Delegating Authority in Cruise Ship Operations. What can we learn from the operation of a cruise ship? How does it compare to other complex organizations? Just because you are the captain doesn’t mean you can make every decision.
Delegating authority is not abdicating. On the contrary, it is the personal power of becoming bigger by letting go.
Cruise ships have come a long way in comfort and complexity since the Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower.
In a large organization, each person has a role in the success of that organization. A cruise ship is a complex organization that relies on a wide range the skills. In fact, the range of skills on a cruise liner is wider than the range of skills in most organizations.
Additionally, hiring and training people who can make good decisions is important for any organization.
As an organization becomes more complex, executives must learn how to delegate authority to people at every level of responsibility.
Furthermore, executives learn how to empower people with the knowledge and confidence to use authority and accept responsibility for their decisions.
There are nearly 60 cruise lines currently operating around the world. There are literally cruises to the Arctic Circle, Antarctica, and everywhere in between. You can cruise major rivers and waterways, including the St. Lawrence River, the Mississippi River and 8 of the major rivers in Europe.
Cruise Ships: Floating City Centers
Cruise liners are like city centers or floating malls. The services on board a cruise ship include clothing stores, tuxedo and formal rental stores, barber shops, beauty parlors, dry cleaners, laundries, souvenir shops, liquor stores, jewelry stores, convenience stores, luggage shops, restaurants, snack bars, ice cream parlors, nightclubs, casinos, movie theaters, television stations, Internet services, doctors, dentists, print shops, athletic and fitness centers, a post office, spas, beauty treatments, photo services, and multiple swimming pools.
Delegating authority over each of these operations enables the site managers to do their job.
Businesses on a Cruise Ship
Cruise ships make money from their room and board fees. They make extra money from ship-board sales. Cruise ships rarely stay in port overnight. Every port is a competitor to all the businesses that run within a cruise ship.
Mind-Blowing Size and Operation
Cruise ships are 800 to 1200 feet long and 100 to 155 feet wide. The largest ships have 14 to 18 decks and each deck is the size of 2 to 3 football fields
Cruise ships board and feed 4000 to over 8000 passengers and crew.
The captain of a ship must rely on the cruise lines company to provide highly trained people who have the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions.
These people must have the skills and the authority to make decisions as they interact with the thousands of passengers.
Behind the Scenes
Before a ship goes to sea, a navigation department lays out a course and speed for the ship to go from port to port. Navigators control the ship as it crosses the waterways and passes other ships.
Engineers operate the systems to produce electricity, distill fresh water, and maintain the ballast to keep the ship stable.
The purser oversees supplies such as food and drink, clothing, bedding, and passenger comfort. He or she is the face or liaison of the ship to the passengers on board.
In a large organization, each person has some role in the success of the organization.
A cruise ship is more than thousands of people floating across the ocean. It is a large and complex business.
The training and performance of the people who work on the ship determine the ship’s success.
An important part of that training is teaching the crew how to use authority and to accept responsibility. People who fail to make good decisions affect the success of the ship’s business.
Likewise, the failure of the captain to empower people with the knowledge and authority to make decisions undermines the success of the ship.
On the other hand, captains who empower a well-trained crew to make decisions can do a better job of running the total operation.
For the captain of a cruise ship, delegating authority is not abdicating. On the contrary, it is the personal power of becoming bigger by letting go.