5 Collaboration Lessons from the Thai Cave Rescue that can Help your Small Business


The world breathed a collective sigh of relief as all boys and their coach were brought out safely after being trapped for over two weeks in a flooded cave in Thailand.

This was a global effort that required collaboration on many levels to achieve the insurmountable. Here are five lessons from the rescue that show us why collaborating is the most effective and efficient way to get the outcome you want for your small business.

1. If you can’t do something on your own, ask for help

Alone, the Thais could not have pulled this rescue off. They needed additional support, resources and expertise from around the world to figure out how to get the Wild Boars out safely.

All praise must go to the rescue coordination team for putting out the global call for experts. The resulting collaborative effort involving many nations, organisations and individuals, all with complementary expertise, created the conditions possible for a successful outcome.

What this shows is that you can achieve things faster when you ask for help. There will always be a business who has been through it before, and one that will help you solve it. Don’t make your business life harder than it needs to be. Ask for help.

2. Collaboration is strength in numbers

Getting the boys out safely required over 100 volunteers and crew working together on the ground. Not to mention, the agencies working furiously behind the scenes coordinating the logistics and keeping the parents, journalists and politicians updated.

Collaboration allows people – and businesses – to come together to achieve something that they may not have been able to by themselves, or alone would not have resulted in the outcome he or she desired.

Effective collaborations supercharge business growth. When businesses work together, it multiplies their energy, their ideas, their capacity to implement, and their potential for significant outcomes.

3. Knowledge exchange is necessary for growth

It goes without saying that knowledge is critical to success. This rescue mission required the collective knowledge, experience and expertise of hundreds of minds from around the world. The swapping of that knowledge is what resulted in the correct course of action to launch the rescue mission…and no doubt helped in adjusting its course as new knowledge became available.

Lack of access to the right knowledge often limits the growth that small businesses could otherwise achieve.

What you know and how well you know it will determine how quickly you can assess a new opportunity, access a new industry, or determine whether one overseas market is better for your products and services than another.

If you need information and knowledge that will help you better build your business, think about the types of knowledge exchanges you could have.

4. A Successful collaboration requires leadership

Successful collaborations happen when all parties involved are all pushing in the same direction, in this case getting the boys and coach out alive. The tiny steps needed to achieve this tremendous task were all put in place in a highly coordinated way that required exceptional leadership.

For collaboration to work effectively, solid leadership is critical. Kudos to the coordinating team for successfully managing all the elements of the rescue and keeping the divers and volunteers motivated and on track.

Successful collaborations take time, effort, open communication and laser focus throughout the implementation. Multi-business collaborations will reap handsome rewards for all involved if you take the time to plan, manage and execute correctly.

5. From urgency comes innovation

As the rescue efforts proceeded, the actual time required to extract each group of boys from the cave speeded up. New ways were found that shaved off hours by the time the last group was reached.

True innovation comes when there is urgency in solving a problem. This has shown the world what is possible when people from around the world band together to solve a crisis. And with the many crises in the world, it is hopefully a sign of better things to come.

No doubt the lessons learnt by these rescue coordinators, as well as expertise gleaned through the process will improve future tricky rescues involving flooded caves.

And let’s not forget Elon Musk and his group of engineers who invented a child-sized submarine as an outcome of this. While not needed for the actual rescue, it shows that when pushed to solve a problem urgently, the only solution is to innovate.

There are now a group of organisations who did not know each other prior that can continue collaborating by exchanging knowledge, improving procedures and innovating. This is what comes when small businesses reach out to each other to collaborate.


Small businesses that collaborate have a higher chance of success than those who do not. The energy, optimism and drive that comes from connecting and collaborating with other business owners can propel your businesses forward, together.

Once you understand the potential of the collaborations you can achieve for your business, your confidence will grow, your staff’s confidence will grow, and this confidence will be easily seen by your customers and partners. You will start to look more creatively at ways to grow your business and more people will want to deal with you.

Think of what challenges you are experiencing in your business, and how you can collaborate with other businesses to achieve the outcome you desire. We have written a number of case studies on successful small business collaborations to help you see what is possible.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Saman Gunan, the Thai Navy Seal who perished during this operation. His bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Image credits: Cover Photo – Al Jazeera, 1. The National, 2. BGR.com 3. Radio NZ 4. Asia Times 5. ABC.net.au

7 thoughts on “5 Collaboration Lessons from the Thai Cave Rescue that can Help your Small Business”

  1. This extraordinary accomplishment falls into the category “crisis management involving a combination of multinational services” which is a great lesson of humility for the Thai military Junta. A bit hopefully beyond what an SME may have to deal with, unless it is involved as ATS is in partnering a wordl leader in the field of training in crisis management for defence and homeland security. Enquiries are welcome.

  2. The cave rescue story is indeed a prime example of human beings coming together to achieve a successful outcome. The team of cave divers demonstrated problem solving skills, team work, patience, endurance, persistence and commitment. Despite losing one of their own, they did not give up. In fact they became even more determined that no other lives would be lost. It was wonderful to see so many nationalities come together to collaborate and rescue the brave young people. SMEs can also succeed if they have diversity, complementary skill sets, leadership, team work, perseverance, creativity, and true grit.

  3. This piece is awesome. This is a pure summary of how to make small businesses grow faster. I salute the Bizzi team for this. Thanks

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