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  • John McLean Dix

The Sailboat Story- A Lesson in Navigating Your Business- Chapter Two


Using the analogy of a sailboat for creating insights into how businesses operate and how to plan your journey.

As we continue our journey, we will take a closer look at the resources on a sailboat as well as the crew members and consider the role each plays in a successful journey. And when we translate those resources and crew roles into your business, countless opportunities will appear for a more successful business.

The Tactician

In my previous blog, I wrote about the captain and the huge responsibility that comes with that role. We see the similar level of responsibility with the leader of a business. But the responsibility doesn’t come without support.

The captain has an entire crew, a leader has his team there for support as well.

At the helm of a sailboat stands the captain and right next to him is the tactician.

Perhaps the tactician is providing information about sails, about the course the boat is taking, about crew member status, about impending weather conditions, or any other relevant information that might have an impact on the yacht’s performance, information that might help the captain do his job better. In a sense, he’s got the captain’s back.

I just love the title “Tactician”. I wonder if the corporate world could find a place for that title in its organizational chart. What a thrill it would be to introduce myself as, John Dix, Chief Tactician Officer for ABC Industries, I specialize in telling captains where to steer the boat and how to trim the sails

In business, there is always someone who has their hands on the wheel of the business. One person responsible for making daily decisions on the direction of the business, the captain. Hopefully there is also someone who has the captain’s back, someone who has your back. As a supervisor, regional support person or manager of managers, the role of providing guidance on the course of the business, outside factors influencing the business, or other relevant information can be the difference between scudding and sinking. That’s the tactician!

The role of the tactician in business is to pay attention to key factors influencing the success of the company. Market conditions, staffing needs, training needs, competitor’s performance, product development, sales forecasts. By having someone (or a group of someone’s) the captain is fed vital information as he leads the business.

I also see this as a way to manage risk in the business.

Some of the sailing that I have done has been in shallow waters where large rocks pose a risk, a threat to the safety of the boat. When sailing alone this can be a serious hazard but when my son Jack is onboard, he is the vigilant watchman who warns me of those rocks. Sort of a junior tactician.

In business, even the most effective leader may be so focused on running the business that he will not see the risks. Blindsided by a shift in market preferences, a sudden increased (or decreased) demand for products or services, increased cost of goods due to supply changes. The tactician is tuned into those risks and in a position to alert his leader before they strike and potentially sink the sailboat.

Navigation Points

At the end of each installment of this ongoing blog, I will present key points that you should consider, contemplate and act on. Create a list of things you can take from the blog and put to work in your work

  • Who has your back?How is that relationship and how could it be better?

  • What specific examples of benefits have you seen from this relationship and how can you build on that?

  • How could you serve as a tactician to others in your organization?

  • What risks should your tactician be looking for?

This is the second installment of an ongoing blog. To see other installments, please visit my website at www.jmdpartnerships.com While you are there, look around and let me know what might interest you.


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