Embracing Challenge

With Managing Director, Luke-Shannon Little

“This weekend past I attended the Titanic exhibition in London. It was an amazing exhibition that really showed the journey from the concept and the planning of world changing engineering masterpiece to the ill-fated voyage and its legacy.

What struck me most was the amount of small incidents that took place that could have changed the course of the story we know today. Many of us know that the boat, heralded as ground breaking in engineering, size and splendour, was nicknamed “The Unsinkable.” Because of this single minded belief the number of lifeboats available where cut in half from the original plans mainly for cosmetic purposes, to make more space on deck for a stroll.

This massive beast had every luxury known to man, the White Star Line, the company who owned the boat spared no expense. The grand dining rooms were adorned with chandeliers and sliver cutlery. The first class cabins were decorated in different styles from different eras, it is believed the most paid for a tickets was $2560 or $61,000 in today money. Even the 3rd class passengers were sleeping in quarters and beds they would not have been used to. All would have had mattresses and blankets, a place to wash, food and entertainment. The glamour made for a truly unique experience however the true needs to the passengers were not met before they even stepped foot on the boat.

Two men stood look-out the night that the ship struck the iceberg, and even thought they took seconds to react they saw it too late to impact the course of the ship. In a luckless course of events before the ship set sail the second officer, David Blair had been relieved of his duties. As he left the ship he forgot to hand over the key that opened the lock box where the binoculars in the crows nest were kept.

I personally believe that the engineers believed too much in their own story, they wrong advice was taken, style won over substance, people came secondary to the product. Confidence was overtaken by ego, self believe by arrogance and ultimately the outcome was a grand failure.

Maybe sometime we should embrace challenge in our own beliefs, take the time to think and digest a situation rather than assume we know best. Then maybe, just maybe, the ship wouldn’t start to leak, the outcome would be slightly different and sinking would be enviable. Recently I was asked what the 3 year plan for Bishopsgate and I reeled off my plans and thoughts. I was asked if I had discussed these with my senior leadership team and at that point I realised that while we talk day to day about the next plans very rarely do we walk long term plans. My opinion on where we are heading and what we are building is completely insignificant, without the team all believing in the same journey. Challenging my assumptions is top priority for 2022.

Disclaimer, this is based on my memory of the exhibition, historical facts maybe be slightly different.”