Wayward NWA Pilots and Business Execution

October 27, 2009

While I’m sure the 2 pilots who were apparently too busy paying attention to their laptops to pay attention to flying an Airbus A320 this past week and flew by the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport by 150 miles have serious regrets about their actions, their behavior is reprehensible.

The FAA has suspended their licenses and Delta has committed that they will be terminated for their actions.  It is hard to argue for anything less.

These gentlemen were out of contact with controllers for 78 minutes.  Due to their lack of response, there was a real concern that the plane may have been hijacked.  Even the White House was alerted to this transgression while the event was in progress.

When I fly United, I always listen to the cockpit radio communications.  If you have not listened to it before, a pilot would be hard pressed to not have to communicate every 10 or 15 minutes along a route and much, much more on departure from and on approach to an airport. Air traffic control is constantly making slight route or altitude adjustments, handing off from one control center to another, etc.

78 minutes is an absolute eternity to not be paying attention while flying over US air space.

While I feel badly for anyone who loses a job and for their families, these pilots exposed themselves and their passengers to extraordinary risk.  They deserve to lose their jobs.

That said, these 2 knuckleheads would likely never again be so cavalier again in flight management.  Perhaps another airline should give them another chance (assuming the FAA will license them to fly again).  They are seasoned veterans who made a horrible business execution error.

What do you think?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting



Cell phones on airplanes? NOOOOOOOOO!!!

October 13, 2009

We all occasionally experience some rude person talking on their cell phone oblivious to the world around them.  It’s just like the people who pull next to you at a stop light with their stereos blaring–you are trapped until the light changes.  There is no where to go.

Well, Luthansa Airlines has just announced their intention to not only provide Internet service on their planes but also cell phone service.  I’m all in favor of the former but adamantly against the latter.

Imagine being trapped in a sealed metal tube next to or near some inconsiderate person who decides to chat idly for hours or close sales or what have you.  Imagine you really can’t escape this because, in a post-9/11 world, the airlines don’t want you out of your seat.

I once took a 2-hour train ride to Helsinki, Finland.  In each rail car, there was a “cell phone booth.”  Riders who needed to speak on the phone were expected to go into the booth.  In my mind, that’s a great idea.  If Lufthansa can incorporate such a booth (think “cone of silence”), I have no problem allowing cell phone use on planes.

Until then, my favorite moment of plane travel will remain when every traveler is ordered to turn off their cell phone.

What do you think?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting


Plantronics Enters Business Execution Hall of Fame

October 6, 2009

In August of 2008, I purchased a Plantronics Discovery 925 mobile Bluetooth headset.  The unit comes with a 12-month warranty.

In September of 2009, this product became unusable.  As I’d invested $125 plus California sales tax in this unit, I really didn’t want to throw the unit away.  I contacted Plantronics customer support to see if I could get it repaired.

Plantronics customer support let me know that they honored their 12-month warranty for up to 13 months and asked if I could locate the original receipt.  I found it immediately and I was on my way to a no-charge warranty exchange for a replacement unit.

Much to my delight, I received the replacement last week and it works even better than the original.   They sent it with only my verbal promise to return the defective unit after I’d received the replacement.  They did not ask for a credit card number to guarantee that I’d return the defective unit, something many companies do in similar circumstances.

For outstanding customer support above and beyond their published standards, Plantronics is hereby granted entry in Gardner & Associates Consulting’s  “Business Execution Hall of Fame.”  Congratulations, Plantronics!

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting


Demise of GM’s Saturn-Another Business Execution Failure

October 1, 2009

13,000 employees and nearly 400 dealers received the news yesterday that GM failed to secure a deal to sell GM’s Saturn business to Roger Penske.  Why?  Penske could not find another manufacturer willing to produce the vehicles beyond 2011.

An automobile manufacturer without manufacturing support is doomed.

The problem didn’t happen overnight.  Saturn has not made a profit since 1994.  15 years with no profit.  This is beyond comprehension.

This is not only a business execution failure, it is a failure of leadership–management and the board–that a brand is allowed to flounder for 15 years.  This failure is going to create incredible pain for those who relied on this brand for their livelihoods.

Would Jack Welch have allowed this to happen?  Maybe for one year.

What do you think?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting