The Parable of the Stationary Log

We have started off the year with another Ropes Course event. This is the fourth time I’ve participated in a Ropes Course event. Every time has been different. I suspect this is due to the composition of the participants, the leadership styles of the facilitators, and the goals of the event.

Wednesday’s version was an abbreviated, half-day session for school building and central service leaders. It was lead by three competent facilitators. The purpose was to build team.

log.jpg

One of the stations on the course is a stationary log. The object is for the 15 or so people on the log to arrange themselves in order by birth date. The participants are allowed a total of 5 touches (basically, hands on log or body parts on ground).

In general, a common initial scenario for this station goes like this:

  • In two or three locations on the log, subsets of participants try to solve the problem locally.
  • Each subset unto itself shows initiative and teamwork.
  • Collectively, however, the subsets—with competing interests—often create disequilibrium on the log.
  • Folks tend to fall off the log, thus accruing touches for the team.
  • The team generally has to start anew, thus using precious time and duplicating effort.

I have found two occasions when you know you are in trouble on that log:

  1. There is limited or no solid communication prior to the sorting out process.
  2. An individual proposes that all on the log work as a cohesive unit . . . moving one team member at a time with all others in support.  In response, charges of micromanagement and over-zealousness fly from others.

In my unending quest for good organizational karma, I like to extend this stationary log scenario to the workplace. What happens when various and well-intentioned subsets of the organization embark upon initiatives without considering unintended consequences to the greater group?

Worse yet, what about the ones who deliberately exclude big-picture repercussions from their narrow worldviews?

The stationary log is on this course for a reason. It can teach teamwork, communication, support, common cause, deliberateness, and calculated risk.  These factors contribute to good organizational karma.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: