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Are You An Alpinist?

I love great books that make you think.  Ones that have you reflecting on the future and how you might shift your mindset and behaviours to work and play better in the world.  I've recently read a book by a colleague and friend of mind Patrick Hollingworth, titled:  The Light and Fast Organisation - A New Way of Dealing with Uncertainty and I think it is mighty worthy of a post.

Patrick Hollingworth is a global expert who works with organisations dealing with times of uncertainty. As a mountaineer who has scaled the highest peaks in the world, including Everest, he uses the Alpinist approach to mountaineering to help us understand that the old, slow and steady way of moving through the world  is no longer applicable in a world of exponential change and disruption.  

The Alpinist approach to change is light and fast. As the mountaineering term of Alpine style requires for success, it's the adaptability to change with shifting contexts and situations.  Not afraid  to test things out in a small way to see if there are wins, rather than beginning a huge process that takes months to design and deliver.   Patrick says: 'Alpinists in organisations seek uncertainty and ambiguity.  They recognise the benefits of venturing into the unknown and learning about themselves, each other and the world around them.'

Patrick's latest book: The Light and Fast Organisation is a great read on agile organisations and leadership.  Along with identifying the traits and insights of the Alpine Style, he also highlights the three critical skills for success:  Sensemaking; Decision making and Criticality.   The trait of being a learner is also key to the Alpinist - one that is dear to my heart and the foundation of a collaborative organisation that gets results.

We can learn a huge amount from the Alpinist approach. Agile, small moves shifting the way we work allow us to maximise the opportunity change and uncertainty brings.  For many of my clients wanting to increase collaboration and conversations about doing work differently, it is a great time to look at making the moves.


They don't have to be big moves to make a difference. Start small and look at the way we work - how can we integrate more, partner more, be more client focussed and relevant to the needs of our stakeholders? How can we make sure we don't work in silos and really maximise our impact by working together more? 

What small wins can be implemented in a light and fast way within and between teams? Small wins that leverage structures and systems to benefit the work being done and its purpose.  

Here are some further questions you might like to consider with a collaborative lens:
How can we:
 - build greater inter-connectedness? 
 - create integrated and more effective responses for stakeholders ?
- use data more effectively?
- initiate small collaborative projects?
- ask for intelligence on mutual stakeholders?
- communicate success so others can learn?
- communicate failures and learnings so others can benefit?
- be clear about our value to others and how we fulfil that?

If you are interested in reading more, here is  Patrick's white paper for you to download and a link to the book.