Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chairlift Strategy

Last week I saw this year's Warren Miller film (Off the Grid) and last night I was at a back country ski film night put on by the Winter Wildlands Alliance. Needless to say I am getting pumped to get out into the white stuff, as it now is starting to blanket the local foothills. In addition to the fun and exhilaration in the fresh air, I find that ski hills offer a great place to free your mind and think differently about your life and work. I call it Chairlift Strategy. A friend and mentor of mine tried this concept late last season, and it was very successful. We grabbed our boards, took the afternoon off work, drove the 40 minutes to the local ski hill and talked some business on the chairlift, and focused totally on the fun of the sport on the way down the hill.

We talked back and forth about his small business, current and future business strategy, goals etc to see how he might be able to take the model in a different direction, deal with issues the business is facing etc. I think the frequent mental breaks (going down the hill) were very useful. I am a big believer that your brain processes things unconsciously, once it hears a concept, so quite often we would have new thoughts on the ride up that we didn't have on the last ride. Additionally, not being in a typical brainstorming environment (such as an office, or even a coffee shop), I think ideas flowed 'differently' because of the wildly different surroundings that constantly changing scenery as we moved around the mountain. Now, of course not everyone has a mountain near them, but I think the key is the physical activity of the sport, and not the sport itself. I believe it has to do with the drastic contrast between physical activity followed by short bursts of mental activity, that make is successful. (I am no scientist so don't ask my why)

So if you need to re-think pieces of your business, grab a colleague, and head to the ski hill. Golfing is for schmoozing clients, selling, and negotiations - ski hills are for innovative thinking.

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