Sailing and Organisation

I sail. It’s not a dangerous sport as long as you take the right precautions – a certain amount of knowledge and skill, proper planning, understanding the environment and its impact, having the right tools and equipment to hand, not making assumptions, having procedures in place. If all of that is in-hand then sailing is absolutely brilliant fun. Sailing a boat is not so very different from running a business – whether it’s a single-hander or a multi-million pound enterprise.

Sailing a boat and anchoring at Osborne Bay at Sunset
Osborne Bay at Sunset

Sailing is one of those activities where teamwork makes the difference. It’s essential to stay safe, and if you are racing or wanting to get to a certain place by a certain time, it is crucial. Organisations could learn a lot from great sailing teams.

  1. Hire the best people – the best people are not necessarily the ones with all the certificates, but may well be the ones with all the right attitudes. You can teach someone to sail – you can’t teach someone to not be a fool.
  2.  Work together – spend time together honing your relationship, communication processes, understanding strengths and weaknesses. A new team doesn’t win straight off – unless they are incredibly lucky or if the opposition is non-existent.
  3.  Be clear about what is expected – give people clear parameters within which to work, give them the skills and tools to do a good job, give and receive feedback on how it’s going.
  4.  Get out of the way! – four hands trying to tie one rope doesn’t work.
  5.  Listen – if you are at the helm and someone else is at the sharp end telling you that there is an obstacle ahead, then listen, whether they are the Head of Finance or the galley steward.
  6.  Build up your people –a team that has “failed” will feel deflated and exhausted by the process. Remind them that getting from A to B is an achievement, even if you came last. And every situation teaches; you will learn more from coming last than the team who came first, as long as you are minded to.
  7.  Celebrate the things that matter – sitting on deck with a glass of something refreshing, watching the sun go down is one of the most fabulous feelings. Doing it with your team is just the best.

If you need help with any of the above then give me a call – from the foredeck or over the phone. See About Me for contact details.

Post first published on LinkedIn 15th Jan 2020.