Pirate Ships and Navy Commanders… Here’s How They Relate To Your Business

Pirate Ships and Navy Commanders… Here’s How They Relate To Your Business

navy ship business organisational structure

Building An Organisational Structure For Success


In a world where disruption has been worn like a badge of honour on the chests of entrepreneurs and start-up founders, it is little wonder that business owners have become a disorientated with concepts of organisational structure, and company procedures. I get it - it all seems a little boring and dull in the light of words like ‘agility’ ‘accelerator’ ‘boot-strapping’ and ‘growth hacking’. We have been lead to believe that running our businesses like a pirate ship is the only way to scramble to the top.

But with all these ‘unicorns’ flying around the place and ‘stealth mode’ activated, it’s unsurprising that most of us feel like we have fallen off the ship and are bobbing around in the ocean of unknown.

Fast-tracking business growth in the model of a pirate ship (a term originally coined during the late 1990’s during the race to the top between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – later used by the new CEO of Uber) may get your business off the ground, but at some point the swash-buckling has to stop if you want to build a reputable and sustainable company.

You don’t have to be a start-up to be running your business like a pirate ship. Most businesses who are stuck in the Wilderness have piracy tendencies and need to transition over to more Navy-like operations.


How Do You Know If You Are Running A Pirate Ship?


The simplest way to recognise if your business is a Pirate Ship is that there are no clear roles and responsibilities outlined (or being implemented) throughout your company. Organisational structure is key to transitioning into a Navy-like company

But before you can get the place ship-shape (telling people what they should be doing and when), you need to have clearly outline what success looks like within your business. Pirates have a tendency of running around, focused only on the moment, hoping that they will live to see another day.

Not the Navvy. They have clearly defined their strategies for success, know where they are going, and know what they are going to action and when to achieve their mission objectives.

You need to know exactly what success looks like in every aspect of your business. Each department needs this mapped out, and your board of directors need to be in agreement. Set clear metrics – both financial and non-financial.


Process is Key For Organisational Success

Documented processes for each person on the ship will tidy up the ad-hoc work being done, will tighten up efficiencies, and will get everyone on the same map, sailing in the same direction.

Business is just a series of processes, done every day. It’s that simple.

Everyone on your Navvy ship needs to understand what the processes are, and who is responsible for them. And they need to be checking and following the processes daily.

Once processes are clearly defined, the next question is “What processes can we systemise?”  The whatever cannot be run by systems then gets run by people within your organisation.

I am currently learning to fly. When I get in the plane I have an instructor who is an expert pilot. He has jumped in planes more times than most of us have had hot breakfasts, but there is one thing he ALWAYS does…

When we jump in the plane, I am itching to get that baby off the ground, but my instructor will reach over into the right hand side pocket and pulls out the pre-start checklist.

We never start the plane until we have gone through the process of checking everything on that list to ensure we are good to go. Oil, water, scratches, tiny details!  

The thing is – if we didn’t follow that process and something goes wrong in the air, that’s it folks. Game over. Death is certain.  

Yet in business, we skip over the processes and the checklists all the time. Because we don’t think that the consequences are that bad….

But aren’t they?

Your business will die eventually if you keep up the pirate shenanigans. It will die by 1000 cuts (or 1000 battles perhaps!)


Take your cue from the Navy. Sit down and assess all the daily processes that need to be done to ensure success in your business. They begin the implementation process.


Transform your Pirate Ship Business Into A Navy-Like Organisation

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