Organizational Intelligence: Thriving in Unstable Business Environments


Part I of III

Bob Mercer, a Marketing Executive from Manhattan, took two of his associates to the mountains, where he and his father had camped many times. It had been fourteen years since his last trip. During the drive Bob reminisced of the wonderful memories he shared with his father. Upon arriving Bob decided to forego setting up camp for a short hike into the woods, to a river less than three miles from camp. They took with them a backpack containing a few jugs of water, some light snacks and their fishing gear. Bob sensed he had enough equipment for their short journey. After all, he had planned to get back before sunset to set up camp, build a cozy fire, and fry some of the fresh catch of the day for dinner. Along the trail Bob bragged about the river he and father had fished several times in the past. After they had traveled a few miles, more than expected, the river was nowhere in sight… Bob kept saying, “I’m sure it’s here. I’ve been here several times with my dad.” They kept walking a few more miles, no river in sight. What Bob did not know is that the river was rerouted due to a heavy mudslide in the area several years ago. If they had read the signs along the path they would’ve been alerted of the latest changes in the landscape. But wait, even the trail signs were burned by local fire a few years ago, and since the camp area became unpopular with the campers the signs were not replaced. The ridges and peaks seemed familiar to Bob but certain rest areas and other key landmarks had been eradicated by the fire’s fury and ensuing erosion. Soon Bob and his friends were lost, and the weather above them was rapidly changing; a small detail they had not anticipated. The weather in these high altitudes can change within a moments notice and cause temperatures to drop drastically. Suddenly the ominous clouds above them burst sending a heap of water over them. Bob and his friends needed to respond quickly to the environmental changes. Although Bob was an avid camper for many years as a youth, he had not gone for a long time, and his friends were city dwellers all their lives. They simply didn’t have the expertise or knowledge to respond to these types of situations. The hiking trails filled and flowed with water, which made it more cumbersome to walk uphill. After walking several hours in the rain and mud they luckily stumbled into their campground late into the evening extremely exhausted, nursing the large blisters on their feet. Too tired and late into the night to set up camp they simply spent the night in their rented car, grateful they had made it out of the wilderness alive.


As a businessperson can you relate with this story?

Do you approach your business or the workplace with the same mentality that the economy will look and operate the same as yesterday’s glory years?

When the current economic recession blindsided you, how do you react to it? Did you see it coming?

Did you have a ready recession proof plan in place to guide you through tough times?

In Bob’s story, what was required to make their trip less risky and more enjoyable?

If intelligence matters in a simple hiking trip, then it would make even more sense in the way you operate your business or manage your organization?

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