antha Rhei – everything flows.” This quote from Heraclitus wonderfully describes the processual nature of the world and it fits so well with the current economic world. Everything is constantly changing. Goals and matching strategies, created through a serious process, planned to give guidance for the next couple of years, promising great success, have to be adapted again after the first implementation steps and after the first contact with reality. Because reality has changed.
Subsequently, questions arise: Do we continue as planned – the expense and effort are still vivid – or do we recognize the signals of the market and signs of the changing environment and use them to align the company quickly and flexibility according to these requirements?
It is similar on a river: Peaceful and quiet one day, a change happens overnight and the river becomes a rushing, wild mountain stream. On one day it is easy to paddle downstream, the next day this appears a very serious challenge and the day after that it seems impossible to run. Uncertainty peeks around every corner. Sometimes it seems a stretch can impossibly be run and just then an unexpected opportunity opens up and results in new ways, new perspectives, new possibilities. In any case, it requires people who are able to act according to the flow of the river. And sometimes it is useful or even necessary to wait a while for a better opportunity to arise.
We have made these experiences several times, running and exploring many rivers all over the world. Be it in a kayak, canoe or raft.
Now we offer the “World of Rivers” to Management-Teams or Project-Teams. You can use it either to experience the team in the surroundings of a spectacular river and its gorges. Or you can use it as an important part of a change- and development-process such as developing a new strategy, adapting and fine tuning an existing strategy, improving the leadership-culture or strengthening the way of cooperation within a team or network.
One possible scenario:
You and your leadership team are forced to give your division a new direction. An overall strategy exists and you have to adapt your strategy according to the company’s. Therefore you want to develop strategic cornerstones and a plan for its implementation process.
Your intention is to combine that strategy-process with impressive experiences on a river; to strengthen the team spirit and to open up the minds of your managers for change and new perspectives.
The possible plan:
First we meet for a briefing. Together we clarify the goals, the context and your expectations of the development process.
The next step:
In a short workshop with your team, we start bringing the team members “on board”. Together we outline a clear and understood picture of the underlying intention, the main idea, and the set-up of the “River-Expedition”. We set the dates. Concrete actions are derived; everyone gets a role and responsibility for the preparation of the river expedition.
Parallel, we start working on the strategy of the division. The team gathers facts, figures and background information. Specific tasks are assigned. Individuals and small teams prepare input for the strategy-process.
The time between this workshop and the launch on the river, ideally 1 – 2 months, we use for feedback loops and supportive activities, such as the organization of necessary equipment, transfers, etc as well as for gathering the needed information for the strategy development.
The 3-day expedition on the river:
It begins at the meeting point at the base camp on the river. There we set up the camp, finalize the preparation of the river trip in detail, form teams and start the boat trip on the river. Of course we always pay close attention to the specific circumstances such as weather, water level, and special challenges.
We will start off with an easy stretch on the river. We might paddle in canoes with small teams on each boat. The teams practice paddling techniques, become familiar with the boat and the river. They learn to look after themselves and to give support to the other small teams. The first destination is a lonely sandbar amidst an impressive gorge. There, we build up our camp for the night, cook, regenerate and reflect the happenings of the day.
In the next morning, the trip will continue and lead us through challenging rapids. In the afternoon of the second day we return to our basecamp.
After drying we begin by reflecting on the experiences of the river trip. Together we filter out key learnings for us as a team and for our strategy-process.
The next day, enriched with the spirit and power of the team experience, we continue to work on strategical topics. Cornerstones will be developed and formulated. Measures for implementation will be derived and a commitment with “handshake” – quality will be the final outcome of the „strategy-river-expedition”.
The important follow-up:
At home – in the business context – the team continues to work on the strategy according to the plan. Teams and important partners will be involved. After 2 – 3 months we meet again to reflect the progress. Results are checked and we assess if some topics need to be readjusted, changed or discarded. The whole process leads to a committed strategy which can be communicated and implemented within the entire division.