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.

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.

Two boats had come alongside. The Quartermaster and Officer of the Watch were trying to repel boarders and wake up the crew.

I rushed back, grabbed something useful to defend the ship, so did a bunch of crew. Alarm was raised, cabin doors were locked.

We ran to rope the pirates used to climb on board. This was the Second chance to repel boarders after a grappling hook was thrown.

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 I learned from fighting pirates (not in the Caribbean)

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.