Flying safely through the storm
Co-founder Futureteaming & Pilot
With one last left turn, we parked the aircraft at the gate at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. After a record flight of almost 15 hours, relieved tourists from Bali walked off the airplane into a deserted airport surrounded by the largely grounded KLM fleet. We as crews are thoroughly trained for unexpected situations, but this flight covered some new terrain for everyone...
Because this flight wasn’t in the timetables, our crew had to plan and adapt on the spot. We would repatriate potentially anxious passengers and work with local ground staff caught up in their own COVID 19 measures. Moreover, during our 15 hours of flying time, events and protocols could change significantly, both at our destination, the countries we would fly over and at our home base.
With the senior cabin and cockpit crew – and going through my own mental checklist as captain – setting clear expectations and empowering the entire crew would be key for success. We would have to lead by example.
Priorities for this flight from Bali to Amsterdam:
300 passengers and our crew safely arrived back to Amsterdam. An agile mindset – on top of the normal way we work as a crew – made it all possible.
Today most organizations also find themselves in situations where normally high-risk/stakes teams operate: unpredictable, complex and with safety concerns for human life. We described this “rapid change” future in our book Feedback First, outlining the steps to take to create an environment of psychological safety and continuous feedback. We did not know how fast this future would arrive, but we can see that readers and clients who followed the steps weather the storm better, as they are able to think, adapt and innovate faster.
We also kept researching and improving our own thinking, together with different partners around the world. In February 2020 we finished interviewing 50 leaders across industries to understand their thoughts and strategies for providing safe environments for feedback and learning from mistakes.
Huibert Evekink and I want to thank the participants in the interviews and our contributing Partner companies for their hard work, especially Dave Roberts and Endre Løvås of PeoplewithE in Norway, Marisa Vara and her team at The Human Side in Spain and Telos Partners in the UK.
A special mention goes out to Jeroen Gerits of the Dutch Police. He has been an invaluable source of insights and support. His experience as a leader in high-risk environments and expert in VUCA teamwork was key in producing this checklist. We proudly consider him part of our team: thanks, Jeroen!
We take this opportunity to share a checklist compiled from their contributions and our experience in aviation and running Futureteaming. Feel free to use bellow attached list in your organization.
Let me finish by wishing you clarity, courage and a safe flight through the present storm!
Thanks Steven! Also for the checklist. The characteristrics of Clear & Calm can also be helpfull in managing virtual teams those days!
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