Combating scores of heavily armed pirates was not part of the 'job description'
when I signed on the articles of my ship. Yet, the merchant navy ethos of doing
whatever it takes to safeguard the crew, the ship and the cargo wins above
everything else. If you have seen the movie CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, you will understand
what I mean.
I was reminded of this story because I was talking about it in a workshop on
business transformations. I repeat it here because it will be relevant to many
executives ﬁghting the hard corporate battles, without adequate backup.
Two boats had come alongside. The Quartermaster and
Officer of the Watch were trying to repel boarders and wake
up the crew.
I was sleeping in my cabin when i heard shouts from the
deck. I had expected a peaceful night at anchor, but alas it
was not to be.
I rushed back, grabbed something useful to defend the ship,
so did a bunch of crew. Alarm was raised, cabin doors were
We ran to rope the pirates used to climb on board. This was
the Second chance to repel boarders after a grappling hook
The second pirate got on the ship,we were too late. He
unleashed a big weapon, giving others enough time to board.
All came with weapons.
You can read the rest of the story in my full blog post here.
What does this have to do with corporate battles?
It was not a huge loss of goods. Still, this incident rankles in my memory as I try
and think about what we could have done better. We could have a number of
watchmen instead of just one person on duty. We could have also run faster to
prevent the ladder being lowered to the pirates. We could have better weapons for
a fairer ﬁghting chance.
But, in another set of situations, I see people grappling with impossible odds with
inadequate weapons all the time. I am talking about business transformations
that I help companies with for the last 19 years.
Traditional tools of industrial age - methodologies, knowledge, practices and
power structures are regularly deployed to fight superior forces of information age.
Most people do not know the difference between the information age weapons
and the industrial age tools, till it is too late
Take a look at the graphic below. If you are convinced that you have everything for
the fight ahead - head out to this link to confirm your opinion.
On the other hand, if you are still taking stock of the situation, like I was doing
from the boat deck before sending the repelling party out, this link will
immediately give you the necessary information to formulate your game plan.