Friday, 31 May 2013

Business learning from walking: 3. Never fear turning back or retracing your steps

I learnt an important lesson last week when walking on the Isle of Wight. Well, I learnt many lessons, but one of them was that sometimes it's easier to turn back and retrace your steps, than to go into unplanned territory.

We'd walked for a hour or so, it was hilly and we'd just headed down a steep hill that was so steep in places there were steps. Popping out between the hedges we realised something was wrong. After much deliberating and map checking, we had two options:( a) take a new, unplanned path that would get us back to where we wanted to be that was longer, less scenic and involved riskier road walking, or (b) hike the half mile back to the last decision point, even if it mean a steep 200ft climb back up the hill. After some whimpering and puffing from me, we got back on our planned track.

All change projects reach dead ends or go off track - often due to enthusiasm for trying new ideas. It's important to keep the goals in  mind and to assess any difficult situations. In my experience we tend not to have the courage to go back a few project steps and start again. Instead we blunder on and end up taking a longer and more tortuous route to get to where we need to be.  In future, I'll be asking more questions and keeping in mind the possibility of going backwards to go forwards.

Part of knowing when to turn back and when to go on is an important skill, and this is covered in the next post in this series.

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