Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Accessing the recording of my Let's Disrupt Disruptions webinar

If you missed to register, here is the link to the recording of my latest 'Let's Disrupt Disruptions by Thinking and Managing Anew' webinar hosted by IBS Software.

 CONTENTS and timeline

    Strategic aspects of disruptions   05:59
    Passenger perspective   07:19
    Poll question – disruption related  09:06
    What went wrong   12:34
    What is wrong with our thinking?  14:55
    Poll question – cost related  17:29
    What do we know about costs?  19:39
    What we don’t know about costs  20:47
    What do we know about punctuality and its costs?  24:39
    Bringing more clarity to decision making  26:09
    To change our thinking, we need to change the perspective   28:10
    System approach to disruption management  30:35
    Decision making domains  33:51
    Current framework for decision making  37:30
    Creating the new framework for decision making  38:38
    Reinventing decision making  41:00
    Organising the process  43:06
    Embracing new technologies   45:40
TO SUM UP  47:26
    How to get started  48:22 

Monday, 29 April 2019

The Importance of Reality Check

In complex and dynamic systems like airlines, making a real improvement comes from understanding the real causes of real problems manifested through real variation between what was planned and what really happened - call it disruptions, dysfunctions, variation, or failure but see them as an opportunity for real improvement. 

Join me on 7 May for a live webinar organised by IBS Software to learn about reality check of costs and quality of system decisions.

You can register here.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Announcing the second run of my webinar

Join me live on 7 May for the second run of the webinar Let's Disrupt Disruptions by Thinking and Managing Anew, hosted by IBS.  

I will be talking about modern approach to airline management, where cutting through system complexities to reduce cost and improve punctuality is achieved by diagnosing and rebalancing system imperfections manifested through operational disruptions. 

You can register here.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Announcing my Webinar Let's Disrupt DIsruptions

I will be talking about why we need to change the way we work and make decisions on 8th April during the webinar hosted by IBS. I will explain:
  • Why our perception about costs is wrong
  • Why we have a problem with understanding quality
  • How to introduce a fresh approach to management adjusted to cope with the dynamics and complexity of airline operations
  • How to prevent airlines from drifting deeper into failures visible and measurable through operational disruptions.

You can register here.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Copycatting or innovating

Many of today’s airline leaders don’t have time to innovate because they are too busy watching what their competitors are doing, then copying and pasting it, or thinking how to take them out of market (often becoming the victims, too).

This precious time could be spent more effectively by looking at what is missing inside their own organisation, bridging the information gaps, innovating, and making improvements that cannot be replicated. The time you spend chasing competitors can never be recovered.

Think about Southwest. Many airlines have copied the visible side of what they do like their fleet and network model, but none have managed to replicate the culture, the ‘secret sauce’ that made them the most successful airline in the history of aviation. As authors of the book Rework said, the tone is in your fingers, not in the guitar.

Take it as an idea worth exploring or revisiting. For those courageous, it can help with awakening hidden potential, enabling the natural flow of work, and improving intricate relationships between data, people, and processes so that on-time performance and satisfied customers are kept as ultimate goals at every stage of the process.

Friday, 1 February 2019

The Origins of Disruptions

(Excerpt from my new book  ‘Beyond Airline Disruptions:Thinking and Managing Anew’)  

The origins of today’s disruption problems were planted in the 1980s when deregulated US passenger airlines all rushed to copy the FedEx’s hub-and-spoke network model, assuming it is more efficient to fly passengers via huge hub airports instead of taking them straight to their destination (just as FedEx did with parcels). Judging by the outcome, it soon proved to be a big mistake. Missed connections at hubs created huge passenger dissatisfaction and inefficiencies and have contributed to the bankruptcy of almost every big US airline. Despite the obvious flaw in the business model, European airlines were quick to adopt it, ending up with series of failures or near-failures, including Swissair, Sabena, KLM, and Alitalia. Today, over 20 European hub airports are critically congested, with Heathrow already operating at the maximum of its technical, and much over its commercial capacity. Manipulative reporting that, apart from inaccuracies, hides dependencies between operational irregularities and airline health are prolonging the decline. 

Robert Crandall, the former chairman of American Airlines said that "the consequences of deregulation have been very adverse. Our airlines, once world leaders, are now laggards in every category, including fleet age, service quality and international reputation. Fewer and fewer flights are on time. Airport congestion has become a staple of late-night comedy shows. An even higher percentage of bags are lost or misplaced. Last-minute seats are harder and harder to find. Passenger complaints have skyrocketed. Airline service, by any standard, has become unacceptable."

