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  • Writer's pictureWylde International

Poor communication can cause plane crashes. So, how much harm can it do to your strategy?



Malcolm Gladwell Quote: “The kinds of errors that cause plane crashes are invariably errors of teamwork and communication.”


In Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers, he points out that “Typical plane crashes are caused by seven consecutive human errors.” The puzzling thing is that the seven mistakes are almost never connected to knowledge or flying prowess; instead, teamwork and communication mistakes are almost always the ones that result in plane crashes.


On January 25, 1990, Avianca flight 052 was attempting to land at John F. Kennedy International Airport when it ran out of fuel. There have been reports that communication issues were at the heart of this catastrophe.


Avianca 052 was kept in a holding pattern while waiting to land because of the poor weather on that day. Despite the fact that the first officer informed the Air Traffic Control (ATC) of the fuel problem, his use of mitigated speech and incorrect terms caused the ATC to misjudge the severity of the situation. Out of the 158 aboard, the airplane tragically crushed and killed a total of 73 people.


Avianca 052's disaster holds valuable lessons for both pilots and businesses. Communication and teamwork are crucial not only for aviation safety but also for the successful implementation of any organization’s strategy.


The importance of communication in strategy is undeniable, but at the most fundamental level is the clarity of the communication. Steve Jobs at the time of designing the iPhone was very clear about his vision. He was relentless about a device with only a single button and he made this very clear no matter how improbable the team thought that was at the time. Clear-cut communication is imperative in the realization of any SME’s vision.


At its core, a strategy plan should only concentrate on the elements most important to the long-term viability of the SME. The factors which are most critical to the success of the SME. The 20 that gives effect to the 80. Every business model's success depends on correctly identifying and implementing its Critical Success Factors. Strategy is essentially deciding what not to do. Secondly, it ought to be easy to grasp for every employee. Communication should be tailored to the target audience's level of understanding and create excitement for the strategy. It's important for SMEs to adopt a combination of different communication strategies. Additionally, it's critical to have open channels of communication for feedback and to immediately address any problems or inquiries that could arise. By ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal through an efficient communication strategy, the likelihood of success can drastically improve.


Only through people can an organization's vision and plan be brought to life and put into action, yet without clear and effective communication, this is impossible. Any organization's success depends on effective communication. Goals can be achieved, tasks can be accomplished effectively, and everyone can be on the same page with clear and succinct communication. Conversely, a failure to communicate clearly can result in misconceptions, uncertainty, and ultimately, a failure to carry out an organization's strategy.

In Jay Elliot’s The Steve Jobs Way he points out that “You won’t get people working for you fired up with enthusiasm unless you’re fired up yourself… and you let everyone know it"

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