Applying Historical Lessons to Your Managed Services Approach
When you work in the OneStream ecosystem, you quickly learn that you can take lessons from a lot of different places. From Black Diamond Advisory’s own stance on Experts Only, to the hundreds of historical figures and events that businesses borrow from, there’s no shortage of source material for potential inspiration.
One of my all-time favorite historical leaders to reference in my everyday work would be Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson. When it comes to selecting a vendor to partner with on your OneStream post-go-live journey, some of the best lessons come from the story of Admiral Nelson.
I won’t go into his full history or the controversy around his life (although it is certainly worth the read). Instead, I’ll focus on a fact that few who know his story would argue with: that his leadership is legendary. In fact, his leadership style earned its own nickname, The Nelson Touch, that is still frequently repeated today.
In the Battle of Trafalgar, his most defining moment and one of my favorite stories, Admiral Nelson chose to think differently about how his ships would attack the French fleet. Instead of sailing parallel to the French line as was the custom at the time, he went straight at them, sailing perpendicularly and exposing his fleet to several minutes of fire before they could answer. The result? No English ships were lost and the French were defeated.
Now it’s worth mentioning that this was war. It was not pretty and there was no grand swell of music. Many men risked and lost their lives on both sides, a reality that is nowhere near the challenges most of us face at our desks each day. In fact, Admiral Nelson lost his life in this very battle, an event that in itself has resulted in a multitude of books and articles on his “lead from the front” style. Even with the vast discrepancy in risk and consequence, it would be a mistake to think there is nothing from Trafalgar that can be applied to our work lives.
There are three major points that I find most fascinating about the story of Trafalgar and what it can teach us in the business and OneStream world:
- Admiral Nelson’s tactics that day were radical. They went against every commonly used paradigm for success in naval battles. Historically, the reason for sailing in parallel lines was to maintain complete control of the entire group at all times, as parallel lines enabled ships to relay signals to each other. The downside, battles were often inconclusive and it was relatively easy for one side to break off the engagement. Nelson wanted complete victory and chose to sacrifice complete control to achieve this. As a result, no British ships were lost while the French lost 19.
- The scale of this battle and the tactics being deployed meant he could not have his eye on everything all at once nor plan for every contingency. Instead, Admiral Nelson surrounded himself with a group of Captains who could be trusted to use their own judgment in conjunction with Nelson’s own values. This is best illustrated in Admiral Nelson’s words the night before the battle when he advised his captains that, “no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.” There are many stories of his Captains leveraging this trust and flexibility during the battle to make a positive impact.
- Lastly, Nelson understood nearly every aspect of war and life at sea. He had lived it. This allowed him to understand the risks associated with the decisions he was making and to weigh the reward against those risks. This mastery of his profession allowed him to think differently from others.
Now, this is a blog about OneStream after all, so I’ll repeat that OneStream is not war; not even close. However we can learn lessons from Nelson’s story. When working with a partner, you should strive to work with a team that is experienced. You need someone who understands the nuances and intricacies of their business and profession well enough to accurately weigh risk and reward.
Additionally, as Admiral Nelson would have stated, not every contingency can be known. Life after your digital solution’s go-live is similarly unpredictable. When you find yourself in these situations, ensure you are surrounded by people who have the skillset and mentality to deal with sudden changes in a calm and professional manner.
Finally, work with a partner that enables and expects their people–from top to bottom–to lead-based on a mutual understanding of the project’s and company’s goals. When there are unknowns, especially if they arise with urgency, the last thing you want is a team that requires micromanagement and lacks the skill to think independently.
Years of experience in nearly every managed services role, coupled with the lessons of Admiral Nelson, are what has pushed Black Diamond Advisory to think differently about our post-go-live partnerships. Choosing the right managed services partner is crucial for the success of your OneStream implementation. With Summit Services, you can trust that you are working with a team of experts who are committed to helping you achieve your business goals. With their deep consultative experience, innovative approach, and dedicated relationship-focused assignment, Summit Services is the solution you need to unlock the full potential of your OneStream implementation.
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