April 16, 2012
As we mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, associations can take away key lessons from the disaster and how it was handled.
- Keep an eye on the landscape ahead. Don’t ignore warning signs. The crew of the Titanic ignored multiple warnings from various ships in the vicinity and continued through the treacherous ice field at nearly full speed. There weren’t supposed to be icebergs in the area, but environmental changes don’t always follow the rules of “supposed to.” Associations and organizations need to be able to assess the warning signs, adjust strategies and adapt to new landscapes.
- Organizations are typically not nimble. It’s hard to change the course of a huge ship moving at full speed. It takes a steady hand at the helm and communication to hundreds of crew members. But just because it’s difficult to make a change doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If the captain of the Titanic had changed its route earlier, it would’ve taken a lot of manpower and effort, but it would have averted disaster. Keep that in mind the next time you want to introduce a policy change that could save your organization.
- Sometimes it’s better to address problems head on. When the iceberg was finally spotted, there wasn’t enough time to stop the ship, so the crew turned it slightly to the side. The ice dragged along the side of the ship, creating a slim gash that spanned six compartmentalized areas. It’s hard to say if the ship would have survived if it had hit head on (many historians say it still might have sunk), but if one (or even up to three) of the compartments had been flooded, the ship might have had a better chance. Instead, all six compartments flooded and the ship sank within two and half hours. Sometimes organizations needs to confront a problem and deal with the repercussions, rather than turn away from it.
- Evolve with the changing times. The British maritime regulations required only 16 lifeboats for a ship of the Titanic’s size. Even though the Titanic went above that bare minimum and had 20 lifeboats, it only had a lifeboat capacity for 52% of passengers. Those regulations were not keeping pace with the changing times. Ships were getting bigger but policy was not evolving. Organizations and associations today should update their standards to reflect more than the bare minimum.
What are other lessons you see?