How to Prevent the Business from Becoming a Shipwreck

An iceberg didn’t sink the Titanic (or Kodak, or Blockbuster Video, or Blackberry, or Lehman Brothers)

Internal forces command our attention. External forces make us successful.

Internal forces are loud. External forces are silent.

When external forces are ignored, we use speculation, assumption, or the highest paid opinion to make decisions.

Internal forces put everyone, at every level of an organization, at risk of drowning in a sea of busy-ness.

External forces that govern our effectiveness are things like:

  • Customer preferences
  • Competitive landscape
  • Economic conditions
  • Technological advances
  • Natural environmental conditions
  • Legal requirements
  • Talent availability
  • Icebergs

Each of these external forces is outside of our control, and each one is potentially about to blindside us while we’re busy debating, speculating, working to achieve 98% efficiency, or mastering Inbox Zero.

The higher we rise in an organization, the more internal forces inadvertently work to derail us. Emails, meeting requests, clarifications, approvals, rework, politics, and people drama all scream for our attention, while the giant billboard pointing the way to success quietly sits right outside our office window.

Provided our goal is clear, having the right systems in place ensures we keep our attention on what matters most. 

We can see these sort of systems at work in Amazon, where Jeff Bezos has labored to ingrain his “Day 1” philosophy into the environment and how work gets done.

An iceberg didn’t sink the Titanic (or Kodak, or Blockbuster Video, or Blackberry, or Lehman Brothers), a lack of systems for keeping everyone focused on what matters most did.

Feature photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.