A hypothetical scenario in the form of a metaphor
There is a Airline with good morals and prides itself on it’s ability to provide services to it’s customers.
The Airline exists for its strong moral values and believes everyone should have affordable, safe and reliable flights, no matter their income or situation.
The Airline doesn’t want to over-charge their customers or any potential new customers, they care about their customers as much as they do the quality of their services and their ability to provide them.
An Airline wants to expand and needs to make more turnover in order to have a better reach to those in need of their affordable and services.
Finding a Solution - Part 1
In order to help more customers while keeping in line with the company’s good morals, the Airline can’t increase costs to their much cared about customers, but they need to reach more of those in need because there are many Airports that aren’t on their routes and more people are wanting to use their fantastic service every day.
The airline decides that it can carry more customers on its flights by either decreasing leg room slightly to add additional seating rows to each flight.
It also realises that it doesn’t truly need 8 air staff to do the pre-flight booking, checks and service the cabin as well as the pilots on each flight and realistically they believe they can continue to help their customers without having to charge them more and still provide the same, affordable and safe flights between destinations with 6 air staff and the pilots and still board everyone on time and serve all the customers their drinks and food during the flight to meet their needs.
The airline also decides to carry slightly less fuel to reduce weight as well as saving on petrol emissions per passenger.
The Airline cuts back to the 6 air staff and slightly reduces their fuel load but still well within safe operating limits to their destinations.
The Airline is now able to afford to operate several additional flights and can carry an additional two rows of customers without discomforting them and still providing an excellent service.
Finding a Solution - Part 2
The Airline is now able to take more people happily each day, but there’s still a lot of destinations they don’t land in and people are asking for their services at those locations.
After careful research the Airline needs additional means to carry more people and reach their destinations and perhaps they can add several additional planes to their fleet.
The Airline invests in larger, more modern planes that are a lot faster, greener and have a much lower failure rate all while offering a wider verity of services to their customers and they’re visiting more airports than previously.
The Real Problem
One day because the Airline is still operating all their planes with the reduced 6 air staff plus pilots, it took slightly longer than usual for one of the air staff to notice there was a customer quite sick near the rear of the plane, one they had noticed it seem there were several people in the area feeling unwell and it looked like it might be something that could spread.
The pilots were informed and made the decision to re-route the flight from the small airport they were destined to, to a larger airport with a hospital nearby where specialists would be awaiting their arrival.
Not far from the new destinations the co-pilot notices that due to the reduced fuel load, there was a warning light showing low fuel pressure, this was an issue as turning back to the original destination would result in a potential fatal situation for those on board but they’d be stretching their fuel to make the new destination safely.
The good news is they made it to the new destination and the sick customers were treated immediately upon arrival, this time.
The Airline now must make a call, does it risk its financial safety and carry more fuel in the chance that a similar or equally dangerous situation might require re-routing a plane to this Airport again?
Or does the Airline ensure that problems can be noticed faster, perhaps during the boarding process, perhaps by by having additional air staff positioned throughout the plane, not just covering for sick customers but also for detecting and maintaining any other potential problems that could occur or improvements that could be made throughout the plane.
What happens next time?
Sometimes helping our customers requires us to slow down and reflect to first help ourselves before we’re able to safely accept new work and challenges to help our customers.
At times our own needs must outweigh the immediate needs of others and this may mean doing one of the hardest things in the tech industry - saying no to new work or features so that you so that in the near future - you can safely say yes to not only new work, but work of greater scale and complexity.
Sidenote: Perhaps my alternative title could have been ‘or how not to Smash The Pumpkins’.
Sam McLeod - Published 21/03/2017