Are you missing?

Teenage Girl, Sailing Solo, Is Missing – The girl, Abby Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, Calif., departed alone Jan. 23, 2010 in her sailboat Wild Eyes. Abby’s brother Zac had already sailed around the world alone and her goal from the age of 13 had been to be the youngest person to ever sail solo around the world.
The U.S breathed a sign of relief when Abby was successfully rescued in the Indian Ocean – though the rescue effort cost over $300,000 in addition to her $90,000 boat and other hefty investments in her mission.


Today I’m writing about Abby because her story has a lot to teach us about the science of “Revenue Generation” and how to make sure that your company – like Abby — doesn’t end up MIA in 2011.
Imagine that YOUR 13-year-old daughter or granddaughter started relentlessly pronouncing that “I want to be the youngest person to sail around the world.” If you’ve already let her older teen brother do it, this may be a done deal.If you say yes, your obvious mission is to make sure that – no matter what happens – she’s equipped to survive whatever disasters may occur during the journey.
So before she turns 13, you’ll lay out her “around the world” STRATEGY:
  • Is it a solo trip or a family trip?
  • How will she handle missing that much school?
  • How will you buy a $90,000 boat and everything else required?
  • What’s the purpose of the trip beyond the Guinness Book of World Records –a book or film deal?  Corporate sponsorship?  TV pitchwoman?
  • What is the best route and time of year?
By the time she’s 15 you’ve got the strategy figured out. It’s a solo trip; funding is finished; the educational plan is complete and there’s a route and timeline. Next it’s time to develop the STRUCTURE to support the STRATEGY:
  • Select the best boat and lay out additional specs to support a solo sailor’s trip around the world including navigation systems (electronic and manual backup), communication systems (with backup and battery plan), ongoing monitoring systems and protocols, and other backup equipment and systems
  • Health plan including food, supplements, medical supplies, water, emergency equipment, protection from sun and cold
  • Establish pre-arranged contacts in ports along trip
  • Obtain passport, visas, credit cards and international currency
By age 16 you have a boat, a route, a support team, backup plans and all other support systems ready to go. Now it’s time to make sure your beloved young sailor can EXECUTE in every anticipated situation (and some she doesn’t expect) at a survival level or above:
  • Test the boat and the sailor in as many varied situations as possible
  • Memorize every manual for every system and backup system
  • Learn critical words and phrases in the language for each port of call
  • Create test situations for the sailor: suspected pirates; iceberg; 3 days of storms with no sleep and no time to eat; being thrown off the boat; single and multi-system failures
  • Develop alternate STRATEGIES to handle unexpected changes in politics, weather, health, ship or equipment, then teach your sailor to evaluate those strategies.  Based on the new STRATEGY, can she create the STRUCTURE to keep going.  If yes, does she ALSO have the ability to safely and successfully EXECUTE? Then teach her to make go-no-go decisions based on her analysis
After all of this, your sailor is still only 16 years old, and there are an infinite number of things that can happen. Yet with this level of aligned STRATEGY, STRUCTURE & EXECUTION, survival and success are predictable within reason.
Just like in Abby’s story, executives need to apply these same three elements – STRATEGY, STRUCTURE, & EXECUTION – in order to survive and succeed in any mission. And even if you don’t succeed (as Abby didn’t), you should still survive (as she did!) to learn and reapply those lessons next time. The challenge to develop & execute a successful revenue generation strategy is the same challenge as planning a sailing adventure around the world:
  • Start with an executable STRATEGY
  • Develop the STRUCTURE (including building the teams & resources) you’ll need to achieve a predictable level of execution
  • Manage EXECUTION to meet your strategic goals
Strategy, structure and execution.  It sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Actually it can be … you just need to tackle it in these three phases.

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