The Beauty of Pirate Ships

pirate ship If I had to distill a strategy for navigating the permanent whitewater experience of the coming months and the foreseeable 2009 time frame, I’d say plan on the “means to an end” way that pirates used their vessels. You see, they weren’t as worried about the details of the operation and maintenance of their existing infrastructure. Instead, they had a fierce passion for their goal of acquiring a living from other vessels on the seas. How does this apply to what we/you do? This game is going to get crazy (has already become crazy). We need to focus harder on the goals than we do the infrastructure, the excuses, the labels, and everything else that gets between us and a goal.

We can reframe this any way you want, but the point is this: get hungry. Figure out the goal, that thing you’re going to claw your way towards, and set that goal on FIRE. Make it a blazing beacon that guides you in all decisions. And now, for the hard part.

Throw away all the excuses. Here’s where we tie in the pirate ships. Pirates didn’t give a rat’s ass what their ship looked like, or even whether it was their ship in the first place. They took whatever floated and could carry cannons and men, and they lobbed themselves at targets. It was messy. It was ugly. It was warfare, but they weren’t ones to fret or struggle with their infrastructure. What defined a pirate ship? That the pirates were aboard it. That’s about it.

Can an enterprise do that? Can they lob themselves at targets without worrying about their infrastructure? Not sure. Look at all the burning debris in the “water” of the last few months’ financial turmoil. Big companies are in the wreckage.

In the coming months, there are strategies one can follow to try and survive. Some companies are hunkering down, cutting their spending, tightening their expenditures. Some are laying off, getting lean. Others are slashing their projects and sticking with what they’d been doing for the next year, shifting their efforts into preserving what they have instead of pushing forward.

I think that’s the worst plan in the world. Forget the ship. Don’t preserve the ship. Go after the prize. Take on the far more dangerous-but-rewarding stance of seeking the treasure. If you’re a company, set the targets and launch your ships. If you’re one of the pirates, look for the reward, not the larger story.

Should there be loyalty? Hell, yes. This isn’t about abandoning ship or throwing a mutiny. This is about breaking your perspective open and pointing it towards the REAL goals.

If you’re in marketing, maybe that means going after some big companies while your competitors retrench to support the existing companies. If you’re a software company, this is your call to see where the real goal is, and set course. If you’re a realtor, especially commercial, find the leverage, find the people seriously navigating, and make the deals. If you’re a freelancer out there, do you need an alliance? Do you need a floating armada? Make for the brightest goal, and let all the “rethinkers and re-trenchers” behind you.

This isn’t about chaos. It’s not about throwing everything away. It’s about knowing which parts are vital to moving through the waters, versus the pieces we keep around because that’s what we always did. I wouldn’t always advise something of this nature, and it’s not the right plan for everyone. But me? I’ve got the Jolly Rogers heading up the flag pole soon, and will fire all the guns as soon as my target is in sight.

A lot more fun than moaning about the economy at least. And you, Dread Pirates?

Quick disclaimer: historically, pirates were quite savage, quite brutal, and their “treasure” was often nothing more sexy than things like soap, food, and alcohol. If you’re going to crap on my analogy, it’s okay not to include the history lesson. I know.

Photo credit, earcos

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