Friday, December 9, 2016

leadership dot #1652: brakes

Whenever I fly, I am always keenly aware of the brakes when we land. I may doze off during other portions of the trip, but I always make note of the landing,

A friend of mine works in the aviation industry, and it was he who heightened my awareness of them. “The brakes are the most difficult part of the plane,” he said. “They must endure terrific heat and pressure, multiple times per day without intervention in between. It is very challenging to get them right.”

Ever since that comment decades ago, I think of what it must take to bring a multi-ton jet to a stop in a fairly constricted distance. You must achieve the deceleration gradually, but ultimately firmly, to bring the plane to a complete stop.

I think the brakes are an analogy useful for organizations as well as airplanes. It is difficult to get braking right. A great amount of pressure and heat surrounds the braking process – whether it involves ending an existing program or bringing a jetliner to a halt.

Just as the aerospace industry puts significant effort into getting the stopping process right, so should your organization. Have a plan in place to schedule landings – you can always take off again, but it is helpful to have plans to bring things in for an evaluation. Regularly review what you have stopped doing as well as what you have added.

Organizations find it hard to stop doing things, but a plane flies better after a landing and refueling. So do projects and organizational services.

-- beth triplett
@leadership dots 

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