The Jello Plan – Rigid Flexibility at the Jamboree

I (Martin) got an email on Friday afternoon from my IST Team Leader.

Except, it wasn’t from the person I was expecting to be my IST Team Leader.

To make matters a bit more confusing, I was being welcomed to the SWAT team, which is not something I was expecting to be a part of.

Nor was there much information about what the SWAT team is, or will be, other than the email addresses of all those also in this team. (Looks like the Americans don’t have an equivalent of GDPR!)

I had been approached, almost as soon as I’d heard I’d be going as IST by my Team Leader from Sweden, Chris, to work with him again in America, so I was somewhat surprised by the email and was concerned there had been some sort of mix up.

At the end of the day, the Jamboree is huge, over 10,000 staff all being administered by volunteers. Having spent all week playing with spreadsheets that had a minimum of 12,000 lines of data, and as a result somewhere in the region of 72,000 individual data points, I can understand mistakes happening somewhere down the line.

A thinner me with my Team Leader Chris and fellow IST Ruud kicking back after a long shift in Sweden. The “Beer” is non-alcoholic (this time…)

I’d been quite happy thinking that the job I was going to do at the Jamboree was going to be what I’d done Sweden. I’ve said elsewhere on this site that I thoroughly enjoyed the Swedish Jamboree. The job I was doing was physically demanding and caused us all to really pull together as a team in order to get through some of the more troubling shifts. To the extent that a lot of us are still pretty good friends.

It’s something I’d like to repeat in America, because the friendships developed really made the Jamboree for me.

With this in mind, I dropped the guy who was supposed to be my Team Leader, Chris, a message and asked if he knew what was going on, and indeed if he had any information on what the SWAT Team is.

After a good chat, and the promise of catching up at the All Adults Weekend next week, it turns out, whatever the reasoning, that I am now not doing what I thought I was going to be doing, or working who I thought I’d be working for. I am indeed assigned to the SWAT Team, but it turns out this is still within the Food Team umbrella.

I suppose that I really have two options how to respond to this. Kick off big style because I’m not doing the job I had been expecting, or accept it, be agile and flexible towards the needs of the Jamboree and move on.

Chris found me some information on the SWAT Team and it sounds fantastic. If it is now what I think it is (which admittedly, as this post kinda suggests, it might not be), I’m not going to be working in a fixed location but responding to food related “emergencies” all around the site, from the IST Canteens through to the Food Markets and Chat’n’Chews. The example scenarios the SWAT Team helped to fix in the document Chris sent me are things that would cripple the Food functionality of the Jamboree without the support of the SWAT team.

Which, actually, sounds a lot more fun than stacking shelves and unloading lorries. It’s also a job that I think I’m ideally suited for, it seems to be a lot of thinking on my feet and problem solving, which is really what I do for a day job, once you strip away the chemistry and explosives. So I’ll let you decide how I feel about this unexpected turn of events.

How I imagine my team and I standing after we save the day.

So, why am I telling you this?

It goes back to the title, which I stole from something a friend said in a comment about the post on unexpected shifts a couple of weeks ago. (Thanks Stuart!) We, as IST have to be Rigidly Flexible.

With an event like the Jamboree we all have to be flexible in our approach. Things will change as the Jamboree develops and we’ll have to change with them. Some of the IST will work a regular scheduled pattern, some might even have a 9-5 type job, whereas others will be on shifts. With the exception of things going wrong, these teams know what they’re doing, how they’ll be doing them and where they’ll be doing them.

Then there are teams of IST who can’t predict what their Jamboree will be like. The likes of the Rescue/EMS guys, Security, Emergency Management, Medical and even my SWAT Team could spend the whole Jamboree sat at base waiting for the bells, or the gong or the radio to call us into action, or, we could be so busy from day one that we are never stood down.

Don’t be too married to what you’re doing and be aware that you could be asked to help somewhere else at any time. In Japan I was security, but I spent an afternoon power-washing portaloos because the job needed done. In Iceland I was on Security but got pulled off the Moot site to support the UK Contingent with the participant departures.

The Jamboree is a Dynamic Environment. Plans will change, and we have to change with them.

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