Updated: Mar 23
At the end of the last blog post I posed a question: What's your anchor? How'd you answer?
That question has become somewhat of a mantra for me. I even have it tattooed on my chest (go big or go home!). One of the things I like most about asking that question is that it means something different to everyone; but whatever that meaning is, it really means something to them. I appreciate seeing that kind of conviction from people.
Whatever the case, being anchored is a way of life and conducting business at Ship and Anchor. What's more is it turns the seemingly trivial meaningful, and the mundane fun! However, before we get anchored, we've got to first take a step back and place the Anchor in its proper context relative to the Ship.
A ship is a vessel that physically carries you to a place. It is the thing that does the actual work of getting to your destination. A ship can be seen. For businesses, a Ship is your product, service, or lines of business. A Ship may be selling shirts; making shirts; professional coaching; developing software; operating a retail store or restaurant; screening customer service calls; marketing...a number of things.
A key attribute of a Ship is that it generates revenue for your company. In that regard, every business has a Ship, from the biggest, most successful company to the least successful. In contrast, not every business has an Anchor, which makes all the difference.
An anchor is the thing that keeps a ship grounded so that it does not float adrift aimlessly with the currents and winds. Also an actual anchor in use cannot be seen. This is similar for a business’ anchor. For a business, an Anchor is the organization's way of maintaining alignment with where you want to go, how to stay the course you’ve charted when things inevitably stop going as planned.
The business Anchor is significant because, regardless of how great a product or service, it cannot reach its full scope and capacity without an effective & efficient organizational unit. The Anchor is the mechanism that maintains an effective, efficient, & unified organizational unit.
Having an Anchor helps organizations establish a method of doing and thinking about its business. It is the soul of the organization, allowing it to function as 1 mind. So whether the boss is around or not, it can easily be determined how to operate the Ship. This is necessary now more than ever as more of us work with our teams remotely.
Whatever the work environment, an Anchor is essential as it enables a company to pivot intentionally & quickly, rather than struggle to get the organization on one accord – headed in the same direction at the same pace. An anchor is an essential navigational tool for any business or organization.
The What's Your Anchor Method
At Ship and Anchor, we ask each of our partners and clients “what’s your anchor,” prior to beginning a project. This isn’t rhetorical or just some philosophical question about their ethics. Instead, it begs a very precise answer. The answer allows us to determine the best way to achieve their desired objective, serving its purpose as a navigational tool.
Most companies employ some form of strategic planning, which is certainly a best practice. However, there are limitations to strategic plans, in that sudden internal or external changes can instantly render the plans as outdated - new technologies emerge, elected officials change regulations, key players leave the company, a global pandemic strikes, etc. Reconvening after such shifts in tide is costly and difficult to execute efficiently. Given these realities it's important that strategic plans are reinforced by a strategic thinking model. That is the purpose of the ‘What’s Your Anchor’ model.
I developed this model for businesses after having first developed it for personal development, a byproduct of insights gained from re-reading my prison journals back in 2019. In the journals I was unpacking how the grief of losing my father and uncles in the sudden sinking of their commercial fishing boat, the Lady Mary, contributed to my incarceration. I had allowed the sudden shift in tide to cause me to go adrift from my charted course of finishing college and changing the world. At the time, I was not anchored.
In the journals, I recounted many of the things I said that I wanted to do after I was released, among them was to start a nonprofit called “The Ship.” Reading those plans from six years earlier, I was surprised, yet pleased that the new company I had just registered carried at least part of the name that I forgot ever envisioning…“Ship and Anchor.” I considered if I should honor the wishes of a younger, desperate me who dreamt of The Ship for the sake of hope itself. Then it all came together; I understood that I was still building the same Ship, except now it was Anchored.
As all entrepreneurs know, starting a full-time business is one of the most trying journeys you can take. It tests you in every way. After the Corona virus arrived less than a year later, to survive as a new full-time entrepreneur, I found myself leveraging a somewhat similar method of anchoring as I had when bouncing back from grief and incarceration to keep my embryonic business from going adrift. Thus, the What’s Your Anchor model for businesses was born.
So, when I ask clients and partners, “what’s your anchor,” beyond determining if and how I can work with them, I am also determining if I want to work with them. Business - large, small, high-revenue, low-revenue, nonprofit - takes place in rough waters, and I am not in the business of journeying rough waters on Ships that do not have an anchor. Would you?
There are 3 components of an Anchor: Identity, Vision, and Shipmates. Each serves a different, yet essential function for our businesses. Who's ready to get into it? Well, you'll have to subscribe to our blog for updates on Part II.