Survivalist Meets SAP Environments: Hiking my way to optimization

The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine along the spine of much of the Appalachian range of mountains. While it is an aged mountain range with time taking its toll and eroding many of its previously formidable peaks, it can still be a rugged, rocky and hilly trail. I have been fortunate to hike two separate sections in West Virginia and Virginia with quite variable levels of difficulty, and I look forward to more.  The Appalachian Trail is reminiscent in spots of the Bruce Trail in Canada, which runs almost 900 km through similarly rough-hewn terrain. The concept in each country is the same: preserve a remarkable cross-section of the goodness that geology passed each nation’s way for an endless number of individual experiences. I long to hang my hiking shoes at the end of either trail – signifying that I have accomplished a remarkable adventure that would no doubt be educational, challenging and rewarding on an individual-epic dimension. My fascination with hiking has been many years in the making. My Dad would have us up early on Sunday mornings marching and doing calisthenics to the stirring beat of an album impressively titled Grand Canyon Suite. We hiked our way across many of the scenic landmarks and national parks of Canada and the United States as a family. We would hike up the ‘Adam’s Apple’ of the Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The love affair continued, and in my mid-20s I spent three months backpacking and hiking in South America. The sense of exploration runs deep, and there is so much to be learned while out on a trail with only your most basic skills to guide you past trailheads, obstacles or other forks in the road. For many in leadership roles today, mapping out the right path to process excellence is full-time work. We are challenged by our organizations to take appropriate next steps for our crucial business processes that will lead to some automation or optimization “Nirvana”. We know this to be an impossible trial at times. But what might just help is to invoke the same sense of wonder and adventure that we no doubt possessed as junior rangers or scouts in our younger days. Think back to the most exciting hike you ever took. Who was your hiking companion? Were you leading the way? Did you meld into nature and become one with the geological surroundings wrapping you in their grasp? What challenges did you confront? What decision-making processes were you forced to invoke? Recapture those moments when you are treading down a path almost never/most trodden in process re-engineering. Take pictures of remarkable things you see (process flows, individual efforts) on your journey. Write down the brilliant things your travel companions (team members) say. Think about ways to educate and entertain the folks back home (process participants) about what you have experienced. And most importantly, learn from your mistakes. Not every decision will be one you will want to replicate (think: hang food up way high from the bear). We have so much to apply to our business lives that we learn from our personal lives. Hiking is but one. Enjoy the path. And try to make it one that is rewarding for your constituents. Here is to understanding how to apply our experiences to our tasks. Hike safely.

Back to Blog

Survivalist Meets SAP Environments: Hiking my way to optimization

The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine along the spine of much of the Appalachian range of mountains. While it is an aged mountain range with time taking its toll and eroding many of its previously formidable peaks, it can still be a rugged, rocky and hilly trail. I have been fortunate to hike two separate sections in West Virginia and Virginia with quite variable levels of difficulty, and I look forward to more. 

The Appalachian Trail is reminiscent in spots of the Bruce Trail in Canada, which runs almost 900 km through similarly rough-hewn terrain. The concept in each country is the same: preserve a remarkable cross-section of the goodness that geology passed each nation’s way for an endless number of individual experiences.

I long to hang my hiking shoes at the end of either trail – signifying that I have accomplished a remarkable adventure that would no doubt be educational, challenging and rewarding on an individual-epic dimension.

My fascination with hiking has been many years in the making. My Dad would have us up early on Sunday mornings marching and doing calisthenics to the stirring beat of an album impressively titled Grand Canyon Suite. We hiked our way across many of the scenic landmarks and national parks of Canada and the United States as a family. We would hike up the ‘Adam’s Apple’ of the Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The love affair continued, and in my mid-20s I spent three months backpacking and hiking in South America. The sense of exploration runs deep, and there is so much to be learned while out on a trail with only your most basic skills to guide you past trailheads, obstacles or other forks in the road.

For many in leadership roles today, mapping out the right path to process excellence is full-time work. We are challenged by our organizations to take appropriate next steps for our crucial business processes that will lead to some automation or optimization “Nirvana”. We know this to be an impossible trial at times. But what might just help is to invoke the same sense of wonder and adventure that we no doubt possessed as junior rangers or scouts in our younger days.

Think back to the most exciting hike you ever took. Who was your hiking companion? Were you leading the way? Did you meld into nature and become one with the geological surroundings wrapping you in their grasp? What challenges did you confront? What decision-making processes were you forced to invoke?

Recapture those moments when you are treading down a path almost never/most trodden in process re-engineering. Take pictures of remarkable things you see (process flows, individual efforts) on your journey. Write down the brilliant things your travel companions (team members) say. Think about ways to educate and entertain the folks back home (process participants) about what you have experienced. And most importantly, learn from your mistakes. Not every decision will be one you will want to replicate (think: hang food up way high from the bear).

We have so much to apply to our business lives that we learn from our personal lives. Hiking is but one. Enjoy the path. And try to make it one that is rewarding for your constituents. Here is to understanding how to apply our experiences to our tasks. Hike safely.