3. Presiding Is Not Managing

Captain Smith’s Deep Dive

Captain Edward John Smith, of the R.M.S. Titanic, was arguably the most experienced and skilled sailor aboard the brand-new ship he commanded. He had one more six-day cruise to New York to complete before retirement, after 40 years at sea. Yet he left the bridge of his ship, and its pleasant new paint smell, each meal time to dine in first class or his luxurious cabin, attended by his valet, as his liner raced recklessly (in retrospect) through the North Atlantic into a minefield of icebergs. The primitive but adequate “Marconi” of the time had already warned him about the bergs six or seven times.

On the night of the disaster, Smith delegated command of the ship to his first officer and ...

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