In this blog post, we share with you the lessons that we learned when we completed the 3 Peaks Challenge and how they can be applied to business.
The challenge was to complete the 3 Peaks Challenge (climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon) in 24 hours. We did it in 23 hours 48 minutes – with just 12 minutes to spare!
The 3 Peaks team was comprised of our own Philip Oakley and Jonathan Andrew of Baswich Business Services (who were the drivers for the challenge) and Steve Cranston of Lilac Films and Rob Mackley of Web Box Web Design, who were the walkers. The team members will be reversing roles and doing it all again in the spring, when Steve and Rob will be driving and Phil and Jonathan will be walking. Evaluating the lessons learned is therefore an essential part of the process.
“Life is a mountain of solvable problems, and I enjoy that”-James Dyson
It’s all in the preparation
In the run-up to the 3 Peaks Challenge, we invested a lot of time into researching what equipment we would need. Without this preparation, we might not have completed the challenge and we could have risked our own lives and the lives of our teammates too.
Not looking at the weather forecast (we had torrential rain!), and therefore not packing a change of dry clothes, could have been a health a safety risk. Equally, not realising that we would be climbing Scafell Pike in the dark, and therefore not taking a torch, could have meant that we got hopelessly lost (we did get a bit lost!) or that one of us sustained an injury, thereby slowing us down and losing us the challenge.
In the same way in business, lack of preparation can lead to failure and can ultimately risk the jobs and livelihoods of staff. Laying the groundwork is the key to success. This can include putting in place the resources you need (such as software, skills, time), forecasting costs properly, estimating timings and setting realistic deadlines etc.
Building on a solid foundation doesn’t guarantee success, but it certainly sets you on the right path.
Everybody brings something different
Having the right skills in place is very important in any project and the 3 Peaks Challenge certainly brought to the fore the particular strengths of each individual involved. One of our walkers, Steve Cranston, is incredibly tenacious and motivated. He encouraged the team to keep going and boosted the over all willpower of the team. The other walker, Rob Mackley, has great organisational skills and excelled at remaining calm and sensible, evaluating the limits of the task. Driver for the challenge, Phil Oakley, was extremely organised, having researched and packed all the equipment necessary for completing the task safely. The other driver, Jonathan Andrew, is a whizz at car maintenance should the car have broken down and is always level-headed in a crisis.
Luckily the car didn’t break down, and most of Phil’s equipment (head torches, food, spare socks – you name it, he had it!) came in handy during the 24-hour challenge!
The ability to recognise the strengths of individual members of staff and to use those to the best advantage is key to the success or failure of any business project. Getting the right mix of people is crucial. In any project, you need someone who doing the number crunching (keeping an eye on costs, output, deadlines etc.) to ensure the project is sticking to budget and timescale, someone who is motivational and who will help drive the project forward, someone who has the organisational skills to do the necessary preparation and ensure the attention to detail, and someone who has particular skills relating to individual tasks, who will do the bulk of the project work and someone who could possibly save the project from failure should something go wrong.
Pair up the right people
Sometimes success depends on pairing up the right people to work together and provide mutual support.
During the 3 Peaks Challenge, Phil and Jonathan worked well together as the drivers for the team. They succeeded by working together as a team and helping each other. For example, Phil struggled with car sickness on the windy country lanes, and so the decision was made that he would take the wheel on those roads and then be a passenger on the straighter roads.
In the same way, Steve and Jonathan worked well together, as Steve’s go-getting, ‘just-do-it’ attitude was tempered by Rob’s thoughtful evaluation of the task in hand.
Making sure the right personalities are working together can bring the same success in business and ease of communication is the key. Using apps like Asana, you can organise tasks into projects and then further delegate tasks to team members along with the ability to set deadlines. You can use this tool to see how well your team works in terms of time and completion of tasks. Being able to communicate effectively is key. You can introduce apps such as Slack to have a way of communicating in real time in channels you can create for each project!
Forge ahead regardless
We continued through the storm. It was raining heavily, some felt car sick, but the end was in sight. We forged ahead. The conditions weren’t perfect but if we had waited for a better forecast then we may have never gone and completed the challenge!
“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly”- Robert H. Schuller
Applying this to business is important. Although outcomes may not always be predictable or visible, sometimes it’s important to just forge ahead and do it anyway. As long as you have done the preparation, put the right team and resources in place and have a contingency plan for failure, you should be more or less good to go. As with the 3 Peaks Challenge, if we’d waited we might never have found the right time to do it again, as a member of the team might have been ill or some other obstacle might have meant it was a non-starter. Use apps such as Trello and Xero Projects to plan and track projects. You can view potential problems and changes and reevaluate from these apps as you go along.
Learn from your mistakes
One of the most important elements of any project is evaluating what you did well and what you could have done better. When completing the 3 Peaks Challenge, although we had more than enough equipment, we found that a) we could have done with investing in better equipment and b) we could have used it more efficiently. For example, it would have been a good idea to invest in stronger torches to illuminate the way more clearly in the dark and when we do it all again in the spring, we will make sure we bring spares, as we lost (or even gave away to two ladies who were stranded on Scafell Pike!) some of our equipment.
This is the same in a business. Although seemingly expensive at the outset, there are sometimes there are things that are worth investing in, which will bring a huge benefit to your company. An example of this is investing in the right accounting software for your business. The advantages of cloud-based accounting software, for example, include having 24/7 real-time access to your finances, security and the ease of sharing information with key people, including your accountant.
After climbing our first mountain, Ben Nevis, we discovered that running down the mountain, to make enough time for the others, probably didn’t pay off in the long-run, as it tired us out and probably slowed us down on our second mountain. The lesson here was to learn to pace ourselves. This can be the same in business, when not planning and rushing a project can have more of a negative effect (such as introducing errors) than if it was completed at a slower pace.
So far Rob and Steve have raised a total of £2394.00 – all to be donated to charity! We are incredibly proud of their achievements.
If you are interested in their causes or would like to donate:
Visit Rob’s page here.
Visit Steve’s page here.