Scheduling: The New ‘Strategic Nexus’
It is no secret that for aviation businesses scheduling is an important part of their daily operations. Take flight schools, for example, most of what flight schools do is deal with scheduling, rescheduling, and cancellations of flight training sessions. Flight schools in aviation businesses implicitly understand the importance of scheduling to their businesses And try to make a concerted effort to control and improve the scheduling process. So much so that over the past 20 years they’ve been a myriad of scheduling software, some computer-based, while others online — sometimes called online schedulers — that have been created to meet this demand.
Notwithstanding this, flight schools and aviation businesses many times underestimate the importance of scheduling. Seeing scheduling as just another thing to be done — a sideshow — in the entire operational structure. Some businesses even see scheduling as a supporting framework, and therefore might not be giving it the priority and prominence that it deserves.
In this article, we are going to talk about scheduling from a different perspective than what is generally viewed by flight schools in aviation businesses. It is hoped that this discussion will give a fresh perspective on the importance of scheduling, redefine the importance of scheduling, and provide a new lens with which businesses can use when dealing with scheduling and allow them to better pursue and achieve growth and profitability goals.
- Scheduling redefined: For decades flight schools in aviation businesses have seen scheduling as just another part of the business performing an ancillary role to some other part(s). Now we re-define what scheduling really is not only ideologically but in its entirety, even going as far as changing its phraseology.
- Strategic Nexus: The strategic Nexus in the new flight school or aviation business is that part of the business that was formerly known as scheduling, or mere operations. Strategic Nexus identifies a unifying framework, and set of processes that allows for all the various parts of a flight school or aviation business to focus its unique advantages at a point of leverage which engenders real competitive advantage.
- Competitive advantage: Competitive advantage lies in differences and asymmetry between a flight school or aviation business and its competition. The strategic Nexus is the focal point for this competitive advantage.
As implied by the introduction, flight schools in aviation businesses generally see scheduling as just a sideshow, and generally not part of the overall operation of the business. This section aims to show the mistake in this way of thinking about scheduling in two ways. First, redefining scheduling, and second, by putting it in its rightful place within the flight school or aviation business, business model, and operating structure.
For flight schools and aviation businesses to think about scheduling in a way that improves their ability to achieve their growth and profitability goals, then scheduling must be redefined not as an ancillary or supporting function but as the core of the entire business operation. Once scheduling is redefined this way it can be accurately seen as the hub of the entire business with various spokes running off to the other ‘supporting’ arms of the business. This may seem strange to a lot of aviation business operators since other parts of the business are sometimes considered the core of the business based on business models, management styles, or just senior leadership or board members’ preferences.
Furthermore, once management places scheduling at the center of the business then the very word scheduling will need to be replaced with a more appropriate phraseology, Strategic Nexus — which better reflects the role that this part of the organization plays in the overall success of the business. Once this transition is made both ideologically and practically, strategically it is easy to see the grand role that Strategic Nexus plays in the business’s success.
The Strategic Nexus
Now that we’ve introduced this new framework let us give a formal definition of what the Strategic Nexus is.
The Strategic Nexus is that unifying part of the flight school or an aviation business that is not ancillary but with which every other part of the business is supporting and is plugged into for the greatest strategic punch and competitive advantage. Put another way, the Strategic Nexus is that functional part of the business without which there would be no real competitive advantage and in some cases no business.
The Strategic Nexus and Competitive Advantage
Once understood and acted upon appropriately, flight schools in aviation businesses will realize that the Strategic Nexus is the source of their core competitive advantage. No doubt the word competitive advantage has been so misused that most business operators may not fully understand the meaning of competitive advantage in its truest form.
In its simplest form, competitive advantage means that in the realm of competing with a competitor, one has an upper hand through having something, a person(s), a process(es), knowledge, or a combination thereof, that the competitor(s) does not. In essence, competitive advantage lies in ASYMMETRY. You have something they do not have.
Therefore, it goes without saying that any software, technology, process, persons, or information that is readily accessible to the competition can NEVER be an advantage, let alone a competitive advantage.
Now, the simplest way to build competitive advantage is to look at what’s unique within the flight school or aviation business that can be used as leverage in dealing with one’s competitors in the market space. With this understanding of what the Strategic Nexus is, then flight schools in aviation businesses understand that the competitive advantage in their business will never come from a piece of technology such as the latest and greatest in scheduling software, but from the core competencies and unique traits of the business that is differentiated from the competition, and that can be effectively leveraged against the competition.
After reading through the above, the natural question is to ask: “How can the Strategic Nexus build a competitive advantage?”. Once the flight school or aviation business understands the true purpose of the Strategic Nexus then the business can start infusing its unique business model traits, core competencies, and other components that will drive the asymmetry between it and its competitors.
