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Edition 371 – Eclipsed The Field

In the autobiography written by triple Formula 1 World Champion, Sir Jackie Stewart*, he recalls the story of he and his team mate, the late Graham Hill, being instructed to slow down by their team manager in the 1965 Italian Grand Prix at the famed Monza Circuit as they were well ahead of the field with 13 laps to go:

“I was intrigued by the experience and, thinking about it, realised that when someone tells you to slow down, you change up a gear a little earlier, you use fewer revs and you don’t brake as aggressively into a corner….and as a result, you actually go faster because you are not unduly upsetting the car.”

He continues:

“It was a useful lesson, and the theory applies in other walks of life: sometimes the best way to raise your level of performance is to back off rather than push even harder.”

I’ve often quoted this to my clients when life is “crazy-busy” inside their family businesses.

Recently, I experienced how slowing down to speed up works in the cruise industry.

Our worst experience for boarding a cruise ship was in New York in 2017. The dilapidated old tin shed that you file through in Brooklyn in those never ending, looping lines, was truly awful, exacerbated by it being early July and New York’s muggy, hot weather really turning it on. It took more than two hours to finally board the ship, by which time you’re in desperate need of a shower, let alone a cold drink. The whole process was inefficient, confusing and almost completely without instruction from the portside staff. This, by the way, was our introduction to Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

On the flip side, we’ve recently sailed on the Celebrity Eclipse out of Sydney and the whole embarkation experience was incredible for its efficiency. No doubt, since the pandemic, cruise lines have reviewed their on-boarding process and took the opportunity to streamline it whilst their ships were docked off the Bahamas, gathering barnacles. To go from more than two hours previously to 20 minutes has been achieved, to a great extent, by slowing things down, including:

  1. Completing your pre-boarding information on a dedicated App.
  2. Being clear, firm and consistent with what you, as a guest, needed to have attended to prior to boarding day.
  3. Continuing that clear, firm and consistent process in terms of reminding you what you needed to bring with you on the day of the cruise.
  4. Scheduling a boarding time for you – and requesting that you don’t come earlier or later than that time.
  5. This meant that when we turned up, whilst there was a hive of activity, it was ordered and certainly not the “knock ‘em down” approach we’ve seen each other time we’ve cruised.

There was a steady stream of passenger traffic, all being calmly and efficiently directed by portside authorities onto the next part of the process. Signage was everywhere and if you didn’t understand what was next, you weren’t going to be crushed by the mad throng behind you for stopping to ask directions of someone.

The whole process took 20 minutes from the time we unloaded our bags from the car, dockside, to the time we ordered our first drink inside the cruise ship. Incredible!

Not only that, when you hopped on board, there was no sense of frazzlement about anything. My wife and I looked at each other and remarked “how good was that”.

Your business might not be running a cruise line, and you might not be dealing with upwards of 2500 people each day through your front door. However, if you took a step back for a moment and slowed down the “how” of your daily business, you may just figure out that to speed up, you need to slow down.

This Week’s Tip

“Slow down to speed up!”

*Jackie Stewart – Winning is Not Enough – 2007 – Headline Publishing Group – pp126-127