Friday, January 16, 2009

Learn a Lesson from US Air Flight 1549

Yesterday, the crew of US Air Flight 1549 were complete pros. They flawlessly handled an airborne emergency that could have injured or killed dozens. And what makes that even more impressive is that it comes off the safest two years in American aviation history.

American airlines (not the company specifically, but the industry as a whole) has in incredible safety record. They fly millions of passengers to their destination every year, employing hundreds of thousands of flight crew, and they have nary a hiccup. In fact, I would venture to guess that compared to every other industry, they are probably the best at delivering their product (passengers safely arriving at their destination) consistently, regardless of the situation. And believe me they see more "unique" situations than most of us can even imagine.

How do you think that happens?


Not likely.

The truth is, that the airline industry most likely, strictest "procedural-driven" industry out there. Some of those procedures are directed by the government, but most of them aren't. The entire industry lives by procedures, because when they don't, they lose consistency in product. And in the aviation business, inconsistency costs lives.

Yes, the pilot of US Air Flight 1549 actions were amazing - I don't mean to take away anything that he did. From all accounts, he was truly heroic. But I would venture to guess that what he was best at, in a time of high stress, was following procedures - procedures, that most likely have been rehearsed and tested countless times to ensure they produce the desired outcome each and every time.

In the aviation world, the cost of inconsistency is human lives. But what is the cost of inconsistency in your business? What is the cost of weak or no procedures in your industry? Maybe the hamburger won't taste quite as good, the carpets won't be quite as clean, or maybe the package gets there a day late. Think about it. Does the cost end there?

Airlines aren't much different from you - if they don't take care of their customers, they won't stay in business. The difference between them and most small business owners is that they take it so serious that they have checklists for everything, they train their crews constantly, and do everything they can to make sure those procedures will handle any and all situations that could arise.

So the question is . . .

How serious do you take delivering consistent products / services
to your customers every time they visit?

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