Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Introduction to Sailing Your Business

This book can teach you to sail a boat, your business, and your life. Each requires a voyage and a destination, a goal, and decisions on how to get there safely, effectively and successfully. This book will help the sailor do better business and the business person sail their company into the future. The success in this type of sailing is not determined solely by finances but on how well you integrate your values. A true measure of legacy is integrity. Integrating people, planet, and purpose with your profit will help you win the race. Sailing Your Business uses the metaphor of sailing to help you integrate integrated systems approach into your business strategy.  Our team building workshops help everyone get on board to build resilience and speed over water. With just ten years to dramatically change many systems so to protect our atmosphere learning how to sail in trouble waters may save more than your company, it may help to save the planet. Sailing Your Business seamlessly integrates sustainability into stakeholder practice. Just like in a boat you have to set your sails to the prevailing winds if you want to make progress over water. However, you choose to measure value I am sure this book will help you to launch an exciting voyage while having more fun. 

The author Daisy Carlson, built her business from backpack to international notoriety with a robust corporate social responsibility framework. Carlson lived between Sausalito, New York, and Italy but more recently has docked in Marin County. 

Note from the author: 

The wind howls as I huddle under the Bimmeny. The sun is beginning it's decent and glistening on the currents crests. The tide is going out so fast, I can see a distant kayaker fighting against the current to reach the shore. Many boats are rocking in the strong breeze as the wind whistles through and halyards play bells on the masts.

If all these boats were business which would succeed?

Each vessel has operating systems, honed by their skippers, each skipper has been faced with makeshift days and the array of choices they force themselves to afford at the local chandlery. Some skippers invest in all the glory days and good looks, but would not be able to get across the bay in a fair wind, others have afforded themselves nothing but a dream and have set out across the seven seas in 30 feet of wood planking and hand-sewn canvas sails. In this harbor, there is at least one example of each and everything in the middle. It wasn’t until I myself took up sailing and boat ownership that I realized the same principles that apply to successful sailing apply to a successful business. 

When I  pulled myself from my own boat, to captain my most challenging vessel lost in troubled seas, my business, that finally learned to be a sailor and a captain. Each morning when I take my place at the helm of 26th and fifth avenue in NY,  I read the tides, check the winds, and set my course. There have been days of fair sailing and others hold up in dark coves trying to avoid the pirates, there have been tempests that have challenged every muscle in my body. As you can imagine after several decades of voyaging on a small business much like a hand-built wooden boat there have been rewards and mishaps, days of plenty and days when not a fish in the sea would bite. We were a wooden boat in a sea of commercial yachts, yet somehow we prevailed profitably.

The basic principles in becoming a successful captain and keeping any size boat, your business, afloat whatever the size is as follows. Chart your course, know your destination, maintain your operating systems, trim your sails to the prevailing winds and most importantly act with dignity and fair play. Do not compromise your crew or neglect your mission or your vessel.

They say sailing is 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror. I would say this is true of business as well. Yet both sailing and business ownership are very compelling. In sailing the analogies are so loaded with Homeric odysseys and traveling tales. To the true business owner, there is an I would hope the same sort of poetry, if not my recommendation would be to jump ship.

Select your voyages, your crew, and your ship wisely. Know that the value of sailing a boat is not just the destination but the voyage. The value of a business is not just a mono-crop of money but an opportunity to build community and great service. Business’ too express much value in the journey. I challenge sailors to rise to the opportunity of integrated systems thinking and sustainability standards, the rewards of this are immeasurable. Mission-driven business' that integrate social and material responsibility last longer, provide authentic service and as we have seen recently are often more profitable and valuable on the open market. We are not just talking about solar panels we are talking about operating your company by integrating natures limits and evolved intelligence to guide our voyage.

There are only so many days in our short life what we do with those days and what legacy we leave is up to you. 

