Business Lessons from the Capsized Cruise Liner

You’ve heard about the Italian cruise liner that ran aground the other day, killing a number of passengers and potentially ruining one of the world’s largest cruise line companies.

The accident has been blamed on a very poor decision by the ship’s captain. He ignored company policy and departed from the ship’s approved course. He wanted to get closer to a scenic, and famously rocky, island coastline.

The guy must have thought that the captain’s stripes gave him the authority to treat his huge liner like a Farmville game. Instead of a memorable treat, he gave his passengers a tragedy.

Many CEOs have make the same mistake with their companies. They let large egos and carelessness capsize the company, and the livelihoods of hard working employees. But cruise-line and jumbo jet captains are specifically trained to succeed by making the fewest possible mistakes and focusing on constant course corrections.

They usually leave “top gun” navigational exploits to men and women at the helms of smaller, more agile craft.

This Italian officer tried to get too cute with his mega-cruiser and got set straight by some large rocks. Now his passengers and company must pay the price.

Know of any large companies who have run great companies aground? I can think of a few.

Unfortunately, a small and potentially very agile startup can make a different but equally foolhardy mistake when it apes huge companies’ organization, strategy and marketing. Ignoring its main strengths, agility and responsiveness, it strays into major sea lanes or flight paths . . . and stalls or runs aground.

The business leader or entrepreneur who really understands his or her proper market position, based on intrinsic company values and qualities, is the best navigator.

Let your core message and common sense be your compass and thrive in the internet age.

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