Above the Tree Line
In the alpine regions of northern Italy, trees don’t grow above 2,100 metres. Back in January, I was in
the Dolomites at an altitude of 2,500 metres looking out over an astonishing vista. The Sun is
shining, the sky is blue and the view is awe inspiring. I can clearly see the clusters of trees down
below me, I can see the clear ways through the trees and I can see the villages in the valley, way
down below, Ortisei to my left, Colfosco to my right and Selva straight out in front of me.
From this vantage point I can clearly see the way to each one of those villages, and from here, I
could draw an outline map to get me to any one of them, I could determine the distance, and I could
estimate the resources I would need to make the journey – time, food, water, equipment and so on.
However, when I was down in the forest earlier, on my way up here, I was in amongst the trees, and
I had no overview of this panorama. All I could see was what was right in front of me; the forest
floor, the undergrowth, branches, leaves, and snow. In summary, all I could see were obstacles,
constraints and limitations. From there, if I wanted to get to any of the villages, I could not see
where they were, I could not discern the routes and I could not know what I would need to get me
Likewise, when we are working on formulating strategy for our business, we cannot do it effectively
if we are down in the forest amongst the undergrowth, looking at all the constraints and limitations
around us, while struggling to discern a compelling and inspiring future from that point of view. It
just doesn’t work. In effect, when we are working on strategy we need to keep our thought process
up above the tree line, with our eyes fixed on the chosen destination, free of constraints, so that we
can work out what we are going to need to need to get to where we want to go. While it does take
concentrated effort and discipline to get up and stay up in the rarefied air above the tree line it is
definitely worth the effort.
We have got to get ourselves out of the forest, otherwise, we won’t be able to see the wood for the