This week I will continue the series on “The Future of Commercial Aviation” and I will be talking about a unique issue—Balance of Power—aviators and management think the same, so how do you maintain a balance that does not adversely affect service? As always, I would like all aviators to connect with their roots and one of the ways they can do that is by using the “Third Dimension Blog” as a resource. Come with me now as two dimensional thinking meets one dimensional thinking.
William Compton — President Trans World Airlines Inc., on the day that U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson approved American Airlines’ $200 million emergency financing plan and cleared the way for the sale of America’s longest-flying airline—27 January, 2001.
AMR soon laid off almost every former TWA employee.
Before I offer an explanation of one-dimensional thinking, I want to offer up a quote that typifies two dimensional thinking: Every other start-up wants to be another United or Delta or American. We just want to get rich. —Robert Priddy, ValuJet CEO, 1996. I don’t think “we” was used as an all-inclusive pronoun that applied to the employees of the company.
So, what is one-dimensional thinking? As you may have guessed it is not about ‘we’ but ‘me’. It is about the aviator who is focused on getting ahead, personally, professionally, and financially, and if they have to prostitute themselves to do it then that is OK—management does it. It is my belief that we as a nation have lost sight of what the word professional means and as a result the only rule is there are no rules. I will fly for free as long as I can log the time and then compete for the coveted airline job at American, Delta, Southwest or other airline. Sounds like the ‘no pain no gain theory’ but I would like to point out that the airline industry appears to be on the verge of self destructing—-then what do you do/we do? Perhaps it is time to move forward with a blending of one-dimensional and two-dimensional thinking, and if so what does that do for the industry?
One plus two is three—-three dimensional thinking should not be a novel idea. Believe me when I say corporations may talk about thinking out of the box, but that is only lip service to give the world the impression that they are forward thinking. So, what is the simplest way to visualize the problem? Take a triangle and balance it on its pointy head with the base being at the top. Now on the flat base lets write the word ‘service’, and on the left and right side we will install a balancing arm at forty-five degrees, and we will write management/legal staff on the left, crewmembers/legal staff on the right, and support staff on the bottom. Imagine if you will that I am an expert at computer graphics (I am not), and take a look at the following diagram:
Management/Legal Staff Crewmembers/Legal Staff
/ | \
Support Staff-Support Staff-Support Staff—–Support Staff-Support Staff-Support Staf
Consider what occurs when the balancing arms at 45 degrees on the left or right are shifted or pulled out of their positions when either party starts demanding concessions. In this scenario, service will always be affected, people on the bottom will scurry out of the way to protect themselves, and the competition will capitalize on the service deficiencies that are created. So who wins and who loses? Nobody wins but there will be a shift in the balance of power that will not be related to better service. So why is it that one of this country’s major service industry can’t get it right? Is it greedy management, greedy crewmembers, or greedy support staff? It is my belief that the social fabric of our country may be the culprit, and should this be the case it will be a challenge to fix the problem from the top down. However, should all parties chose to restore honesty and integrity to the business model then the solution will follow. We as a country deserve better, and the travelling public is demanding better.
Next week we will move forward with the last segment of our series. As always, take some time to look back, connect with your past and remember as an aviator you are a “Gatekeeper of the Third Dimension.”
January 22, 2010