I’ve recently returned to the office following a great holiday abroad. Our journey back involved a ferry between two islands and whilst watching our holiday destination disappear over the horizon, my eye was caught by the route that the ship was taking.

Although our journey was a direct one from one port to the other, the captain was steering the boat in a zig zag, adjusting the direction to cope with the swell of the sea, the keen cross wind and the ocean currents.

This need to make changes and adjustments to the course and directions of a boat is replicated in business. We adapt our goals to reflect where we want to be. We use metrics and key performance indicators to understand if we’re still on track to meet those goals and objectives. Like the captain of the boat, we are reliant on suppliers to help us on our journey. While he needed to have a team on the shoreline to help berth the boat, and a supplier for the diesel to top up the tanks, we also have suppliers of office space, IT, parts and materials etc. And much like the ship’s captain, we cannot start or finish our journey without them.

But how many businesses are prepared for the unexpected? Our ship has life jackets and life boats, a crew who have practised a safety drill so that they know what to do in the event of a major disaster? Of course, we’d all prefer that the risk of sinking doesn’t occur and therefore our captain is trained and knowledgeable about navigation, of currents and so on.

At Risk Evolves our ethos is to help businesses understand what may happen in the future – and that’s not necessarily all about thinking negatively. It’s about understanding where there may be areas of the business that are weaker than others, about understanding who a critical supplier in the supply chain is (for our ship, we suggest that the harbour crew is probably more important than the man serving coffee behind the bar!) and so on. However, from a customer perspective we expect the harbour crew to be there, for diesel to be in the engines, for us to have a safe passage with knowledgeable, trained staff AND for the man to be behind the bar. Get any of this wrong, and you can guarantee complaints and unhappy customers.

So if you’re a captain or a senior member of the crew in your business ask yourself these questions:

  1. What’s important in your business?
  2. What’s important to your customers? 
  3. How do you know if you’re on course?

Oh and if you recognise the island that I was sailing away from, then email us – there’s a bottle of wine on offer for the first correct answer!