Alright! Here we are again to talk about something “sort of out there?… You love this right? Culture vs New Opportunity. We’ve been discussing “creating a mass movement”. Everything we talk about here is solid for team building, systems, operations and politics. So lets break this down a bit. First what is a New Opportunity and secondly… what is Culture (really)?
What An Opportunity Jump Might Look Like
An opportunity requires a “vehicle for change”. As it has been said, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it“. We sort of get this, but lets put some logic in here… it will eventually break (regardless). Things and people will manifest ill-use and a great deal of misuse and demise, but still work. Right? It isn’t broke (yet!). I want to suggest here that we are seeing this in much of our nation (USA) as well as on a global scale. Misuse and complacency leads to a break down of nations, society, businesses, teams, administration and of course… rigging that leads to rescue.
So pulling up to (say) 30,000′ (or 10,000 m :), if change isn’t needed, then no need to read anything past this sentence. However, if you are like most folks… you are accountable for something and or people, and that includes a myriad of skills and responsibilities. This is going to be huge, so I can only cover a “gnats eye” of the subject. An opportunity stands above an improvement. Lets face it, trying to improve something is only good for minor adjustments. Tweaking! Nothing of substance or longevity ever happens by improving something. Improvement requires ambition and few people have that. It is simply to hard for most to continue with. Poor decisions of the past squander the possibilities of huge leaps and ultimately… the improvement becomes a commodity.
Switch And Stack… A Strategy That Works
Lets look at Opportunities. An opportunity is a brand new “thing” and is recognized through Pain or Pleasure. You seize opportunities… you don’t meander through them.
We can divide (New) Opportunities into Switches and Stacking. But before I get to far down this road, remember this… improvements are for tweaks and Opportunities are for a large scale change. The Vehicle for Change or an Opportunity is normally in the form of Switching or Stacking. It is assumed for this article that we aren’t looking to blow something up and start over again… although I will say, I do believe this is a vehicle for change as well…. another topic all together though.
Switching normally is called upon when changes are needed and those changes are much larger than tweaks and the life span of whatever has been in play is either used up, no longer applicable and or simply no longer relevant. Stacking is employed when “more” is needed, but not “more of the same”… think “scaling”. Stacking utilizes modules of evolution (singular units) that are stacked upon the preceding unit to bring about massive increase.
In a very small example, using a main line and belay line system and the gear being utilized in this system. Add to this example, man power of 8 versus 2 (because only two people showed up). Those of you on county SAR teams aren’t laughing at this… it happens!!! (So it is here I want to throw a wrench into this… CULTURE. Why? Because everyone and every team has a culture. Some are healthy and other are not. What I am using as a benchmark here is productivity, efficiency, solidarity and the adherence to objectives, goals, the plan and building a solid “under-story” that is always at work… bad things happen and people have to “step it up” and aren’t prepared. A healthy culture will always keep this front and center. An unhealthy culture will look past this and the obvious signs of wear and tear and simply “push through” with more of the same methods, mindset and formulas. It is the difference between exponential growth and dying a slow death. )
A Tale of Two Teams
Team A has been using a two line system… here that is a main line and belay line. They move from using 12.5mm to 11mm rope. They go from using racks for belays and multi-set mechanical advantage systems and continue to practice knot passing using RPMs. They begin to start using a Petzl I’d in the system and then find using the CMC MPD to their liking. However… they are still using a main line and belay as their “two rope system”. They have 30 people on the team and always have 15 people show up for every call. Their training involves new recruits and has been scheduled the same for the last 5 years.
Team B was Team A. Their director quite. The 4 leaders of the team had some “falling out” and simply didn’t want to put up with the political BS that was going on. 30 people dropped to 10 and the 2 people who really cared and showed up for every training (but was never given the opportunity for input were now considered the senior technicians (because they had the points accrued over the last 2 years). So now, they informed the county they need 6 weeks off (except for searches and basic first out responders) in order to regroup, reform and retool.
We went from small changes or improvements (never really upping the game much) to “oh sh#$” now what? Well, this is an OPPORTUNITY. A huge pain point was uncovered and we have brought in two new ingredients. Desire and Status. We can wrap our head around a Desire right? But Status? You are saying… “no, not me.. I don’t run my life on status!” Actually you do. Everyone does. You might not think you are affected by “status”, but you are. The ultimate STATUS is your “why”. WHY do your drive, WHY you wear what you do, WHY you ride to work, WHY you do what you do, live where you live, have the family and friends you do. It comes down to how you “wear” your life and how you want others to “wear you”. Most people reading this article are first fire fighters, then SAR members (ground, mountain or other), then law enforcement, then At Height workers. Everyone has a reason for doing what they do and it always has either an internal status or external status motive. You are human and thus you can not remove this from yourself.
- New Discovery (adventurous)
- No Pain of Disconnect (the old now gone and the new is knocking)
- Dream Replacement (the forgotten are now the leaders that were never allowed a chance)
- Greener Pastures (only the complacent lack the vision for greener pastures… much less grass)
Status (the only thing that causes people to move (or not to move)
- Intelligence (does it allow my mind to work better?)
- Style (does it fit well?)
- Power (energy and prowess)
- Wealth (a prosperous soul leads to greater rewards)
- Appearance (is there peace in the war and is that peace inviting?)
- Happiness (happy people stick around longer)
Culture Drives Everything That is Sustainable and Worthwhile
In a later article I will be taking about CULTURE, but for this article, culture is what allows your New Opportunity to take place, grow and flourish or… die! It is the melding and molding that has taken place over many years as individuals and groups alike. I won’t take the time here, but one lousy ingredient can literally kill a team and so One man (or woman) can build a team from nothing. Only true leaders can do this… and with a lack of true leadership, a team is only one ingredient from demise. So CULTURE is the only KEY to Success and only New Opportunities taken advantage of and pursued while building an increase of passion and productivity together.
So what happened to Team B? They realigned their corporate culture to build a new and living team approach. Created a scalable matrix of passions and productive skills sets and SALIENT objectives, goals, boundaries and accountability requirements. The general term “two rope” was now a “twin rope” or “two tension” system. All equipment utilized has multi purposes. And because they now know that there is always the chance that only 2-3 people may show up, their entire system is based around this. Long throw systems were replaced by winches and those winches (when edge mitigation is an issue) are always attached to a gin pole set up. They commit to a 2x monthly training and if anyone misses 2 training in a quarter they are put on probation and with the second probation they are off the team.
With Team B, they evaluated their entire logged record of high angle events and they concluded that 80-85% of their calls had a very familiar pattern. They analyzed their options, through away the distractions and unnecessary gear and stayed with what their plan was. In 6 six weeks, they were back up and running. Strong and energized they kept this schedule for 12 months. Each quarter they had one extra administrative meeting that evaluated the quarterly calls and made “improvements”. Each quarter they also evaluated NEW OPPORTUNITIES and if agreed upon, these became their ROCKs for the next quarters training.
Later we’ll get deeper in the process of creating a movement (whether team or personal), but for now… lets just settle this… you have a pain point that needs to be fixed (not semi repaired). You choose the RESULT you need to see and scale from. From here, you choose the VEHICLE of CHANGE… This the OPPORTUNITY you now have. You have made the choice to move forward. It is hear you SWITCH from what isn’t work and completely ditch it (to be completely honest). Anything else is a tweak. It is in this JUMP that you begin the scaling by STACKING tools and techniques in order to attain (not just) proficiency, but passion and productive increases.
Peace on your days…