Stoney Creek Hotels: Pirates Aren’t The Only Ones With a Business Strategy

fleet of distant wooden sailing ships at sea

Pirates Aren’t The Only Ones With a Business Strategy

Cannonballs > Bullets.

In his book Great by ChoiceJim Collins develops the concept of making calculated tests and experiments into what he calls Firing Bullets, Then Cannonballs. He uses imagery reminiscent of a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. Imagine you are at sea, and a hostile ship is bearing down on you. Your ship has a limited amount of gunpowder. So, you use gunpowder to fire a cannonball at the ship. It fires out and over the hostile ship, missing the target. Turning to the stockpile of gunpowder, you realize the ship is out of gunpowder. It’s all been used to fire that one cannonball.

What If?

What would have happened if the ship’s crew had used the limited gunpowder to fire a bullet, recalibrate their aim, and fire another bullet until they hit the ship? Then they could have taken the remaining gunpowder and fired a cannonball along the same pathway for a direct hit. BOOM!

In large corporations today, it’s easy to get hung up on the BHAGs - Big Hairy Audacious Goals - a term coined in another of Jim Collin’s classics, Built to Last. Something commonly missed when focusing on the larger aspirations is where and when resources are dwindling. This could be something as literal as funding or something as present as employee burnout. Where and how we are directing our attention at Stoney Creek Hotels is important for not only our constant progression but also our longevity as a company. 

Our Calibration Strategy

In this particular business concept, a bullet is a test, or experiment, that is low-cost, low-risk, and low-distraction. These are used to determine what will work. With each bullet (test) fired, you calibrate your line of sight by firing additional bullets. Once you have all the information you need and the data and experience to prove your test, you fire a calibrated cannonball. Now, we can concentrate our resources into a big, data-driven bet. This process turns small proven ideas (bullets) into those big hits (cannonballs). 

Bullets and cannonballs are used daily at Stoney Creek Hotels. It is part of our shared language and behavior. We believe that the best solutions for our business come from within the company. Every job is important, and every team member has thoughts and ideas. As we work together in each department and collaborate cross-departmentally, we encourage our staff to embrace this concept in preparation for every task at hand. Is this a cannonball, or just a bullet? How should I devote my attention, and how much planning is necessary? As we work to bring new and innovative ideas to the table, we do our best to take a step back, put on our pirate thinking cap, and see each goal for what it is.

Jeff Mould


businessman standing in front of wood wallAbout Jeff Mould, President of Stoney Creek Hospitality

Born and raised in Oak Park, Il, Jeff’s love for hospitality started at a young age, in the home. He would frequently help his mom by preparing ingredients after school so meals would be close to ready when she came home from work. Hospitality in the home showed Jeff what it took to prepare for guests to have a welcoming experience when they came over. His first hospitality job was as a dishwasher in a small, but busy, local restaurant. He was hooked from that moment.

Jeff's hospitality career has spanned restaurants, residential camps, conference centers, and hotels. In May of 2020, the opportunity to join Stoney Creek Hospitality as its COO arose. After visiting several properties as a secret shopper, Jeff resonated with what founder Jim Thompson had developed: an exceptionally personal home away from home experience. Jeff is compelled every day to think and act in ways that grow Stoney Creek Hospitality, develop the professional and life skills of its team members and deliver exceptional hospitality to its guests.


Posted in News & Events.