WordPress Writing Prompt: The New School
You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds?
As I hiked the Colorado Trail this summer the thought that consumed me is if corporations functioned the way the hiker community does, we would have a very different work world.
As I hiked solo I walked in solitude much of the time, but when I encountered other hikers there were several characteristics in common: kindness, generosity, compassion. We looked out for one another. When I was exhausted there was someone to help me remove my pack and set up my tent. When I was low on water there was extra water offered. When I was in pain from a fall another hiker carried my pack in addition to his own. There was no hierarchy. There wasn’t any one person in charge. We were all in it together.
I had an idea. What if there was a program that helped corporate leaders learn this way? Take groups of three: the CEO, a middle manager, and a support staff. Assign them to five days on the Colorado Trail. No instructions except “learn from the trail.”
Among hikers there is a saying hike your own hike. Each person on the team would be advised to do so, but they would also be instructed that everyone needs to return safely. Each person would be expected to research their gear, prepare for the trip, and go out for discovery. It would be a little family of sorts.
All kinds of things come into play. There may be a pusher–one who trucks on down the trail because he’s in the best shape. Then a lagger–one who simply can’t walk any faster. One who thinks she knows everything about the trail. There will be encounters: storms, lightning, wildlife, water crossings without a bridge. Sometimes the team will be together to discuss how to tackle the obstacle. Sometimes they won’t.
The object of the game. Twofold. Learn to manage circumstances on one’s own. Learn to handle circumstances as a team. Once the team members return, my bet is they would work together better in the office as they would have learned to apply in the real world cooperation, compassion, kindness, and generosity. They would know what teamwork really is. They would know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and use this know in a cooperative way.
I know I titled this A New School for Corporate Leaders and I set up the school with members at different levels of an organization. That is because I think management might learn a lot. That they might not have all the answers. This is a practical application for leaders to realize they must pause and know the talents of their team and that they too may need help from time to time.