The recent tragedy aboard the Costa Concordia occurred nearly a century after what is arguably the most well-known shipwreck of all time – the ill-fated RMS Titanic.  In both cases the ships were headed for disaster, and the Captains of both ships were unaware of the danger.

The coasts of Italy have been familiar to seafarers for well over 2000 years.  It is remarkable that such extensively charted shorelines should claim a ship equipped with all the latest technology.  We may go slightly easier on Captain Smith of the Titanic, given his lack of radar; but only slightly.

The captains of industry have a chequered record too.  The mighty Lehman Brothers came to grief, as did many other big banks, in the GFC of 2008.  Very few economic pundits were crying “danger ahead” before the economic crash – but they could all read the signs after we hit the rocks!

What lessons can we learn from these great maritime and economic disasters?   They have much to teach us, and we all have much to learn.  We are in greatest danger when we forget we have much to learn.  But let me pick 2 lessons.

First, we must be vigilant and ready to change course before we encounter our nemesis.  In business life, it can be very costly to be wise after the event.  We navigate economic seas that are more like those of Titanic than Concordia – our dangers are dynamic and often newly arrived.  What worked in the past may not work for us in the future, and we need to be constantly ready for change.  And, importantly, we need to give ourselves enough time to change.

Second, we need our staff to become responsive, adaptable, and agile.  A tardy turning of the rudder didn’t help, but, in reality, Titanic was simply too unresponsive to escape the iceberg.   We cannot tell what lies before us, but we can be pretty sure the world hasn’t stopped changing.  To meet the challenges of the future, we need our businesses and our people to be agile, responsive, and ready for change.

Human error aside, we navigate turbulent waters – some more so than others.  We can’t stop change from happening, but we can become better at handling it.  There are things you can do; and developing the change readiness of your organization should certainly be on your agenda.  Contact Redequip - we can help your people get ready for change.

Steve Barlow

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