All Hands On Deck: Navigating Your Team Through Crises, Getting Your Organization Unstuck, and Emerging Victorious

All Hands On Deck: Navigating Your Team Through Crises, Getting Your Organization Unstuck, and Emerging Victorious

by Peter J. Boni

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781601633804
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 06/22/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Peter J. Boni has advanced by tackling tough assignments to reposition organizations that have run aground. During his career, he added $5 billion of value as a CEO, Fortune 500 executive, consultant, director, and venture capital investor. Twice cited in Ernst&Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year competition, he has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily and commented for CNBC,, and Fox Business. Drawing from real-world business and military experience, he has refined a three-phase leadership process to advance careers and guide organizational teams through troubled waters. Boni resides in the Philadelphia area and sails in his native Cape Cod, Massachusetts.The author will be donating a portion of the proceeds for this book to the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).
Peter J. Boni has advanced by tackling tough assignments to reposition organizations that have run aground. During his career, he added $5 billion of value as a CEO, Fortune 500 executive, consultant, director, and venture capital investor. Twice cited in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year competition, he has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily and commented for CNBC,, and Fox Business. Drawing from real-world business and military experience, he has refined a three-phase leadership process to advance careers and guide organizational teams through troubled waters. Boni resides in the Philadelphia area and sails in his native Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The author will be donating a portion of the proceeds for this book to the nonprofit Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).

Read an Excerpt


Captain Josiah Nickerson Knowles and Wild Wave

The 21st century holds no exclusivity on leadership through adversity or surviving disruption to emerge victorious. A highly successful young sea captain put those principles to work in the mid-19th century. Meet Captain Josiah Nickerson Knowles from Cape Cod.

In 1858, Captain Knowles' clipper ship Wild Wave was on a commercial voyage in the Pacific some 3,800 miles from its port of departure, San Francisco, when, crushed by 30foot breakers and stormy seas, it ran aground at night into a coral barrier reef. That's when the term "kedging off" took on a whole new scale. The stories of Captain Knowles and Wild Wave's crew have become shipwreck survival folklore. Centuries later, psychologists and management researchers studying how high-performance teams deal with adversity still highlight Knowles' techniques to get to safety and the key lessons learned.

Captain Knowles was only 26 years old, a young rock star for his time. Mentored by two accomplished sea captains, his father and his grandfather, Knowles had a huge edge. They fostered both his education and his training, with young Josiah crewing on their ships learning seamanship, leadership, and survival. Among their teachings:

* Set high standards;

* Employ the best trained, most experienced, and highly motivated officers and crew; and

* Treat them with respect.

Over time, they taught young Knowles how to create an environment in which his crew of the best and brightest would function at a high level. They taught him to persist in training his stellar crew members so they'd continue to increase their competence.

They also taught him to spot and discharge less-competent sailors who might place the captain and crew in jeopardy. Surrounding himself with a top-notch crew gives any captain a better chance to survive when seas are harsh and adversity strikes.

Knowles' First Command

Captain Knowles took on his first command at age 21. He demanded high personal behavioral and performance standards from his crew. But when he encountered a discipline problem on board, he refused to practice the favored technique of his day, flogging. Instead, he assigned errant sailors the least-desirable work details — latrine duty, galley duty, and the like.

Captain Knowles sought to recruit top sailors and foster compatibility among his crew members, who enjoyed great camaraderie. Employing an open communications style uncommon in its day, he shared with his crew members the vision of every mission so they could feel a sense of ownership in a mutual goal. On the leading edge in his style and an early adopter in his methods, he constructed a profit-sharing plan for each of his commercial voyages, then only used by whaling ships. This would ensure the entire crew shared his goals and would reap rewards for their achievements. In short, he treated his crew members with respect.

Within a few years of being a ship's captain, word spread of Knowles' leadership prowess. The best and brightest lined up at his cabin door whenever he recruited for a new voyage. Several crew members returned for mission after mission; they knew he was a special captain. At 5' 11", Josiah Knowles was considered tall for the times, with intense brown eyes. His brown hair and beard, with a tinge of red apparent in the sunlight, were closely trimmed. Captain Knowles' attire was always neat and orderly, as were his cabin, his ship, and his command. A disarming smile came easily on the face of this intense man.

Then adversity hit.

Within five minutes of running aground in a huge storm, Wild Wave's large-standing wooden masts were downed, smashed into kindling littered across the deck. The copper bottom of the hull pushed up through the deck. It looked like several large pots and pans lying in the sudsy water of the frothy, angry sea that quickly engulfed the ship.

