Many years ago, Stuart worked with Carol, a brilliant marketing executive who had one ongoing complaint: she had the hardest time seeing outside “The Swirl.” She characterized The Swirl as you standing in the middle of a tornado, where everything was spinning and happening so fast around you that you couldn’t see beyond it. In her opinion, this was the biggest obstacle to success because she could never get total clarity on what was really happening around her and where she needed to go.

The Swirl is a very common issue for entrepreneur. One of the most difficult issues faced by company founders and their teams is that, when focusing on near-term demands and problems, they often lose sight of the larger picture. Their initial objectives (sometimes their company purpose itself) become obscured by everyday business problems, such as hiring the right staff or meeting financial objectives. In the best cases, they can see this is happening and course-correct quickly. However, in most cases, the lack of focus takes them off their original path. For an unfortunate few, they never find the path again.

We call this situation “The Crow’s Nest Conundrum.” When captains are piloting their ships through choppy waters, their attention must be at sea level or all could be lost. So how do they keep focused on their long-distance destination… the land they can’t even see?

The solution is the crow’s nest. According to Wikipedia, going back to ancient times, Theon of Smyrna noted that by climbing the mast of a ship, one could see the land that is invisible to those on deck. This realization led to the creation of the crow’s nest, an upper part of the ship used as a lookout point to spot approaching hazards, other ships, or land by naked eye or use of a monocular. Until the invention of radar, crow’s nests were the key mean to ensure captains could guide their ships safely to port.

Today’s fast-paced business demands a strong captain supported by sharp-eyed people in the crow’s nest. As consultants, this is one of the key advantages we can bring as outsiders. We’re outside Carol’s swirl and can rise above the sturm und drang of everyday demands to help keep you on course. We see this as privilege and a responsibility.

A good example of this is the work we did for Evi. When we ran into a huge potential obstacle, our crow’s nest thinking helped us develop a solution that prevented the company from being dashed on the rocks. You can read about it here. This also works well for positive opportunities, such as the uncovering a golden opportunity for Be Here with Apple Computer.

Do you have someone watching out for you on an ongoing basis, helping you better navigate the rough seas of business? If not, we’d be glad to discuss how we can help. From planning to program management to executive coaching, we can help guide you on a safer, surer route to success.