Why Planning Is Never A Waste of Time

You might have heard of “scouting the rapids” for whitewater rafting, but what does it mean for your business?

Several years ago, while on a family vacation to Colorado, my brother, sister-in-law and I went whitewater rafting. My sister-in-law signed us up for the trip, and I’m not sure what possessed her to sign us up for the trip with Class IV and V rapids. If you are familiar with whitewater rafting, you know that Class IV and V rapids are the most difficult class of rapids.

To say we had no business being on this part of the trip was an understatement. However, we survived to tell about it – and so did all of our raft mates.


You Can Even Learn While on Vacations

One of the things we were required to do was scout some of the more difficult rapids before running them. This entailed pulling the raft over to the riverbank and climbing up the side of the steep bank in water booties – the only shoes we had.

The purpose was to get a big picture view of the rapid and develop a plan for the best approach to running it. The bank was slippery, our booties became caked with mud and getting in and out of the raft was a balancing act.

The entire process was arduous and a real pain in the rear-end – although not as big of a pain (nor as time consuming) as accidentally flipping the raft and ending up in the frigid water would have been.

And it was this process that allowed us to successfully navigate the rapids.



Why Taking Time to Make A Plan Is Worth It

In my work with CEOs and business owners, I find that too often they fail to “scout the rapids” they must navigate in their businesses.

I get it.

Taking the time to pause, climb to higher ground, and get a big picture view of the business and the environment in which it operates can seem like an unproductive use of time – better to stay in the water and keep paddling.

However, the “just keep paddling” approach will at best lead to less than optimal results, and at worst, to a complete capsize of the business.

To maximize results, I recommend that CEOs, business owners and leadership teams take time out regularly to “scout the rapids”.



Seven Ways to Scout the Rapids for Your Business

1. Get together as a team

Stepping away from day-to-day operations to do monthly strategy meetings and quarterly offsite sessions.


2. Provide clear and precise communication

Communicating vision and direction clearly to team members at all levels through consistent and congruent messaging using a variety of modalities.


3. Engage in passionate debate

Allowing for the dialogue and discussion necessary for all team members to get fully on board with the direction and the changes required.


4. Build on strengths

Taking the time to truly understand your own strengths and the strengths of your team members.


5. Advance every team member’s skills

Spending time developing your competencies and skills and the competencies and skills of your staff. This means enhancing your effectiveness as a leader and the leadership effectiveness of your managers.

It also means helping your staff members enhance their skills so they can take on increasing levels of responsibility.


6. Aim for the common goal

Building cohesive, high-functioning teams that are not only in the same boat but also paddling in synch toward a common goal, outcome or purpose.


7. Stay current

It is important to understand the external environment in which you operate on both a micro and macro level. You do this by attending industry association meetings, interacting with leaders from other industries, and keeping up with current business events and thinking.


Yes, these activities take time.

And yes they can be messy.

Is there the risk of slipping and sliding on some slippery slopes? Yes.

And yes, doing all of this, like stopping to scout the rapids when you are whitewater rafting, is essential. But by doing so, it helps assure you arrive safely at your desired destination with minimum struggle and strife.


Is your team just paddling along, not knowing where the next white water rapid might be?

It’s better to be prepared. Get in touch to discuss the steps to getting your team on a high-performing level.


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