There are several reasons to take to the water. A summer holiday, a race on the bay, the lighted boat parade and cruising. Cruising is linked to destination sailing that was once an integral part of world commerce. Bringing spices and stories of distant lands. The trade winds are the winds that brought merchant vessels safely home with their precious cargo. I will begin this book for the merchant sailors of our day, navigating phone lines, the world wide web. Orchestrating cargo and services around the world. Pirates must be ready to convert or be reckoned with. We will explore how to prep our vessel, gather our crew, practice our strategy and hone our skills for speed and agility as well as for weathering storms. We will indulge in the glory of the race, and winning with fair play and skill. 

"The McNulty Leadership at Wharton has a program in Grenada that  provides participants with a unique opportunity to develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills while learning how to sail, navigate and race 44-ft. modern sailboats.
  1. Understand Basic Sailing Terms. To get into sailing, you have to understand the words that are used to talk about the sailboat and the skills used to sail. Start here with a review of basic sailing terms. Don't worry about memorizing everything as many of these terms and concepts will become clearer as you read on about how to do it.
  1. Bitter end - The free end of a line
  1. Block - A pulley-like device used on a boat, with a sheave around which a line runs
  1. Boom - The spar, which is usually horizontal, back from the mast to which the foot of a sail is attached
  1. Boom vang - A device that prevents the boom from rising and, in some types, lowering
  1. Bow - The front section of the boat
  1. Cat rig - A sailboat designed for using a mainsail only, with the mast usually located more forward than in a sloop
  1. Centerboard - A thin, keel-like structure that can be raised (usually rotated on a hinge up into a centerboard trunk in the hull) that's present on many sailboats without a fixed keel to prevent the boat from being blown sideways
  • Chock - A type of fairlead fitting through which an anchor rode or dock line passes to reduce chafing
  • Companionway - The entrance area and steps from the cockpit into a sailboat's cabin
  • Clew - The lower rear corner of a sail
  • Daggerboard - Like a centerboard, but raised and lowered vertically instead of rotating on a hinge
  • Daysailer - Generally a small sailboat without a cabin large enough for comfortable overnight cruising
  • Dinghy - A type of small sailboat or a small row or powered craft typically taken along when cruising in a larger sailboat
  • Displacement - The weight of a boat, equal to the weight of water the boat displaces
  • Dodger - A spray shield often made of foldable or removable fabric at the front of the cockpit
  • Draft - The distance from a boat's waterline to the lowest part of its keel
  1. Learn the Parts of the Boat. Before you go on the boat, it's helpful to know the words used in different parts of the boat. Even if you have an instructor, he or she won't say "Grab that rope over there and pull it," but instead will say "Haul in the jib sheet!" Review the basic boat terms you'll need to know.
  1. Start an Online Course. Now you're ready to learn more about what all those parts of the boat are used for. Here you can start an online learn-to-sail course by learning more about the parts of the boat along with a lot of photos, so you'll see what to do.
  1. Rig the Boat. Read to go sailing now? Hold it a minute- you have to rig the boat first by putting on sails and making other preparations. Here again are a lot of photos of what to do on a typical small sailboat used by beginners.
  1. Review Basic Sailing Techniques. OK, now you have the boat ready- so what do you do now to make it go? Manage the sails to go in the direction you want by learning basic sailing techniques.
  1. Discover How to Maneuver. Sailing in a set direction is reasonably easy, but eventually, you'll have to change direction. That often involves tacking and gybing. Take a moment to learn what's involved in these critical maneuvers.
  1. Recover From a Capsize. Now you've got the basics down. But did anyone ever tell you that small sailboats often tip over if the wind is gusting? Be prepared and carefully see how to recover from a capsize.
  1. Dock or Anchor the Boat. Now you're out there sailing and you've got the boat under control. Learn how to go faster, dock or anchor the boat and use some of the equipment you've ignored so far. Take a look at some of these additional sailing skills.
  1. Practice Tying Knots. For thousands of years, sailors have used times where it is cold or raining by doing things like tying knots. Knots are important on a sailboat and you will need to learn at least some basic sailing knots to sail at all.
  1. Sail Safely. At this point, plus practice on the water, you're good to go. However, it's good to remember that water is a dangerous place. Learn the basics about sailing safety. Staying safe makes it easier to keep having fun out there.1. Nature as a model. Biomimicry is a new discipline that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems.
2. Nature as a measure. Biomimicry uses an ecological standard to judge the ‘rightness’ of our innovations. After 3.8 billion tears of evolution, nature has learned what works, what is appropriate, and what lasts.
3. Nature as a mentor. Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature-based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but what we can learn from it.
Nature runs on sunlight
Nature uses only the energy it needs
Nature fits form to function
Nature recycles everything
Nature rewards cooperation
Nature banks on diversity
Nature demands local expertise
Nature curbs excesses from within
