Thursday, April 01, 2004

How do you fly?

Are you one of those people that gets to the airport late, pushes their way through lines using the excuse of your plane leaving in the next 5 minutes, and sprinting to your gate to get there before the 1 minute cut-off? Or are you one of those people that leaves for the airport with time to spare, stands in their original position in line, stops to buy a magazine and bottle of water, and boards the plane when your set is called? I am one of the latter; I would rather invest the time up front to arrive early and have a pleasant flight experience instead of a harried, aggravating, physically exhausting fight to the the plane.

In his article in this month's Fast Company, Seth Godin uses the airplane scenarios listed above as a study in corporate response. Consider, as Seth does, that the "late-for-the-plane" scenario is all of the urgent, last-minute, fire-drill issues your company deals with. The "arriving early" scenario is the difficult decisions that are hard for your company to make.

From the article:

"The most important idea of all is this one: You will succeed in the face of change when you make the difficult decisions first. It's easy to justify running for your plane when it's leaving in two minutes and you're only five gates away. It's much harder to justify waking up 10 minutes early to avoid the problem altogether. Alas, waking up early is the efficient, effective way to deal with the challenge. Waking up earlier may seem foolish to the person lying in bed next to you, but when you enjoy the benefits of a pleasant stroll to the gate, you realize that your difficult decision was a good one."

Does this make sense to you? It sure makes sense to me.

Consider it in this way if the airline analogy is not working for you (from the article):

"Organizations manage to justify draconian measures--laying people off, declaring bankruptcy, stiffing their suppliers, and closing stores--by pointing out the urgency of the situation. They refuse to make the difficult decisions when the difficult decisions are cheap. They don't want to expend the effort to respond to their competition or fire the intransigent VP of development. Instead, they focus on the events that are urgent at that moment and let the important stuff slide."

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