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  • Eileen McDargh

Lessons From A Disruption



Phone with Don't Stop on the Case


By all counts, the 50-minute virtual keynote to some 1,000 people around the globe was ready to go. We had practiced from my California office. Sure, I’d need to go online from Fairbanks, Alaska—just south of the Arctic Circle—but the lodge has assured me I could get good Internet access. Yes, I’d need to log on at 3:30 am but I can make myself rise to the occasion. I’d bring an ethernet adaptor to be sure.


Best laid plans. Instead of an ethernet adaptor I needed a 3-foot ethernet cord! Instead, I had to depend on wireless. Kristen from Ecolab was the model of calm and self-assurance. At 3:30 am we were ready to go: my video and audio were finally visible on Microsoft Teams. She started greeting people logging in from China, Montreal, Minnesota, and more.

However, she no sooner said my name then everything went black. Her image froze on my screen. I continued to talk until my cell phone rang some 8 minutes later.

“Eileen, we can’t see or hear you.”


She remained calm while walking me through different procedures to bring us back. I ended up totally turning off the laptop, logging back on to the lodge’s Internet. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally had a connection, but it would not allow me to select my video. I ended up doing a 30-minute podcast—shortened due to the technical difficulties.

What I later discovered was a perfect example of a team responding to disruption. To keep the participants engaged, her manager, Paul, jumped on another computer and asked questions in the chat, did a poll and whatever else to keep global folks from leaving. He never said, “not my job.” No one pointed fingers for blame. Instead, this team pulled together for the sake of the audience.


The short podcast, it turned out, was well received and I later (from California) re-did a video version for Kristen to share far and wide.


The moral of the story: stuff happens despite all practice and precautions. Kristen kept her composure and calm while I–frankly—became anxious with a system I did not know. Paul never hesitated to take over so Kristen could problem-solve. And in the end—we made it work.


The resilience skills of adaptability and agility came in to play. And laughability?? Well, I told the listeners I was a six-foot blonde!


Read and reap.

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