Deregulation offered airlines an opportunity to grow fast, and at the same time the responsibility for making air travel more affordable while offering passengers good and reliable service. Many, however, underdelivered on quality so much so that the future looks increasingly uncertain for both airlines and passengers. Passenger travel costs are going up despite lower fares, on-time arrivals are becoming less certain, and the amount of time passengers spend on the ground more often exceeds the travel time incurring additional costs. The problem is that the opportunity for growth hasn’t been synchronised with airport and ATC capacities needed to accommodate growing demand for air travel. Congested airports and airspace are expected to be even more congested and restrictive in areas with highest demand for air travel. This will result in further decline in service quality and consequently increase in cost of air travel.
While we cannot change external circumstances and our organisational divisions as sources of problems, we can reconfigure our work and better adapt it to changed circumstances. 

As Abraham Lincoln once said

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Some other excerpts from 'Beyond Airline Disruptions: Thinking and Managing Anew'

I would like to share with you some more excerpts from my book ‘Beyond airline disruptions: Thinking and managing anew’ in hope that they will inspire you to start rethinking the way you work, and discover hidden opportunities for improvement.

You won’t find lots of data and statistics in this book. This is because you already have too much of them. You will rather learn how to make sense of numbers aggregated in your company’s reports, understand where do they come from, and how to create a platform that supports decision making in complex and dynamic airline system.

I invite you to embark on this exciting journey and hope that the following excerpts will give you a better idea what this is all about:

We need to recognise that inherited management methods and information systems can no longer serve the purpose. Traditional planning and forecasting are not suitable to keep the pace with what is happening in the real world. We need to find a new way of system management that acknowledges its dynamics and interactions, and constantly balances between profit and quality. The key to managing such a system is understanding of operational changes, especially when they exceed the acceptable level built in the company’s plan and start generating additional cost and decline in service quality with longer term consequences. These changes – that we will refer to as disruptions – are the sweet spots where the results of all systems activities, for better or for worse, become visible, measurable, and their deeper origins trackable. They are the place from where we can start connecting instead of counting dots.

By making decisions based on too many assumptions, we unknowingly create more problems elsewhere and are unable to measure their impact on the system due their complexity. When we compare the planned and actual results published in company reports, we cannot say what is beyond these figures, what really happened and why, and what we need to improve. Regardless of amount of data we collect and analyse, sometimes the impact of our decisions is minor, and sometimes it can have longer-term implications on the system performance that we wouldn’t be aware of. This is because the system we are in is not designed to manage things we are facing in real life.  Complexity arises from interactions between people and processes that are the very nature of airline business, but existing information systems and management do not recognise it. Hence the detachment between strategy and operations, plans and reality.

Getting to know disruptions is the process of discovery, learning, doing and aligning with what really matters to airlines and their customers. It changes the thinking about how the system works, what doesn’t work and why. It is an insightful approach to management that brings more clarity into decision making when faced with complex system issues. It also enhances communication and collaboration between people in different departments and their understanding of dependencies and contribution to achieving the common goal.

We need to change our learned views and introduce new measures related to disruption experience. We need to look at them in a positive way – see them as a guide to reality that tells us what to improve. This is because when you learn how to get to their origins, you will see the whole new world of interconnections between employees, customers and service suppliers. They tell leaders how far the company is from the desired course, help them see people beyond numbers, see costs as a result of movement and interactions, and understand the validity of assumptions made at the top and across the organisation. In addition, getting the insight into the cultural issues will inspire ideas for improvement in the relationship with employees.

Disruptions are a systemic issue resulting from interactions of numerous internal and external influences. Knowing about disruptions is not as important as understanding their relational causes.

Without reflecting on differences between what we had planned and what actually happened and looking more deeply into avoidable causes of problems, we will not know what to improve. Wilful ignorance of disruptions eventually leads to poor service, dissatisfied passengers, higher costs and loss of revenue.

Traditionally, costs derived from financial reports are statistically distributed to business units in order to be calculable at functional levels and easy to control. As soon as the ‘budget schedule’ starts to change (normally months before the start of a new scheduling season), it triggers changes in the cost matrix, making the planned costs even less suitable for decision making. Such practice ignores the fact that costs are more than just numbers – they are non-linear, interrelated and consequently cannot be measured in a conventional way. This is why answers to questions related to true effectiveness of saving measures, route network, aircraft and hub operation, outsourced services or investment in additional resources remain not only the stumbling block for improvement in cost efficiency and operational performance, but a source of additional costs and poor service.

