Now is The Time to Innovate

In a recent article on airline performance and  customer service, the author cites the 19th annual Airline Quality Rating which shows most airlines had improved their on time performance and their customer service in 2008.  This sounds like a welcome change for any of us who travel.

But one of the study’s authors noted that passenger volume was down for the same period. He suggested that made it easier for airlines to improve service:

“We know the system performs better when it’s less stressed by high passenger volume,” said Dean Headley, an associate professor of marketing at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State. “The economy scared away both business and leisure travelers in 2008.”

Taking the idea further, Headley’s colleague, Brent Bowen said this:

“We saw this happen after 9/11, so the ratings didn’t come as a real surprise,” Bowen said. “It’s clear from the rankings that now is the time to invest in new infrastructure and upgrade technology. Now is the time to innovate.”

This is good advice for all of us, not just the airlines.

During difficult economic times we can react in many ways. One response is to simply work harder. Do more of what has worked in the past. Another is to cut costs to the bone. Yet another way to respond is to use this time to find new and better ways to accomplish what we want to accomplish.  In fact we might even redefine what it is we want to accomplish.

If airlines can improve customer service when revenue drops then most of our organizations can too. A benefit of reduced demand is you have more time and more resources to focus on solutions and improvement. Sure you have to plan and allocate well so the bills get paid. But times are changing. Some industries will never have the revenue they once did. Some might even disappear.

This might be your only opportunity to step back, take a breather and do some creative thinking about the future. As Bob Dylan said, “the times they are a changin”. That’s never been more obvious than it is today. Don’t let change pass you by. Build your successful future by taking time today to innovate.

How is the economy affecting your organization? What changes are you making to build a stronger organization?

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz