Row Boat Leadership

You and your team derived a perfect business solution that was absolutely going to yield 40% ROI (Return on Investment), increase shareholder value, and guarantee a nice bonus at year’s end but, for some reason, the expected results aren’t happening. So, what’s going wrong?

As with any complex business plans, you need a nice balance between people, processes and tools. It is crucial, though, that the business initiative be brought down to the everyday employees’ level so they can understand their role within the larger picture.

With that in mind, using an “everyone mans” analogy to simplify your intricate business strategy into an easy to understand language can generate significant improvement in employee relations, understanding and engagement. Consider using this business is a Row Boat analogy:

Boat. The boat represents the entity as a whole. The boat needs to be able to float (i.e. financially stable).

Water. The water around the boat epitomizes the current market conditions and, for the most part, is out of the control of the organization.

Steering and Directing. The steering corresponds to upper management. The company Mission Statement and STRAP (strategic long term planning) denote the direction.

Race. The race stands for business channels the Sales and Marketing executives decide the company will compete in.

Cocksman. The Cocksman stands for the frontline managers setting the pace and providing immediate feedback to employees and upper management.

Rowers. The rowers in the boat characterize the people or employees in the organization. Deciding how many rowers you need, and what kind of attributes (like transferable skills) they need is critical to success of the business.

Rowing. The team rowing in sync signifies the business process. If the team is out of sync, the speed or direction of the boat will be hindered and most certainly veer off course,

Oars. The oars symbolize the tools required to efficiently and effectively run the race (business).

Other boats. What is a race without competition? The other boats represent the businesses competition.

Finish Line. The finish line embodies the team reaching its goal.

Executives and managers that breakdown their business plans into simple to understand analogies energize their employees grasp on how they fit into the grand scheme of the business. In short, they buy-in into their role within the company that leads to employee engagement which is one of the commonalities of highly successful businesses.

About the Author: Paul A. Fischer is a father, husband, a former college athlete and a supply chain professional. He passionately believes in the benefits of Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) as an important tool to succeed in business.