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Hiking and organisations

This is an attempt to link my experience of hiking the Appalachian Trail with organisational life in respect of strategy, leadership and teams. Comments welcome.

John Scott

on 16 May 2016

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Transcript of Hiking and organisations

Hiking and Organisations
The Bigger Picture
From here to there
The Appalachian Trail

• 1,260 miles long
• Over 90 years old
• Through 14 States
• During 3 seasons
• Covering 15-20 miles/day or else...
• Will take 4-6 months to complete
Day to day
● Illness, boredom, lack of money, exhaustion
● Animals and humans, bears and rednecks
● After 1000 miles, some 50% of hikers have gone home
● 20% complete the Trail
● Sleep in tents or shelters
● All water must be purified
● All food, personal belongings and water is carried
● Re-supply from nearby towns every 3-7 days
The Risks
● Shared and meaningful long term objective for all
● Sustains through difficult and challenging times
● Combination of tactical and strategic outlook required
● Ordinary people can do extraordinary things
● Few hikers are experts
● Those who claim they are, are not
● Need to learn quickly, in part through experimenting
● Need to fail and move on - no time for recrimination or blame
● Do a series of small things very well and focus on detail
Learn to fail quickly
Praise success
● Understand and know what success feels like
● Celebrate it at every possible moment
● Never assume somebody knows they are
doing well
● Focus on strengths - weaknesses are evident to all
● No e-mails, mobiles, telephones on Trail
● Find means of communication which work
● Typically face to face, passed along orally or in shelter journals
● Limited number of well understood means of communication
● Use it or lose it
● Small groups of people in particular circumstances can work well without a leader
● Outside this, a leader is required and necessary
● Role and its requirements changes over time
● Self appointed leaders often fail
● Team is as important as its leader
Technology & expertise
● Gear and experience is very, very important
● Gear and experience will help but insufficient
to get you to Katahdin
● The arrogance that comes with gear and experiences is often misplaced
● Some luck will be needed
Open and closed borders
● Team needs to be open to strangers, those in need and new ideas
● Closed when threatened or to protect weaker members of team
● Robust enough to cope with rapidly changing membership
● Will need to find a way of sharing and storing experience
● Help when required and sometimes when not required
● Be sensitive to the smallest of signals and act quickly
● But be ruthless when necessary
● Moving at the speed of the slowest member is not always good enough
Caring and ruthless
Self knowledge
● Know where physical and emotional limits lie, even when moved beyond them
● Watch and listen carefully to body’s tiniest messages
● Understand centre of balance and recovery rate
● Apply the same insights to others
● Be humble in the face of nature and all other major challenges
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