Last week, I asked for your help with the naming of one of the mindsets we've been exploring as a global reinvention community - and the wave of responses have been incredibly moving. 

Thank you for all the amazing feedback!

We've got everything from 'conservative' to 'unflexible' to "I've always done it this way" mindset - and a few thoughtful invitations not to demonize that particular way of looking at the world.

Fully agreed.

This week, we start a month-long celebration of the 1-year anniversary of the launch of our living, ever-evolving, crowd-written, community-tested reinvented digital book.

"Titanic Syndrome: Why Companies Sink and How to Reinvent Your Way Out of Any Business Disaster" broke many conventions.

It is filled with tools.
It has a LOT of illustrations (who said pictures are for kids only???).
It is co-created by our global reinvention community.
In just a few weeks we'll release the 5th (!!!) edition of the book in just 12 months.

And while the final touches and edits are being added, it's a perfect moment to share a bit more of the background that did NOT make it into the book - but can offer huge value.

The story of the Titanic takes a rather small place in the entire book filled with tools, exercises, and canvases.

And as I shared in the past, the idea of using Titanic as a business metaphor was not mine - I was inspired by a lecture of Professor Juan Serrano, who used Titanic, the movie, in his classes.

But while our book does not do it justice (after all, it's a how-to business book), the story of the Titanic disaster offers an incredible wealth of insights for both business and life.

Take, for example, the bit about three ships that met that fateful April 1912 night - the Titanic, the Californian, and the Carpathia.

As this powerful three-story article by AchieveForum makes clear, the three ships had very different responses to the unfolding disaster:

"By around 1:00 a.m., the Titanic was in a state of utter confusion. Not only were there insufficient lifeboats for everyone, the crew had no clue as to the procedures for getting more than 2,000 people into lifejackets and off the ship... by the time Steward John Hart got around to escorting some small groups up to the lifeboats, he didn’t have much luck—as soon as he got some of those passengers into the lifeboats, they would get out and go back inside where it was warm." 

In the same waters barely 10 miles away, the Californian was showing similar tacit arrogance and complacency:

"The Titanic had been firing rockets for hours, but since they were white, not red, the Californian’s captain and officers thought they were part of some sort of celebration. As the ship sank, Second Officer Herbert Stone remarked to a crew member on the odd way it was floating in the water, but he received only a shrug in response. When the ship disappeared, the two men assumed it was steaming away. It never occurred to them to wonder if it were sinking."

On that fateful night, the very first ship to respond to the Titanic's distress call was the Carpathia. 

And unlike the other two ships, this team showed a very different approach to dealing with change:

"The Carpathia’s Captain Arthur Rostron had been awakened a little after midnight by Harold Cottam, the ship’s wireless operator who had received the CQD call... 

When he heard the terrible news from the radio operator, he ordered Carpathia’s new course immediately—before checking the wireless message to ascertain that the report was true and before calculating the two ships’ relative positions. Right away he turned the ship around and ordered all off-duty firemen to the boiler room to get up steam; and then, he verified the report, calculated the Titanic’s position and adjusted the Carpathia’s course as she was racing forward.

In other words, Rostron didn’t wait at a standstill until all facts could be known and all positions pinpointed, nor did he charge blindly forward without making course corrections. He moved, then evaluated, then adjusted course—and kept on moving."

And that's exactly what our age of constant change asks of us: to find a balance between action and reflection, discipline and creativity, decisiveness and double-checking.

How are you practicing that in your organization today?

P.S. I hope you take the moment to read the full article I am quoting from today - it's great. 

And if this gets your appetite going for more business lessons from the Titanic disaster, I do recommend this article on the "10 Project Management Lessons From the Titanic Disaster" and this infographic on more details comparing the three ships.


Dr. Nadya Zhexembayeva helps companies such as Coca-Cola, Kohler, and IBM turn change and disruption into an opportunity.

You can start building your change and reinvention skills by downloading “101+ FREE Tools” – our hand-picked collection of resources, reports, and apps you can use with zero investment. Get your copy here>>


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