Geri Stengel

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Problem Solving: A Little Help From My Friends

I honed my hiking skills on well marked trails throughout the Northeast. If the weather wasn’t good, I didn’t hike. This didn’t prepare me for trekking the Himalayas in April. Like today’s economy, this was uncharted territory more hostile than I’d ever faced before. 

peer support and problem solving celebratedA few years ago, seven friends and I decided to go where few tourists have gone – Bhutan. It truly is the last remaining Shangri-La, nestled in between India and China in the eastern end of the Himalaya Mountains.
The day we set out on our trek was beautiful – so warm, in fact, that we only wore t-shirts and packed light jackets in our day pack. First it started to drizzle, which turned into a heavy wet snow as the air grew cold. To this day I don’t know how our guide separated from us, but he did.
Things got serious when we entered a meadow a little before dusk and the trail was covered in snow. We were shivering and without matches to light a fire. We choose to go back into the woods to find a more sheltered spot in hopes that our guide would find us there. The guys built a lean-to for shelter and we did everything not to envision ourselves the basis for a “true story” movie, about Americans foolish enough to get lost in an exotic land losing limbs due to frostbite or worse yet our lives. Our rescue was far less dramatic; after several angina-inducing hours, we were found.
Setting direction in this economy can feel a little like being lost in a snowstorm, but this is no time to be a lone wolf. My friends and I problem solved together and so can you using an existing support network of colleagues, employees or Ventureneer. The worst thing you can do is get frozen and do nothing. Sharing ideas is both productive and reassuring. It kept my friends and me positive. And along the way, you might just get “found,” too – by an investor or an ideal strategic partner or an invaluable mentor.
In mid 2009, Ventureneer will offer the ability to problem solve online in a style that is best suited to you. You can research on your own, or if you prefer having things done for you, you can hire a consultant. For those who like to collaborate, you can take virtual classes, join online discussion groups and share lessons learned.
If you have a moment, why don’t you share your problem-solving secrets? We could all use a little help from our friends…