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It was definitely worth the trouble

First of all, I want to apologize for “fiddling” as my son says. “There you go again, Dad” he usually says when I’m doing something and it doesn’t quite go as I planned, but it gets wrong and doesn’t work.

Last week I had been in the mailing settings and found the mailing template. There I “fiddled” so that your name disappeared. It was an impersonal greeting and that was not the intention. Today I really hope it’s better.

Over to a little true story with a lesson to learn for you and your business.

Excursion with challenge

Being out in our beautiful archipelago is something that gives me energy and that I love. Unfortunately, there has been a little too little of that this year as the weather has not been the best and other things have had to take priority.

But, the sun was shining for days on end and it was warm. I decided to go out by myself in our family boat. I still had a couple of offers to sign, so it worked out fine to sit out in the boat and do it. Rather than in the office on such nice days.

The boat is around 9 metres, so it’s not huge, but it’s big enough to be a challenge to add to it yourself. Especially as we lack nice aids such as bow thrusters (a propeller that moves the bow sideways when docking at a jetty).


The trip took me to the Neptune Boat Club’s club facility. It was almost windless when I docked and everything went well. All along, the wind increased more than the forecast. Not that there were any strong winds, but the boat was pushed harder against the jetty and there was a lot of clanking as the waves hit the hull.

It was one of those crab seas, as they call it, when the waves come from all sides.

No, I thought, this wasn’t so good anyway. It was a bit hard to concentrate when the boat was moving and it kept sounding louder and louder where I was sitting. But how should I do it? Now the boat was pressed against the dock and I was alone. Should I care or should I just ignore it all and endure? Maybe it will be better!?

For a while I thought that it must be as it is. It’ll be fine. What if something goes wrong when I’m about to reposition the boat? Maybe that’s too big a risk? I don’t want to get scratches on the hull from the boat going towards the dock. I don’t want to “fiddle” again.

I had to put my thoughts aside in order to concentrate on my task of writing the tender I was working on.

Chuck, chuck, jerk, chuck, jerk….no, this won’t do.

I’ll do it!

A plan began to form in my head. What would we have done if there had been more of us on board? The technique when the wind is on one side of the boat and pushes it against the dock and you want to leave, I know about that and have done it several times.

It is to keep the bow attached to the bridge while reversing and turning the propeller in the direction you want the stern to move, i.e. out from the bridge. It allows the stern to turn out and then at the appropriate time release the rope so the rope releases the bridge. Then it’s just backing out. It’s a bit tricky, but works well if you get it right.

If there had been more of us, one of the crew would have been at the bow holding the rope that is attached to the bridge. Now I had to figure out how to do it all myself. I found it difficult to be in both places at the same time, both at the bow and steering the boat. Also, when it’s a bit crowded, it can get awkward.

After having a detailed plan, the confidence grew that this will go well. I made the decision to refit the boat.


It was fine to lay out. Completely according to plan. I had to run like a ship’s rat around the boat to be in several places “at the same time”. But it went well, as I followed the plan I had made.

I walked around the concrete bridges and lay down on the other side. It was a bit tricky to add in the wind, but that was fine too. I actually had a plan for that too.

On the other side, the water was calm. The wind was of course blowing as much as on the other side of the bridge, but there was no sea breeze, and the wind was now coming over the boat. When I was done I sat down and….oj how calm and nice it was. Absolutely fantastic.

It was so worth the hassle of making a plan, taking the risk that it wouldn’t work, and having to execute the maneuver.

I would have completely missed several experiences in this if I hadn’t decided to rearrange the boat. I hadn’t had to prove to myself that I could, and I hadn’t been able to reap the results in peace and quiet in and around the boat.


Lessons learned – what if…

So why am I writing about all this? Well, it struck me that unfortunately there are so many people who are in similar situations both in their private lives and in their work. If I stick to work, there are lots of activities that don’t work the way you want them to.

There is a “clatter and jerk” in the business, which constantly interferes with what to do. People are annoyed and want change, but it’s not being addressed.

You can see that there is something better. Perhaps even as clearly as I could see the difference between one side of the harbour and the other. Sometimes not so clearly, but you still dream of something better.

But…that’s the thing about making things happen. How will you cope and think if you fail, what will people say? What should the boss think, or the employees? “What were we saying…we knew it would never work” here you might think to yourself. And you have so much to do, so it will have to wait. “We’ll do it later.”

But (#2)… what happens if you succeed?

What if;

  • activities get the peace and quiet you need to make work more enjoyable,
  • that you shouldn’t be so stressed,
  • that customers feel they get more value from you,
  • that the economy is better and
  • to really focus on what creates value?

There is always extra work that needs to be done to implement improvements. There is an extra need for commitment and energy to make it all happen. It’s like a hump that you have to get over.

But the important thing is to see that it is an investment. You’ll be able to reap the rewards up front once you get past the hump.

To improve your business you need:

  1. See what it is you want to achieve, something that gives you inspiration, confidence and a sense of purpose. – (The calm water on the other side of the pier.)
  2. Know how to do it, that is, you need to have the skills. – (Leave the bow attached to the bridge and back off…)
  3. Have a method to follow that you can lean on.
  4. Create and follow a plan for improvement.
  5. Will, courage and commitment to really succeed.
  6. Decision to act. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, because it will never come.

And one more thing: When moving a boat at a dock, don’t be in a hurry. Water is a sluggish medium, which means you have to be patient and constantly apply force in the direction you want the boat to move. It will move when you apply enough force, but it won’t move quickly.

The same is true of improvement work in an organisation. It takes time. It is possible to get quick wins while keeping the whole process long-term. You will have improved your business far more than many initially thought. However, it requires patience and not giving up the effort you put into pushing through the improvement.

With that, I wish you a great late summer. I’ll talk to you next week.