Ever heard of Orienteering?

Orienteering is an outdoor sport where you have to figure out where to go based on figuring out where you are. Running a business in today is a lot like Orienteering. I figure there are Orienteering lessons we can apply to Marketeering. Here’s what I found…

In Orienteering, competitors race through unfamiliar (and often rugged) terrain with the use of map and compass. The object: be the fastest to traverse to each pre-marked checkpoints. Participants use natural and man-made landmarks to understand where they are, and where to head next. There is no set route to follow, competitors have to choose their own path between checkpoints.

Lessons from Orienteering

Tips to navigating your business from point A to point B in unfamiliar and rugged terrain.


By using existing linear features (such as trails, fences, roads, and streams) plotted along the route, this technique enables the orienteer to move rapidly on the ground . They can also be used as limits or boundaries between control points.

In business, these are similar to brand guardrails and/or your mission statement. These are the fixed points that help you plot your business. The rules and guides we use to keep our products, services, and brand properly managed. Use the things you have set in stone as your handrails.

Use these to prevent short-term challenges with the economy pushing you into business decisions you’ll regret in the long-term. Move quickly and with certainty using business handrails as your guide.

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

Relocation is the art of finding out exactly where you are after getting lost. Methods differ based on the type of terrain you are in. (Moss doesn’t always grow on the north side of a tree). The more you practice relocation skills then the quicker they will become. This helps prevent a minor mishap from developing into a total disaster!

Do you know where you are? How well your business is performing vs. the competition? How your customers truly feel about your products/services? Maybe you aren’t lost. Nevertheless, you need to understand exactly where you are before you can decide how to get where you’re going.

The difference between business and Orienteering is that, now, instead of wandering into unfamiliar terrain… We have stayed in place while the unfamiliar terrain has moved in around us. If necessary, stay put for a moment until you get your bearings.

Spend Your Energy Wisely

Remember to pace yourself when Orienteering. It is tempting to go “flat-out” in the first part of a race, but don’t forget you’ve still got several checkpoints ahead of you so conserve your energy. Your ability to think under pressure and make wise decisions is more important than speed or endurance.

Perhaps you need to heavy-up your spending or belt-tightening in the first quarter, but keep in mind the resources you may need for the rest of the year.

First Aid: Prevention Better Than Cure

One of the most important aspects of first aid training for orienteering events is being able to recognize symptoms and treat them before they become a serious concern. Prevention is better than waiting out the cure.

Know your company’s limits. Recognize where and when there is weakness or fatigue and attend to it. Recognize the simple strain that is slowing you down and treat it before it turns into a break and stops you.

Ignore Competitors

When you first start orienteering it can be very tempting to follow other competitors. However, this not only completely defeats the object of competing in the first place. Furthermore, you may end up following someone who is lost or is in a completely different event to you. Learn to use self-confidence and follow your own route.

While you need to be aware of what your business competitors are doing, you should have the self-confidence to create your own route.

How well equipped is your company to navigate in today’s unfamiliar, rugged territory?

More About Orienteering

Orienteering started as a military training technique by the Swedish army in the 1890s. In the 1900s a scout leader in Sweden, trying to motivate young runners through interesting terrain, turned Orienteering into a sport.

You can learn more about the sport on the International Orienteering Federation website.