“I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page.” When was the last time you heard that? Or said it? Are your team members on the same page?
When I worked as a backcountry guide we started every trip with a short orientation meeting. This set the tone, outlined the plan for the day, and gave everyone a chance to ask questions. The first item I talked about was always safety. I explained that I was fortunate enough to have a good safety record with no serious injuries to date and that I planned to continue that safety record on our trip today. I asked for everyone’s agreement to strive for that goal and for their help in achieving it. My clients always agreed to that goal, we had good trips, and never saw any serious injuries. Everyone was on the same page.
In his excellent Vehicle-Dependent Expedition Guide, Tom Sheppard explains the daily plan that he has developed and still uses on his many explorations into North Africa. Mr. Sheppard’s team members wake up 30 minutes before dawn, have breakfast, check their vehicles, pack up, and hit the trail, all within an hour. They stop for the next night’s camp at least 90 minutes before sunset. Each team member has assigned tasks and gets right to them, camp is set up, the evening meal is prepared, chores get done, and the team sets up for another early departure the next morning.
This could only work if everyone is on the same page.
It might be a tired metaphor, but it is useful. Even if you’re not leading a group of trucks across the Sahara.