This morning we were due to be involved with a management development programme based out of Port Hamble. However the weather forecast predicated 25 Knots+ and rain so the less hardy decided a later start was best. This meant that I had a chance to observe the Monday morning activity at this busy south coast marina. I am a regular sailor and have done my fair share of racing in the past but even so I was surprised by the number of people employed and active at the yard.
Many of the yards on the East coast have 4-10 employees during the week and eek out an living doing odd jobs for those who don’t have the skills for that particular nautical challenge. However here were multiple teams busy cleaning, repairing and improving boats of many different sizes back on shore from the weekend excursions in the racing scene.
This reminded me that whilst we may think we know about a subject it is often this very knowledge that causes communication problems in business. My understanding of sailing is good; but it is good for East Coast cruising not south coast racing. I have little idea of the costs and processes that are followed by these teams of support staff. Similarly they have little idea of the unique challenges of doing hull repairs from a small rubber dinghy in a busy shipping lane.
When we discuss our business plans with those around us it is a very delicate balancing act between making assumptions of understanding and being patronisingly detailed. Sometimes testing the understanding with the “So what are you planning to do?” question is good but even this can be seen as interfering by those who think they are good at what they do and know the next steps. We also need to put our selves in a place of continual learning particularly when we are in a new environment.
The good news is that as the weather lifted mid morning the skills we had all brought to the boat came together. We all had a good time afloat and learnt from each other. It looked like a familiar place, the results were familiar but it was a different world.