Options in parallel PLEASE

January 14, 2014

Yesterday I talked about some of the information issues around the WestJet debacle.  Today I want to come to some of the process issues and in particular the need for parallel and constraint based thinking.  We had hung around the gate, unable to sleep since 2100 the previous day before we were finally allowed to board, but with agreement any checked in luggage would follow.  It didn't work out, but it so easily could have worked.  The constraints were the need to taxi over to where we could be decided and fuelled all of which seemed OK and the Crew had time.   Unfortunately no one thought about how we would push back from the stand and that proved a constraint too far.   There were no enough and they couldn't find one.   They still hadn't when the Crew ran out of time.

Now why or why was someone looking at the number if push back options.  Seeing if some planes could use reverse thrust, looking to use a snow plough with some buffering – there was no improvisation, no adaptability.   Not only that it was someone else's problem.  If there were limited push back options then why load us until one was on its way?  Given that we were all on the plane why not let us stay while they got a new crew?   In practice a few hours later that same plane tool off with a crew for Calgary, one wonders why it could not have gone to Halifax as planned.   Other planes were going to Edmonton which is a bus ride from Calgary.

So we had a constraint on the number of planes.  So accept it, do something different.   Ottawa and Montreal are within driving distance, use buses or hire a train to free up plans for destinations where that is not an alternative.  Hub and spoke transport options, such as a plane to Calgary then buses and car share from there.  Engage the passengers in finding those car share options.   Above all get things moving in parallel.

Now there was a lot more wrong, but these two days of post give the essence. &nbnbsp;What I will do at the end of the week or early next is shift to a formal method on this.  The situation had moved from Complicated to Complex and was verging on Chaos; the methods used were all ones appropriate to the Obvious domain of Cynefin.


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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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