Changes in the Tide

There have been two very significant articles in the newsletter lately . Both of them are about innovative thinking, new methods, and the ability of organizations to change. Both the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have changed radically in the last decade. Driven by lower budgets, fewer people, and increased complexity in areas they sample, they have changed not only their methods but their thinking. They are now customers and promoters of new ideas.

Large government agencies have long been known for too much attendance to their internal manuals and a great resistance to new ideas. This can change, as both these articles show. Such organizations (or at least parts of them) can now be at the forefront of testing and introducing new field techniques and cruise designs.

Behind each of the people making changes is an administrator who is allowing this kind of useful experimentation — and not always without discomfort or risk. A special blessing upon such people. There are a great many good ideas out there, but they get used only because there are field people willing to learn and apply them, and who are allowed to do so by their boss.

In a short number of years these two agencies have turned the tide and have begun to lead rather than resisting the ideas of other organizations. More power to them — and to the enlightened managers allowing it to happen.

Unlikely as it may be, we hope that all the deserving parties are rewarded, and we hope that other organizations are inspired to do similar work. There is a great deal of efficiency to be gained by employing even the techniques we have known about for 30 years, let alone some of the newer ones.

These newer techniques have a lot of practical improvements that can be seen by the people who are out there doing the work. We hope that they will continue to write and let us know what they discover. Our readers are always keen to hear about applications of ideas by those who are using them. There are other places to publish half-baked ideas. We think that the folks who read this newsletter want to hear about success stories and simple improvements.

Private companies may at some level compete, but as members of the cruising profession we are colleagues and often friends. If you have observations (even small ones), or questions about new ideas we enjoy hearing about them. Those comments are often the “poke in the ribs” that produce a new idea or a better explanation of a current method.

We are a lucky profession to have movers and shakers, at an operational level, who are out there changing the business.

Go get ’um …

Originally published April 2004

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