When it comes to resource management, working with horses achieves two specific objectives: a) it unravels the existing frame of reference of individuals and teams, in practice, making the outcome visible to everyone, and b) it provides the context to test and experiment multiple solutions to the same problem.
Horse Assisted Education bridges the knowing with the doing, in the shortest time possible while providing a context of uncertainty and complexity. You can test the impact of your decisions and actions on a time frame of a couple of years in just a couple of hours.
The resources used in horse assisted education exercises are exactly the same as in any business: internal to the team (the organization), external (expertise and competency), material (space, technical materials), know how (non-material), partners and stakeholders with their own will (the horses).
Limited and unlimited resources
The two most frequent perspectives to resource management are those of limited and limitless. The first one is to consider that there are limited resources: if I use some of them, you will not be able to. The second one is to consider unlimited resources and lean into the infinite cognitive capacities of the human mind to imagine new solutions which simply rewrite the limits, in this case, of the resources.
As much as I love all the creative challenges of problem solving, I believe there are some limits which would be better recognized that rewritten. Time is one of them. The sun will eventually set and rise in our lives, projects, business. The month, the year, our lives will eventually come to an end. The physical space is probably the most visible resource we need to manage daily; there is only so much space on this planet. If I occupy this space, you cannot occupy it also. There are also some more dynamic limits, like the individual freedoms of others (individuals or species inhabiting the same space).
In all perspectives, the first step to generate value from any given combination of resources is to have some understanding of how the resource looks like (what is?) and what it can do for you (what can it be useful for?) in the context of the objective you are trying to reach.
1st lesson – resources are there, but do we really see them?
The first important lesson one can learn while working with horses is about the difference between the physical and the mental space we live in. Many times, the physical surroundings of the arena are stocked with more resources than anyone would need to solve the exercise at hand. The resources are available, in plain sight and are mostly rather simple objects. People look at them, and then continue with whatever solution they were testing.
You are looking at something. Are you seeing it? You are looking at someone. Are you seeing him/her?
The physical presence of resources is simply not enough to trigger an action, if the usage of those resources is not readily available in the mental maps of those looking at them.
2nd lesson – ask the right questions to the right people and you will receive the right answers
The second lesson you may learn in a horse assisted education event is that your capacity of resources usage is limited by your ability to ask questions, your choices of whom you address them to and your listening availability. You noticed it! It has little to do with the actual available resources.
Are you asking questions about resources to the right people? (i.e. the staff assisting you with the learning experience for expertise requiring questions)? Are your questions exploring or trying to prove your point?
3rd lesson – what about the internal resources of your team?
The third lesson which arises with some teams is about internal existing resources. Someone in the team foresees both the problems and the solutions a little ahead of everyone else. When does he speak up? When is he listened to?
How are the internal knowledge resources being used? Feel free to touch on to the ego and status subjects!
4th lesson – self-imposed limits
The fourth lesson springs from the subject of time. We see many teams self-impose limits pertaining to time. Mainly for safety reasons, some exercises have no defined time frame, or the pace is simply imposed to a walk level. Speed of physical movement is not the point in horse assisted education. In this context, every now and then, teams impose a limit either on the total time or on the time allotted to the individuals on the team. Time is indeed limited. The questions to ask may be: What additional limits should we set for ourselves? What are the criteria for setting those limits?
On a larger scale: What are the real limits and what are the self-imposed limits? What limits can we negotiate, remove or change?
5th lesson – know your stakeholders well!
The fifth lesson is about stakeholders, beneficiaries and partners. Who teams up with whom? Who’s needs are taken into account? (and who’s are not!) Are there any “collateral victims”?
On this lesson axis, should your resource management goals be on the strategic level, you can even go beyond decisions and actions and test multiple strategies, by changing the role the horses play in the exercise.
If you have the approach and want to test it or if you are building it now, book a one-day activity with horses. It will be the best investment of your team’s time!