Here is a riddle: Six blind men were surrounding a large object in the middle of the room. Each man could feel a part of the object and felt certain that he knew what was in front of him. The first man spoke out, “It is tall and rough. Most certainly it is a wall.”
“Oh no—it is long, pointed and smooth. It must be a sword,” said the 2nd blind man. “From my perspective, it feels like a snake,” replied the 3rd blind man. “How can it be a snake, sword or wall when it is shaped as round and sturdy as a tree trunk?” asked the 4th man who was also blind. The 5th and 6th blind men were just as certain as the previous men. One thought it is was a fan and the last was sure that it was a rope.
What was the object? This is from an Indian parable about the Six Blind Men and The Elephant which was also made famous in John G. Saxe’s poem of the same name. So what does this have to do with aviation, airports and organizations?
Traditional dynamics of many organizations too often are influenced by the ‘silo’ effect where activities for different departments are shaped by the specific demands placed on that department. There may be a lack of communication and support across departments/job functions. Many times the goals of one department (or job function) in an organization may even conflict with the goals of another department. For example, Sales and Service departments in a traditional organization—the Sales department’s main goal might be to make the sale. The Service department’s goal to provide exceptional service could be more difficult (and possibly in conflict) depending on the promises made by the sales department.
If different departments or job functions are looking toward varying goals, there is inevitably going to be conflict. Organizations that provide the “big picture” for their employees and work with all team members to understand the common goals of the organization will be successful in the same way that a sports team will have a better chance at winning the match if all players understand where the goal is; how to get to the goal; and what their part is in reaching the goal.
Some methods for achieving that ‘one-pageness’ in an organization might include: interdepartmental workshops, regular interdepartmental meetings, surveys of different organization team members with comparison of results, “walk a day in their shoes” programs, and interdepartmental service mapping.