The main objective of a disruption information system is to empower airline managers with the knowledge about the cost of operational changes and their underlying causes and help them to understand the impact of their decisions on the overall performance including passenger experience.

The task of establishing the relationships between strategic plans, operational decisions and airline financial performance may look too complex, especially in big organisations, and may put off many managers from even trying to understand these connections. However, managing an airline effectively without this knowledge is not possible. The system that we are about to introduce is aimed at simplifying this process by enriching operational information with elements of cost and revenue. This is meant to enable airline executives to be continuously informed about the cost- and quality-critical operational issues and their origins.

By becoming more familiar with causes of disruption events, decision makers can learn about organisational, managerial, cultural, interdepartmental and a whole range of other internal issues that they would otherwise not be aware of. These insights can be more important than accurate information about the costs involved in single events.

Complexity increases the number of trivial activities, making it difficult for senior managers to recognise and focus on things that deserve their attention. They can get easily involved in ad hoc operational problems that could be resolved locally, instead of spending their valuable time more effectively by making a small number of powerful interventions that can have a massive positive impact on operational performance.

Complexity itself is not the problem – it is organisational detachment and top-down management that channels work against its natural flow. When we start thinking in a new way, we can realise that the only way to understand the workflow is to start from outside, from operational reality where the results of all activities become evident. It then depends on where we then turn our attention to. In this case, we will be
focusing on causes of hidden strategic, organisational and management issues that are continuously and consistently hindering operational performance. looking at critical variations in service delivered to passengers

EU regulation on passenger protection has passed the burden of collective negligence and wilful ignorance about the problem onto airlines. They are seen as a culprit in a highly interdependent industry in which airports, politicians and regulators also bear responsibility for the growing decline in quality of passenger services.
While it was obvious that the flawed Regulation could not improve flight punctuality and regularity, nor better protect passengers, it has most certainly incurred additional cost for airlines.

The value of disruption management is that it provides not only tangible information but also the insight into internal relationships between managers and employees, and between employees in the environment where sharing the common goal is not ingrained in the company’s culture. Applying the principles of disruption management can improve these relationships: the method brings together people from different sides of an organisation around the same real-life problems and builds up the understanding of their interconnections and how the results of their individual and collective work affect the end result. The result is improved quality. By improving quality, we reduce costs and increase revenue naturally. This is how we can make a lasting improvement without forcing organisational changes and changes in management.

We should keep reminding ourselves that in this imperfect, hard-to-manage system burdened with lots of historical baggage, it is only people who can hold things together and make it work in difficult, unknown situations. It is the people who create bridges that reach beyond departmental boundaries and beyond what they are trained to handle. This is what people can do when they are driven by a sense of togetherness and belonging and when they are inspired to work towards the same goals – the kind of culture that can be built starting with collaborative gatherings that we talked about in this book. This is how our actions can become value-aligned.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Inside My New Book

The second edition of “Beyond Airline Disruptions: Thinking and Managing Anew” looks beyond the surface of airline disruptions to inspire systems thinking and actions that transform culture and drive long-term success.

The book will be published on 12 December. You can pre-order it here and save 20% using this discount code.

Flight disruptions continue to thrive unnoticed, invisibly eroding airline profitability and causing growing passenger dissatisfaction. This is especially critical at airports where traffic expansion outstrips airport capacities. Hampered by legacy information systems, management practices and organisational detachments, decision makers across the industry have little or no understanding of the multiple causes of disruptions and their implications. Consequently, their actions are focused on resolving local problems without being synchronised at system level. As problematic as they are, disruptions create opportunities for learning about system interactions, a solid and appropriate foundation for resolving complex industry issues.

Beyond Airline Disruptions explains how airlines can become more competitive by utilising unexplored potential for gradual, consistent and measurable improvements, centred around cost and quality of operational performance. It describes practical methods and techniques essential for turning these ideas into daily practices.

This second, revised edition features updated content that introduces a fresh approach to airline management and decision making, more in line with future industry needs. It bridges the gaps between strategy and operations and inspires collaboration between airlines, airports, ATC, service providers and regulators to bring longer-lasting benefits not only for industry participants and passengers, but also for the economy, society and the environment.


