I like the word navigate. Particularly to navigate change. Here’s the dictionary definition:
Plan and direct the course of a ship, aircraft, or other form of transport, especially by using instruments or maps.
Informally, navigate also means
to guide or steer someone.
I relate the word navigate to a business journey and I will explain why, but first, let me bring you on a hike.
Ireland’s highest summit
I took time off recently to continue my exploration of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. This time I was in Co. Kerry, home of the lofty MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. Ireland’s highest point is the summit of Carrauntoohil and as a keen hiker it has been on my to do list for some time.
Now compared to many of the mountain hikes I’ve done in Africa, Carrauntoohil isn’t as high, but it’s deceiving. You start out near sea level and it’s a strenuous 15KM round trip (six to eight hours). All mountains have multiple routes to the top. There are the tourist routes which are crowded and direct, and there are the really technical routes which are only accessible to a few and can be dangerous to attempt.
I sought the services of a guide for the hike and it got me thinking about the business context and why using an experienced guide can help businesses navigate change.
The mountain guide
Having a guide was a no brainer for us. We wanted to avoid the crowds and take in some of the scenery. John, our guide, got us off the main path ten minutes into the hike, and after that we only saw three other humans (but plenty of sheep) until we reached the summit.
John has been hiking the reeks for over 25 years and knew every foothold and handhold which was needed in some of the very steep sections of our accent route up Brother O’Shea’s gully. He told us which way to lean and when not to look down! He pointed out every landmark and gave us context of the surrounding area. Importantly, he was there when we had questions.
We could hike, we were fit, and we had the gear and resources to get to the top, but John was a safe pair of hands that made the whole experience worthwhile and memorable.
The business context
So what’s this ‘trip report’ got to do with your business?
In business you need to get from point a to point b. You have a strong vision and all the necessary resources. However you may be participating in a crowded and competitive space. You may need new perspective and this is where the guide comes in.
A business guide can give you new perspective on your operations, or your market. This could be a mentor, a coach, or even a consultant. Someone that can help you navigate change and take a different path. The right guide has the experience of having worked in different markets, geographies and industries.
Many people know where they are going, they understand their businesses (or roles within organisations) and they have a good idea of how to move forward. But how many businesses seek the help of an experienced guide to reach their goals?
“business owners have to take on the role of entrepreneur, manager and technician”Michael E. Gerber
Large organisations do – they hire big name consulting firms to help them launch a product or reorganise their team. They bring in experts to help companies sell into a new market, or strategically acquire a competitor.
But what about smaller businesses? Businesses owners wear multiple hats. As Michael E. Gerber explains in his brilliant book The E-Myth Revisited, “business owners have to take on the role of entrepreneur, manager and technician”. They need to be strategically thinking about the next move or product change. They need to manage resources and ensure they are delegating effectively. Finally they need to be the technician and actually do some of the work. This is where their expertise lies and it’s easy to fall back into this role (the job) and ignore being a manager or entrepreneur.
Owners have to balance each role, but often need to put most of their time working in their businesses and not on them. This becomes exhausting, and is a reason why many businesses close up shop with their founders opting for more secure careers again.
If you are finding it difficult to juggle the multiple roles and you need a guide to navigate change, then why not book a complementary discovery call with Saltwater Consulting. We’ll learn about your mission and bring in new tools and perspectives to help you move to the next level.
If you enjoyed this article then check out our piece on managing important vs urgent work.
If you simply enjoy hiking and are interested in summiting Ireland’s Highest peak, then check out my recent TripAdvisor review of John’s guiding company.