Saturday, June 18, 2011
Moses, Jesus, Krishna, and Meetings
My friend Judy Sohn, a fellow Salesforce Dreamforce attendee and Vice President of Operations at Fight Colorectal Cancer, recently pointed out that Dreamforce 2012 is scheduled to overlap with the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah. This is a serious problem to her and perhaps thousands of other Jews who might attend the conference.
Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, responded quickly and graciously with an apology and offers of assistance in making the best of a bad situation, but in reality, there is nothing to be done. A conference for 35-40 thousand people has to be planned years in advance. G-d is unlikely to move the new year, even for a cloud computing event of this caliber.
What should have happened was, a planner should have pulled up a website like this one and done a quick check. In only a few minutes, the conflict would have been obvious and avoidable. Like wearing a seat belt though, the time to do this is before the accident occurs.
We live in an increasingly multi-faith and multi-cultural world. In my own planning, I religiously (pun intended) use the following procedure, particularly if I don’t know every, single, attendee.
1. Is it a religious holiday? Check at least www.interfaithcalendar.org, where the “major” events for each religion are listed in bold. Unless I am aware that there will be Jainists, Sikhs, or other less commonly (in this part of the world) encountered groups, I check for Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu days.
2. Is it a national holiday? Obviously, look at the country where the meeting will take place, and the place where remote attendees reside. Nothing is more provincial and annoying than for an American to happily set up a meeting with a Brit on a bank holiday!
3. For face to face meetings, are the participants likely have any dietary, cultural, or disability related restrictions? Don’t be like me and serve ham and cheese sandwiches to the Rabbinical Council. Make sure that not only is the meeting room wheelchair accessible, but that the restrooms are too, if you have someone who is mobility challenged.
It’s a little more trouble than back in the day when we were all white, Christian, males (and even then, we really weren’t!), but the payback in good feelings and smoother meetings is fully worth the effort.
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