What boats taught me about organizations
It was during a family vacation that I learned about organizations and how their size affects speed. Maybe that is a weird time to consider organizational structure, but I can’t always control where my brain wanders.
Corey and I wanted to spend some time exploring the lake by our cabin. As usual, we had some creative differences about deciding the best mode of transportation. I love a kayak because I can paddle and get a good workout while exploring. Corey likes motors, or at the very least, a steady current that does most of the heavy lifting. It is not that he is lazy, physical exertion is just not his idea of a relaxing afternoon.
We settled on a compromise. It was a tiny metal boat with uncomfortable seats. It was small enough for me to paddle, and big enough for Corey to lounge in the back. The best part was that if I felt tired, we could just use the motor to explore or to retreat back to the dock near our cabin.
I pointed our vessel toward a small cove and started to paddle. Corey grabbed his book, gave me a cheesy grin, put on his sunglasses, and sprawled out on the metal bench covered by a beach towel. The metal frame amplified the hot sun, which I loved. Corey… not so much.
I was able to shift the small boat down a narrow waterway, where we were able to enjoy some much-needed silence and beautiful, secluded scenery. Eventually, the trail turned into a dead end, so we turned around and used the engine to meander slowly back to the dock.
The boat engine was small and light, which is why I was able to paddle, but the engine didn’t propel us very quickly. Thankfully, we weren’t in a rush.
My family rented a much bigger boat with a much larger engine a couple of days later. Of course, Corey wanted to explore using this fancy toy. The red seats were cushioned, and much more comfortable than our metal benches. A large canopy could block the blazing sun from the captain’s eyes, which was usually Corey. We traveled fast and far.
Instead of exploring one cove, we explored miles of shoreline. Within 20 minutes we were a great distance from our dock. Corey turned off the engine, and we floated in the lake.
We lowered the ladder to get into the water. The significant depth of the water was humbling. I was slightly afraid to jump in, but Corey decided, in his masculine wisdom, to shove me.
We ate lunch and then decided to zoom back to the dock.
On our way back, I thought about organizations, and how they resemble boats. Large organizations have so many advantages such as speed, distance potential, and comfort. A small business has advantages such as agility and better observational skills. They can compete with larger businesses because smaller businesses can sometimes outmaneuver their corporate counterparts.
On the large boat, the trees became more of a green blur. It was great moving so fast and seeing so much scenery, but some of the most beautiful details were missed. On the small boat, I could see the ivy climbing up the tree trunks, the deer eating vegetation in the distance, and the squirrels jumping from one branch to another. It was an entirely different experience.
Maybe the metal bench doesn’t offer the most comfort, but I have always been partial to the efficiency of movement smaller entities provide, which is why I love working for a mid-sized newspaper. Corey likes the opposite; he enjoys his corporate world, even if he complains about it.
We will always disagree on boat transportation, but that is why we chose different career paths.
Last night, I did not do a sound check, mostly because I was tired and I just had difficulty finding the motivation. Tonight I will try again. Also, I still only have one interviewee and a scarce amount of leads.