5 Lessons Project Management Can Learn From The Aviation Field

Introduction
Organizations are in desperate need of creating predictable outcomes and managing the risk inherent in almost all of their project management initiatives. This is true whether they are designing products, performing services for clients, managing technology, implementing a government initiative, or any of a number of different projects. The purpose of this white paper is to identify five lessons (there are many more) that project management can learn from the aviation field to accomplish this objective of predictable outcomes and managed risk.Why Aviation?
Aviation is a rich source of information because it has already gone through the pain and consequences of not having predictable outcomes and has largely come through the other side. That is not to say that aviation is perfect, but aviation has done a stellar job of taking an inherently risky activity (flying) and creating safe, predictable outcomes. It has learned what is necessary.Project management does not pursue predictable outcomes to the same degree as aviation has pursued them. This may be due to the fact that the consequences of a failure in aviation are far higher than the consequences of a failure in the typical project that we manage.This idea of consequences is we target aviation as a good source. Aviation has been forced to develop methods of dealing with risk and creating predictable outcomes. Many of these same lessons that aviation has already been forced to learn can be applied directly to project management.Implement Predictable and Standardized Processes
When you fly, you cannot do things on a whim. There are specific procedures that you must follow. When an airliner comes in to land, there are certain things you do at certain times – when the flaps come down, when the landing gear comes down, the specific route to fly for a specific airport. If there is an emergency, there is a procedure for it. Pilots do not wonder what to do. They have been trained to follow certain procedures.Aviation has recognized the great importance of creating these predictable processes where risk is involved. For example, when approaching a major airport, there are documented, published procedures that every pilot must follow called Standard Terminal Arrivals (or STARs). A pilot will review these procedures even before they take off. When they are assigned by air traffic control what the currently used STAR procedure is, they know exactly what they will do and how they will fly. There is no “I wonder how we should fly into Atlanta today?” Project management cannot create predictable outcomes if it does not similarly implement predictable and standardized processes to deal with normal operations as well as contingencies.Here are some of the specific guidelines we can learn from aviation as to the implementation of these processes:The processes must be well documented and accessible.
Everyone must follow the processes.
Everyone must be continuously trained on the processes.
The processes must be continuously evaluated and improved over time.There are several advantages to implementing this in our project management practices. These advantages include:Eliminating confusion (everyone knows the proper steps and activities).
Providing a clear plan for how to produce a desired outcome.
Communicating the desired outcome.
Reducing workload by eliminating needless communications, decision making, and activities that should be routine.Just like aviation has created standard procedures to create the predictable outcome of landing at a major airport (thus making it safe and routine), project management needs standard procedures to create the predictable outcome of a new product, a customer implementation, a new service, or whatever your desired outcome happens to be.Defining Clear Roles and Responsibilities
Clear roles and responsibilities are critical in aviation. Each pilot knows their responsibility for each phase in flight and for every contingency. For example, when an airliner takes off, one pilot is the flying pilot and is focused on flying the airplane. The other pilot is the supporting pilot and does almost everything else such as talking with air traffic control, calling out airspeeds, and raising the landing gear and flaps at the appropriate times.In the Hudson River incident for US Airways flight 1549 was ditched in the Hudson River, there was a brief but interesting exchange on the cockpit voice recorder transcript. First Officer Skiles was the flying pilot, but after the incident with the birds, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger said “My Aircraft.” No additional explanation or instruction was given, but both pilots knew that their role had just changed. Captain Sully was now the flying pilot and First Officer Skiles focus shifted to getting out the emergency engine out checklists.The reason for these clear roles and responsibilities is because of the repercussions when they do not exist. In a lesser known event during the Apollo space program, Gene Cernan and John Young found their Apollo 10 lunar module (the one before the moon landing) spinning out of control. They were able to correct the situation, but the root cause was a simple misplaced switch. One pilot put the switch in one position. The other pilot inadvertently put the switch in the other position, not realizing what the first pilot had done. There was not a crystal clear distinction on who would throw the switch.How many times in project management has there been a lot of unneeded activity, lack of decision making, duplicate effort, or competing initiatives simply because roles and responsibilities have not been clearly defined? Aviation’s experience would offer valuable lessons to implement in project management including:Documenting roles and responsibilities (as opposed to assuming).
Setting roles and responsibilities for every project.
Setting roles and responsibilities for every process (that may be used across multiple projects).
Routinely communicating roles and responsibilities (instead of assuming everyone knows and understands them).
Maintaining accountability.
Continuously reviewing and updating responsibilities as needed.
Making sure that someone has the authority to make a decision.There are several tools and methodologies for accomplishing this, including creating a RACI (responsible / accountable / consulted / informed) matrix.A common argument is that people do not have the time for such definition. However, that is one of the benefits of doing so: to eliminate all of the time wasted because people do not understand everyone’s role. Additional benefits include:Understanding who has the authority to make a decision.
Preventing competing activities.
Knowing who to keep informed.