Captain Knowles, his well-trained 29-man crew, and 10 passengers retreated into two undamaged lifeboats. Wild Wave hung to the rocks and coral, and broke apart from the battering-ram waves that drove it like a stake into the razor-sharp sea bottom. The reef was just 2 miles from Oeno Island, a spit of barrier land miles away from shipping lanes. Both being rescued and surviving this ordeal came with long odds. In addition, Captain Knowles calculated that the charts had erroneously marked Oeno 20 miles west of its actual location.

When Wild Wave ran aground in uncharted waters, its passengers and crew — drilled and trained by the young captain — sprang into action. Well-practiced for an unforeseen event like this abrupt, gale-driven grounding, they quickly threw provisions into the lifeboats and abandoned ship. No fatalities.

Once they landed on a scrubby beach 2 miles away, the castaways sheltered themselves for eight stormy, lightning-filled days and nights under a tattered canvas tent they'd salvaged from the shipwreck. Oeno was an uninhabited and hostile island. Although it housed abundant wildlife and limited quantities of water, it was overrun with aggressive rats. To make matters worse, the beach crawled with flesh-biting, territorial hermit crabs that attacked and pinched the castaways in their bedrolls day and night.

The passengers and crew, anxious about remaining undiscovered on this island for the remainder of their lives, turned to Captain Knowles for answers. The captain had hatched the rudiments of a plan, although he needed the others' buy-in and input to refine it. When they discussed it, he answered their questions with questions of his own. The collaboration-bred answers put forth a vision with a single purpose: survival and rescue.

By Knowles' calculation (and if the charts weren't totally inaccurate), the island of Pitcairn was about 100 miles due east. Pitcairn was reputed to be a provisioning point for whalers. Indeed, it was once the home of Captain Fletcher Christian and his crew from Mutiny on the Bounty fame.

The Plan

According to the plan, Captain Knowles, his trusted first mate, James Bartlett, and four handpicked crew members would take one of the lifeboats and attempt to secure rescue for the remaining passengers and crew. Second mate John Trehune would stay behind and be in charge. The ship's doctor and cook, several craftsmen, and other able-muscled men would also stay to guide their provisioning and survival.

To communicate they completed and survived the journey, Captain Knowles ordered the capture of several local birds and asked that his second mate make note of the nests' locations. Once on Pitcairn, he planned to write notes and secure them to the birds' legs. The birds would fly back to their nests and, in that way, transmit the rescue crew's progress, success, and plans.

With oars and a makeshift sail, Captain Knowles and his team made their way to Pitcairn while they again encountered the violent storms that commonly plague the Pacific in March. Within several days, they sighted Pitcairn land. Jagged rocks and column-like cliffs that would need to be scaled before they could stand on level ground met their entry. In fact, only 10 percent of the island had level ground.

Shipwrecked once again on Pitcairn with a rock-damaged lifeboat, they came upon a small island just a few miles square. The island had been abandoned years earlier because it was too small to provision its growing population. It wasn't too small, however, to house nasty wild boars that weren't happy at the sight of intruders.

This was clearly a dangerous place, and the captain knew he couldn't stay there to secure rescue. But he released the birds with a series of messages advising the remaining castaways on Oeno that the six-person rescue crew was safe (but alone) on an abandoned island. As the Oeno castaways received each message that added detail to their evolving plan, morale and hope for eventual rescue soared.

Captain Knowles and his small team had no tools — no saw, hammer, ax, or chisel — other than rusted discards found in the abandoned Pitcairn huts. All they could do was figure out how best to use any tools to repair their boat. They knew men in the Stone Age could craft tools from the land, and there was plenty of stone on Pitcairn. Perhaps they could, too. They had no nails, but the ramshackle huts and sheds left behind by descendants of The Bounty crew did. They set fire to most of those huts and shacks, rummaging through the ashes to gather nails.

With their improvised tools, they crafted lumber from various trees and supplemented that material with siding from old sheds they found. They then stone-hammered hull patches onto their damaged lifeboat and created a 30-foot sail craft equipped with a bare-bones cabin and oars. It was such a patched-together kluge that half the crew refused to board her for fear of sinking en route to the closest inhabited Pacific island. Captain Knowles reckoned that place to be the Sandwich Islands (today known as Hawaii), some 3,000 miles away.

