In pilot we trust

Airplane Trust

If you’re a consultant, flying comes with the territory.  You get to experience different cities, perhaps international cultures, and certainly a lot of waiting around.  There’s a saying that if you have never missed a flight, you are spending too much time in the airport.  I understand the point, and I’m good being a little early and getting on my flight.

Recently, my flight to Dallas was delayed.  The pilot announced that mechanics needed to “check a small oil leak.”  He also explained the process, stating they would fire up the engines after the mechanics had a chance to inspect.  Within 20 minutes, the pilot started the engines.  He announced that they would “chalk up the problem to some extra oil from the last maintenance.”

What do you do?  Do you get off the plane because any oil makes you nervous?  Not me! I’m a seasoned traveler.  Other than a lightning strike one time on my way to New Orleans, I am pretty confident in flying.  Oh, and then there was the bad turbulence coming back from Baltimore as I watched the wings flap up and down like they were real bird wings, wondering how many more times until they crack off the plane.   I seemingly never fail to remember that I’m in an aluminum tube at 32,000 feet.  I briefly close my eyes, take a deep breath, think about fate, and go back to my book.

Why choose to trust the pilot?

I’ve placed my trust in the pilot, the expert.  He or she trained for countless hours, has flown even longer, and can handle any emergency. (Remember Sully?)

Why do we trust experts?

That person focuses on a particular area.  Experts provide opinions based upon research, experiences, or how their clients behave or execute their strategies.  We assume they have seen similar situations, which leads to….

What about trust and verify?

An expert provides her opinion and the data supporting that opinion.  She shows where the data originated, if there are any potential gaps, or other interpretations of the data.  You must then verify or validate the data in terms of its relevance to your company and whether or not the expert’s recommendations will help you achieve your strategic goals, consistent with the vision of your company.

An effective expert collaborates with you from the beginning by asking questions and understanding your unique situation. You need to feel confident that the expert has your best interests in mind. If the expert is lecturing you about your horrible practices or is in the midst of a 15 minute soliloquy, then I argue that is not the right expert for you.

Tom Petty sings – “I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings. Coming down is the hardest thing“.  When you need help, or when you are starting out, don’t be afraid to seek out experts.  Not only will they help you take off, but also, more importantly, create an environment necessary for a soft landing.

Photo by Tracy Hunter used under Creative Commons License

I’m flying more as a result of several leadership and communication training sessions I lead.  The classes, developed by Manager Mechanics, teach IT staff how to bridge the gap with their businesses (the ‘users’) and build their trust through client service skills, influence, persuasion, and other soft skills.

How well does the communication flow between IT and the businesses it supports?  Contact me if you are interested in improving the trust in and credibility of your IT teams.







8 responses to “In pilot we trust”

  1. Seth Frielich Avatar

    I was flying into Los Vegas for a meeting with my sales reps. As the plane was on final approach with the flaps and gear down, it started to pitch to the left and then the right. I looked out the windows on either side and could see we were approaching the runway, but with each oscillation the plane was pitching more steeply. As I looked out the left side window, it appeared as if the grass along side the runway was directly below the wing, and the tip was within a few feet of the ground. At that point the pilot did an emergency abort. The aircraft groaned and shuttered under full throttle as the pilot pulled the nose of the craft up. We climbed up and circled the airport for about 10 minutes before a second attempt was made to land.

    1. Harold Waisel Avatar

      Now that sounds scary Seth. Obviously the second time around was successful!

  2. Karen Ivy Avatar

    I feel even more strongly about pilots because my brother-in-law flew for Northwest (after flying fighters in Vietnam). That man KNOWS what he’s doing.

    My worst flying experiences actually were on the ground: the time we flew into O’Hare for a transfer to Pittsburgh and landed in the middle of a major thunderstorm. 10 hours in the airport, on crutches. And the time we arrived at Heathrow, on the way home, the day after a major rainstorm had shut down the airport by flooding the tunnel (the only ground approach). I’ve NEVER seen a maelstrom like that anywhere else. We got on the plane that day; our luggage didn’t. Fortunately, it arrived 3 days later.

    1. Harold Waisel Avatar

      Karen – I know that many veterans are great pilots, and they know pressure.
      I once flew to Singapore and my luggage didn’t make it. I got a whole new Adidas wardrobe the next day since that was the only store opened!

  3. Elaine Bennett Avatar

    I was once in a small plane (non-pressurized cabin) and the door popped open during flight. Not wide open, but enough that I could see daylight on the other side. The flight attendants didn’t seem alarmed, but I sure was. I squeezed my partner’s hand across the aisle and prayed nonstop until we landed, about an hour later.

  4. Harold Waisel Avatar
    Harold Waisel

    I’m not sure that’s the light at the end of the tunnel I’d be comfortable with either Elaine.

  5. Tassey Russo Avatar

    Many years ago I was on a plane to Dallas for 3 days of meetings at Texas Instruments. There was a terrific wind storm and the captain tried twice to land but the plane just rocked back and forth both times, with deep dips, too. No go on the landing. We went to Kansas City instead and spent the night there. I was good with that. (There was an earlier crash at DFW due to wind sheer and 3 IBM execs had died. I had that in my mind, too!)

    I love to drive and traveling throughout America and Canada is still one of my favorite things to do. I especially love the Southwest.

    I definitely favor intuition though I like data quite a bit, and always tell clients to gather the analytics and look for patterns or the outstanding factor.

  6. Harold Waisel Avatar

    I enjoy driving as well Tassey. I have not yet been through the Midwest, like OK or NE. Would like to take a road trip like that someday.

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