Trampelpfad is a German word that perfectly describes a concept globally understood. Also known as a ‘desire path’ (or an Olifantenpad ‘elephant path’ in Dutch) these are the naturally created paths made by humans and animals that offer the most direct, quick, efficient and natural route to a given destination.
Once established, they influence the route others travel. Over time, that route becomes both the most comfortable and universally understood ‘best path’.
A Trampelpfad often causes dismay to planners, who find that a theoretically sound, planned route rarely survives its first interaction with humans.
Planners at Ohio State University, understanding this, chose to leave their newly built campus unpaved. Students were allowed to form a web of ‘desire paths’ over time. Once formed, the planners then paved the ‘natural’ paths to make formal navigation of the campus easy, natural and comfortable.
We believe this is no different to any change programme. As much as we like to theorise about what ‘perfect’ looks like as we embark on change, it too often requires a pathway which is simply at odds with the organisation, its people and culture. 'Perfect’ is therefore rarely, if ever, achieved.
It’s critical to first understand the destination and to then work out how to get there. And in a way that fits with the culture of an organisation and its people and teams.
We have cut many such paths before, and have successfully led organisations and their people to a better, transformed state.
Our mission is to help create an organisation’s own trampelpfad(s).
To learn more about how to find the trampelpfad for your organisation, please get in touch.