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Do You Know What You Don't Know?

The Harvard Business Review is an esteemed business publication. They offer a very well written Blog that covers a wide array of topics. Some of the ones that I seem to find interesting deal with Psychology and Cognitive Science. Business is nothing more than applied psychology. It involves human behavior, both as individuals and in groups. I like reading some of the science behind why we behave (management) and act (or buy = marketing). I just read two articles that, although unrelated, seemed to come together for me. Call me crazy, but I hope you read on!

The first article was titled "Do You Know What You Don't Know?" When you really ask people, it is amazing how much we don't know. The author used an example of how does a zipper work? We all use them quite successfully, but don't understand the mechanics of it. It is the same with buzz words and jargon. "Streamlining our processes" may make sense to many, but when you ask what it really means, we differ in our opinion.

Psychologists call this the illusion of explanatory depth. We think we know what we know, but we really don't have the depth of knowledge that leads to understanding.

The second article was titled When Choosing a Job, Culture Matters. As that title suggests, the author (not a Psychologist, but a Business Professor) talks how important it is to understand the organization's culture to understand how well you'd fit in as a new employee. What is the organization's purpose? How do they get things done and work together to achieve this?

Both of these need to come together when evaluating aircraft for an organization. You need to understand the culture of your organization and to examine what your boss/client thinks they know about the aviation function.

The corporate culture can be one that values innovation and efficiency. Do they focus on growing the company by getting and keeping customers? An organization such as this might tend to value to mission effectiveness of the business aircraft: get there quick, get home quick. So when discussing the merits of the business aircraft with them, focus on how the business aircraft matches up with their culture and how well the aircraft accomplishes the mission.

What if they culture is one that focuses on controlling and cutting costs, being careful with every dollar spent? They probably are fiscally conservative. While they may see "value" in the business aircraft, they may be much more focused in on the costs rather than mission effectiveness. In this case, the business aircraft decision will be guided primarily by the total costs.

In both instances, the company must see a value in having an aircraft. But how that value is perceived can be different.

Knowing what you don't know? In the case for business aircraft, there isn't room enough to go into every instance of how we in aviation misunderstand the Senior Executives and them, us! But, when communicating about the aircraft, its capabilities, and costs, we need to have an understanding of the fact that we may not have all the information about the business to understand why they make the decision that they do. And they don't understand the aircraft as much as we might believe. So we need to do our best to explore the gaps in knowledge and be open to new concepts. Do not assume just because the CEO had an aircraft at their former company that they understand crew rest, maximum range, and sales and use taxes on the plane.

When we are working with a client regarding their options for an aircraft, or with the aviation department in their justification for a replacement of the current aircraft, it helps to understand not only their measurable requirements such as payload, trip length, etc. but to also understand their culture and depth of knowledge about business aviation.

Oh, how does a zipper work?

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The mission of Conklin & de Decker is to furnish the general aviation industry with objective and impartial information in the form of professionally developed and supported products and services, enabling its clients to save time and money while making more informed decisions when dealing with the purchase and operation of aircraft.

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