The pictures were actually taken during the flight. The Powerpoint screenshots were taken from the executive presentation.
I’ve used a flying example only once during a presentation at work.
We had a meeting of the 100 or so most senior executives of the company in Chicago last year. I was tasked to do a presentation on Key Performance Indicators and Balanced Scorecards.
The President of the company wanted anecdotal examples 😀
Julio had taken pictures, mostly of rain pelting the windshield, and nothing but solid rainclouds outside.
We were also in a microburst, a vicious downdraft created by the storm. The altimeter was unwinding, from 2,000 to 1,500, to 1,300 …. Julio’s pictures showed the vertical speed as 500 feet per minute, down. In 3 minutes we would be swimming instead of flying.
Julio wanted to say something about the GPS. I ’sterilized’ the cockpit and told him to look only at the airspeed indicator and listen for the stall warning horn.
Manila Tower asked me to verify my position, then said that their radar was showing a level 3 thunderstorm at that location.
I made the galactically idiotic reply, “Copy that, have the weather in sight.”
We were in solid rain, solid cloud, zero visibility. The last time I looked at the altimeter, we were only 800 feet above the sea.
I interrupted the story to present my Key Performance Indicators for my job. I showed 3 examples of critical KPIs.
I urged the audience to craft a Balanced Scorecard for their business areas, and to treat each KPI as a “gauge”. The key leadership challenge is to move the “needle” in the right direction.
Whether it’s market share, sales, cost, profit or productivity, the urgent, burning task for a business to survive a crisis is to reverse the retrograde trends and get the needles moving in the right direction.
This works for shop supervisors or CEOs.
I then closed by saying that Key Performance Indicators reveal progress (or the lack thereof), show whether a strategy is working or not, and shine a light on the path to improvement.
By now the audience was climbing the walls, wanting to know how the flight ended. They were all senior executives, so my talk about KPIs was surely old hat to them. There were 5 other pilots in the audience — a doctor who owns a Pitts and a Bonanza, a General Manager who flies a Jabiru in Indonesia, a supply chain Vice President who had just earned his PPL in the US, a Senior VP who had once flown for the South African Defense Force, and a former USAF T-38 instructor pilot.
I related the rest of the story. Manila Tower advised they had over 10 miles of visibility and nothing but high cirrus clouds. Since we were just 15 miles from the airport, we had to be nearing the end of the thunderstorm.
Within seconds, just as I glimpsed the sea less than 800 feet below, we broke out of the thunderstorm. By that time I had the airplane in a maximum performance climb to try and beat the downdraft.
We were in a blaze of sunshine, with the Manila airport 10 miles ahead. We landed in almost unlimited visibility — I could see Mt. Makiling at Laguna, and the mountains of Talim Island on the lake. The air was as crystal clear, as it sometimes is here in early January.
This was my last Powerpoint slide on the analogy. Those General Managers in the audience whose businesses were going through turbulence at the time laughed the loudest 😀 when I said, “If the view outside is scary, don’t look outside! Focus on your gauges….”
So true, of managing a business in trouble. The closing slide was actually suggested by a General Manager in the audience who was striving to turn a declining business around. The person is a pilot, too.
Julio’s last picture of the storm behind us, posted below, shows a chilling view: The wall of rain and cloud went right down to the sea. We could never have found clear air below the storm.
The view behind us, unseasonal thunderstorm, Jan 2006