I am still collecting some videos from Operation Christmas Drop so that post will have to wait a little longer, but there is another topic that has been on my mind a lot recently that seems applicable at this time of the year.
The new year is a time when it is extremely common for people to make resolutions which are really just another name for goals. People generally think about weight loss, money, and other personal concerns when it comes to setting these goals. Goals are an important part of any real success in this world which is why it is important to make them and do everything possible to reach them. This is true for people as well as businesses.
No matter if you are a person, business, industry, non-profit, or any other group for that matter, you must understand what your main goal is if you are to find any level of success. Once you understand your main goal, you can then set secondary goals to get you to your main goal. This whole line of thinking started for me a couple of months ago when I read the book The Goal, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. There are many great business insights in the book, as well as many other insights that are applicable to individuals as well. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something to read. It reads as a novel, not a business textbook so it is actually quite pleasant to read.
The main insight that drives the rest of the story is that a business must first understand what their main goal is, as I already mentioned. Once we understand the main goal all of our efforts can be focused on accomplishing it, and anything that stands in the way of that goal can be removed or worked around. Spoiler alert, the main goal of every business is to make money. If you want to get more details, read the book. For the purposes of this post I pose the same question for us lovers of aviation who anxiously want to promote its growth.
What is THE Goal of aviation?
For aviation businesses the goal is the same as any other industry, to make money. Without that they go out of business and any other goals, no matter how noble, are lost forever.
Aviation organizations like AOPA, AAAE, NBAA, WAI, and numerous others all have similar goals of promoting aviation but generally focus on one particular group like business flyers or women. They all provide invaluable support to their constituents and the industry as a whole, but they are not really unified in working towards one particular goal. I am not really surprised though because I don’t know that I have seen a legitimate, unifying goal put forth by anyone.
Don’t get me wrong, many have put forth great ideas, but nothing has really been effective, or else I think we would have seen more growth because people generally do pretty well when they have a clear goal set before them.
Dan Pimentel presented a great goal around this time two years ago of increasing the pilot population to 1 million through focusing on bringing more girls and women into the industry, so is THE goal simply to increase the number of pilots?
I also had an interesting discussion with someone last year about creating an incentive program, possibly through AOPA, where participants could get discounts at hotels, rental car companies, entertainment venues, and other businesses that pilots might utilize when flying to improve the quality of the whole experience. Does that make THE goal a better experience for those who are already flying?
Eddie Rickenbacker is quoted as saying, “Aviation is proof that – given the will – we can do the impossible.” This has been true from the Wright Brothers all the way up to Elon Musk and his groundbreaking Falcon 9 reusable rocket. Aviation has pushed the limits of human ingenuity and innovation leading to developments that have benefited all of society. So is innovation THE goal of aviation?
A few other potential options for our goal could be to transport people and goods, to connect the world in a more efficient manner, to safely accomplish all of the other things mentioned, or even to return the wonder to flying rather than the commonplace occurrence that it has become.
I don’t think that I have THE answer, but I do have a few thoughts that I hope might start a discussion amongst all of us so that we can focus our efforts to achieve this goal rather than to each pursue our own course of action and have our efforts not be as effective, because as we all know, the sum of our efforts can be much greater than our individual parts.
To start I think I may have already established a goal without even really thinking about it, we want to see growth. Growth could be seen in many areas to include more pilots, more passengers, more planes, more use of airports, or any number of different metrics, and maybe all of them should matter, but what growth would really show is good health in the industry. While I think my focus is really on general aviation, I don’t think we can segment the industry if we are truly to see growth. For most people, commercial aviation is their only connection with flying so to exclude them would be to exclude one of our greatest resources. Military aviation also provides a vital connection to the mass public as it is often what lights the fire in many individuals.
No matter which metric we choose to focus on, growth in and of itself is no guarantee of success. A business can sell more product or generate more revenue and still go out of business because it is not managed well. So I think we need to have more organized management of the industry. Right now everyone seems to be working in their own little niche to “look out for number one” because no one has stepped up to bring us all together. One would hope the FAA would play some role in that since aviation is their sole purpose, but we all know that will never happen. But what is it about aviation that we could all rally around with all of our mixed agendas? Not since the space race has the world as a whole cared more about aviation. Maybe the new commercial space race will create some unity.
There is also no doubt that we need some innovation on the people front. There is as much innovation as ever in aviation technology when you look at the 787, A350, and Falcon 9, but have we really changed the way people interact with the industry, maybe ever? It is people that are going to keep the aviation industry healthy and we need to find a way to get the absolute most that we can out of those people. It was people that made that first courageous flight at Kitty Hawk over 100 years ago, and it will be people that will keep aviation strong throughout the next 100 years.
I realize I have asked as many questions as I have given answers, but like I said, I would really love to see what kind of ideas we could come up with if we put our heads together. There is no doubt that we will all be in love with aviation for the rest of our lives, but the question remains, what is THE goal of aviation, and what are we doing to accomplish it?