The business definition of Stability (stəˈbɪləti) according to Cambridge Dictionaries Online is:

a situation in which something such as an economy, company, or system can continue in a regular and successful way without unexpected changes.

This past weekend, if one were to apply this definition to the West Indies men’s cricket team, one would easily conclude that there were no more unexpected changes left that could have created even further instability for them. In fact the only thing unexpected was that, under the circumstance with which they participated in Cricket’s World Twenty20 Tournament, they won it (for the second time). It was both unexpected and utterly exceptional. The West Indies men’s Cricket team were about as far from a stable environment (going in and during) as a team could get.

Having foraged through a few news sites online I was able to draw up at least this list of instability making items they were dealing with (I’m certain there might be one or two more I’ve left out) …..

  • They were in the middle of a pay dispute with their national cricket body before they departed
  • They had a new manager who’d never managed a team before
  • They had no uniforms on arrival at the Tournament
  • The relationship of the players with the West Indies Cricket Board could at best be described as dysfunctional and deteriorating as each day passed (according to sportskeeda)
  • They were ridiculed and insulted by at least one commentator at the competition

How a team, in spite of this list, not only makes it through to the finals, but goes on to win it, is surely beyond what one might expect from the human spirit? But they did.

I have a collection of thoughts (packaged into a keynote presentation) centred around the pursuit of supermanoeuverability in combat fighter planes. Simplistically, supermanoeuverability is achieved in a plane that is able to ‘fly unstable’. And supermanoeuverability in a combat situation increases a pilots chance of survival and ultimate air supremacy.

My collection of thoughts relates to supermanoeuverability in a business context. I think it’s an idea businesses should reflect on. I’ve never heard an MD, CEO or Team Leader ever complain about the incredibly fast speed in which her or his people change. In fact it’s exactly the opposite. However, if we accept that we are living and working in an increasingly unstable environment, where unexpected changes abound, we should be concentrating effort and energy on how to build the muscle of supermanoeuverability into our culture, our people, our strategies and possibly every part of our business. We spend inordinate amounts of energy, resource and time trying to stabilise the instability we come across, instead of accepting it and building capacity to take advantage of it (yes it is a keynote presentation and you can see more here – apologies for the shameless plug, I am a conference speaker after all).

Back to the West Indies men’s cricket team. A way to describe how they did what they did, was because of an ability to manoeuvre in spite of the garbage happening around them. It didn’t knock them down. It didn’t upset their focus or the task at hand. With the odds stacked heavily against them they were able to stay focussed on what needed to be done.