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Are you rocking or missing the boat? (HarvardBusiness Blogs)

image Being a former professional mariners and a person whose entire career has been connected to the sea, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed the maritime metaphors that populated Bill Taylor’s post today (May 18, 2009) in his Practically Radical blog over at HarvardBusiness.org Voices. (Recession Leadership: On Sinking the Boat, Missing the Boat, and Rocking the Boat)

Taylor’s premise is pretty simple and while framed in recessionary thinking, I believe that it applies in good times as well. You can be afraid of “sinking the boat” which might possibly cause you to “miss the boat.” Or you can take risk by “rock the boat,” making waves and changing course. He illustrates his argument with some great examples including Kellogg’s promotion of Rice Krispies during the Great Depression and Apple’s launching the iPod a few weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001. He writes:

You don’t have to be as bold as Kellogg or as daring as Steve Jobs. But don’t use the long shadow of the economic crisis as an excuse to downsize your dreams or stop taking chances. The challenge for leaders in every field is to emerge from turbulent times with closer connections to their customers, with more energy and creativity from their people, and with greater distance between them and their rivals. The organizations that I admire are determined to offer a compelling alternative to a demoralizing status quo — as the only way to create a compelling future for themselves.

I had the great fortune to see Bill Taylor speak at the Business Innovation Factory’s BIF-2 conference in October 2006. This event, put together by Saul Kaplan, is a similar format as the very popular TED Talks. Here’s a video of his presentation.

Here’s a review that I wrote of his business bestseller Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Winfor the Sea-Fever blog.

Bill Taylor is always a thoughtful writer and entertaining speaker on leadership, so please read this post and subscribe to his blog.

About the author

Peter A. Mello, Founder/Editor Founder of Weekly Leader and Sea-Fever Consulting, LLC, a leadership development and strategic communications consultancy. Previously, CEO of an international nonprofit organization and COO of a national insurance/risk management services firm. Peter has been leading people and managing organizations for over 30 years, writes a leadership column for MarineNews magazine and blogs about maritime culture at Sea-Fever. Follow him on Twitter.

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