The packing dilemma

Here I am, waiting for my flight to Denver, CO, to attend a conference on a topic I am highly unfamiliar with: hence my going, in the quest of understanding more about the industry’s regulations my new client is tied to. Yes, this is a quest: to get the big picture, details of some smaller components of the project do matter, especially when it falls under the “hazardous material” category.

I am only going for 4 days, which makes things easier on the preparation. Of course, the idea of options, and not just because I am a woman, crossed my mind. Summer is not over yet in Colorado, by far. Out of the way of Irene, the tropical storm that hit the East Coast this past weekend, the local weather bubble is a parameter in my choice of what to bring, even if I know I will mostly be sitting in an air-conditioned room all day. And yes, Denver happens to offer all the amenities one can think of. So, why the “just in case”? Will that pass at the airport security check?

In logistics, it comes down to the same, although the security check often revolves around a simple question: is there enough money/is it in the budget? Sometimes, it goes to a worry about space (which mirrors the luggage limits): will it fit, and can I hold onto it (whatever “it” is) during the completion of the project? Pretty basic, with the intention of being efficient (and effective too, we might as well!).

Defining what my safety stock is pertains to how I would respond in case of emergency: no matter how many practice drills I have been through, what do I really need to keep everything/everybody safe, secure and reliable? What do I know about the environment I am going to? How will I comply to it, so there is no damage (or footprint, for instance) once I am gone? Is there a code I shall refer to so the event runs as smoothly as possible? What is the local infrastructure like, and can I alter some of it, and humbly contribute to a better future for the community at the same time?

The risk assessment exercise goes a long way with having documented the measures to minimise contingencies for all the projects I have worked on. Being cautious is usually rewarding as long as it is within reasons and budget (although being reasonable, in some cases, is antonymic of the project and grows into an interesting debate the stakeholders and I had to cut short to move on).

Guidelines on what to pack are useful, undeniably. Bill of materials, rate cards and other professional post-it-like reminders can help too. Scouting and researching on the destination serve as good prospects. Showing some creativity and improvising some make-shift solutions while on site prove to be key to the success of a project. MacGyver knew that: he liked to make clever little things out of odd bits. Duct tape or not.