Pirates Were Offshore Pioneers

I attended a Gasparilla party hosted by one of our collaborative partners (a.k.a. customers) in Tampa last weekend, and believe it or not I found meaning related to Cognet’s mission, even in a hoard of drunken revelers abusing the memory of Jose Gaspar in the name of beads and alcohol.

How does that related to anything you ask? Well let’s start with a couple facts that we can all understand.

First, Pirate ships were a democracy made up of people from all over the globe, at a time when nationalism and imperialism reigned. There were escapes from the great navies of England, Spain, France and other Euros working side by side with Indians, Chinese and West Africans. Dare I say it, they had a socialist capital system by which the crew members voted on whether or not to attach a ship and shared published “shares” of how those riches would be split up upon acquisition. They accepted and embraced globalization, realizing that each of them had unique skills and when combined the odds for success increased.

Second, they created a new business model against the well established norm of the day. Did they just accept the colonial powers model of conquest and plunder on a massive scale, using large flotillas of war ships and horses to project power into the seas? No, they improvised! Oh sure, maybe it wasn’t the most legal of business models and admittedly involved basic robbery, but we have to give them props for trying something different. Also, don’t forget that when you change the name to “Privateer” and have a fancy letter from some royal family you were allowed to flex your new muscle in a perfectly legal fashion. See, even the big boys of the era knew a good new business process when they saw one, just ask the ADP of the time The East India Company how it worked for them.

Finally, and believe it or not they were just like Cognet, process junkies. You don’t just sail on the high seas and overtake an English Man of War with 64 guns by looking scary and having a cool flag people. They carefully and skillfully selected the appropriate straights and geographic anomalies that allowed them to dart out from the coast, negotiate their take and then have those goods back on shore and warehoused in multiple locations for sale at a later date. I bet you can find a process flow on the back of a treasure map or two if you really look.

What are you going on about here Graybeard? Well, the basics haven’t really changed, just the tools available. You get the best people together from the available talent pool, which remains global and you don’t have to pressgang them into servitude. Then you reinvent an existing business model and apply it before you competition can, while focusing on the processes underneath that operating strategy to ensure that you are always a step ahead of the gallows.

The choice is yours, Pirate or Pilgrim.

Give us a call and we promise not to do any Jack Sparrow impersonations, just our pieces of eight advice on how to get your business to sea ahead of the royal navy and our front of the competition.

Captain Incogneto, St. Somewhere near the Maldives, February 2011.

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