Are You Flying Your Business In The Soup?

I am a strong believer in gut instinct in many instances—but there are times that instinct can prove fatal in both life and business. As a business owner, coach and pilot with over 10,000 hours I often see a strong correlation between flying in inclement weather conditions – pilots call it “the soup” – and running a business. In both situations, people who survive another day have had to overcome what they think they know in order to discipline themselves to obey the instruments by which they should abide.

In the soup, a pilot’s biggest challenge is vertigo. Were you ever swung around in fast circles as a child? The disorientation you felt was vertigo. The sensation of imbalance comes from our inner ear, which gives us a sense of our relationship to gravity. In the soup, aircraft maneuvers put “G forces” on our body that create a false sense of gravity. When pilots fly in the soup, we have to constantly crosscheck the primary instruments that display the physical reality our bodies no longer sense. When there is a conflict between the information the instruments provide and what our bodies tell us, we get vertigo, which is a powerful state of confusion.

The ocean graves of John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette are testimony to what can happen when we obey our inner feeling and do not override strong sensations of vertigo to discipline ourselves to trust our instruments.

In business, the flight instruments that convey reality are the measurements or metrics on our business’ Scorecard. Running a business without good data is like flying by the seat of our pants – trusting false feelings.

Many businesses have not mastered their data.  Too often, business owners:
  1. Look at the wrong numbers – or don’t review at all
  2. Work with unreliable numbers
  3. Try to master too many numbers
  4. Focus on the wrong targets (benchmarks)
  5. Don’t crosscheck numbers to ensure balance
  6. Disregard the history – don’t see the trends

Aviation and behavior engineers spend many hours developing the right instruments, right displays and right configuration that will allow them to quickly “get a grip” on the pulse of the airplane—and pilots spend many hours in a simulator practicing the discipline of correctly interpreting the instruments and responding appropriately to the indicators.

In pilot lingo, follow your instruments (Scorecard) or risk becoming a “smoking hole”!   Become the pilot-in-command of your business with a Scorecard (overview), crosscheck systems (reality) and response mechanisms (plan)?

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS)® described in Gino Wickman’s book, Traction®, contains such a system and Scorecard. If you would like to know more about EOS®, please click here to learn how you, too, can learn to read and trust the right data.