In 2009, Royal Caribbean recently launched the largest cruiseship on the water at that time. This ship is not only impressive due to its overwhelming mass, but the endless list of amenities. The success of any voyage directly vests in the total responsibility, leadership, oversight, and management of the man at the helm.
Certainly the 2,000+ staff have their critical roles and areas of responsibility to ensure the highest enjoyment for the passengers but once on board the critical elements of operations fall into the domain of the unknown.
In exploring the critical success of any voyage in conjunction with a sales or management experience, customers are similar to the passengers of a cruise ship, relying upon the salesman to be the captain.
While the team at HiFi House has a broad base of knowledge, we all lean towards our own paradigm of experiential learning. In a recent engagement I shared with a client an analogy of where I would envision our relationship heading.
As a strong proponent of project planning and long term strategic visioning I equated this to the targeted islands we would desire to visit on a cruise. These islands are separated by unusual changes in currents, elevations in ocean floor and potential impacts tied to climate change. I would impress upon the client that I would bring the necessary skills to bear to safely navigate the know environment, and be prepared for the unknown. In the clients mind he wanted a captain he had the knowledge and experience to perform the journey.
The area which falls into the domain of my responsibility greatly relates to various roles performed on a cruise ship. This may sound weird, but let me explain.
Navigation: The team of individuals responsible for charting the course. Coordinating with the necessary organizations to observe ocean traffic and critically chart the safest and most efficient course.
Human Resources: Management of each of the different client touch points from hospitality, food and beverage services all the way through entertainment. Ensuring consistency of culture, mission and vision for the entire experience.
Engineering: This is one of the most critical roles. The ship will not move without all of the roles in engineering working as a fine honed machine. Imagine of the engineer neglected to appropriately estimate the amount of fuel to propel the ship? If the ship was powered by coal you would need some strong bodies to shovel the coal into the boiler.
Captain: To ensure that all of these roles work in unison to ensure the best experience possible for the cruise.
As professionals supporting our clients, we strive to fulfill the role of a captain for our clients. But, as with the Oasis of the Seas, the Captain’s role has other encumbrances (Corporate Leadership, and Shareholder Value). While a Captain is responsible for maximizing the experience for a passenger, or in our role with the client, the customer experience has an impact only as far as it improves the Shareholder value.
In most organizations, the culture and the shareholders recognize this paradigm and have strategic plans in place for continuous improvement, training, to ensure that a critical link exists between all stakeholders (all employees on the ship), shareholders, and the passenger. In others, which do not have strategic plans, the shareholders lean heavily on certain areas depending a particular pressing need.