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Lessons for Change from Bungee Jumping

I went bungee jumping over twenty years ago in Ottawa at the Great Canadian Bungee Jumping site at Wakefield, Chelsea Quebec. During that memorable experience I was reminded of several important lessons that I believe are valuable for change initiatives.

For context,

“Visualize an amphitheater of solid limestone, 200 ft. high, surrounding a 160 ft. deep aqua-blue, spring-fed lagoon, larger than 3 football fields. This is the only place in the Americas where one can experience a 200 ft. head (or body) dip. Your 160 ft. rebound is higher than the entire jump height at any other site in the US or Canada!”


Change as a Conscious Choice

The following is not a picture of me… I was not that composed nor stylish. The main lesson learned was that it is called bungee “jumping” not bungee “falling” for a reason. Change, like bungee jumping, is a conscious, focused and often dramatic focus, not something you should fall or stumble aimlessly upon.


The Change Team and Partners

For initiatives that have significant risk (threats and / or opportunities), it is important that you can trust that your change team and its partners are qualified and competent to get the job done. It comes down to the old risk management phrase, do you feel rich (to pay for the delays or threats) or do you feel lucky (that it might actually magically work out)?

In this instance, the GCB over the years has been a leader in the industry. You may not require this level of professionalism or leadership for your projects, but when it is something as serious as health and safety or legislative requirements or the sustainability / viability of your organization it certainly should be a serious consideration.

  • The equipment GCB uses meets or exceeds the Canadian Bungee Association (CBA), North American Bungee Association (NABA), British Elastic Rope Sports Association (BERSA), Standards Association of New Zealand (SANZ) and Australian specifications. In addition many of the items also have Union International Alpinism Association (UIAA), ULI and NFPA approvals.
  • GCB uses the latest technology in Bungee Cord design & safety.
  • Since its inception, GCB has been involved in the research and testing of new products, procedures and the development of safety associations and standards.
  • In 1992 GCB helped form the Canadian Bungee Association (CBA) and authored safety guidelines for the organization. These guidelines are now used in several jurisdictions around the world to regulate bungee jumping. The guideline has also been used as a basis for the guidelines of other bungee safety organizations, such as the North American Bungee Association (NABA). GCB, is also a member of the NABA and GCB President sits on its Board of Directors as the Chair of Safety Standards


Tailoring Change

Change is also tailored to the organization and the individuals. Do you really need to spend the time, money and deal with the stress? In my case it was good honest peer pressure and I went along with some friends… and I am really glad that I took the challenge.

There are always different approaches and ways to manage the project. Business cases help out in choosing the right approach. With bungee jumping you could either jump with an ankle harness attachment or a body harness attachment. I chose the later. You can jump with your eyes open or closed, scream or yell or simply grasp for breath.  Experience and training helps in choosing what to do and not just going through the motions or blindly reacting.



As with many things in life, I remember being slightly terrified of taking the jump, but I was extremely glad that I did afterwards. That story was similar both for bungee jumping and many of the projects I have managed.

Peter Milsom

Peter Milsom is an entrepreneurial advocate for sensible, sustainable change delivery practice. Peter has come to realize that sustainability is the perfect catalyst for Project / Programme / Portfolio / Risk / Value / Business Case and Benefits Management improvement. As an entrepreneurial methodologist Peter's unique value proposition is the vast array of tools and techniques that he brings to every engagement using the most cost effective and efficient methods based on the situation and tailored to meet your needs. This is based on his unique combination of experience and extensive training / certifications in change delivery, value / risk / benefits management business case, and business architecture.

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