Why Business is like... crossing the bog

Ramblers, woolly-hatted and bushy-browed, are not obvious role models for the business world. But threaten to fence off their favourite path and watch them paint the placards and chain themselves to railings. When they are faced with a collapsed bridge, watch them assess the situation, whip out an Ordnance Survey map and work out an alternative route up that mountain. Think Janet Street-Porter, erstwhile president of the Ramblers' Association: there's a hiker who doesn't let much get in her way.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

So where does the militant moor-tramping fit into the business world? Think of your obstacles as bogs to cross. What do you do when you realise your business plan is out of date and the market has left you behind? 'Speed up,' urges Patrick Snowball, deputy chair at insurance giant Towergate. 'Slow down, and you'll sink.' In other words, don't hang around strategising. Get on with it - and fast.

His two decades in the military served him well after he went corporate. 'When disaster struck, others around me would freeze,' says Snowball. 'Like a rabbit in the headlights, they would call a halt to initiatives already under way, put the fundamental questions out to research and wait.' But without fast decision-making and an ability to change pace, you'll be up to your chin in bogwater before you know it.

Richard Branson's bog came early, when yet another postal strike looked set to stymie his new Virgin Mail Order Records business. Within a week, he had pulled the plug on mail order and opened a record store on Oxford Street.

We're not expecting you to rock up to the office in hiking boots or bivouac in the boardroom, but as they say in the Scouts: 'Be prepared.' Pull on the Gore-tex and face that bog like a rambler.

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