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Stefan Kazakis on 15 August 2020

Does it make the boat go faster?

Does it make the boat go faster?

What a great question for you and your team.  A very good business owner friend shared this story with me earlier this year and it’s timely I think to share it with you.  So, are you familiar with the story “Does it make the boat go faster?”

It’s a theme we have picked up and implemented at Business Benchmark Group in recent months and is a centrepiece for all that we now do.

So where exactly did this concept originate from?

Peter Blake was a New Zealand yachtsman who won the Whitbread Round the World Race, the Jules Verne Trophy (setting the fastest time around the world in 74 days, 22 hours, 17 minutes, and 22 seconds), and led Team New Zealand to multiple victories in the America’s Cup in 1995 and 2000.

While the American teams had more money, New Zealand had an exceptionally effective strategy, powered by Blake.  

When Blake was asked to be the skipper for New Zealand, the team weren’t viewed as much of a contender, especially against all the other teams with who had greater financial backing.

So, did you know that there are a variety of things that go into preparing a racing yacht for competition, such as types of sails, ropes, winches, and cranks; electronics; rigging; crew composition; and training. 

So, with all these factors that contribute to success, what do you think the team should focus on?

It cannot be all of them because then you have lost in time, money, and prioritisation.

Some factors are certainly more important than others, and not all are critical for success.

Finding and keeping focus on the right things is crucial. Much like it is in business, right?

Peter Blake focused the team on one single strategic question: Will it make the boat go faster? 

The New Zealand team began to rethink everything they knew about sailing and racing with this one strategy in mind.

Training and team composition changed, equipment size and weight changed, sails changed.

The results were not only back to back America’s Cup wins in 1995 and 2000, but the realisation of real team spirit, alignment, and focus. 

So now that you know the history of “Will it make the boat go faster?” How can you apply it to your business?

How can you – like team New Zealand – become a contender in the race, our own version of the race called COVID-19.

Not everyone will make it to the finish line…

Not everyone will be victorious,

Along the way you will need serious grit, determination, and persistence,

But the one thing you do need to focus on to be true winners is: Will it make the boat go faster?

Here at Business Benchmark Group we focus on just that and we start our week posing the question to every team member in our Monday morning meeting: What are you doing this week that will make the boat go faster?

Every single member of the team must have an answer which then becomes their focus for the week.

You can have all the money, resources, time, and people in the world – but if it doesn’t make the boat go faster – then how will it help you win the race?

I want you to focus on this concept.

Make it a part of your culture, a part of your team and where their focus is, and ensure it is a question you ask of each of them.

It helps to recognise your goals, your vision and what you need to do to get there.

How will you get from A to B in the fastest and most efficient way?

Business is not as usual; times have changed, and the market has been flipped on its head. But there is opportunity out there to be grabbed.

Your focus is everything right now. Your focus needs to be ‘laser focused’ and it needs to be on the right things.

Eventually, this will pass, but until then you need to put up a fight.

The business owners who will weather the storm the best, and be in a stronger position than before, are those who optimised their opportunities and focused their effort and energy on what will make their boat go faster.

In true Darwinism – it’s the most adaptable that will survive.

I suggest this is a concept you adopt from this day going forward, for always – it’s a way of business and it’s a way to remain focused and in control.

Power to you!  

Stefan Kazakis 

CEO, Business Benchmark Group


Looking for a business coach? Find out more about the Board of Directors 12 Business Coaching Program.

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