The Business of Expedition

It better be. Ran like a good business that is. On an adventure like this, to do otherwise, would certainly lead to failure, and/or loss of gear, and/or injury, or in the worst scenario, loss of life. I’ll warn you in advance that this post may be somewhat boring to some readers. However, my 20 years working in Japanese automotive quality assurance has altered the lens through which I view things. It was impossible, therefore, for me not to recognize some areas of this expedition which to apply these views. So the parallels of a good business (note the qualifier), and this trip can be identified as follows…

1 – An organization chart. Many businesses focus on goals and objectives but fail to lay a strong foundation via a list of the team members and their specific areas of responsibility. Without this, subsequently established rules and processes are destined to fail. And, since rules and processes are designed to meet goals and objectives, those goals and objectives cannot be achieved.

2 – 5s: Another applicable tool is the Japanese industry concept of 5s. Here in the States, we try to distill them down to specific terms, when in reality, they more accurately reflect a philosophy and mindset.
Here is how they relate specific to our trip….
a) If it’s not necessary get rid of it. Unnecessary items lead to clutter and confusion.
b) Have an assigned place for everything. If items don’t have a specific place then you don’t realize when they are missing.
c) Have everything in its place. Each time. Every time. No exceptions. If it’s not where it belongs, then it’s not available the moment it’s needed.
d) If it’s wet, dry it off. Moisture leads to rot.
e) If it’s dirty, clean it off. Dirt causes and hides damage.

3 – Failure Mode Analysis/Process Controls: Identify what MIGHT go wrong and then Identify how to prevent what MIGHT go wrong.
On a trip like this we considered the following examples…
a) The wind will blow. Secure it.
b) The water will rise. Tie it off.
c) Moisture will fall. Seal it up.
d) Things will fail. Have contingencies.
e) Lightweight equals light duty. Be gentle.

4 – Planning: Experience has taught me to follow the rule “long on planning, short on execution”. Yep, the planning and preparation for this trip took considerably more time than the trip itself. Time well spent. It is also important to note that we are people of faith and, therefore, prayed about and recognize God’s leading and directing as we prepared for this trip – Pray as if it all depends on God. However, God also expects us to use the gifts and abilities he has given us – Work as if it all depends on you. (These Biblical principles are why our boats are named “Pray” and “Work”). We applied the following planning disciplines…
a) Benchmarking: The old adage “don’t reinvent the wheel” is a wise one. We, therefore, reviewed gear and methods used by people who have made similar trips.
b) Lessons learned: We reflected on our own previous camping and kayaking experience.
c) Trials: We took trips ahead of time specifically to prove out new gear and methods.

5 – Project Management: In order to ensure success it is important to schedule each step of the planning and execution process and then be sure that each step is completed on schedule.

We encourage everyone to step out of the ordinary and plan an adventure of your own. And when you do, applying the principles described above will help you to be safe and successful.

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