As many readers of this blog know, I am passionate about making sense of airline data that don't say much about the intricacies of things that shaped them, unknowingly contributing to undesired changes in planned operations and hard-to-identify operational losses. My work is focused on bridging this information gap by using disruptions as change messengers to access and address the origins of hidden but avoidable losses. Methods and tools designed to support these activities have evolved over time, bringing new insights into this still insufficiently explored area of airline management. My consultancy Astute Aviation is taking the next step in that direction.
What drew me into this work in the first place were the many years of involvement in complex decision making, especially while being responsible for managing commercial planning and scheduling departments - the crossroads of conflicting requirements between strategic and corporate side, and front-line decision-makers. My later involvement in strategic and operational management and also information and data modelling helped me get an insider’s view of these conflicting interests created by organisational detachments. At the same time these helped me to understand the interactions between data, people and process seemingly impossible to identify and control but essential for shaping the airline future.
The decisive moment that influenced my decision to do what I do today happened after finalising the disruption cost evaluation for a major airline. In order to calculate authentic cost of a single, but complex disruption event and identify its full operational consequences (including long knock-on effects), loss of revenue, and impact on passengers I was driven from one department to another, ending up with meeting 40 people across the organisation to finalise the project. The number of independent legacy applications was counted in hundreds and people were not aware about who is exactly doing what and where the information I was looking for could be found. The project ended up with astonishing results - the real losses were three times higher than the original estimates of £285,000.
This was an eye-opening experience. I learned widely and deeply about problems faced by almost every airline. I learned more about the ongoing issues than one could ever learn from all existing management reports put together. It has become clear that disruption loss analysis, supported by the right tools, can be applied much more widely to improve operational and cost efficiency and quality of service. A number of subsequent work engagements I undertook contributed to validate these observations further, and subsequently the concepts that underpin what I do today.
Bringing more authenticity and agility into decision making that cuts across organisations and domains has been central to my activities over the last ten years, including consulting, software modelling, articles and book writing, speeches, lectures, and blogging. My quest for contributing to better cross-functional decision making continues with introduction of the latest approach to managing complex contexts in complex organisations which is successfully applied in other industries. Applying some of these principles to airline industry has been a challenging task. It resulted in the development of enhanced methods and techniques to support collaborative approach to complex decision making in constantly changing airline environment. It brings together evidence-based and otherwise unavailable pieces of information essential for answering tough business questions like strategic trade-offs between growth, profit, and quality, problem oriented cross-functional cost reduction, and effectiveness of schedule buffers. Follow this link to learn more about practical benefits of Astute methods and tools.