Implementing proper accountability.If your projects seem to be slowly spinning out of control, defining roles and responsibilities may be a good place to start.Implementing Accountability
Aviation does not assume that everyone is following the standardized processes and maintaining their responsibility. It implements accountability measures to ensure that this is the case.Pilots are required to attend training regularly where they learn new procedures, but they are also evaluated to ensure they are following proper procedures and have maintained a proper skill level. It doesn’t stop there. New pilots initially fly with an instructor pilot to ensure they are following what their training taught them. All pilots must occasionally fly with a check airman who evaluates the pilot’s performance in real-world operations. Captains hold First Officers accountable for following proper procedures.When procedures are not properly followed, there is a clear course of action. That may be as serious as action from the FAA, or dismissal, or perhaps a visit to the airline’s chief pilot’s office.Accountability is sometimes a bad word in project management but it is equally important. If people are not held accountable for following standardized procedures, how valuable are the procedures? Not very. If you are trying to implement predictable outcomes, how can you predict the outcome of a series of activities where people are not accountable to perform those activities in any sort of predictable fashion? You cannot.Accountability provides many benefits to project management as it does to aviation:It provides a clear view of what is expected of everyone.
It provides a clear understanding of what happens when the expectation is not met.
It ensures that activities are performed in a predictable fashion, thus contributing to a predictable outcome.Employ Effective Training
Most people assume that the pilots that are flying their airliner have been properly trained, but they do not give it any more thought. The fact is that training is a huge part of the aviation paradigm and for good reason. Who wants to go on a flight with their family and put their lives in the hands of poorly trained pilots? There are a couple of key facets of aviation training that stand out:
Training is continuous.
Training is comprehensive and diverse.We often view training as a one time event in project management. We train on a new system or to get a certain certification or learn a certain methodology. In aviation, training is a continuous part of the culture to create a safe, predictable outcome.Pilots go through weeks of training when they first hire on with an airline. After that initial intense training, they perform additional training through on the job supervision and one on one training. It does not stop there. At least once a year, pilots are required to attend extensive classroom and simulator training.The continuous training they undergo is also comprehensive and diverse in scope. It is not focused on a single area, such as technology or how to fly an airplane. Training includes at a minimum the following aspects:
Training on policies.
Training on standardized procedures.
Training on rules and regulations.
Training on roles and responsibilities.
Training on cockpit resource management (how to work better together).
Training on how to fly the airplane (skills).
Training on how to utilize the technology in the cockpit.
Training on the aircraft systems of the aircraft they will fly.
Training on contingencies.Our training in project management is often a single event or is focused on technology instead of on ensuring that everyone has the knowledge and skills to create a predictable outcome for the organization.Applying the experience of aviation, our project management training should turn into a continuous program. That does not mean it needs to always be formal training, but it does not to be continuously intentional.Training also needs to cover the following essential areas:
Training on the organization’s standardized processes and how to follow them.
Training on roles and responsibilities.
Training on skills (how to be a good project manager or team member).
Training on the technology that will be used to accomplish the processes and predictable outcomes.You cannot expect a predictable outcome if you do not regularly train people to create that predictable outcome.Utilize Proper Tools and Technology
There was an article in a recent aviation periodical that referred to a newer generation airliner as a “650,000 pound laptop.” This referred to the fact that there is a lot of technology in today’s airline cockpits. In fact, when a pilot moves to a new airplane, much of the training is not on how to fly the airplane but on the technology and aircraft systems that need to be mastered.Aviation uses technology to perform a number of support roles such as providing situational awareness during each phase in flight, and performing routine tasks that can be automated.If we take this lesson in the perspective of what we have learned so far, it should also be recognized that utilizing tools and technology is an important but balanced part of the predictability of aviation. This simply means that:Technology is not put off as not important to the overall goal of predictable outcomes.
Technology is also not overly emphasized over other aspects such as creating standardized processes.There are clear lessons to learn in project management. Too often in project management we either focus too much on the tools and not the processes, or we focus on the processes but use poor tools such as spreadsheets. Either way, it is hard to create an environment of predictable outcomes.Specifically in project management we need to use the right tools that:Support our standardized processes.
Provide situational awareness.
Provide up to date information that the organization needs.
Provides insight into problems.
Automates things that can easily be automated.
Provides data from which to learn and improve processes.Technology in the right context and usage provides another pillar from which to create those predictable outcomes.ConclusionAviation has already learned through much experience (some good and some not so good) the important lessons of how to create predictable outcomes and manage inherent risk. It provides a good source of information that can be applied to our project management practices. Specifically, project management needs to:Implement predictable and standardized processes
Define roles and responsibilities
Implement accountability
Employ effective training
Utilize Proper Tools and TechnologyWhile certainly not an extensive list of the lessons that can be learned, these provide a good starting point to create the predictable processes in project management that our organizations today desperately need.

