Tugboats and trains perform distinct and separate functions in real life. Tugboats operate on water. Their mission is to push, nudge and help direct the barges and large vessels that cannot turn very precisely in the confined areas of a harbor. Trains are designed to pull and transport heavy loads over steel rails to a specific destination.
In business, to be successful, you must have both the tugboat and train. You need people who are tugboats. And you need people who are trains. As a personal business coach in Houston and The Woodlands, I have seen successful businesses. the necessity for both over a forty-year career in business.
Let’s look first at the train people. They set a course, they lay down the processes, tracks and they have a clear destination in mind. They are usually meticulous and very process-oriented. They want the most direct and shortest path to achieving their business goals.
Tugboat people see the same goal. They understand the track, course or path to get there but, unlike the train people, they have the ability to make quick adjustments when obstacles and problems, which are inevitable, stand in the way. After all, if a business was one smooth progression, there would be no need for thinking and we could just put it on autopilot and be successful.
The key to success is the blending of the talents of the tugboat and train people. When they operate in a parallel universe projects almost never get done on time or done at all. When they come together, it is amazing the speed and quality that is the result of what they are working on together.