We have all walked into a closet bursting at the seams where at first glance, looks like a museum of natural history. Almost everything in there has evidence of a past life, but very little in the way of recent use. I would gather that most (of our friend's) gear cache look and appear the same way. Tools of the trade that look more like "the land of misfit toys" rather than a lean and mean rigging machine. Well, we can help with that.
The simple answer isn't... just throw stuff away. But there are a few rules we can by.
- Keep what you use.
- Remove what you don't use.
- Multiple use paradigm
- Train with less.
Keep What You Use
The "old saying" isn't old nor just a saying. The Rule of the Vital Few is a scientific theory with a ton of truth. Many of us know it as the 80-20 Rule or Pareto's Law. It states (essentially) that 80% of any output comes from a vital 20% of the input. The job is to find the vital 20%. So we have carabiners, rope, cord, webbing, pulleys, various friction devices, harnesses, helmets... and the list goes on right? There are so many directions we can go with this and the answer will never be the same for everyone, but!!!! you will find that "a solution" will fit 80% of those with the same job requirements or responsibilities.
So to think that most of what we "do" comes from only 20% of what we put in is hard right? Well, it is really more about removing what isn't needed. Diminishing returns is really about observations and these observations must be acted upon with purpose and resolve. I am not saying is that "the 80" covers everything, as there is a remaining 20% that is crucial for excellence. This is the area we often don't train for. Lack of preparedness is a killer in just about every circle of life.
I will be circling back on this topic in future article and blog releases. Volumes are have been written on this topic. You didn't think I would simply toss out an answer did you?
Remove What You Don't Use
I am not suggesting you throw things away. There are tons of non-profits and teams across the nations that are exactly where you were years ago. This section should actually follow #s 3 and 4, but I wanted to place this in where the mindset needs to be. You are preparing to do more with less, so prepare now. There is the list you made from the initial 80-20 right? So you should have a good idea of what "you actually use"... 80% of the time. Whatever isn't used put into a box for later. I will come back to this.
Multiple Use Paradigm
So this has as much to do with carabiners as it does friction devices. We have a bird's eye view of carabiners, harnesses, and rope from "every tribe and tongue". Do you really need 4 different kinds of carabiners, 3 sizes of harnesses, racks, 8 plates, I'ds and MPDs, not to mention all those pulleys? I remember a few years ago, a customer called in with a huge list he needed to fill and order. I am not sure who he got the list from (he protected the name), but the only thing the list did was matched the amount of money "they needed to spend"... huh!!!!!! Nobody ever saves the customer money when they spend money on stuff they don't need... even if they "got the lowest price". We have spent years talking people out of gear as much as into something else... because it was the right thing to do.
I am not suggesting that you only order one type of carabiner, a one-size-fits-most harness or only one rope length. I am however highly suggesting to up the ante with products like the Petzl I'd or the CMC MPD, AZTEKs or the Skyhook Winch systems and loose the extra pulleys and carabiners and pay it forward to someone else. We have videos that show this in great length.
Again, the multi-use rule is important and we have videos that discuss this and will be touching on this point in later articles. The point here though is to think lean, mean, and know your purpose. It is great to think about the play yard of the 10%, but few live there. The rest of us mortals have a job to do. Pat Rhodes always hammers the "train above the call out"... Absolutely true! But do it with less gear and less people. You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you have too. Hint... How many personnel does it take to raise a rescue load? Answer... 1 One product is saving the cost of 3 extra people. Raising one person with 4 people is an extremely expensive exercise is it not?
Train With Less
This is where the magic happens. Remember the gear from #2? The stuff in the box? Leave it there. Go back to your budget and transfer half of your budgeted gear allotment to training with a company who knows how to "get more done with less". Don't think this will work? Right people, right bus, right seat. Do your homework and get in front the proper people. Saving money today is huge. Saving lives is about honest living, honest spending and honest preparation.
I guarantee that precision training and focusing on the 80-20 with the "vital few" pieces of gear, will build a better team and a better future for all. Besides, this will give you something to shoot for when you really start building for the "10%".