Chapter 1: Obscured by the past
Chapter 2: The path to improvement
Chapter 3: Understanding disruptions
Chapter 4: Organising disruption information
Chapter 5 Reinventing decision making
Chapter 6: Thinking and managing anew
The way forward


The way forward  
The process of disruption management described in this book is meant to inspire a new way of thinking and managing airlines. This is not a prescription, but an invitation to join the process of discovery, to explore a new dynamic and adaptive way of managing airlines in the age of increased disruptiveness. The following are the highlights of what we have discussed so far:    

·        Instead of managing departments, we should manage problems that cause our passengers to leave us even when our price is lower than our competitors.  

·        Instead of relying on predictions based on the past we should keep reconfiguring and adapting, fine tuning our operations to best meet passenger needs.

·        Instead of traditional planning and forecasting based on aggregate historical figures which tell nothing about their interconnectedness and true origins, we should focus on resolving the complex emerging problems that are threatening the system performance while aware about their deeper causes.

·        When we think about new ideas, we will have a better sense if they are going to work well for us and what we have to do to adapt when circumstances change. We will know better what to offer and how to assist our passengers travelling to and from disruption-prone airports and airspace.  

·        We will be more aware what an airline is capable of doing and what cannot be done. And if we decide to do what we cannot deliver at our best, we will know that this is a calculated risk measured against other known benefits but will ensure that the negative impact of such decisions on customers, partners, and employees is minimal.

This game-changing approach to management creates a shift in culture. And as a result, trust and care about the core purpose strengthen, the service improves and cost is reduced.

The method for disruption management can be introduced without big investments, organisational changes, projects or other conventional activities. It is simple to implement and, from very beginning, it starts to inspire people across organisation to engage their ingenuity in understanding and improving their work while sharing the common goals. It is accessible to all those with mind open to new ideas, those who seek long-lasting success, those willing to build their business based on trust and cooperation, caring for employees and through them for customers.

Let’s challenge ourselves to evolve, innovate, and experiment to create a better future.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Questioning value of intuitive decisions in shaping system performance

It is hard for us to understand how the system works because the constantly changing interactions between people and processes are mostly invisible, complex, non-linear, hard for our brain to digest and for computers to model.  As a result, we often make system decisions partly based on interpretation of simplistically computed data and partly by trusting our intuition unaware of cognitive biases shaped by what we see and by our experiences. The problem is that what each of us see and experience is different. 

To avoid these biases, we need to get closer to the truth beyond numerical values representing the system outcome and express it in an easy-to-understand, actionable way, so that the risk of underperformance in cost and service quality is kept at the lowest level. 

We can get there if we start learning from cross-system variables, focus on what matters from system perspective, put it in a meaningful context, and know what questions to ask before our gut feelings slip in. In this way, we are allowing smart system analytics and intuition to work in concert.

The practical framework for making system decisions is described in the second edition of my book ‘Beyond Airline Disruptions: Thinking and Managing Anew’ and are at the core of my consulting work.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Denial Of the Understanding As a Cause Of System Disruptions

'Just because you don’t understand it
…doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
…doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

If we spend our days ignoring the things we don’t understand (because they must not be true and they must not be important) all we’re left with is explored territory with little chance of improvement', says Seth Godin

This is why an unexplored territory of system disruptions in aviation keeps growing unattended. If you are keen to make real improvement you need to understand disruptions.  I have written 'Beyond Airline Disruptions: Thinking and Managing Anewto offer you some guidance.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Announcing the second, revised edition of my book Beyond Airline Disruptions: Thinking and Managing Anew

This revised edition of Beyond Airline Disruptions is written to inspire existing and aspiring leaders, regardless of their hierarchical rank, to think afresh and act anew and to see an organisation as a flexible learning network that needs constant fine tuning and occasional upgrades to keep up with complex and dynamic changes in operational environment.

It sets the framework for a new way of planning and for connected, adaptive, decision making that learns from critical misalignment between strategy and operations manifested through operational disruptions. This makes it possible to consistently surface and address underlying causes behind real-world problems allowing leaders to inspire changes where the increase in passenger loyalty and lower cost come as natural consequences, resulting in non-imitable advantage.

‘Thinking and Managing Anew’ is a practical guide based on my diverse experience and learning from system thinkers across industries.  It is meant to develop wayfinding skills by looking through the system rather than from above it. This motivates people to get together, bypassing procedures and structures that set them apart. It is a leader’s guide to reality.