Digital Marketing – Revolutionized Marketing and Different Innovative Strategies

Digital Marketing is much like modern architecture in many ways. It is the way of the world and these guidelines are just a start to get your business off on the right foot. Mastering digital marketing isn’t a cakewalk. According to the Digital Marketing Institute, it is the required result of digital channels to promote or market products and services to consumers and businesses. It believed to be wavering these days as many companies that once used the old style of marketing are now going digital. It is essential in today’s world that a company which exists physically, must exist digitally as well. It is believed that existing digitally enhances advertising process. There exist a different and more approachable digital marketing tools like web designing, pay-per-click marketing, SMS, and email marketing. The following article will educate you in not one but many ways.Direct marketing and advertising is an advertising in which companies offer physical marketing and advertising materials to consumers to communicate details about a service or product. Inbound marketing can likewise be an essential tool in the continuing retention of present customers, by creating communication with those customers and enabling business to engage with other customers by giving informative, educational result together with product promotions. While outbound marketing could reach a larger audience, additionally, it runs the danger of barring uninterested consumers also. If you prefer to do better marketing without harming your finances, direct marketing will probably be somewhat decent for you. Second, content promotion is a pull, instead of a push, strategy. To the contrary, it is a refreshingly new concept in marketing which provides a unique comprehension of consumer behaviour.Content can typically be about a service or a product, it might be item, price, service charges or the selling of digital products like books, movies or software. It is something that helps in relaying old customers and thereby helps in pulling traffic from popular search engines. The very first and most crucial issue is quality content, try using attractive words that could connect nicely with readers. Step one on any advertising (or indeed, marketing) campaign needs to be to recognize the aims and goals of the campaign and the way they fit into the aims and goals of the business all around. Digital advertising and marketing campaigns will need to rely on these limits to be prosperous. Together with creating great advertising text (copy), you may want to study the way you can earn a corporation’s marketing campaigns visually appealing, through the usage of banners, images, videos and more.Although these facts may be true, but sometimes it gets difficult to do all these techniques in the company. Therefore, known and recognized companies and firms may hire a digital marketing agency to do on behalf of them. Most renowned digital marketing agency may not only offer quality and dependable benefits, also they have a digital marketing and advertising strategist which may help plan the most helpful campaigns. To be successful in today’s day, companies need to continuously create new content that doesn’t only get them found but also lets them capture leads. Soon it won’t be enough for businesses to understand what you might want. All businesses wish to strengthen their relationship with clients and prospects. Now everyone is aware of what the business is shooting for. It is essential that businesses optimize their online properties effectively to be able to get to the top of the entire important search engine result page.Even though many mistake digital for internet, to their surprise online marketing is only a part of the huge digital marketing framework. In a broader sense, the net is the centre of digital marketing. It has made easier for marketing managers to measure the results of a campaign. Since you can see the internet is by far not the only spot for marketers to assemble success, even in past couple of years. The web and the world have brought in an entire new perception of the advertising market. Thus, if you need to effectively advertise your business on the internet then seek the services of a renowned digital advertising company at the earliest.

