When I worked at a small private college, we engaged the services of a consultant whose experience was from a large public university. He described our differences as paralleling that of a speed boat and an aircraft carrier – we could turn on a dime whereas the ship could not. Much of our time together was spent trying to leverage that advantage.


There are many iterations of the speed boat that are operating today as more people work as independent contractors or have a “side hustle,” and countless small businesses help to power the economy. Aircraft-carrier-esque organizations have also demonstrated remarkable agility that defies normal timelines in this time of COVID disruption, but small continues to be a coveted asset that allows for quick adaptation and change.


Some examples of those who have: one restaurant is now selling bread, milk and cheese along with its takeout menu; a local mattress factory has switched its operations to make filters for masks instead of bedding, and hobbyists have turned their 3D printers into ventilator-making machines. They had the ability to quickly change course and they did.


In a personal example, my friend’s wireless router decided to die this week and he lamented that he found himself serving as the IT department for his home/office/school. But rather than be mired in bureaucracy that a large IT or purchasing department could require, he promptly drove to the store and replaced his equipment. Problem solved.


If your operations have the ability to act as a speed boat, by all means, take advantage and circumvent the waves.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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