Sailing Toward Success: Rethinking How We Do Business

I was watching a video of a 2021 America’s Cup sailboat race recently and was surprised to see how different today’s boat designs are compared to what they were when I was racing years ago. The new designs and speeds the boats can reach have led race committees to update the racecourses and the boat crews needing to be retrained to take advantage of the new designs.

Photo: Rick Tomlinson

While watching the video it dawned on me that our government contracting businesses likewise need to change as a result of the pandemic’s impact. We need to rethink how we approach growing our businesses now and how our leadership teams need to manage our workforces differently.

The New Environment

The new boats I was watching in the race are designed with hydrofoils. As they get up to speed, they come up out of the water and literally fly. As a result of the new designs and the updated equipment, the number of crew members has changed as has the ways the crew members optimize the boat’s performance. 

On the other hand, while the traditional boats were similar in length, they stayed on the surface of the water and were slower. The courses were also shorter years ago and the crews could hear the skipper’s commands onboard and could move about more easily and converse.

In the video I was watching, the onboard activity seemed frantic and disorganized (though it wasn’t) and there appeared to be no way for the helmsman to advise the crew—they needed to know exactly what to do and when without being told. Also, the courses are longer now since the new boats can achieve speeds four times the wind speed.

Adapting Our Businesses

These differences made me draw a parallel between the way we used to do business and the way we must do business now in the government contracting space. Today’s environment requires us to move faster, be more responsive, and trust our crews to do their work without being micromanaged. Just as the boats have changed and grown over time, so must our businesses. We must be agile and adaptable as we face today’s challenges in the race for government contracting success, particularly in light of the impacts of Covid-19. We must trust our leadership teams and our employees. And we must all keep our eyes on the objective in front of us that we are racing toward together. 

What’s been your experience relative to how the government contracting environment has changed as a result of the pandemic. What steps have you taken to adjust your operation? Please feel free to leave your comments below.