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.
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:
- There is limited or no solid communication prior to the sorting out process.
- 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.