Social Media Marketing Is a Joke – It’s Time We Admit It

The only hope: let’s go back to its roots.The best thing that ever happened to social media marketing was the hacking of the 2016 US election of Donal Trump by the Russians. Why? Because it laid bare what many in social media marketing has known for a long, long time: that social media platforms are a joke, their valuations are based on imaginary users, and their integrity lies somewhere between Lucifer and that guy who eats people’s faces in the movies.For marketing consultants such as myself, recommending existing social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has been increasingly difficult, because -quite frankly- many of us don’t trust the metrics.And why should we? Facebook doesn’t.This is from Facebook’s 2017 SEC filing (emphasis mine):The numbers for our key metrics, which include our daily active users (DAUs), monthly active users (MAUs), and average revenue per user (ARPU), are calculated using internal company data based on the activity of user accounts. While these numbers are based on what we believe to be reasonable estimates of our user base for the applicable period of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring usage of our products across large online and mobile populations around the world.The largest data management company in the world says it doesn’t really know if its numbers are accurate. Estimates? What marketing professional wants estimated results after the fact?It gets worse. Emphasis mine:In the fourth quarter of 2017, we estimate that duplicate accounts may have represented approximately 10% of our worldwide MAUs. We believe the percentage of duplicate accounts is meaningfully higher in developing markets such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as compared to more developed markets. In the fourth quarter of 2017, we estimate that false accounts may have represented approximately 3-4% of our worldwide MAUs.Let that sink in. Facebook is admitting that “approximately” 10% of its monthly active users are fake. Interestingly, they don’t mention what percentage of their daily active users are fake.And that’s the problem with social media. You don’t know what’s real and what’s fake anymore.Social media hasn’t been real for a while.As marketers and advertisers, we pride ourselves on accuracy. In the olden times of marketing and advertising, we obsessed over rating numbers of tv shows, readership for print promotions, and delivery success rates for direct mail.In all cases, the platforms of the day were heavily audited. You knew, with fair certainty, was the audiences were for any particular medium or channel because there was usually a point of review somewhere for the numbers.Traditional media such as radio, TV, and print had been around long enough that there were thousands of case studies one could study the success or failures of individual campaigns. Because these mediums were part of the public record, it was easy to work backward to see what mix of media and budget worked and what didn’t.As an industry, we could quickly establish benchmarks for success – not just based on our personal experiences- but in the collective experiences of very clear strategies laid bare for everyone to dissect.Well, that all went out the window with social media.Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram’s numbers were always a joke.In days of yore, company valuation was based on revenues, assets, and human capital, and performance.That all changed when someone came up with the concept of “daily active users.”The race to gain users became the driving force for social media platforms in a way that we’ve never seen before. Now, the obsession with user growth opened the door to advertising and marketing fraud on a scale that just wasn’t possible previously.Let’s get something clear: any platform that allows for people to create thousands of fake profiles so others can buy likes, followers, retweets, or shares is toxic to advertisers and brands alike.Now, I understand that the word “allows” is doing a lot of work in that sentence, so let me expand a bit what I mean.I don’t think I’ll get many arguments when I say that -regardless of what I think of them- the most successful social media platforms on the planet are also some of the most sophisticated technological enterprises on the planet. They have -arguably- some of the best AI around, as their entire business models revolve around being able to crunch numbers, facts, and obscure pieces of data millions of times a second.They are also massive corporations, with an army of lawyers and IP bulldogs waiting to protect their brand against any hostile outside forces.So explain to me, how is it, that even after all we have seen in the news people can still buy Facebook likes, or Twitter followers, or Instagram fans?The reason: it was always a scam. And we got conned along with everyone else.If your company is valued on your number of users and the activity of those users on your platform, what do you care if they are fake or not? If you did, you’d hire an armada of auditors to ensure the integrity of your userbase. I don’t believe they ever did and will never do this.Social platforms deploy their honey trap.Initially, social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter lured brands and companies onto their platforms with promises of free marketing and advertising. The ability to quickly grow a fanbase and follower base, without the need of hiring marketing shmucks like me. Why waste time on hiring a professional when you can do it all yourself for nothing?At first, I was a supporter of this. I believed that marketing and advertising was often something that only larger companies could afford, and that small business marketing was being left behind. Social media marketing allowed for even a mom and pop shop to compete online.So many businesses spent countless hours and thousands of dollars in human resources to grow their followers online.Having lured them into their honey trap, social media companies then held followers and fans hostages. You had to pay to have access to the userbase that you built up and cultivated.Suddenly the numbers didn’t make any sense. You had to pay to promote or boost posts when previously it was free. The result was disastrous for many businesses. The ROI’s didn’t add up, but with so many of their customers on these platforms, they had little choice but to continue to try and get whatever value they could for them.Moreover, the move to such promotions opened up the Pandora’s box to further abuses. The drive for revenue seemingly caused social platforms to continue to look the other way on