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Management Lessons from a ‘Cruise to Arctic Circle’

Management Lessons from a ‘Cruise to Arctic Circle’

Management Lessons from a ‘Cruise to Arctic Circle’

Recently, I took a cruise to the Arctic circle, the northern most part of the globe. This made me realize how travel to an unmanned territory can offer valuable management lessons applicable to various aspects of business and leadership. Here are some management lessons learnt from my expedition:

  1. Preparation and Planning are Crucial: Our planning to travel to Arctic began six months ago when we booked ourselves with the cruise company. Since meticulous planning was required to navigate this challenging environment, we were given details about the winter gear required in the Arctic summer. We ordered the water-resistant trousers, shoes, caps, gloves, in time while the cruise provided us with the specially made parkas.

  2. Risk Management: Arctic cruises involve dealing with unpredictable weather, icebergs, glaciers, and other hazards. Similarly, in the business world, managers must identify and mitigate risks to ensure the organization's stability and growth. We had a briefing every evening in the cruise for the next day plan which included a contingency plan crucial for handling unexpected events.

  3. Adaptability and Flexibility: Arctic conditions can change rapidly, necessitating quick adjustments to the itinerary. Two of our expeditions got cancelled due to windy weather, but they took us to the ‘Ice Edge’ instead. It required getting up early at 6am and watch the frozen sea from the deck. Similarly, managers are required to be adaptable and open to changing strategies based on evolving circumstances, whether due to market shifts or internal changes.

  4. Team Collaboration: The success of an Arctic cruise depends on the collaboration of a diverse crew with different skill sets. During our cruise, I witnessed a seamless execution of all planned activities by teams like expedition, hospitality, logistics, research, and history. Similarly in business, fostering teamwork and encouraging collaboration among employees can lead to improved problem-solving, creativity, and overall productivity.

  5. Effective Communication: Clear communication was vital on this Arctic cruise to ensure everyone's safety and to keep passengers informed. There were continuous announcements in the common areas throughout the day while the Suites and Rooms received special communications whenever there was a sighting of dolphins or polar bears. The members of various teams met the guests with utmost respect and answered all their queries with patience. It made me realize how managers must also prioritize effective communication within their teams, providing clear instructions, expectations, and feedback to avoid misunderstandings.
  6. Resource Management: Limited resources on an Arctic expedition, such as fuel and supplies, require efficient allocation. We witnessed how water and food items were used judiciously on this journey. Similarly, in business, optimizing resource allocation and minimizing waste can enhance operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

  7. Leadership under Pressure: Arctic conditions are challenging and stressful. Still I saw the captain, managers, and attendants demonstrating resilience, composure, and strong decision-making skills under pressure. In business, effective leaders must guide their teams through tough situations with confidence.

  8. Environmental Responsibility: The fragile Arctic ecosystem emphasizes the importance of environmental responsibility. We were made aware of the scarce vegetation and valuable fossils on the landmass. So, we took utmost care while walking on land during our expeditions. Businesses should also consider their ecological impact and work towards sustainable practices that benefit both the company and the environment.

  9. Continuous Learning and Adaptation: Arctic cruises involve exposure to new environments and experiences. I got to participate in a ‘Citizen Science Project’ where we collected data from the mouth of glacier about the changes happening in it. Similarly, managers should embrace a culture of continuous learning, seeking opportunities to grow, adapt, and improve their skills to stay ahead in a dynamic business landscape.

  10. Customer Experience: The reception area in the ship had a big desk titled ‘Future Cruise Sales’ and their pleasing sales person shared about booking 50% of future sales while being on board. Many of the fellow passengers were cruising with them for the third or the fourth time. Since this cruise offered its passengers a memorable and enjoyable experience, it was loved by all of us. Businesses should focus on providing excellent customer experiences to build loyalty, reputation, and repeat business.
Ultimately, a cruise to the Arctic offers a unique opportunity to learn from the challenges and triumphs faced in a remote and demanding environment. Translating these lessons into effective management strategies can lead to improved leadership, better decision-making, and overall business success. Not only this, it was a life-time experience of venturing into unchartered territories and making new friends from different age groups and nationalities.

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