Industry Adaptation: “Ahead Slow”

by | Oct 20, 2020 | Business

Warning – This is not a political statement or commercial. For the good of my clients, I don’t take public political positions.

In the engine order telegraph days on ships, they sent speed command orders to the engine room. They would do this in broad increments via the engine order telegraph. These commands were: dead ahead slow, ahead slow, half ahead, full ahead, and flank ahead. Similar orders applied in reverse as well. These are all ways in which they adapted their navigation, a lesson which industries could apply to their own adaptation.

As the pandemic lives on, some have issued erratic engine orders within their companies and respective industries. A few months back, the owners of The Fort Lauderdale Boat Show (FLIBS), in coordination with the local government, decided to proceed with this year’s show at the end of October. However, they effectively ordered “ahead slow,” but it was not a unanimous or universally popular decision. Still, they made these decisions with thought and recognized that the show would have to adapt to be both safe and successful.

Adapting to “Ahead Slow”

FLIBS is the largest boat show of its type in the world. Fort Lauderdale is the yachting capital of the world and home to a world-renowned ship refit capability. Large yachts from around the globe specifically schedule their heavy maintenance periods in Fort Lauderdale. The industry’s economic impact in Broward County measures in the billions, and the effect of the show alone exceeds one billion dollars. Huge yachts are presented and sold during FLIBS, and the event itself is a significant attraction for those who dream of owning such a toy or working in the industry.

FLIBS has made significant docking arrangements, pedestrian traffic flow, marketplace showcases, and intra-venue vendor placement. However, it is mostly an outdoor venue, bounded by geographic constraints, e.g., water, bridges, and floating docks. The show can manage people’s flow and separation. And, widely accepted safety practices, such as masks, sanitizer stations, etc., are the rule, not the exception. These minor adaptations will still be the preferred adaptation as opposed to not having the show at all.

Hats off to the industries that are not waiting or retreating. Instead, they are proceeding, ''Ahead slow.'' Read more here: Click To Tweet

The Future of Adaptation

Industry associations in other industries could take a queue from FLIBS. The virtual experience will never replace a live experience, but the virtual is working to help industry associations maintain contact and not engage customers and industry partners. FLIBS is demonstrating there is a middle ground. However, part of it lies in being held outdoors in great weather – this could not work in a regional convention center. FLIBS won’t be the same as prior years, that is for sure. It will look and feel different. But maybe that’s not so bad.

Hats off to FLIBS for a decision not to stop, wait, or retreat. Instead, they are proceeding, “Ahead slow.”

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