When the team designing the 787 widebody aircraft began their work, they faced a monumental challenge. In addition to creating an aircraft with great range and comfort, there was an overall requirement that this new airplane is 20 percent more fuel-efficient than any before.
Leaders face similar challenges every year. Do more with less. Do it faster and with higher quality. These are often the imperatives handed down from senior leaders. Just like the engineers of the 787, the most effective teams are those that re-examine systems to find ways to improve, even when their existing systems are working fine.
The Value of Always Striving for More
For Boeing, taking on the challenge of the new 787 meant re-examining long-held assumptions about aircraft design and systems. Everything was on the table to make a more efficient aircraft. One such system was the bleed air system, which drew compressed air away from the engines to pressurize and operate many of the cabin systems.
The bleed air system had been in place since the very inception of commercial jet airline design. It was very reliable and easily serviceable. Yet, it inhibited the most essential purpose of the aircraft engines. Maximum forward thrust at the minimum of fuel expenditure was the goal for this new airplane.
True leaders understand that no system is sacred unless it is serving the teams that use it. Demanding effective systems is what has allowed organizations to go from fax machines to emails and 9-5 schedules to flexible work-from-home scenarios. There is always more that can be done, other options to consider. Great leaders understand this potential and support their teams in finding it.
A New Way Forward
Eventually, Boeing engineers found a way to separate and rebuild systems to work around the bleed air method. The result was a
new aircraft that was 20 percent more efficient. They did the impossible.
As businesses em
erge from the pandemic, there is an enormous pressure to simply get back to work, doing what we have always done. But you must resist this natural inclination. As a leader, you have to assess whether a redesign of systems and approaches to business will be necessary to thrive moving forward.
As you move forward, ask yourself:
- Are our systems serving the way they always have?
- Is there room for improvement?
- Are our existing systems going to allow us to achieve our goals in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years?
- Will we lose forward momentum if we keep doing it the way we always have?
While you examine your own systems post-pandemic and beyond, utilize a trusted team of advisors to help evaluate each potential change. Talk through the implementation of new systems and consider each stage in the process. The disruption of the pandemic has provided a chance to examine everything.
Are you ready to breathe new life into your organization? Start today by downloading our free resource: The Innovative Leader’s Guide to Transforming Company Culture…Starting with Yourself
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired-Up team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired-Up, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.