My life has recently been dominated by weekends developing a section on the Coromandel. This weekend we had one of our biggest challenges yet. Moving a 3.5m wide x 3.0m high 350kg water tank into a tight spot.
My partner Simon and I had no idea how we were going to do it. Just that it would be done. Sitting here now relishing in success, it occurred to me that it has similarities with organisational change. Let me explain.
1. It seemed really freaking hard!
Here is a picture of the water tank as it was dumped on the edge of the section. It's a big one. Neither of us had done this before. To say we were trepidatious would be an understatement.
2. We didn't know where to start.
We mentioned to a neighbour we were moving it, and he suggested a technique that had worked for him that involved rope (see the picture below). So we went to town and bought some rope. We also went to the hire shop and borrowed some strops, which he thought may come in handy. Over breakfast we checked out some YouTube videos. We got back to the section with the tank still looming large. It seemed ridiculous that we were about to move this thing!
But in the end, we decided to just start. First up, we wrapped two strops around the tank, and attached another strop ready to pull it on to it's side. This was no big step at all, but it got the ball rolling. We had momentum.
3. We got some people interested.
As soon as it was apparent that we were getting ready, the neighbours came out. We had a mix of people looking on - some risk averse who were concerned for what might go wrong. And others who were just keen to get cracking. At this stage, we had a little hurdle with some people suggesting we hold off until we could get a crane. However we were convinced we could do this ourselves, albeit with some support. However we appeased the (potentially valid) concerns by placing some chocks and moving cars in case it took off down the street!
4. We found a cheerleader.
At this stage we really needed a cheerleader. Our neighbour who had drawn us the diagram earlier in the day was keen to help. I wandered over and told him we were starting. He came over and immediately we knew this was happening. He gave us a bit of encouragement that we were on the right track. He was also able to rustle up lots of other neighbours to provide the manpower we needed. Before we knew it, the water tank was on it's side and we were ready to roll (literally and metaphorically). It took courage to get this thing started, and as soon as the water tank had been flipped over, all of a sudden the rest of it looked doable.
5. We got some leaders showing the way.
We started rolling. We had to roll up two small hills and change direction about three times. A couple of people at the start were giving directions to the rest of us "pushers". This wasn't just pure man (and woman) power, but needed quite delicate manoeuvring in parts.
6. We got rid of obstacles.
Simon was on hand with his chainsaw that we'd gotten ready beforehand to drop a few trees in the way. The weekend earlier we had cleared the obvious trees in the way. We wanted to make decisions on marginal trees on the day. We didn't want more collateral damage than was absolutely necessary. It worked a treat because we know the two casualties on the day were 100% necessary to get the tank through.
7. We found an expert.
As we were pushing the tank up the second hill, a couple of guys joined the brigade who were just happening past. One of them happened to be a plumber and drainlayer who had moved tanks before. His expert knowledge was vital. For example he knew to put a plank under the tank edge when flipping it upright so as to not gauge out the crusher dust. He obviously saw what was happening and wanted to help and boy were we grateful!
8. We prepared everything in advance.
We did a lot of prep for the 25 minutes it took to move the tank. We had measured our spot, ensuring retaining wall height would fit in regulations. We had measured the path to ensure it was at least 3 metres, and identified which trees may be marginal on the day. Then we'd got the digger in to flatten the spot and lay the crusher dust. Then we had compacted the crusher dust to get a good surface. We had also bought a tank and had it delivered all ready for the day. If we hadn't done our prep it would have been much much harder on the day.
9. We took care of the finer details.
Once we had moved it into place, we pushed it this way and that until it was just right. We knew that once we had finished with this, we didn't want to revisit it. So we tried to get it as perfect as we could.
10. We celebrated our success.
And finally we celebrated. Lots of high fives, relieved sighs, and thank you's. Everyone was about to get ready to leave for the weekend but we will buy everyone beers to say thanks. It was also amazing to get the whole neighbourhood out for a bit of community bonding.
- Do your prep.
- Get a cheerleader.
- Don't be put off by people who don't see the vision.
- Be prepared to get any obstacles out of the way, fast.
- Accept any expert help that comes your way.
- And finally just get started. It's less scary when you're underway.