What You Can Learn from the Chicago Bulls

By Tom Baer

In case you’re not a sports fan, I’ll fill you in on the sad story of this year’s Chicago Bulls.  After playing well for the entire regular season, led by last year’s MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls ended up with the best record in the league, earning them home court advantage throughout the playoffs.  As the number one seed, their first playoff opponent was the Philadelphia 76ers, who were seeded eighth  in the Eastern Conference, and most NBA experts picked the Bulls to sweep the seven game series.

But with a little over a minute left in the very first game, with the Bulls leading by 12 points, Rose jumped awkwardly into the air to make a pass, came down even more awkwardly, and was lost to the team for the rest of the playoffs (and well beyond, I might add) with a torn ligament in his knee.

Without their MVP, even though many experts felt the Bulls would still win the series, they went on to lose, four games to two.  OK, that’s sports – everyone, even die-hard Chicago fans are ready to move on.

But before you do you should think about what this might tell you about your business.  Whether you’re part of a corporation, an association, a DMO, an agency, or any business, you could lose your Derrick Rose at any moment.  To injury, an accident, an illness, or maybe your company’s MVP gets an offer he or she just can’t refuse.  Are you prepared to replace them, or will your organization’s performance drop significantly as the Bulls’ did?  And disaster can strike in many ways other than losing a key player.  Anything from a legal issue, to losing a key alliance partner or client, to a terrorist attack, to the weather can have a tremendous effect on your business.  Yet most companies don’t even think about these things.  They assume it will never happen to them, or if it does, they will deal with it then.

What should you do?  Simple, plan ahead.  Think about what things can go wrong in your business.  Really wrong.  Then determine what you would need to do if the worst happened.  Write a plan and keep it on file.  You may even need to go as far as purchasing some equipment or arranging contingencies with outside resources.

Most companies plan for future positives – what additional services they will provide, what employees they will add, how they can get more space and incorporate new technologies.  Only the smart ones put together disaster plans.  Maybe because they’re not fun to do.  But they are necessary.  Just ask the Bulls

Convention Tension

McCormick Place

Chicago's McCormick Place

by John Folks

When it comes to conventions, Chicago has always been “My Kinda Town.”  Just look at the numbers… the convention industry generates $8 billion in annual spending and supports 66,000 jobs in Chicago. It’s big business and McCormick Place is the primary driver.  But in recent years, there have been more and more complaints about the high costs of hosting trade shows at McCormick Place, due in large part to complex, restrictive union work rules. Last year in the wake of a trade-show exodus, the Legislature and the Governor intervened and adopted reforms.

These reforms expanded exhibitors’ rights to put up their own booths; reduced labor crew size requirements, redefined the rules of “straight” time, overtime and double-time, and changed in-house electrical contractor operations. The labor changes prompted five annual trade shows to recommit and several others to choose Chicago. It repositioned the city as more competitive with other convention destinations and a lot easier to do business with.

But a couple of weeks ago, a federal judge ruled that labor reforms enacted at Chicago’s McCormick Place cannot continue.

Without these reforms, Chicago cannot be competitive, and the city will no longer be an attractive destination for these large events. This not only hurts the convention center and hotels, but the taxi drivers, the restaurants, the retail stores, as well as you and me – because the tens of millions of dollars in tax revenues generated through these conventions support city services and infrastructure.

Let your Congressman know that this is important to you and your livelihood – be heard and get their support.  To make it easy, here are two links – the first for Senators, and the second for Representatives:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=IL

http://www.house.gov/representatives/#state_id

It will only take 5 minutes to make a call, and our city and industry will be better for it.