fake profiles and social media bots because they drove ad sales. Personal data was harvested and manipulated in ways that users could not fathom and did not agree to.Mostly, it did something to marketing that I’m not sure we can recover. For many digital marketing firms and marketing agencies, it forced us to down the Kool-aid with everyone else. People that should have known better doubled down on social media marketing for our clients when we knew -for most of them- it was unnecessary.Marketing and advertising agencies became accomplices after the fact.Like I said earlier, marketing and advertising agencies and consultants are supposed to obsess with accuracy. We want our clients to have the very best ROI available.However, like professionals in any business vertical, we’re self-serving.One of my favourite examples of how people who would know better will say anything for a buck is real estate agents.Have you EVER heard a real estate agent tell you it’s a wrong time to buy a house? In all of my days, I have never read an article by a real estate agent saying that people should hold off on a purchase. House prices going up? A great time to buy; you’ll make your money back immediately! House prices going down? It’s a buyers market! Lock in your savings now!Marketing and advertising professionals did something similar with social media marketing.We saw the platforms’ rise in popularity and didn’t want to get caught in a lurch. The buzz was building behind them, and clients were often demanding us to help them. So -even though Facebook and Twitter were mostly unproven with little to no actual case studies to speak of- many firms told their clients to throw money into the black hole of social.What was the result? The majority of social media campaigns are disasters. I only know of a fraction of companies that continue with any seriousness on social media compared to the rates companies did with traditional advertising or even SEO and non-social digital ads.You see it in the positioning. When digital marketers talk about social media, they discuss it regarding “reach,” “exposure,” “presence,” “awareness.” That’s code word for “throw your money away.” Do an online search of the effectiveness of social media, and you will find the results filled with SEO and social media marketers praising the platforms and the strategies.Real marketers talk about ROI. Impact on sales, and impact on lead generation. You can’t pay the rent on brand awareness. I’m saying this as someone who builds brands for a living.And it’s not just me saying this. One of the largest brands in the world, Proctor & Gamble, gutted their ad budget and walked away from a host of agencies because of digital advertising and marketing fraud.Social sharing has been automated to death:According to Buzzsumo, average social shares per article had declined by 50 percent in 2017 in comparison to 2015. Their data also shows how fast most hot topics become saturated with articles, leading to only a relatively few winners getting the majority of the societal shares and hyperlinks.Another found that, that bots automate nearly two-thirds -66%- of all HTML links posted on Twitter.Again, if social media platforms truly valued their user-experience and cared about social being social, they would have banned such practices years ago. No more social automation. If you want to engage with your fans and followers, you have to be there for them. You have to be live, online, ready to connect.However, bots are good for business. They boost their daily active user accounts; they make their platforms look more popular than they are. Bots post content, bots like content, bots share content, bots follow people, bots message people -it’s endless.Bots account for an ungodly 52% of internet traffic in 2017. That number is only set to rise further as social media continues to be an arms race. Caught in the middle of all of this are businesses who think their digital marketing metrics have any meaning.Your Influencer isn’t that influential.I’m a firm believer in influencer marketing because I believe it is a natural extension of relationship marketing. People will buy from people they trust and will accept the suggestions of people they like.However, with the growth of online influencers, things have taken a turn for the surreal.First off, many fans and followers of social media influencers are as fake as anything. Social media bots follow celebrities as a means to spam their pages and/or a means to scrape a list of people to spam later with content.Secondly, as marketers and advertisers, we are supposed to care about accuracy. But the ability to verify the fan base of an influencer is almost impossible within the platforms. You have to go to third-party apps to try and get any real understanding of the legitimacy. Moreover, even then, you are at the mercy of the third-party to provide you with accurate data. Should Instagram decide to shut down the API to these applications, you will have no idea how popular your influencer is.The future of social media: live, direct, and transparent.The way to solve the social media problem we’re facing today is simple: social media was great when it was social and personal. A return to the basics is needed.No more automationIf you don’t have the time or the energy or the interest actually to ENGAGE with human beings, then social media is not for you. What’s more, you’re not for social media.Automation should stop. Period. Let’s return to a more natural engagement between brands, companies, customers and leads. Human interaction is the most powerful driver of revenue and sales, as is the best metric for the real value of a platform.See and be seenThe use of live video to establish authenticity in an age where everything is anonymous will be a dominant driver of change in the next five years. Instead of hiding behind memes, and curated content, companies should leverage influencers and their employees to champion their brands. Reconnect with the basics: one-to-one or one-to-many communications.The revolt of investorsI genuinely believe that the majority of social media firms have fudged the books when it comes to their userbase, activity, and popularity. It’s time for investors to demand third-party audits of the data before the entire house of card falls on people’s heads.Look, I’m a marketing consultant. I enjoy using social media. It allows me to stay in touch with the people and the brands I care about most in the world. But at the heart of it is a flaw -a glitch in the Matrix- that needs to be sorted out.There’s a bubble out there, and social media firms that allow for fake profiles and anonymous users are at the heart of it.

