Blueprint for success in all aspects of life

Published on November 21st, 2023

by Mark DeGuire, Regional Race Officer
A 5700-foot starting line, just shy of one nautical mile. Two midline boats with three starting segments. The 126 competitors were asking how this was going to work. I was asking myself if it was going to work.

I had the privilege of serving as the Principal Race Officer for the 2023 E Scow National Championship, a monumental event marking the 100th anniversary of the E Scow, held on Lake Mendota in Madison, WI. Coordinating with a dedicated team of over 30 race committee members and numerous volunteers from the Mendota Yacht Club, this regatta was an unforgettable experience.

This event was years in the planning, particularly for a host club with no physical location to base an event of this size. The race committee was primarily comprised of Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) race officers, but there were also representatives from the East Coast and even Grand Lake, CO.

As a group, we met regularly on web calls for nine months to plan and discuss all aspects of the event and scenarios that may arise. The planning and review continued right up to the practice race, and our guiding principles centered on the themes of: Anticipate – Communicate – Appreciate.

These principles underpin all actions in organizing and executing complex projects in dynamic environments, catering to clients with exacting standards. While the current focus has revolved around a high-profile regatta, the Anticipate – Communicate – Appreciate framework isn’t limited to a single domain; it is a blueprint for success in all aspects of life.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Russell

Anticipate everything! Anticipating encompasses the setup and planning related to an engagement, but it is much more. It is a holistic consideration of potential outcomes, inputs, obstacles, and alternative paths. A Scenario-Based Review of Potential Outcomes (SBRPO) provides a more inclusive assessment. You focus more details on the likely scenarios, but a review of the fringes gives perspective on what is possible.

The real target is enabling you and your team to see what may happen so you limit the risk of the unexpected. This activity does not mean you have everything planned to an infinite degree. Executing is paramount. The anticipated scenarios should identify the essential resources to have available to allow you to adjust quickly to impediments.

Peter Drucker highlights, “To improve communications, work not on the utter, but the recipient” and “One can communicate only in the recipients’ language or in their terms.” (Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices) There needs to be a shared playbook to follow that sets the scope and engagement. Applications and tools abound that profess to improve communication.

Creating a collaborative script for each role provides an effective way to make sure all on the team understand the direction and approach. Regular review meetings allow for questions, input, and feedback. Team connection is precious before execution to work through disconnects and gain commitment.

Like the planning scenarios, the script is not all-inclusive. The review meetings help to set the parameters and latitude for individual authority and action. Only important things need to be reported, but there needs to be clear triggers and paths for identification and escalation.

You can never say “thank you” enough, but it does need to focus on what you are thankful for, so it is not taken as a trite response. Your team is competent and committed, and you need to connect the engagement to individual personal satisfaction to optimize individual contributions. You can show appreciation in many ways, but I have seen how focused acknowledgment can be meaningful.

The acts of respect and value are most often manifest at the end of an engagement. The email (or written note), the celebratory dinner, gifts, or bonuses are clear acts to appreciate when an engagement closes. Being present and connected to your team members is essential throughout. You must practice focused and active listening to be effective. This subtle act of acknowledgment can speak volumes in showing regard and value.

Anticipate, Communicate, and Appreciate are the pillars that guide us through the different phases of any engagement. Anticipating takes the forefront during the planning stage, while effective communication is a cornerstone of execution. Appreciation becomes paramount as we wrap up. When applied as a framework, these principles enhance engagements across all stages.

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