The Battle of Midway (and what consultants can learn from it)

What can consultants learn from the events preceding the famous WWII Battle of Midway?

In May 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Japan dropped a 550-pound armor-piercing bomb on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. The bomb penetrated 50 feet into the ship before exploding, causing serious damage.

Yet the aircraft carrier managed to return to its base in Pearl Harbor. By that time, the US received intelligence reports that Japan was planning an ambush attack on Midway Atoll, a US territory west of Hawaii.

To prepare for the impending attack, the Pacific Fleet’s Commander in Chief, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz wanted USS Yorktown back in action.

When his team informed him that repairing Yorktown would take 90 days, Nimitz famously replied:

“We must have this ship back in 3 days.”

Within minutes, a team of 1,400 repairmen swung into action. Only the most important and urgent repairs were made to make the ship battle-ready.

In 3 days, Yorktown steamed out of Pearl Harbor to participate in and contribute to victory in one of the most famous naval battles in history, the Battle of Midway.

Here are my two biggest takeaways for consultants from this story:

1. Consulting business owners who are heavily time-strapped when executing client projects typically ignore prospecting. They think it takes too long and they have no time for it. However, if we challenge our assumptions and put together the right plan and team, it’s possible to do the seemingly impossible. You don’t need 1,400 people; start with adding one or two people to help you plan and create demand.

2. More value doesn’t necessarily mean more ‘stuff’. When you design your service offering, focus on what is absolutely necessary to improve your client’s situation so they can win. Nothing more, nothing less.

What non-business (sports, military, art) anecdotes or examples can you think of with valuable business takeaways?

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Image credit: Tompug on DeviantArt