Short, Intermediate, And Longer – Term Impacts On Home Sales, When Rates Rise!

For many reasons, some, economic, while others, related to the pandemic – related, so – called, fatigue, etc, home prices, in most areas, have gone up, at, or, near, record amounts! Because of the prolonged period of artificially – created, low – interest rates, mortgage rates, have been at historic lows! Since, for most home buyers, using financing is essential to affording a purchase, when a low rate, causes cheap money, and, thus, the ability to afford more home – for – the – buck, prices usually rise! It permits qualified buyers to qualify for more money/ loan, because the ratio of monthly mortgage, to overall income, is artificially – reduced! How long will this trend continue, will it become the new – normal, will previous trends/ cycles return, and how will pricing be affected, in the immediate, intermediate, and longer – run, are, all factors, to consider! With, that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, some possibilities, to consider, and understand.

1. Short – term: Since, the Federal Reserve Bank, announced, they planned to raise rates, three times in 2022 (of course, this was before the potential implications, and ramifications, from the Omicron variant), many feel pressure, to act quickly, to take advantage of today’s low rates, before they go up! Three increases will probably translate to, at least, a 0.75% higher rate, which will translate, for most mortgages, to hundreds of extra dollars, per month. Some things to consider, and pay attention to, is, this rate of increased home prices, will, probably, not continue, especially, at such a large degree! How longer one, expects to keep a specific house, is, one issue, to consider, thoroughly, and wisely, before proceeding!

2. Intermediate – term: Although, many believe, to – know, the precise timing of any projected rate – hike, is uncertain! The Fed has changed, and/ or, altered its strategies and approaches, in the past, What the intermediate – term, may bring, including potential inflationary pressures, how long the economic conditions, and unknown factors, related to the pandemic, etc, will determine, largely, what this phase, may bring! In addition, the attitude, and perceptions of buyers, and their confidence, etc, largely impact this real estate market!

3. Longer – term: In the longer – run, will things, restore, to what we have seen, so often, in the past, which is, alternating cycles, between, Sellers, Buyers, and Neutral Markets? The possibilities, include: a continued large escalation; a more – gradual, but persistent – one; some leveling; and/ or, will we see, at least, in certain areas, some sort of falling prices, for a period.

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