Horizon Lines

What horizon line has our focus? The houses sitting on the closest ridge? The mountains in the mid-ground? Is it the sunset taking place in the background? Depending on our mindset and the intended impact of our journey, one of these horizon lines might be more appropriate than the others. Is our expedition team aligned around the same horizon line? It might impact the supplies we procure in advance, the team we assemble, and the speed with which we proceed.

Future Me

Future me benefits when current me acts thoughtfully. Before a trip, I might make the bed with fresh sheets, clean, and leave a reasonable supply of food for my return. Current me might unpack my bag completely and leave items in easy-to-find locations so future me can pack without stress for the next adventure. Current me can wax skis, clean bikes, dry out muddy running shoes, place new batteries in the headlamp, and repair a small leak in the tent, so future me launches with a higher degree of success and enjoyment.

What actions and decisions can your current team make that would set up the future team for a higher degree of impact? How often has a topic or barrier been raised that never gets resolved, knowing it will ultimately be decided once it is an emergency (burning platform)? Have you served an organization that inherited disruptions that could have been avoided by the team that proceeded your tenure? What if your gift to the board/staff/members that follow is to wrestle with the obstacles they will encounter? Even if we cannot make definitive progress, we can leave a record of how we tried to iterate and what succeeded and failed.

My hope is that current you assumes a force for good mindset so future you can focus on the work that matters.

Blazing the Way

Somebody had to figure out how to put in the first path. Then it the trail was updated and perhaps improved. Maybe another individual found a better route. Eventually, a group decided to construct a road. It was not easy, but now buses, cars, and cyclists pass without considering the obstacles.

What paths have you blazed or improved? What is their impact? Does anyone notice anymore? If they are well-designed, perhaps the purpose is not to point out what was near impossible during construction.

Defined By The Unseen

We cannot always see the route to the summit. It might be visible on our map but not from our current location. Does that mean we abort the peak ascent? If we are committed to the journey, we move forward, wayfinding as we encounter each obstacle while focused on keeping ourselves oriented to the summit. Even when we lose sight of the pinnacle, we ascend, knowing the journey will forever change the context of the work that inspires us.

Time vs. Energy Management

What if we thought of planning as a calculation of energy management? What if we deprioritized the role of time in our planning efforts? What if we were more honest about where to focus our energy instead of what schedule we might reverse-engineer on a calendar?

We might assume the forest fire can be extinguished in 24 hours, but external factors may change the reality; a significant weather event, the inability to secure needed resources, or a more pressing fire closer to a town changes the energy we invest in fighting the current fire. There is a scenario where the first winter snowstorm ultimately extinguishes the fire. The ‘let nature take care of it’ option usually does not appear on the first draft of our timeline.

Disruption and Displacement

Did the towns of Cooke City and Gardiner, Montana develop contingency plans in advance that include catastrophic disruption and historic infrastructure failures? The 2022 summer appears to be headed in a very different than anticipated. How do they find their way forward from the flooding and storm damage that has made travel into the towns and Yellowstone National Park uncertain? How do we plan with certainty if we cannot predict the future? Perhaps we need greater flexibility if the journey we seek is worthy of wayfinding.

Master Plans & Flexibility

Denver International Airport Maser Plan Map

Do you have a master plan for your facility/campus? How flexible or rigid are the considerations and assumptions that guided the plan’s creation? Do you share your vision for the future with your fans, or is it kept under lock and key? How might we remain curious about the factors influencing future needs?

Consider Denver International Airport’s jump up the list of busiest airports by passenger traffic, moving from 18th in 2016 to 3rd busiest airport in 2021. Interestingly, the number of total passengers in Denver between 2016 and 2021 is similar compared to other airports; the growth is not correlated due to the pandemic. Denver has a master plan that includes 12 runways and two additional terminals. By building further away from the city, there is room for growth.

The Cost of Next Time

Next time is more than a delay; it might even be a lifetime. Next time is a strategic decision to focus on something else. Next time is passing the last exit on the interstate before the toll booth. There is a high cost to delaying what could be done now. Next time is more than another day; it is a cascade of actions that requires planning and re-routing before returning to the opportunity. 

How might we consider what cannot wait for next time? What are the screening statements that allow us to evaluate opportunities in real-time? How might we have the courage to take the path we need to explore today? In his poem, The Road not Taken, Robert Frost presents, “Yet knowing how ways lead on to ways, I doubted if I should ever come back.”

Next time is a worthy rationalization for amusement ride choices, but postponing until next time can be a paradigm shift for the decisions that matters.

Pitch It vs Place It

We pitch it to avoid the even ground that exists between our current location and the intended landing zone. We are hopeful that the momentum we embed into the projectile is sufficient to reach the goal. We place it when we intend to be more exact and/or the value of the object meets a threshold to be considered less replaceable.

Horseshoes are easy to pitch and it is a required part of the rules of the game. The consequences of an errant throw is usually minimal and the reward for a ringer are virtual points. Placing a Rodin sculpture requires a level of expertise. We would be held in contempt if we pitched a world class sculpture over the wall and left it randomly in a sculpture garden. We invest in the professionals who have appreciation, experience, tools, time, and financial security to successfully install a piece.

Which considerations should we address before deciding if our intended strategy is a pitch or place?