Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Airline Leadership: The Way Forward

It is now certain that things we cannot control will take some time to settle. As much as it is not easy to live with uncertainty, this time gap is giving us an opportunity to adapt to new ways of thinking about our work. As we have already experienced, the way we used to define strategies, to plan and make decisions, will no longer work. We are dependent on feedback from the real world for which we found ourselves unprepared.  

The thing is that we have to find our own way out of this crisis. There is a lot of great advice around on what and why we need to change. But what is really missing is HOW to do that amidst the heightened state of uncertainty and complexity that have, to a lesser extent, always been a part of the airline business. So, the question is how to build a more resilient organisation that can survive the forthcoming adversities?

The answer is actually relatively simple, as demonstrated through my years long work, and explained more comprehensively in my book Beyond Airline Disruptions-Thinking and Managing Anew.  

On this occasion, I would like to share with you an excerpt from the closing chapter of this book. It points to the benefits that can be expected when we make it possible for strategy and operations to work in sync for the benefit of our customers. And also, when we start focusing on work that matters while taking good care of our employees.  

“-Instead of managing people, 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 of 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.

This new approach to management is simple to implement and, from the very beginning, starts to inspire people across the organisation to engage their ingenuity in understanding and improving their work while sharing common goals. It is accessible to all those with a 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.”

With this in mind, I wish you and yours a happier, healthier, and more prosperous new year.