Leaving on a jet plane…

In Uncategorized on June 2, 2013 at 09:15


Yesterday I was on a jet plane, but I do know when I’ll be back again. Saturday 8th June! So the song kind of resonates and to my mind presents a sound foundation from which to start a one week jolly-day.

The opportunity to leave Blighty and work for the week is a welcome deviation from the race that is rat.

Am currently being bounced about on Ryan air and paying the price of on-board catering. Well, not really catering, more drinks and confectionary for the brats and Madge (she who must be obeyed).

You have got to hand it to Mr. Ryan-air, if you want it cheap then you’ll pay the price somehow. You’ll pay it in either in extra baggage due to the reduced bag size metal bag scale thingy, over weight hand luggage, priority seating or buying on-board treats…such that they are.

But this is a means to an end, so we’ll take it, put up with it and slag Mr. Ryan-air off later. Or, as it happens, from the point we book it, until the point we book the next one!

We shall moan about:

Baggage check in
The long walk to the departure lounge
The bus to the plane
The panic about getting a full row of seats
The constant adverts to buy stuff on the plane
Air crew with strange accents
The crumbs on the seats
The way we a treated like cattle
How much money the man makes out of us
The lack of pockets on the back of the seats
And the celebratory triumphant climax announcement when we land almost on time!

Bless Mr. Ryan-air, he’s an unsentimental business man in an aggressive (very aggressive) industry! No friends when it comes to survival. And in this game only the fittest will survive, and Mr. Ryan-air is going to survive – because we all love the look of a bargain…even if it isn’t that much of a bargain once you weigh it all up.

Sat sitting on a four hour flight – thanks to Mr. Ryan-air and Madge’s eye for a bargain – I have been reflecting on the work of Peter Senge and his links to Ryan air. Senge proposes it is only the organisations that continue to learn and adapt through utilising their new knowledge that continue to flourish and remain sustainable.

Senge’s collaborative book with Kleiner et al ‘The Dance of Change’ (1999) considers the notion of learning, and actively adapting to change and competition in the chosen market place. The work examines the fundamental requirement to adapt to social change, and to re-think our chosen enterprise as new technology becomes available and our values & beliefs develop or become more diverse.

Looking back to Freddie Lakers model of the1970’s, he challenged all of the above and more. Specifically he challenged the big boys of the aviation game like BA, TWA, Pan-am and AA who were slow to adapt due to their inflexibility, traditions and most importantly their ignorance due to their relative size. Freddie shook them up and in layman’s terms, really pissed them off! Freddie flew a metaphorical plane right through their established businesses and changed the face of aviation forever. People wanted to travel and he made it possible, and as a result – over time – people became more savvy about the value of flight and they grew more interested in global issues and the social & educational benefits of foreign travel.

But, poor Freddie lost focus on his core business driver of customer loyalty driven through ‘cost minimisation’. Freddie started to create add on’s to his service delivery and as a result his prime costs increased which resulted in his ticket prices becoming far less competitive, whilst at the same time the big boys had started to fight back and began to squeeze back.

Freddie became lost somewhere in the middle, and over a short period completely lost his direction as his core customer base were attracted to the evolving price models of his competition. Within the relative blink of an eye the poor bugger crashed and burned. Some wept, other cheered and others claimed they new it couldn’t last (like nay sayers and shit houses always do).

A couple of good things came out of the subsequent mess, Freddie inspired others through his trailblazing exploits and he got a night hood. And, JJ Burnell (bass player from The Stranglers) wrote a cracking song about Freedie on his seminal 1979 Eouroman Cometh album – great lyrics and a great baseline! “Freddie Laker show them what to do…”

I suppose the moral of this story is that if you have a great business idea then – as Michael Porter proposes – there will always follow, substitutes, copy cats and new entrants. Nothing last forever, the world is round, and therefore what goes around comes around.

For aviation the cost of entry is significant, and the divers number of risks involved even more so. Yet new operators emerge, acquisitions are made whilst others fail due to poor business models as operators quite simply fail to review and create new strategies to adapt as customers and economical shift creates subtle change to the recognised paradigm.

To be fair, Mr. Ryan-air is a pretty switched on cookie – he would be, its his own company! He is astute and very aggressive, but he needs to be. He battles ever more creative customers trying to circumvent his pricing policy, along with government legislation, local country culture, constant changes to tax regulation, increasing base costs, evolving social expectation, competitor strategy, social unrest, increases in airport levy’s and on and on it goes…

So, it would be my contention that we mustn’t grumble too loudly as we are all as much a part of the problem as the competitive arena in which Mr. Ryan-air operates. We continue to make Ryan air a successful enterprise as we return time after time to utilise its competitive service and its lovely new & clean planes.

Its not all bad. If it weren’t for entrepreneurs like Freddie and Mr. Ryan-air then we’d still be sitting at home looking a caravanning holidays at Robin Hoods bay or (heaven forbid) The Maid Marion park near Skeg-vegas!!

For my part, I reckon I can learn a lot from my flying experience and utilise my flight time to think about the past and the future.

We can learn many great things from the past however recognising the value of that learning is the absolute key for creating new ideas for both myself and my employing organisation.

Change and development, learning from other industries and being awake to creeping drift are as an important a tool to keep an organisation fit for purpose as much as robust governance, training and upto date systems & processes.

I’d argue that time spent appreciating what Mr. Ryan-air has created is time better spent tan arseing on about some minor inconveniences within an otherwise industry leading short haul process.

Anyway, I shall crack-on and get to entertaining my bored brats and slightly frustrated better half who are all wondering what the bloody hell I’m upto tapping away on my iPad (in flight mode!!) oblivious to their anguish caused by tedium of flight, other passengers grumblings and the obligatory crying babies!

Soon be fun fun fun in the sun sun sun – weather permitting!

Please prepare for landing, fasten seat belts, switch off electrical equipment, get your boiled sweets out and get ready for the toot-diddy-toot-toot of the landing announcement…!

TTFN Globalagogogo…

Mark McHale
(Never Give In)


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