‘Titanic’ lessons in strategic management (and it’s not what you think!) [Redux]

by | Feb 7, 2022

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In June 2019, I re-issued an updated version of this article.
And the world imploded over a virus eight months later.
Late last year, I thought about this piece and asked myself: “Kathie, have you followed your advice, even with a pandemic?”
Pretty much, I have, although I’ve changed my focus since then … and there were a few bumps when $35k of work disappeared overnight in early 2020. (You too? What was that all about?)
My decision to provide long, involved posts only once a quarter came from embracing the strategic management concepts you’ll find here.
Kinda fitting, don’t you think, that this is my first quarterly post under my new strategy? Ah-ha!
My monthly [QW] posts – my ‘quick wins’ – were born, and my subscribers love them.
(So does my calendar!)
The [QW]s are short and to the point biz tips
Quick to read and … quick-ish 😎 … to write.
As much as I love researching these detailed offerings, I can no longer afford the luxury and keep up with client work, family, or book readin’ time. (Check out another of my posts showing how I finally figured out ‘doing it all’ is not the way to go!)
Here you go, surprise direction and all.

As business owners, we continually wrangle our long-term goals and guide them safely into the corral.

Howzabout (I sometimes make up words) this as our example?

Strategically expanding deep-sea exploration …
… while throwing in the RMS Titanic for good measure.

Oh, yeah. The ultimate.
And a whole different direction than you figured from my title, right?

“What the heck is strategic management?”

This project management process takes small, purposeful steps to get where we want to be. (Sort of like being a toddler, but with wwaayy more responsibility.)

We can’t just sit around and wait for ‘it’ to happen …
… whatever ‘it’ may be.

The fun part

Figuring out the strategy is part of the fun.

Helping clients get to biz ‘non-overwhelm’ by process improvement
or smoothing out those scary, rough ‘tech edges’

This is my world, but I ask myself the same questions you do:

  • How can I stand out in my industry?
  • Is there a way to re-energize my company services?
  • What can I offer that is unique?


Thinking ahead is the key!

Thinking ahead is the key!


The non-snooze-worthy answer

if you subscribe to my posts, you know I don’t ‘do’ boring.

And this topic could become boring pretty fast!

Never fear. Here’s where we are headed:

We will briefly visit Robert Ballard‘s Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution team in its furthering of underwater research, as well as take a peek at a little-known movie production unit: Lightstorm Entertainment. While the Lightstorm name may be unfamiliar, the CEO is not:

James Cameron of Titanic movie fame

I was wrong

When I first heard of Ballard’s and Cameron’s projects, I thought their interest in the Titanic was ghoulish: retrieving artifacts from the ship (shudder).

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Both men viewed the site as sacrosanct, and neither team desecrated it.

And both realized the ship could be part of their strategic business strategy 

Documenting the resting place

The two people most responsible for showing us the sunken ship began their fascination with the ocean many years – and thousands of miles – apart.

Robert Ballard

Wanting to further deep-sea exploration, Mr. Ballard developed a strategy to make it happen.
His organization couldn’t do it on its own.

He needed to motivate investors to fund what he wanted to accomplish: building a submersible that could take a human crew much deeper than the then-current 6,000 feet.

“I felt the magic of the [Titanic] would help attract funding that would enable me to make
a major step forward in underwater research and technology.” – Robert Ballard

Investors recognized the built-in fundraising possibilities … and said, “Yes.”

In 1976, the hard-working submersible Alvin was certified for 13,000 feet below sea level. (I remember the buzz in the news: “Can this thing get to Titanic?!”)

It was a long haul to 1985 when Ballard’s team found the historic shipwreck, but that’s the way things go with strategic management.

It’s not always a quick process, and it may take a ton of patience.

James Cameron

The TV world of the late 1960s/early ’70s showed Jacques Cousteau exploring the deep ocean.
Although he was landlocked in Ontario, Canada, James Cameron decided ocean exploration was part of his future.

He began taking steps to secure the journey.

And there’s the key to our topic.
Ballard and Cameron had the patience to take
the necessary strategic steps to achieve their results.

