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a blog by Chris Barrow

Croatia #1 – how my holiday taught me that it’s OK to change your mind

First day back after 2 weeks sailing the beautiful Dalmatian coast of Croatia – how did I get to age 65 without discovering this wonderful country? We are already making plans to return. both as sailors and independent travellers.

As always, I’m constantly looking for metaphors in life that can apply to our day to day experience in business and Croatia did not disappoint.

Sharing the experience with a dentist and practice manager/wife plus retired surgeon and GP, all of whom have experience in the Army as participants and stay at home spouses, we enjoyed some fascinating conversations on the issues of strategy and tactics, whether in the deployment of military campaigns or the delivery of healthcare.

The one over-riding lesson that we learned during the trip was that it’s OK to change a plan when what you are doing isn’t producing the outcome that you desired.

Example 1

A fourth couple arrived after one week to join our crew and, within 12 hours of coming aboard, one of them had fallen and broken three ribs.

Decision – get the injured party back to the UK for medical care.

Result of decision – a complete change to our itinerary for week 2 and a gruelling 6-hour journey in a Force 7 gale to get the injured party to a port where a fast ferry could take them back to Dubrovnik. A sailing experience that none of us will want to repeat.

Example 2

An hour in to a planned journey along the South coast of Mljet exposes us to strong southerly winds and a heavy swell – which means another 5 hours of very unpleasant sailing if we are to reach our intended destination.

Decision – abort the journey, spend two hours mainly getting back to where we started and then a further 3 hours of pleasant sailing to an alternative mooring, thus completely changing our plans for the days ahead.

One change forced upon us by unexpected circumstances (a change in internal conditions), the other by the weather (a change in external conditions).

In both cases we avoided considerable suffering by being flexible.

I contrast that with some of my own historical business adventures where, once the plan had been set, we were required to stick to plan, no matter what and in the face of mounting evidence that what we were doing wasn’t working.

In entrepreneurialism they sometimes call this “the unfalsifiable hypothesis” and it’s also a symptom of dictatorships.

Monday morning and lots to do this month – June is going to be a very busy time. I’ve already decided whilst away that I’m going to make some changes to what we do here at Extreme Business – you’ll see in due course.

What matters is not being afraid to make the change.

I’m going to share a few other stories from Croatia over the next few days – all relating to our businesses.

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