Knowles left Pitcairn on his newly christened craft, John Adams, with his first mate, Mr. Bartlett, and one volunteer. Three crew members who refused to come were left to survive in the abandoned huts until help arrived. They could only hope. Mr. Bartlett had sufficiently provisioned the John Adams to enable his small crew to get to another uninhabited island en route: Nukahiva. According to the charts, he estimated they'd encounter that island inside of a month if they averaged a good 25 miles each day.

The Relief

That was a hard month, rowing and sailing with periodic storms and wind doldrums on the front and back ends of the storms. When they sighted Nukahiva, they encountered more rocks, reefs, cliffs, and danger. They circled the island in search of an inlet or beach to land safely. To their relief, they discovered not only a beautiful harbor around a blind bend but a sizable, fairly recent French settlement. At anchor in the harbor floated a single vessel, the 18-gun Corvette American sloop of war Vendalia. Flags blazed atop its huge masts like flashing welcome lights. Vendalia was the first ship they had set eyes on since leaving the San Francisco port some six months and 3,800 miles earlier!

Vendalia had arrived in Nukahiva a few days before the John Adams. That day, it was preparing to hoist its anchor and set sail toward Tahiti. Talk about luck! As the tattered and weary patch-job of a lifeboat approached Vendalia, its equally tattered and weary passengers bore huge beard-covered smiles and expressed relief. To increase his command presence, Captain Knowles made a hasty retreat into the boat's makeshift cabin to trim his hair and beard, and change into a fresh shirt. He greeted the Vendalia crew equipped with the same ear-to-ear smile and overwhelming sense of relief as his crew. Rescued!

Upon arriving in Tahiti on the Vendalia, Captain Knowles and one crew member disembarked. His first mate, Mr. Bartlett, signed onto the Vendalia crew and guided the ship on its new mission to rescue the castaways on Oeno and Pitcairn. The three crew members who had refused to board John Adams in Pitcairn were rescued. So were the remaining 29 crew and 10 passengers on Oeno, with only one having died of natural causes.

Finally Reached Home

By the end of 1858, Captain Knowles arrived home to Brewster on Cape Cod. There, concerned friends and family greeted him, including his wife and a baby daughter born during his absence.

Not surprisingly, it took a full year for Captain Knowles to regain his strength and recuperate from his adventure. In late 1859, the captain and first mate reunited in Boston, where Mr. Bartlett detailed the Vendalia rescue and the crew's adventures of the trip home. The press of the day latched on to their story of courage and survival, deeming Josiah Knowles the "greatest captain of them all."

At the time, the "Knowles Kedge" became pop culture vernacular for thinking outside the box and unselfishly doing what needed to be done in the face of adversity. Knowles humbly gave all the credit to his first and second mates and crew. He also applauded the shipwrecked passengers for their sensibility and courage in the face of long odds. Of course, praising others only increased his popularity and acclaim.

The storied reputation of Captain Knowles made him highly sought-after and handsomely compensated to skipper the larger and faster clipper ships of the day. Specifically, he was asked to captain a fleet of ships owned by entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Hamblin Sears.

While commanding the flagship of the fleet, Glory of the Seas, Captain Knowles went on to break two clippership world speed records that hold to this day. His first mate, Mr. Bartlett, and his second mate, Mr. Trehune, went on to become accomplished captains themselves. Many from Wild Wave's crew were recruited as first and second mates, maritime instructors, and marine consultants; clearly people wanted the competence that Captain Knowles had fostered on board Wild Wave, and they were willing to pay for it. The crew's experience spoke to their strength of character and ability to stay focused on the critical success factors that enabled their rescue and survival. They continued to advance.

As for Captain Knowles, after retiring from the sea in 1884, he set up shop in San Francisco and advanced from a ship captain to a captain of industry. His merchant business featured products ranging from exotic Asian luxury goods to whale oil. The business grew and prospered until his death in 1896, as did his legend as "the greatest captain of them all."

Vulnerable to Loss and Disaster

Today, extraordinary opportunities exist to lead teams and organizations that aren't necessarily on the rocks in a storm-driven sea, but they are stuck and need help to kedge off. Without help, these stranded organizations are vulnerable to loss and disaster.

In the Pilgrims' time, and for the ensuing few centuries, ships didn't have the benefit of advanced weather forecasting or navigational instruments such as GPS, radar, accurate charts, and the like. As a result, it wasn't unusual to hear a passerby holler the alarm, "Ship ashore! All hands perishing!"

