The Forest and the Trees

What was I thinking? I was so excited about using the laser cutter for props that when it came time to make these cue cards I didn’t think of the obvious, printing them on white paper and gluing the paper to cardboard rectangles. A conversation with my TD made me realize I had gone off course. I picked out the perfect font that looks like neat handwriting. I gave the files to someone to print on their large format printer. Technical hiccups ensued on his end that I wasn’t aware of and when I got the printed result they weren’t what I expected. With these and a few other props I ran into situations where mistakes happened because I wasn’t there every second watching the workflow as a task left my hands and went into someone else’s. But should I have been there watching every step of the way? No. Project management is a skill that I’m still learning, but micromanaging isn’t the answer.

The potential of a good idea depends on its execution. Successful execution depends on clear instructions and awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of involved parties. I’m learning that some people I work with need highly detailed concrete instructions. For others, the same directions would feel like micromanagement. Theater production doesn’t just require skill, it requires teamwork.

I began this week with clear ideas about how I wanted to make several props. All the ideas would have been great, but I ended up with none of the props finished because of my mistakes in project management. People talk about the importance of delegating tasks. In the short term, sometimes you lose more time than you save because you have to correct mistakes. In the long term, however, it is only by trusting people and taking responsibility for your part in communication that you can learn how to maximize the strengths of your team. I’m so lucky to have approachable directors who can guide me when I’m drifting off course. From their example, I know it’s possible to lead my team with both clarity and compassion. I dedicate this week to becoming a more effective team player.

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