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Executing successfully in the open sea

Simon Windfeld Møller

Berlingske Business

29 May 2013

Tina Hjort-Ejlertsen, PA business change and implementation expert, explains how the adrenaline-fuelled sport known as ‘extreme sailing’ can provide us with helpful lessons on the best way to execute a business strategy.

Berlingske Tidende joined PA Consulting Group’s Danish management team on an extreme sailing trip, and in the article Tina explores the parallels between this sport and executive decision-making. She argues that leaders must be able to swiftly adapt their business strategy to changing economic and market conditions, just as crew work together to deftly handle a boat in extreme weather.

Tina says: “The aim is to test how we can adapt a business strategy to our surroundings in order to deliver fast results. The financial crisis has introduced a new set of rules for the business world, which means it needs to operate in new ways.”

Continuing, she explains that the challenges faced by an extreme sailing team are not so different from the challenges faced by business leaders: both must set a strategy then work closely with their colleagues (or crew) in order to execute it effectively.

Tina adds that leaders need to make decisions at the right time and in the right place, which requires thoroughness and the ability to see the bigger picture. This also applies to boat races, when the captain of the boat has to lead his ship around the navigation mark.

Moreover, said Tina, leaders must be able to deal with another potential issue: "Management sometimes need to reconsider their decisions, and occasionally this will result in a different course of action,” she says, adding that to implement and execute successfully, both crew members and organisational leaders must be able to trust each other’s’ judgement.

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