“Come at once! We have struck a berg…”

Lessons from the Titanic

This distress message was sent by the two wireless operators, Jack Philips and Harold Bride, who were on board the Titanic.

More than 1500 people lost their lives on that fateful day. But over 700 survived, thanks to the new wireless telegraphy technology.

Before wireless technology, ships had to rely on primitive ways to communicate distress calls. They used explosive flares and human shouts to contact nearby ships. These methods were unreliable which meant the ships were almost isolated at sea.

On April 15, 1912, when the Titanic collided with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean it was in the vicinity of twelve other ships. It was able to send distress messages and signals that were picked up by other vessels.

The wireless telegraph used Morse Code to send messages which meant it was a painfully slow way of communication. However, the operators kept at it till the last minute.

Two hours after the Titanic had sunk, another passenger ship arrived at the wreck. It was able to rescue 700 survivors. 

Without that new wireless technology, there would probably have been no survivors.

Dramatic Rescue

There are numerous lessons we can take from that fateful day. Post-event analysis uncovered various incidents and actions (or inactions) that led to the disaster.

The perception of Titanic being ‘unsinkable’ was so strong that safety precautions were not a priority. The staff were not trained enough to handle emergencies. Many warning messages did not reach the right people on time. There were no clear operating procedures and laws to respond to distress signals (international safety agreements were drawn up later).

Although the story of Titanic is one of disaster and tragedy, it’s a story packed with lessons. This story above talks about the aftermath of the disaster and technology that aided in the dramatic rescue of survivors.

How can you use this story?

The Titanic Rescue story can be used in situations where you are trying to shape your team’s thinking towards solutions for business challenges. The wireless technology that saved people is a powerful analogy to use in your communication.

Some scenarios this story can be used in:

  • When solving a problem
  • When driving change
  • When implementing changes (both internally and externally)
  • When handling a crisis (and even post that)
  • When working on user experience
  • During product ideation, development and rollout

What stories from Titanic come to your mind that can help you drive your point at work? Tell us.