Business in 2010 - More Burkhill than Uphill
By David Thackray of Venture Catalyst
I recently watched with interest the account given by former BA Captain Peter Burkhill of the crash landing of his Boeing 777 at Heathrow last year.
Thirty-five seconds from an orderly touchdown, PB spots the minor inconvenience that both his lovely Rolls Royce Trent engines had very suddenly become more RMT than RRT and gone on strike for reasons unknown. Without so much as a gratuitous cry of “Tally Ho Chaps” PB pulls a couple of dashed clever tricks that prevented the plane alighting at Platform One at Hatton Cross Tube Station. (Please mind the gap between the station and the runway…).
Not content with ruining one perfectly good english expression, for an encore PB & Co. shamelessly added a grim new connotation to “The Green Green Grass of Home” when crash landing in the greenery just inside the airport fence.
Captain Burkhill said: “From that moment I was just another passenger in an out of control aeroplane”. A few more seconds later the plane came to a stop and he noted with some surprise that he was still in one piece and to quote again: “I was back to being the Captain again, with a job to do”.
So what’s all that got to do with business?
As the UK ‘officially’ emerges from recession and we all wave good riddance to one of the most annoyingly tiresome years in recent history; a useful attitude is developing.
As the head of a business networking company, I spend half my life chatting with other business owners and managers about the state of the business environment and the failures of Sir Gordure of the Brown Table and his apprentice Captain Darling, over a cocktail of caffeine and carbohydrates – perhaps accompanied by a light side order of saturated fats. In a typical month I probably talk with at least 200 managers and entrepreneurs from accountants to advertising creatives and from business angels to acupuncturists.
That’s a useful barometer and it’s been fascinating to watch. Early last year people were just closing their eyes and waiting for the bang, by the latter stages of 2009 there was a definite sense of “we just might have made it through this” and whilst I don’t sense any great optimism yet, I do observe a renewed sense of ownership of the task amongst business leaders. No longer are they seeing themselves as passengers in the accident, one by one, the captains of industry are dusting themselves off, sitting up straight and re-taking charge of the situation.
Perhaps it’s just the old British way: “Keep Calm and Carry On”.
We’ll be fine.
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