have had nothing to do with making it go wrong, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is solving the problem.”
Editors Note: 2013 NFL Championship photos courtesy of Austin Kirk: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aukirk/