Hey founder, are you dreaming of an IPO?  Perhaps you should sail a boat!

Diane Green, co-founder of the multibillion dollar company VMWEAR  that went public a few years after its inception as a startup , says sailing has taught her to be a better entrepreneur. In a speech which she gave a few years ago at the Y combinator for female fund, she said sailing, a hobby which she’s been practicing since childhood, was “formative”. She told the present founders that captaining a sailboat is very much like building a company. “You have to listen to what the wind and water are telling you and find a way to execute the goals you’ve set”.

Startups are vulnerable organizations that must react extremely fast to changes. In startups the leadership role is complex: they act at the same time   as strategist and executers, and must build from scratch not only a product, but also an amazing and committed team.

Handling the complexity and diversity of those tasks can be acquired through practicing sailing, which is also a powerful method to practice teamwork. However, you don’t have to be a sailing fan, you can practice it during a maritime ODT activity. But why and how can you benefit from it?

 

  1. It can teach you to handle changes. A manager must care about keeping the organization or team relevant, against the ever-changing markets. The pace of change in this era is tremendously fast, and involves everything: Consumer behavior, financials, operations and so on. Change is a key value to deal with within organizations. Sailing a boat is a perfect simulation of change, because of the unpredictability of the surrounding factors, which requires adaptation on the part of the sailing team and its leader.
  2. It will enable the practice of the values of teamwork with your employees – People with no maritime experience can’t sail a boat alone, they need to do it as a team and the team needs to be well coordinated. This activity also requires clarity in the definition of each task and its understanding. When a team does not function well together, the “reward” will be immediate: the boat won’t sail well; when the team works together well, it will. The communication and level of cooperation in a team will immediately translate into success or failure at sea.
  3. It can enable the practice of creativity and innovation – Beyond managerial challenges, there are external forces that dictate critical needs. Creativity, innovation, and strategy, for example. While sailing the boat, a team can practice those values by making smart and creative decisions that concern, for example, the course chosen for the sail. A team can practice how to sail across the wind, as an effective way to solve a problem in a creative way.

 

Nir Zamir, a skipper and consultant who also moderates sea journeys for groups,  explains that these are just a few of the many business, personal and organizational values you can learn or practice at sea, while the main idea is that the boat functions as an accelerator to incorporate them. Sailing takes us outside of our natural surroundings, as we are not marine creatures. This transition from one form of existence to another creates a rapid process of adaptation, backed by the natural uncertainty that the sea and the boat causes.

And after we practice, deal and learn, we just look at the ocean, at the sky and the horizon, and feel, breath and let all in. The challenges, just like the waves, keep coming, but we might be better prepared to face them.

 

This Article Was Written By Sivan Moran, Resource Development Manager at Mifrasim organization, a non-profit organization provides a special, large-scale sailing vessel that creates a unique and influential platform enabling social-educational-therapeutic activities on the boat.
Contact her at sivan@mifrasim.org.il

 

 

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