Landing One Plane at a Time
I was recently tagged into a Facebook post about some advice I’d shared with someone:
“I am flat out at the minute – doing amazing things and the list of things to do its HUGE. But the best piece of advice I was given in this instance is from Martin Norbury about air traffic control at LHR [London Heathrow Airport] and how they cope with thousands of planes a day. They land one plane at a time. Works every time.” – Kate Lester, Diamond Logistics.
The thread went on to receive further comments and feedback about this analogy, so thought fitting to make this our focus this week.
You see, a key challenge in any business as it scales is to avoid getting bogged down in the detail. The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, outlines that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. For example:
- 80% of your accomplishments will come from 20% of your task list.
- 80% of your profits will come from 20% of your customers.
- 80% of complaints you receive will come from 20% of your customers.
- 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your products and made by 20% of your sales staff.
- 20% of your marketing efforts represent 80% of the results.
Most businesses try to land too much; the key is to land one plane at a time. Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport, welcomes around 1,300 combined take-offs and landings every single day – all with just two runways!
As a business owner you have easy access to massive improvements in your profitability by focusing on the most effective areas and eliminating, ignoring, automating, delegating or retraining the rest.
BUT there’s a tendency to solve the immediate problems facing you, your department or your business. The actual issue/problem or challenge will only be solved forever if something else is ‘fixed’.
Invariably the cause of the problem is something else that is bigger than the symptom, hence the 80/20.
It is key to identify the 20% of things that are causing the 80% of issues, as by solving this you’ll be solving A LOT of issues.
So, what are the big planes in your business for the next 13 weeks that need landing and that will get your business moving forward? The key here is less is more. Us entrepreneurs have a habit of wanting to do it all tomorrow! Get some up on your board this week and remember to be really specific.