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Weren't advances in EFIS, FMS, and autopilot systems the primary cause for removal of the flight engineer?

Joe MacNish

Unfortunately, instead of making a "decision that fits the evidence", with some leadership it's more often a case of "fitting the evidence to a decision".

I wonder if the study looked at any other metrics than traffic conflicts. There have been several news stories lately about airline pilot errors, it seems to me that if having a 3rd pilot to provide breaks would lower that incident rate.

Kevin Rutkowski

I do wonder if there is any benefit to having a third pilot in an emergency situation. I could easily run a study that demonstrates that over a specific period of time, a business ran just as well with or without insurance. That would not indicate that insurance wasn't useful.

I suppose that there may be other evidence that shows that the plane can be safely flown by one pilot in the event that one pilot is incapacitated and that it is nearly impossible for two pilots to be incapacitated at the same time.

I am glad to see an evidence based decision in this case, though!

Ralph Salier-Hellendag

As a business anthropologist, I've known that "team work" really does work and has been shown for millenia. As human beings we generally only survive as a result of team work. So when problems arise, the multiple minds approach to solving it is generally the best solution.


Gasp. You mean organizations actually utilize studies? Props to United on this one.

By the way, it's good to see you posting regularly again. I'd missed you for awhile.

Bob Sutton


Thanks for the comment.

I certainly agree that management often uses consultants to confirm their biases. It can be smart politically, of course, because when it fails you can blame the consultant and when it succeeds you can take credit. In this case, however, the opposing parties both agreed on an outsider, and to me, what was especially key was that they used real evidence. That is what is different about it.



I guess in this instance the third eye had no hidden agenda or motive. What they observed and reported was what it was in reality.

However, many times, management would find a consultant who would say things to support the management's ideas. Saying what the client wants to hear rather than what the real issue or matter is in not uncommon to gain future projects as well.

Furthermore, in many instances, it is frequent that the employees themselves already know the answer but management refuses to accept their answer unless and until some expensive Ivy-League trained consultants repeats the same.

I guess the key is, listening is skill many have forsaken when they reach the top!

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