Strategic Thinking Whilst Out Walking

We went for a walk the other day. It wasn’t a long walk, nor an arduous walk. Just a gentle stroll through the Ashton Court Estate here in Bristol. The weather was unremarkable. The scenery, whilst it reflected the season, was unremarkable. A totally ordinary and forgettable stroll in the country.

And yet – it was totally absorbing, full of fascinating insights, observations, moments of clarity and moments of deep reflection. The reason why the unremarkable walk became remarkable was the addition of a catalyst. His name is Dave Stewart and he runs the Fresh Air Learning Company. They “work with leaders and teams in tough places”.

What Dave did was ask us to pause as we walked and to reflect on what we were doing, where we were relative to the start point and so on. Each time it was an opportunity to think. And as there were none of the usual work based barriers, structures, walls etc, we could think better as nothing could occlude our line of thought so to speak.

The one key moment for me was when we stopped halfway up the hill and looked back to see our tracks in the dew on the grass. A clearly defined route was visible. The moments when we stopped, moved to the left or the right, moments when we spilt up or converged. All these were easily visible, we could map our course to that point with ease. But when we turned around it was not possible to see the route ahead as we were in a field and not on a path. And the shape of the hill meant that we could not see our end destination.

So we simply walked in the direction that we knew our destination would be, it wasn’t a perfect route but without the confirmation of being able to see it, it was good enough for the moment. We were at least moving.

That got me thinking about the business – what do you do when you cannot see the end destination. The answer from this exercise was to move in the direction of the end goal and make adjustments when the goal is revealed.

Nothing spectacular but another glimpse of strategic thinking that will help me to move the business forward and to help guide others as we guide them along the way to success.

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1 Comment

  1. I do a lot of gardening and a little bit of logging. Both activities provide enough distraction that I am able to do some good thinking at the same time. It’s not usually very active but just enough in the background that it helps sort out ideas but still get my work done.

    This is when I usually allow myself to consider the directional questions abut strategy and if I have gotten off track. There is just something about a little physical activity to allow the mind to focus on these kinds of matters that are often very hard to do at my desk.

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