Project Management and the Art of Putting Out FYRES
By Kyle Weber
“We need you to take one for the team.”
That’s when I paused the documentary to react. I had to comment. As a notorious movie-pauser, I’d fought the urge for the last forty minutes, but we all have our breaking points.
If you’ve seen Netflix’s FYRE documentary, you know what I’m talking about. It’s the part where the impending car crash intersects with an oncoming train hauling nitroglycerin. The conductor is passed out and there’s a full moon. Basically, it’s when a crazy story becomes a batshit crazy story.
“How did they let it get to that point?”
“How are they not shutting it down?”
These are questions you ask yourself throughout the film. Naturally, you’ll answer with versions of, “If that was me, I would have done this” or “They should do that“. In marketing, we deal with deadlines, timelines, vendors, and other ingredients that can go awry. What sets us all apart from the FYRE team is how we handle them.
Step 1: Confirm your situation
Working towards a deadline can be a high-pressure situation. You’re juggling different deliverables with different timelines and team members. One issue can block another and create a bottleneck for someone else. When it looks like things have gone off track, you need to keep calm and assess your situation. Ask yourself, are you really off track or can you course-correct? Are things really going south or is the pressure getting to you?
It’s important to approach issues with a level head to be sure you see them for what they are, not what they could become in a worst-case scenario. Notice I said “level head”— while it’s important to have some faith in your ability to adjust and bounce back, you need to be realistic. You can’t build a quality website from scratch in two weeks and you can’t hold a music festival on an island without plumbing. Optimism won’t change that. Take an objective look at your situation before you take action.
If you’re struggling to get an unbiased, high-level view, pull in one of your team members for an outsider perspective. Someone’s likely been in a similar situation and can draw on their own experiences to give insight and advice.
Step 2: Find out how and why this is happening
Okay, so you made the call that this is, in fact, a problem. Before you go solving anything, it’s important to understand how and why it’s happening. It may seem irrelevant — who cares why we need to find a new island, it doesn’t change the fact that we need a new frickin’ island!! — but without knowing the cause of the problem, you risk it reoccurring. The main issue with FYRE was Billy’s inability to listen to his team. Had this been addressed immediately, the rich kids may have gotten the luxury villas their parents paid for.
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