At that time, no Coast Guard existed to save the day for passengers and crew. Instead, help came from the townspeople who showed up on the beach to volunteer. With high winds and surf from punishing storms, most rescue attempts failed. Indeed, by the end of a storm, there might be no one left to rescue. And more often than not, for a few survivors, the cargo was "saved" — gathered and carted away as booty for the opportunistic. The misfortune of a shipwreck might mean a wealth of legitimate spoils that could be consumed or sold. These might include wine, tobacco, cotton, silk, exotic spices from faraway lands, tea, coffee, and even precious jewels, silver, and gold.

Running Aground for Organizations

Running aground is dangerous for commercial ships, sailboats, and organizations alike. A team, department, company, or organization that's stranded on the rocks stands to lose its precious cargo: its investors, supporters, customers, partners, money, and talent. Raiders will take advantage for their own gain. Survival skills will be tested. When the grounding is serious, an organizational shipwreck is imminent — unless leaders can engage those on board or find help to kedge off and right the ship. By using the right tools and training, that's where you come in.

Captain Knowles had put into practice principles that still work today: creating the right dynamics for a high-performance team, leading through adversity, and knowing how to kedge off. Read on to learn how to apply these principles when an organization runs aground and you are the best hope to get it moving safely and swiftly.

And like Captain Knowles and his crew, you, too, will experience rapid advancement as others recognize your achievements in a difficult situation.


The ABCs to Advance: The Origin

For four decades I've developed and refined a strategy to lead organizations through adversity. This strategy has proven successful over and over again. Used early enough, my approach has also kept organizations out of difficulty. After being honed in the volatile technology industry for more than 30 years, I applied it to Safeguard Scientifics' now-thriving venture capital business as well as some highly regarded nonprofit organizations. Those successes didn't happen overnight. The inevitable scars of experience have played a big part in their evolution.

I call my strategy The ABCs to Advance. If you have the passion, courage, and persistence to face challenges head on, this strategy will not only benefit your organization but will also earn recognition, financial rewards, and career advancement for you and your team.


Excerpted from "All Hands On Deck"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Peter J. Boni.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Kedge Way 9

Section I The Greatest Captain of Them All

Chapter 1 Captain Josiah Nickerson Knowles and Wild Wave 15

Section II The ABCs to Advance

Chapter 2 The ABCs to Advance: The Origin 27

Chapter 3 Phase 1 of the ABCs: Hatch the Plan 34

Chapter 4 Phase 2 of the ABCs: Kick Off the Plan 51

Chapter 5 Phase 3 of the ABCs: Execute the Plan 72

Section III Stories of the ABCs to Advance in Action

In the For-Profit Sector

Chapter 6 Peter J. Boni: Back From the Brink at Safeguard Scientifics 89

Chapter 7 Dorvin D. Lively: Reforming Maidenform 149

Chapter 8 Kevin L. Rakin: Restrarting a Failed Business at Advanced BioHealing 184

In the Nonprofit Sector

Chapter 9 Dr. David M. Barrett: Recovering From a Botched Merger and Cash Crunch at the Lahey Clinic 213

Chapter 10 Shawn K. Osborne: Overcoming Misalignment and Defection at TechAmerica 239

Chapter 11 Ann Weaver Hart: Offsetting Stagnation at the University of Arizona 266

Conclusion: All Hands on Deck Revisited 300

Bibliography 307

Index 309

Acknowledgments 315

About the Author 317

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All Hands On Deck: Navigating Your Team Through Crises, Getting Your Organization Unstuck, and Emerging Victorious 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
deshantpaul More than 1 year ago
As a personnel manager I'm always looking for a way of getting my team to "buy in" to a shared vision and commit to working as a team. Peter Boni's "All Hands on Deck" provides not just a helpful way of getting your team to work as a unit but demonstrates with real live case studies how effective this can be for your business. The author deftly interweaves the historic tale of Capt.Knowles' 19th c. shipwreck in the South Pacific with modern examples of stuck or imperiled companies. By using his disarmingly simple "ABCs" approach Peter Boni demonstrates how to Hatch, Kick-Off, and Execute a plan that will make your team work efficiently and effectively. Unlike most business management books "All Hands on Deck" features real stories from real people actually working in their industries and how they've forged their way using their own backgrounds and versions of Peter's technique. Easy to read and digest, I must recommend this book to anyone looking to get the most out of their team, department, or company.