Missing The Iceberg

I have always been a little fascinated with the story of the Titanic.  I found myself thinking, “What if?” about so many little details during that fateful night in April 1912.  What if White Star Line wouldn’t have encouraged the captain to run at full speed in order to beat a previous record?  What if Edward Smith would have warned the captain about the icebergs lurking in the cold, dark water?  What if one less compartment was destroyed allowing the ship to stay afloat?  What if there were enough lifeboats?  Would the outcome of the legendary story have been any different if everyone would have come together as a team?  Maybe.  Probably.

Do you ever look back in hind sight and wonder “what on earth happened?” Why didn’t we meet that critical deadline?  Why didn’t we achieve the annual sales goal?  Why did we lose that high revenue client?  Naturally we all want an earth shattering reason that the results weren’t achieved but more often than not we find that it was something as simple as a lack in teamwork or poor communication that caused the downfall.

Now hopefully you aren’t sinking fast like the Titanic so how do you keep from ever going there?  Do you have a company vision and purpose statement that you communicate to your organization?  How often do you communicate it or do you just pop it on your website and hope it infiltrates into the organization?   It is imperative that your vision and purpose statement simply clarifies what direction everyone should be heading.  It is even more critical that you over communicate every chance you get.  Never make assumptions that everyone understands the steps needed to meet objectives.

At Beryl, the senior leadership team continuously focuses on our 3 year vision and how we are going to get there.  This vision is communicated at every group meeting, forum and town hall.  Prizes are often thrown into the audience to those who can quickly summarize the priorities of the organization.  It is printed on our badges and scrolls on our community t.v.’s in the hallways.  This vision keeps us from being blindsided by obstacles.  We’re able to focus on underlying issues that could affect our success.

To the captain of the Titanic, only the tip of  the iceberg showed above the water’s surface.  It probably appeared harmless on top of the water but under the water’s surface was an enormous surprise that not only sunk the unsinkable ship but took 1,514 lives that night.  If their vision and purpose were communicated well to the crew, maybe, just maybe, the Titanic would have forecasted the danger, missed the iceberg and wouldn’t even be an iconic story in history 100 years later.

Editors Note: For the past 12 years Lara Morrow has been The Queen of Fun & Laughter at The Beryl Companies, a title accidentally appointed due to her wacky personality.  She spearheads their internal communication, recognition, employee relations, leadership training and culture strategy. Her efforts have led to Beryl being recognized nine different times as a best place to work including being voted the #2 Best Medium Sized Company to work for in America. She is a co-author of Smile Guide, Employee Perspectives on Culture, Loyalty and Profit. After hours, Lara “releases steam” through her passion for cooking, blogging and reviewing local restaurants.

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About Marisa

Marisa Keegan is a leadership coach, trainer, and HR consultant for quickly growing organizations who are passionate about strengthening their employees, their brand, and their culture. She has helped lead the HR, culture, and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. She is an author at Fistful of Talent and Culture Fanatics. Marisa has her Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology and currently lives with her husband and twin boys in Richmond, Virginia.
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