My Boat Theory

What kind of boat are you?

Years and years ago, at my first job, I came up with a theory (analogy) that I still use to this day – with CEO’s, CMO’s, and the like.

What kind of boat are you? You could be:

An oil tanker, that takes forever to stop and change direction (I usually use this when speaking with someone about the bureaucracy in the company).

Or a huge yacht, that can turn, faster then an oil tanker, but, still takes time to dock, etc. and you definitely don’t want to bang it up, scratch it, etc. (especially if this is a new brand, errr yacht).

Or, are you a speed boat, which can change direction quickly and meet the markets ever changing environment.

Start-ups and small business’ are mostly speedboats.

Small to mid-size companies are usually speedboats or yachts (and some are already oil tankers).

And most large companies are oil tankers.

Don’t get me wrong, in today’s market a lot of large companies are trying to become yachts (and some even speedboats), but, there are many difficulties along the way (more power to them, these are the companies that are succeeding today); look at Ford vs. Toyota, Microsoft vs. Apple, Pan-Am vs. American Airlines (and then American Airlines vs. JetBlue).

What kind of company are you? Are you always trying to make your company a speedboat?

One sure way to know if you are an oil tanker or not is count how many lawyers you have on staff (key point here – “staff” – hi-tech companies have many lawyers for patents, etc – and they don’t count; key point #2, lawyers in an outside firm are not counted either, I am speaking about lawyers that work for the company, in the company). If you have more then one lawyer per 100 employees, then, most likely you are an oil tanker.

I wonder if all legal firms are oil tankers – I bet they aren’t. Wonder why?


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