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Monday, September 22, 2008

A journey of a thousand miles..

... starts with a single step (or something like that). A couple of ideas collided in my head this morning on my ride into work (yes I have bought myself a new scooter as the insurance money came through and I just couldn't stand public transport into London any longer). Both are related to the question, "How do you get someone to take a step that they perceive as too large?". How do you make change seem less painful in advance?

I met Stefan Gatt on Thursday last week. Stefan apart from being the first man to climb Everest and then snowboard down it is an infuriatingly nice guy. In general, I find I want my high achievers served with some serious personality defect. This makes it much easier for me to forgive myself for not being as good/successful as them. I say to myself, "I wouldn't want to: be a multi-millionaire/swim the English channel/be an award winning novelist/represent my country at sport if it made me that rude/humourless/self-obsessed/insert personality defect of your liking.

Stefan is none of these indeed he is a charming man (I wont embarrass the member of my staff who told me just HOW charming) who appears to spend nearly all of his time doing things that he loves (I think that the answer might be lurking in this sentence somewhere). He leads expeditions, runs leadership and team building programmes and builds challenge courses (the rope ladders, wire bridges, death slides between trees that are now becoming increasing popular throughout Europe).

We have developed a programme with Stefan called the Alpine Leadership Challenge which takes managers and aspiring leaders into the Austrian Alps for five days and, through a variety of exercises, reframes their understanding of themselves and their attitudes to leadership and teamwork. In short it helps them understand that they are capable of much more than they thought and that the only thing holding them back is themselves. It is a truly amazing course!

But that is just words. The essence of the programme is the experience. Actually knowing that you have just done something that you didn't think you could.

Stefan and I met to discuss how to make it more successful. We discussed the fact that the marketing material might be seen as hyperbole or it might just be too big a step to go from a comfortable desk to flying to Austria and tackling the Klettersteig. So I asked him whether he could think of something we could do in London in a morning or afternoon that would give people a facsimile of the experience.

His immediate response was, "Why don't we put a zip line between two buildings? No that's too easy can why don't we walk round the outside of a skyscraper?"

You gotta love this guy. I responded telling him that I knew a company who had two floors near the top of the Gherkin and near the top of Canary Wharf. Minutes later we were in a cab to St Mary Axe to see if we could set up a wire traverse at either of the buildings. The idea is to get people entirely safe but over 100m up walking along a wire on the outside of a building. Conquering fear.

Well it's early days and we may well be defeated by health and safety but this is what we are going to try to arrange.

Then I thought this morning how can we devise a baby step for all those who have not yet embraced collaborative tools in their work because it's just too hard or it takes too long? It is exactly the same problem. Any ideas on how to tackle this or any help on setting up a high wire stunt in London will be gratefully received.

1 comment:

Kevin Alboni said...

I personally couldn't think of anything worse, well perhaps being locked in a room with Ron Cole, than being high up walking a tight rope. However, I like it. Innovation is the way forward.

Oh and on a separate note can we push for Alpine in March? The December one has no delegates on. March has 2 payers!!!

Just a thought