I’m just back from a short cruise on the amazing Chesapeake Bay. One of the reasons for getting out on the water, away from fast-paced daily life, is to stare at the horizon and “figure some things out.” But on this recent cruise I realized how challenging it can be to get an accurate picture of what’s coming next.
We use metaphors all the time in business. Sport metaphors are probably the most common, but nautical ones are a strong second. Associations and businesses frequently talk about “scanning the horizon” for threats or emerging trends. My time on the Bay this weekend reminded me how challenging horizon scanning can be.
Most of the cruises that I’ve taken on the Chesapeake Bay are under sail, but this time we were in a 25-foot Sea Fox with a Yamaha 250, power cruising down the Bay. When cruising under sail you are generally moving less than 8 nautical miles per hour (about 10 statute miles per hour) and so you have plenty of time to scan the horizon and compare it to the chart. You’ve got time to correct your course if you realize that you’re headed in the wrong direction. Not that accidents don’t happen on a sailboat, I’ve had my share of groundings. But the speed of a powerboat (up to 33 mph) makes it even more difficult to match what you are seeing to what is on the chart, especially in unfamiliar waters.
When you’re headed toward shore in a fast-moving powerboat your view of the horizon changes much more quickly. What you thought was the channel to the harbor all of a sudden you realize is something else and there is shallow water ahead! Is this relevant in the business world today? Because things move so quickly now, do we need to step up our horizon scanning to constantly revaluate the horizon? I don’t think there is any doubt about it.
Who’s Watching the Chesapeake Bay?
Before we departed I printed a copy of Save the Bay, the nice quarterly magazine of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). I’ve been aware of CBF for many years. Their headquarters building is in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Annapolis where my very dear friends the Rode Family has lived for 20 years. I decided to make a contribution to CBF and to increase my awareness of what they are doing. CBF makes joining very easy, and there is a nice set of benefits for a contribution of just $25.00, including a subscription to Save the Bay.
The Bay is not getting any healthier. Cruising from Annapolis to Crisfield, Maryland, you can see the water becoming more and more beautiful and pristine as you head south, away from large population areas and the more significant agricultural production.
The fight to clean up the Bay is nasty and there are many stakeholders. I definitely see a need for an organization like CBF to keep the dialogue honest and productive, and so I am going to get involved. If you have a view on how CBF is doing I’d like to hear about it. Is the CBF a well run non-profit and are they making a positive contribution to saving the Chesapeake Bay?
Aids to Navigation
When we’re on the water we frequently take pictures of lighthouses and other aids to navigation. Why do we take pictures of lighthouses? Is it because there isn’t anything else to photograph out there, or is it because we wonder what it would have been like to live there as a lighthouse tender, especially without any modern electronics?