Leveraging the Strategic Nexus
The Strategic Nexus of a flight school or aviation business can be effectively leveraged and put to work in a way that improves the business’s competitive advantage by understanding and acting upon the following:
Strategic Nexus as the strategy delivery vehicle: It is very important for a business to understand that the Strategic Nexus is the strategy delivery vehicle. When thoroughly thought through, flight schools and aviation businesses will understand that this is where the rubber meets the road. If we have accurately defined the Strategic Nexus as that part of the business that is the focal point for achieving the business goals and objectives and without that part of the business there may very well be no business, then also businesses must understand that the Strategic Nexus is that part of the business where the various strategies and sometimes even tactics are delivered into the marketplace. This means that when strategies are being developed with regards to achieving certain growth or profitability objectives they must be developed with the Strategic Nexus in mind, and how those strategies will be delivered through the Strategic Nexus to the paying client or customer, has the desired effect in the market space, and the desired outcome with regards to growth or profitability.
Strategic Nexus is the focal point of business objectives: As mentioned above the Strategic Nexus is where the rubber meets the road. Therefore, it is the focal point for any objective. For example, in the past, the Strategic Nexus (old scheduling) was seen as merely supportive of areas such as business development through client acquisition and delivering the service(s) to the client. With this new view of the Strategic Nexus being the focal point of business objective, then it is the other departments and roles within the business that are supportive and ancillary to the Strategic Nexus. This means that human resources, marketing and customer acquisition, finance, resource management, maintenance, etc. are now seen as ancillary and supportive to the Strategic Nexus. Further down will discuss the fact that the Strategic Nexus blends all of these functions together.
Strategic Nexus is the business: As stated above all departments, processes, and key functions within the flight school or aviation business are ancillary and supportive to the Strategic Nexus. What must also be stated here is that the Strategic Nexus fuses and blends all of these into one smooth streamlined operation. This means that departments are not seen as separate from the Strategic Nexus, they are seen as one with the Strategic Nexus, and whatever tools and processes are used are used in a unifying way to bring efficacy and the greatest amount of leverage to the Strategic Nexus vis-à-vis the market space and competition.
Tools and processes that support the Strategic Nexus: No doubt there will need to be particular tools and processes that support the Strategic Nexus in its unified approach to bring the greatest amount of competitive advantage in the operation of any flight school or aviation business. The current status quo is to have various tools, particularly for scheduling, resource management, finance, and other key areas of the business. Now that the Strategic Nexus is better understood, one realizes that this patchwork of tools that particularly don’t communicate well with each other and we’re never built to work together will never help to create a competitive advantage. They remain exactly what they are, tools.
The tools of the Strategic Nexus and the processes that go into using these tools must be one of a unifying nature, where all departments, processes, and functions of the business are on one unifying platform and process framework that allows for smooth and easy communication between these various parts and allow for greater focus of any strategy or objective being delivered through the Strategic Nexus.
From the above discussion we can see that the Strategic Nexus is not just another arm of the business, and to leverage it we must think about flight schools and aviation businesses and their core area of operations in a new way. Only then can we have the clarity and strategic insight to reformulate the business not around some homogeneous and generic software or process, but around the core competencies and unique traits of that business that creates the greatest amount of competitive advantage.
What makes the Strategic Nexus so effective?
From a strategic and objective achieving perspective;
the Strategic Nexus is most effective because it blends and fuses all the various departments and processes within a flight school or aviation business by allowing them to operate with laser focus at a point of potential force and advantage.
This means that all departments finance, scheduling and dispatch, training, resource management and maintenance, human resources, marketing, customer acquisition, and yes, scheduling, are blended into an overall gestalt of a unique framework that is fused with the unique characteristics of the business that can be leveraged into a competitive advantage. This creates a power punch in a truly competitive advantage that is very difficult to defend against, and more difficult to duplicate, effectively creating a moat around the business.
Strategic Nexus, Now.
As a market segment for flight schools and aviation businesses becomes more intense and competitive, it is clear that for a flight school to succeed and not exist in a feast and famine framework, constantly slugging it out in a bloody ocean of competition, these businesses will need to rethink how they conduct their business and to slowly step away from the traditional way of operating. In the process, flight schools and aviation businesses will open up new uncharted frontiers of value because they have been fusing their unique way of operating that appeals to newer customers and clients, in effect carving out fresh territory for them to control.
Knowing how slow flight schools and aviation businesses are to adopt new ways of operating one may erroneously think that all this argument about Strategic Nexus is utopian. However, this view is myopic. The competition in the aviation training space, in particular, will become so strong that flight schools will seek out new ways on their own to face off the competition, the ideas lead forth in this article are simply giving these businesses a leg up to make that move in a way that is unique to each one of these businesses that take that approach. In the process, opening up vast arrays of freshly created frontiers in the market segments.
Thank you for reading this week’s On Aviation™ full article. Do you believe that flight schools in aviation businesses should start thinking about scheduling in the ways laid out in this article? Please share your thoughts in the comments below and remember to continue the conversation on our Twitter and Instagram.
Orlando — On Aviation™