Nature taps the power of limits
Life adapts and evolves by:
• Being locally attuned and responsive
• Using constant feedback loops
• Antenna, signal, response
• Learns and imitates
• Resourceful and Opportunistic
• Free energy
• Shape rather than material
• Builds from the bottom up
• Simple, common building blocks
• Running on cyclic processes
• Being resilient
• Decentralized and distributed
• Redundant
• Diverse
• Cross-pollination, common information system (genetic)
Life creates conditions conducive to life by:
• Optimizing rather than maximizing
• Using multi-functional design
• Fitting form to function
• Being interdependent
• Recycle all materials
• Self organization
• Using benign manufacturing
• Using life-friendly materials
• Using water-based chemistry
• Using self-assembly
• Velcro is probably one of the best-known examples of biomimicry when Swiss engineer George de Mestral in the 1940s noticed how bur hooks gripped on to fabric loops.
• More recently, the communications company Qualcomm uses the iridescent principle of butterflies and peacock feather which refract light to provide color. Through its product, Mirasol, it applies this refraction technique to electronic displays from cell phones to tablet computers, in turn using significantly less energy whilst providing good usability. In 2010 they won Best Enabling Technology Award in Laptop Magazine.
• A high-speed train front-end was inspired by the kingfisher’s beak allowing more efficiently travel through different air pressures (tunnel and open-air). The design of the Shinkansen Bullet Train of the West Japan Railway resulted in a quieter train and 15% less electricity use even whilst the train travels 10% faster.
• The Eastgate Building, an office complex in Harare, Zimbabwe, uses 90% less energy for ventilation than conventional buildings its size by taking inspiration from termites’ self-cooling mounds.
• A high-performance underwater data transmission method, used in the tsunami early warning system throughout the Indian Ocean, inspired by dolphins’ unique frequency-modulating acoustics, developed by a company called EvoLogics.
• A carpet tile range which random design is inspired by the aesthetics of leaves on a forest floor. As a result, the carpet tiles can be installed in any direction which reduces installation time and allows replacement of single tiles without damaging the overall look of the floor. The Entropy product line became InterfaceFLOR’s fastest bestseller. InterfaceFLOR estimates that the Entropy product line wastes 1.5% of the carpet compared with the industry average of 14% for broadloom carpet.
• Regen Energy’s smart grid technology became inspired by swarms in nature, for example, bee behavior, referred to as ‘swarm technology’, in optimizing peak power loads over the network.
It’s more effective to build resilience than to correct poor risk-based decisions that were made with partial information. A business inspired by nature builds resilience by:
• Using change and disturbance as opportunities rather than fearing them as threats.
• Decentralizing, distributing, and diversifying knowledge, resources, decision-making, and actions.
• Fostering diversity in people, relationships, ideas, and approaches.
Optimising delivers better results than maximizing or minimizing. A business inspired by nature does this by:
• Creating forms that fit functions, not the other way around
• Embedding multiplicity into both functions and responses
• Creating complexity and diversity using simple components and patterns
Being adaptive pays back better than “staying a fixed course”. A business inspired by nature adapts by:
• Creating feedback loops to sense and respond at all levels of the system.
• Anticipating and integrating cyclic processes.
• Being resourceful and opportunistic when resource availability changes.
With limited resources and a changing environment, it’s better to be systems-based rather than independent. A business inspired by nature works with whole systems by:
• Fostering synergies within communities.
• Fostering synergies within energy, information and communication networks
• Creating extended systems to continuously recycle wastes into resources.
In uncertain times, it’s better to be based on a compass of values than a fixed destination point or set of pre-defined metrics. A business inspired by nature reflects values by:
• Knowing what’s really important to the communities in which it operates, interacts, and impacts.
• Using values as the core driver towards positive outcomes.
• Measuring what is valued rather than valuing what is measured.
In the long run, it takes less effort and less resource to support life-building activities than to be damaging or toxic and pick up the cost later. A business inspired by nature supports life-building activity by:
• Leveraging information and innovation rather than energy and materials
• Creating support for individual components that can support the whole ecosystem; supporting the ecosystem so that it can support the individual.
• Making products water-based, renewable, bio-based, and biodegradable.
Participants will be split into crews of five aboard four boats and will live and work together (with expert guidance from the top instructors of Sea Education Association) to chart a course and set sail around Grenada.  Throughout the venture participants will be placed in intense situations and learn to thrive in small, highly fluid and dynamic environments."
"Throughout the venture, we will be sailing for approximately 8 hrs a day and while the physical challenges associated with this venture are low-moderate, participants will be placed in intense situations and will be tested repeatedly as they seek to develop as people and as leaders.  Risks include prolonged sun exposure, seasickness, deep water, multi-day exposure, and lightning."

