N2 People Skills

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Right Crew for you- Why, What, How, What if ?

"The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
-Mark Twain

Why is the right crew important
To some having a group of people around to look after them, is like a breath of fresh air, to others just the thought of more people to deal with can feel overbearing. Whichever the case, super yacht ownership comes with the necessity of having crew, and the affect of that crew being the right, or  almost the right crew, can be the difference between an enjoyable ownership experience, or a burdensome one.

Technical skills and qualifications are a prerequisite for Superyacht crew, if you want get off the dock and enjoy the feel of your yacht as you cruise the oceans of the world, then you need a crew with the right qualifications. But technical skills and qualifications do not guarantee that the group of individuals you employ will turn into the right crew for you personally, or for that matter the right people for each other.  Almost the right crew can end up being costly, in time, money, quality of experience and the depreciation of value of your investment. From extra costs and stress caused by crew turnover to added costs associated with accidents and incidents caused by human error (poor crew resource management skills), and the unfortunate scenario (if they have not developed the necessary skills) of having to avoid the very people that you pay to look after you!

One seasoned Super Yacht owner wrote of a friend:
"building a 330-foot power boat so he can not only escape encounters with the crew, but also avoid guests". 
After spending $10 to $100 million on a Yacht, you should not have to think about escaping encounters with your own paid crew. The right crew know when you don't want to see them, before you do,  and then be the ones that keep your guests entertained so you do not even have to think about avoiding them.

What is the right crew
The 'right crew' is a crew that has your best interests at heart, a team that is constantly looking for ways to learn, improve themselves, and your experience aboard, one that manages and optimizes their resources to keep costs down without cutting results or safety, one that works to raise safety and awareness while putting your interests at the top of the list, whether you are aboard of not. The right crew works to be as cost efficient as possible while providing the very best personal service available. This is a crew living in a leaning organization.

How to get the right crew
Whether you buy your yacht and then head to the shipyards for a refit, or you find your designer and builder to draw, and finally build your vision of perfection, it is also important to consider the development of your crew as a necessity of fitting your purchase to your personal tastes. You may have a crew that is good,  (like a suit or dress of the rack) but the difference between good and great is up to the crew and their continued development into the 'one of a kind' crew for you, (designed, measured and built for you).

While many an Owner have weathered 'almost the right crew' to tell the tales, such as the 330 foot motor yacht owner mentioned above,  many never get that far, or even realize there is another way?

Humans need to develop and learn skills to deal with the complexities of cohabiting a small space while working together. Crew will have to learn how each owner's preferences  (along with their own and each others) will be different, and then develop systems and skills to become the right crew for that owner.

Because a small misunderstanding, a communication error, or just a basic lack of knowledge in people skills can have escalating effects due to the complex interdependencies of life aboard.  The old solutions of  replacing resources (new crew) just adds a delay to more of the same result further down the road (and adds unnecessary cost) to become insidiously invisible errors of omission.  As  Systems Thinker Russell Ackoff wrote:
"The more  managers continue to try to get rid of what they don't want, the less likely they are to get what they do want."
With training and development of new skills  innovative approaches will surface from your crew as they become involved and engaged as a team, they will create a learning environment that encourages new skills in personal development to become the right crew for you.

 What if the right crew is my crew
Getting the 'right' crew for your Yacht is more than just picking employees to fit your yachts technical requirements, it is also, and perhaps more importantly, a matter of providing an environment for your crew to learn, grow, and share their mental models. Progress requires exploration and exploitation of differences between crew, and between officers and their Captain's.

Further development of personal skills is not new, the business world calls it 'Business Education' or 'Executive Education' and they use management training programs to empower individuals, and organisations so they can perform at their very best. Getting the right crew involves engagement at all levels, being part of the system, not outside it, and the best systems produce the best results.  What you experience aboard will depend on the skills and development of your crew. The crew you have today or the crew you will have tomorrow.
"The team that became great didn’t start off great-it learned how to produce extraordinary results.”
-Peter Senge