Aviation is Rather Near Sighted: What We Can Learn From Other Industries

kid glassesIt happens. Our vision changes and suddenly all we can see is what is directly in front of us. It happens in industries, too. We get so wrapped up in the way we are doing things, that we forget to look at other industries and glean from the ideas and knowledge they are sharing.

Aviation has had trouble seeing past the end of her nose. So here’s a new prescription. Let’s use what other industries have discovered and apply that knowledge to better our own.


Many people think that leadership is born the minute a title is added to your name or job description. Others believe it comes naturally with age and seniority. In his article “Are You a Leader or a Follower?“, Dr Travis Bradberry gives a clear picture of what true leadership looks like.

The aviation industry needs to come to the realization that you can’t make people be good leaders.  Fear of punishment from non-compliance or the prestige gained from numerous certifications or degrees may produce outward change, but when the regulator is away and the certifications and degrees are achieved people revert to their inner beliefs and habits. Excessive regulation and prestigious certifications have bred mostly apathy and a lack of leadership. Sticks and carrots don’t work.

Good leaders are people you want to emulate. “If you’re a slave to the status quo, lack vision, or don’t motivate everyone around you to be their absolute best, then you’re a follower. Even if you happen to have a leadership title, people won’t follow you when they see those behaviors present,” explains Dr. Bradberry. What our industry needs is people who are willing to stand against the status quo and develop a passion for change and, most importantly, for people.


If you have not watched a TED talk, you really should. They are a great way to take a look at the pulse of other industries. One of our favorites is by Simon Sinek. If you are tired of the status quo and would like to get down to the “why” of what you are doing, Simon is your man.  He confirms our belief that having a passion for change and innovation is what should drive the product, not profit.

Many hours of research and a great amount of money has been spent in the aviation industry to show us ways in which to make our operations safer. Yet people are becoming less inspired and more apt to disregard the research as well as safety measures. The aviation safety and training industry will see more buy-in from its constituents when products and programs are based on the needs of the people. How can those needs be discerned? It sounds rather simple, but ask the people themselves and then involve them in the training process. Top down initiatives aren’t very motivating. Initiatives that are started because people have a desire for change are much more likely to succeed and bring an end product that is fulfilling.

Freedom to Pursue Interests and Solve Problems

At first glance, this TED talk by Magnus Walker might appear to have nothing to do with aviation. But if you listen closely, he describes how the freedom to pursue his interests and the opportunities presented to him lead to great success.

Too often, those in our industry who still have a spark of passion or interest in developing their skill are stifled by mandatory training or unsupported by management. When people are encouraged in their professional pursuits, given leadership roles to fulfill, allowed to explore problems and offer alternative solutions, and are asked to contribute their opinions and skills to the organization, they thrive and so does the business. Yes, regulations must be met. But people also need professional growth opportunities and the freedom to explore their interests and their passions. Aviation training can be so much more than it is.


If you’d like to get a glimpse of how an innovator and genius thinks, this TED talk by Pranav Mistry gives good insight. It’s also a good reminder of what curiosity can achieve. If you are impressed by his TED talk, you will want to watch Microsoft’s take on his technology and how they are developing it here.

Aviation training is benefiting greatly from these technological advances. One of the greatest potentials is to move training from the surreal simulator training center back into our individual flight departments. Just imagine what that will do for aviation and training!

Taking time to look at other industries and glean from their expertise is important. Sharing our passions, collaborating, and giving fresh perspectives is what drives innovation and change. What do you see happening in other industries that can inspire our own? Help us all look beyond the ends of our noses by sharing a few of your favorites in the comments section.

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One Response to Aviation is Rather Near Sighted: What We Can Learn From Other Industries

  1. Enjoyed the article and I totally agree. Many industries have learned valuable lessons from aviation, we can certainly do the same.

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