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?

Positioning Assets

It is leading practice to position ski patrol toboggans at the top of the ski mountain. Much better than in a base area shed. We can respond quickly to an emergency with a well placed asset.

How might we consider which of resources need to be pre-positioned in an accessible location? If we run an outdoor education program with student groups in the field, it might be helpful to have a primary source map that captures scheduled routes and camping locations. If an emergency call comes to the base, we can reduce the friction just getting oriented.

Which resources have you pre-positioned? Which ones do you employ on regular basis? Which are cached for an unexpected event?

BoardSource recommends the following basic resources for most nonprofit organizations. The Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida has links to emergency planning resources. And Seth Godin blogged about the cost of emergencies.

Why and How We Retreat

Why do we schedule organizational retreats? Why must we gather in a different location to think differently? Why do we hire facilitators to guide the process? Why do we assemble differently?

Why did we go on field trips during our school years? Why was a field trip a remarkable moment during our academic journey?

We need space to assume a different mindset as we rarely plan effectively when we are in routine. If we seek to engage secondary and peripheral ideas and considerations, we must be willing to get lost in the wilderness. If we have our Magnetic North compass (articulation of purpose, vision, mission, and values), we will find our way and add dimension and depth to the space we occupy.

How might we intentionally make space to get lost so we might engage our wayfinding skills? We do not retreat to predict the future (anyone have world pandemic written into their strategic plan) but rather to prepare for the terrain that might lay ahead?