Managing through business challenges is not that different from flying an airplane.
Piloting a plane is complicated. It requires a tremendous amount of attention. Pilots constantly think about what’s next in order to stay “ahead of the airplane”— responding to air traffic control, staying on top of weather changes, calculating fuel consumption, etc. The cockpit is fast-paced, and falling behind poses a danger to everyone.
In the event of an emergency, a pilot employs a three-step prioritized process called Aviate, Navigate and Communicate.
Fly the airplane first. Other things are also important, but aviating takes priority because if we don’t stay “ahead of the airplane” we could put everyone in a life-threatening situation.
So we check ourselves. Do we have everything set up correctly? Are we monitoring the instruments? Are we making sure the airplane is stable and in the right stage of the flight?
Once we Aviate, we then Navigate. We know our destination and how we will get there. If weather prevents us from landing safely, we may change our route or consider a different destination. We use the missed approach, a clear process for handling unexpected difficulties, to Aviate and Navigate before planning next steps.
Communicating to air traffic control (and passengers) is the third step, and ensures everyone is on the same page, understands the situation and knows their roles and responsibilities.
If we use these steps in this order, we can more easily manage the challenges that come our way in the cockpit.
How to Aviate, Navigate & Communicate in your Business
We can use this same priority-based concept in business. Here’s how it works:
When your business is faced with a major challenge, you first need to Aviate. Continue to run your business by understanding its moving parts and everyone’s roles and responsibilities.
EOS is built for this, with its Scorecard, Issues List and IDS. By staying “ahead of the airplane” you can anticipate issues in your business before they happen, and are better able to manage them when they do.
Navigate to your vision. You and your leadership team should be in agreement of your final destination and how you will get there. It’s your job to be clear about where you want to go, and gauge your progress along the way. Getting off course is normal, as long as you adjust navigation as soon as you can.
Communicate is having an open dialog with your team to ensure everyone is on the same page, they have what they need, and there is a system in place to communicate changes or challenges. Like air traffic control, your employees need to know your intentions so they can help you reach your destination.
As a pilot or a leader in business, Aviate, Navigate and Communicate is a discipline we must commit to. It’s a learning process that requires practice so we can respond almost instinctively when we are faced with the unknown.
By doing so, we have the best chance at landing our plane safely at the desired destination, and successfully growing our businesses to meet our Core Target.
Think about the last time your business was faced with a challenge. How well did you Aviate, Navigate and Communicate? Are you strong in some of these areas but need to work on others? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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