What can sailing a yacht teach you about running a business? It turns out, a lot! After organising numerous sailing days for companies large and small, Withinnovation believe that there is no better way to dissect group dynamics and practise fundamental business skills than to load a team onto a sail boat and help them navigate the water. But what skills in particular does this activity enhance? Here are our top five…
1. Role assignment
Famous Polymath Rabindranath Tagore said, “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” And he’s right, which is why every person on a sailing yacht is assigned a unique responsibility to drive the yacht forward. One person steers, another adjusts the sails while everybody looks out for traffic and changes to the weather. If someone tries to do another person’s job, the boat loses momentum. Much like in business, it is of vital importance to assign roles and give individuals the freedom to explore and own their responsibilities. A sailing yacht provides a stimulating and neutral space for team mates to explore this basic principle.
Sailing offers a dilemma that many other sports don’t: it is unpredictable and influenced by elements out of your control. While an initial strategy may have been agreed upon, there is no doubt that, in time, this will need adjusting. A minor turn in the weather can be all that’s needed to completely disrupt the yacht’s rhythm, and that might require the team to rethink how they’re working. This concept, of course, is not too dissimilar to the way a business runs. Change happens, and with every new direction, a team must work together to co-ordinate a revised plan of action.
3. Precise communication
Unless every person on the yacht is crystal clear about the overall strategy and their job within that, the whole experience will suffer. Good management involves clear, precise communication and consistent, constructive feedback. If the sailing boat is about to enter difficult waters, it is imperative every team member is aware of this and understands the plan once it hits. Interrupting one another or, worse, saying nothing, will only lead to trouble. Such skills are fundamentals in the workplace but often require some practise away from the office environment.
Every problem encountered on a sailing yacht can be solved. But unlike back at the office, you can’t put it off until tomorrow or ask Google for help. Everything needed to fix an issue is right there on the boat, and so creative, intuitive and immediate thinking is required. Giving up is also not an option in the middle of wide-open waters. Sailing can be a test of one’s creative problem solving skills and overall attitude to the unexpected.
5. Patience and manners
When businessman Jonathan Banks sailed the world for four years, he learned that politeness and persistence were two attributes that got him where he needed to be. Keeping a cool head was not only important for effective communication, but for maintaining the safety of his crew. Barking orders, growing impatient and becoming flustered never helps a sail boat progress. Keeping calm under pressure and making confident, rational and thoughtful decisions does. These attributes are transferable back to the workplace and can help teams to reflect on their mannerisms in day-to-day business.
At Withinnovation, we encourage businesses to undertake activities that allow teams to reflect on their current workings and identify areas of improvement. A sail boat offers a totally unique space for all aspects of a business to be looked at. If you’d like to make an enquiry about having a company sailing day, you can contact us today on 02039 119 900.