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GOLD programme pushes the boat out

Sailing boats

11 November 2013

It was all plain sailing when regional business owner-managers took to the water as part of Lancaster University Management School’s GOLD programme.

The idea was the brainchild of Lancaster University Management School’s GOLD programme director Philip Coatesworth.

With a background in professional offshore sailing and five trans-Atlantics under his belt, Philip has always believed getting a novice crew to work as an effective safe and supportive team aboard a small yacht would, in the right hands, perfectly mimic aspects of business management, leadership and team bonding.

“It also supports the development of trust and mutual support, which is so vital if you are going to be truly open about the most profound hopes and fears of your commercial life,” said Philip.

The sailing expedition formed a two-day ‘experiential event’, which every intake on the GOLD programme undergoes.

Some 15 business owners, most with no sailing experience, joined a team of qualified instructors aboard a fleet of three Beneteau cruising yachts on Windermere for a morning of instruction and basic race training.

With the prize of a night ashore in the luxury of the historic Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club (WMBRC), competition was keen.

The quickest boat and clear winner was Team Scott, who put in the smoothest, most coordinated tacks and gibes, with the minimum of fuss.

Following a thorough de-brief from facilitators, the cohort gathered in the WMBRC to hear Senior Teaching Fellow in LUMS Institute for Entrepreneurship Magnus George deliver a talk on ‘Survival Psychology’.

“Magnus developed the thesis that performance at the limit of personal capacity, whilst under extreme pressure, has significant parallels with performance at the edges of the business envelope, and that the same mental conditioning, preparedness and resilience that help increase the likelihood of survival in a disaster situation also enhance the prospect of better business outcomes,” explains Philip Coatesworth.

The evening finished with a showing of ‘Shackleton’, a three hour made-for-TV epic, capturing the explorer’s escape from the polar ice following the disastrous 1914 trans-Antarctic expedition.

Day two picked up on this theme using a Harvard Business School case study as the basis for both group and individual discussion of the entrepreneurial and leadership qualities of the great explorer. After several hours of debate the groups reconvened to present their advice.

After a hectic but productive two days, the facilitation team agreed it had been a remarkable two days of managerial learning.

GOLD is a strategic development programme for owner managers of SMEs run annually by Lancaster University Management School. The next intake will be in September 2014.

To find out more please call 01524 510703 or email