In the words of Janine Benyus, biomimicry has three aspects to it:

Biomimicry is an exciting emergent discipline which explores how nature works and how we can learn from nature to solve human problems. Humans have been learning from other species for many thousands of years, yet biomimicry as a formal concept is more recent. The word itself, “biomimicry”, was coined by Janine Benyus (author of the book ‘Biomimicry’) and originates from the Greek bios (life) and mimesis (imitation).
In the words of Janine Benyus, biomimicry has three aspects to it:
After years of work with ecologists, Janine Benyus pulled together Nature’s Laws:
To provide guidance to designers using biomimicry, the Biomimicry Institute has developed a framework based on the principles and conditions under which life operates referred to as ‘Life’s Principles’:
feedback nature 3
Examples of innovative biomimicry designs include:
• British Telecom used a biological model based on ant behavior to overhaul its phone network, avoiding a 10-year multi-£bn exercise.
As exemplified by the innovations described above, biomimicry, in the main, has been applied to product design, manufacturing, green chemistry, structural planning, and architecture. However, nature’s wisdom can also inspire and inform organizational transformation. Such emulation of nature’s genius for organisational structures, processes and people behaviour may be better described as ‘bio-inspired’ rather than biomimetic, as it is not limited to scientific extrapolations and copying nature but also metaphorical and behavioral based inspiration, although perhaps still falling within the third part of Benyus’ definition of Biomimicry: ‘nature as mentor’.
Our understanding of nature has evolved over the last few decades, from viewing nature as a battleground of competition to one of dynamic non-equilibrium, where an order within chaos prevails due to unwritten natural patterns, feedback loops, behavioral qualities, interdependencies and collaboration within and throughout ecosystems. Nature adapts within limits and creates conditions conduce for life. Recent discoveries in microbiology and quantum mechanics uncover the importance of cellular membranes in the adaptation and evolution of organisms. Likewise, the perceptions and beliefs of the individual, organization, and ecosystem can affect their ability to sense, respond, adapt and evolve to volatility in their environment.
nature trees in trees
The more we grapple with the challenges our businesses now face in these volatile times, the more we realize that nature’s patterns and behaviors can inspire approaches for our own evolutionary success in business and beyond.
The more we build a bridge between business and nature, the more we realize what good business sense really is.
Biomimicry for Creative Innovation (BCI), a collaborative of specialists applying ecological thinking for radical transformation, has developed a set of Business Principles for The Firm of The Future (developed from the Life Principles created by the Biomimicry Institute).
Nature’s Business Principles
Build Resilience
Integrate Systems
Navigate by Values
Support Life
These Business Principles build on a wide set of existing business theories and are not aimed at providing perfection in organizational design (if such would ever exist). They provide a framework to guide successful transformation towards a Firm of The Future, a business inspired by nature.