Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Strategy Lesson from the Navy: Let’s Go Have a Look

By Dr. Glenn Rowe.

My friend Suhaib Riaz and I were having lunch today and he was telling me about "Strategy and You." He asked me if I thought the website would add value to those who came to its pages to read the blogs that are posted. I responded that sometimes we just have to do it and see what happens. He mentioned that using different words, Tom Peters had suggested the same principle.

I then told Suhaib about one of the jobs I had during my 22 year career in the Canadian Navy. I was the regular force staff officer in charge of the regular force personnel that supported the naval reserve division in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. This naval reserve division is called Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Cabot. Cabot was the proud custodian of a small ship (75 feet long) called Standoff. Standoff was a secondary search and rescue resource for the Canadian Coast Guard and could be called upon to support the Coast Guard in nasty weather.

I had the opportunity to lead the crew of Standoff as her Captain on many occasions while I served at Cabot. Some of the trips we took were in support of Sea Cadet corps around the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. This meant that we would leave St. John’s at 2300 or so on Friday night to be at our destination by Saturday morning to work with a Sea Cadet corps. Of course, the trip from the jetty in St. John’s to the open ocean is a very short one and we were almost immediately in the open Atlantic every time we sailed.

Now, every sailor knows to check the weather (the environment) and to ensure that his or her ship is capable of handling the weather to be encountered (has the right resources and capabilities). We did this! But St. John’s is a very sheltered harbour and it was hard to tell if the weather was really bad from the jetty. So I generally left the jetty even at midnight or so, to poke our nose out into the Atlantic to see what the weather was really like. To see if the weather forecast was really accurate. Occasionally, we had to turn around because the weather was too rough for Standoff but just as often we were able to handle the weather and to continue on our intended mission in support of the Sea Cadet corps. My key phrase was “let’s go have a look.” I later found out that my nickname around Cabot was Lieutenant “let’s go have a look” Rowe. I did have another nickname for awhile but that is the topic for another blog.

As I chatted with Suhaib, I was reminded of the parallel between my time as Standoff’s Officer-in-Charge (as her Captain) and what Suhaib is doing with this website. Between strategy formulation and value creation! Sometimes, after all of the strategic thinking, all of the environmental scanning, all of the formulating, all of the hoping that something you are doing will create value and benefit others – “you just gotta have a look.”

Suhaib – congratulations to you and your “Angel Contributors.”

I hope and expect that "Strategy and You" will create much value and benefit many people in doing so.
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*Dr. Glenn Rowe is the Paul MacPherson Chair in Strategic Leadership at the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario. He is also the current Director of the Ivey Executive MBA program.  

1 comment:

Weatherwax66 said...

Hi, Glenn,

It was great to meet you at ASAC last weekend and hear your very clear and pointed comments on other reviewers' papers. I hope to have the privilege of your feedback someday.

Nicole Barnabe Wilkinson

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