We need to do this, too, as we work toward our goals.

By early 2010, Cameron had spent about 3,000 hours underwater, 500 of them in submersibles (including the Titanic excursions, some of which we see in the film).

A 'Titanic' lesson on strategic management

A ‘Titanic’ lesson on strategic management

Thinking outside the box

Remember my questions as I started my strategic management journey?

“How can I …?”
“Is there a way …?”
“What can I …?”

I can imagine Robert Ballard and James Cameron asking the same questions.

They understand the benefits of thinking outside the box to improve a product or repurpose a business tool.

So, let’s look at improvement and repurposing.

Ballard’s submersible (‘Improvement’)

Ballard’s group replaced mini-sub Alvin’s hull with a titanium alloy, allowing dives to twice its original max depth of 6,000 feet.

With the new capability, Alvin was the only submersible (at that time) certified to carry people to the Titanic.

Cameron’s camera (‘Repurposing’)

“[The] high definition 3D camera was developed for a completely other
project, and we just realized that applying it to this [Titanic] environment
would work really well.” – James Cameron

Instead of providing still photography mosaics, filming the historic ship changed everything. (Does anyone else remember those confusing mosaics?)

The results were breathtaking.

“Now what?”

As Ballard and Cameron did so masterfully, what can we improve or repurpose to help us expand strategically in our industries?

For you …

•  Can you implement a more compassionate MRI?
•  Is there a new, jaw-dropping way to use X? (Do you even need X?)
•  Could your theory revolutionize your industry?

For me …

‘Repurposing’ was my tactic.

In 2022, I’ve refocused on a unique space I invented several years ago.

You may remember my ‘Non-overwhelm’ blog post series. You can find it here.

These posts started as a real-world way to help others set up their business processes, but I soon discovered the fear of tech was a big deal with many small business owners, too. I help with both.

Here are the questions I asked. You’ll see my refocus decisions in a moment:

•  Why are people still asking me about non-overwhelm? Because it resonates.
•  Would they be open to online meetings to answer their biz questions?
•  Are clients tired of lengthy projects and just want to get-er-done?

[ I’ve also performed the ultimate refocus and created a book around the non-overwhelm concept. My since-fourth-grade dream of being a published author? Comes true this spring! ]

‘Strategic’ begins here … with 6 words

Six words provide a straightforward answer to most of the questions in the previous section:

“I don’t know. Let’s find out.”

Robert Ballard and James Cameron worked their varied experience into incredible ‘upsells,’ putting in the hard work to get there.

I dovetailed my non-overwhelm concepts into more 1:1 online coaching. This includes my goals accountability training plus providing clients the benefit of personalized instruction for their specific needs: office processes? mini office tech lessons? achieving goals?

We discuss it and get them unstuck. You can set up something similar for your clients, too.

Let’s put on our strategic management hats … and go for it!


Update: My “Non-Overwhelm” book released to Amazon in May! Grab the info here

Join the Conversation

It’s your turn! Please select one of these discussion topics, or bring your own.

Tell us if you

• Are working on a strategic plan. Where do you find the most obstacles?
• Think all this work isn’t worth the effort and what you’re doing instead.
• Wonder how you’ll ever get it all done … but will try strategic planning.

Let’s all learn from each other!

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Thanks for stopping by. I know you’re busy, and I appreciate your time.


Contact me if you have questions about this post, or need help non-overwhelming a project. I’m here for ya! 😎



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  1. Norm Phelps

    Even though I’m retired I still have many projects I want to accomplish. Your “Strategic Management” post fits right in with these efforts. Thank you so much. I keep reminding myself ‘How do you eat an elephant? – ONE bite at a time!” Take care and stay safe.

    • Kathie York

      PERfect! This is exactly what I hoped … help others take these steps.
      They’ve been lifesavers for me.

      I’m glad IIIII finally figured out how to eat that elephant.
      The ‘kid me’ tried to do everything at once. (Guess how that turned out?)


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Kathie York, CSQE
Queen of Non-Overwhelm
Goals Accountability Instructor

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