Making Lemonade

Ah, the fresh air! The sunlight! The excitement at the prospect of making real forward progress! We are just now crawling out from under our rock and making baby steps as we come out of this [involuntary] protracted period of total regroup, otherwise known as, the coronavirus global pandemic.

We are in the fortunate, and rare, position of not having our plans affected negatively by this pandemic – at least, not yet, assuming quarantine life doesn’t become permanent. Certainly the timeline and several elements of our launch approach have been affected, but most unexpectedly these changes are generally for the better, as we now see! This is not what most of the hospitality industry is experiencing right now. We are (as for some reason, we always seem to be, no matter what it is!) an exception. Along with the big ol’ pile of lemons that COVID-19 handed us, we also seem to have a really nice quality juicer and pounds upon pounds of bulk sugar already in our cupboard…so we’re just making lemonade!

For starters, one thing we’ve learned to do is read a Gantt Chart. In the beginning, unbeknownst to us, our Gantt chart (which is basically a timeline) contained red flags. Below you can see two images: the one on bottom is our original Gantt, and the one on top is a new version (though it’s constantly evolving/being tweaked, as it is meant to be, to a certain extent.)

A Gantt shows actions across time. Generally speaking, I am becoming a believer that any project, major or minor, is going to contain steps that are generally proportionate to the overall scope and breadth of the project. If you have one step that takes 9 months, (see that orange block on bottom?) I now see that it is unlikely that steps leading up to that are only going to take a few weeks. I think in a well designed project, weird clunks and plateaus in your Gantt like this are red flags that you have not allowed enough time for your thing to evolve at the pace it needs. All the steps tend to be of proportionate size. Notice how the new Gantt on top smoothly and more continuously descends from right to left – I believe this is the “look” of a more sustainable project. It turns out there are tools you can use to design, tweak, and interpret Gantt charts as well – the Critical Path Method is one, which understands the chart as a function of both causal and resource limitations. Lots to learn! I’m going to be so smart when this is all over ! :/

A second thing we were able to run with in a positive way was a rearranging of our timeline. We realized that a) pitching a hospitality business at a time when many wondered if the hospitality industry was collapsing, perhaps should be delayed; b) we love it up here at our mission headquarters and wish to turn it into our personal residence sooner than later; c) that we need more than a few weeks to choose our sites for the proposed 28 units, and d) we’d like to get some roads improved and infrastructure in. This is a large scale, unique project, where each treehouse or cabin will need to fit into the sanctuary in a dynamic way, with a great view, good land contours, and compelling aesthetics and structural elements such as ledge or old growth trees. It takes time to hike around 500 acres and find those dynamic spots. So we’ve expanded the timeline, made space for those things, and accepted that this is going to be a slightly longer development process than we had hoped. Hey, it takes time to do things right! We’re 2+ years in and looking forward to our extremely well-planned next steps.

For now, we drink the lemonade and hunker down to the good work of site selection! We like this one for a raised cabin! What do you think??

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