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October 2016 Quarterly Newsletter

For those not on our circulation list, this is a link to our latest newsletter. It discusses GADSS (the Flight Tracking Initiative) as well as eEnablement and also fills in a few gaps about Closed Loop.

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Closed Loop Consulting Principal appointed Chairman of Aircraft Commerce eEnablement conference. Captain Michael Bryan, Principal and CEO of Closed Loop Consulting was proud to be appointed Chairman and Convenor of the inaugural e-enablement conference. Michaels's opening and closing speeches are available on the respective links. Hosted in London on the 1st and 2nd of October 2013, and attended by key industry representatives, the conference framed the definition and possibilities driven by e-enablement. There was a crystallising moment at the conference where it was recognised by delegates that when strategically conceived and well-implemented, 'e-Enablement' delivers considerably enhanced opportunities to the basic flight deck, pilot centric, capabilities of EFB alone. These capabilities can be leveraged vertically through airlines as well as horizontally across subsidiaries and alliances. Well-implemented, such programmes deliver considerable strategic, operational, financial and shared intelligence advantages to an airline. This conference split with tradition and ratified a communique discussing the conference outcome and industry needs in moving forward. You can see the communique here. Definition of e-enablement:

An ecosystem of process, procedure and supporting technology that builds a new nexus between the outside world, the company and the aircraft. Simply, eEnablement provides means to lift the capabilities of our aircraft, our operation, our people and our business through a communications based infrastructure scheme, which can be applied to break the last barrier to connecting airplanes in flight to the rest of the organisation and the rest of the world and provide the ability to seamlessly move information throughout the organisation and beyond.

As the world's leading experts in airline transformation programs, Closed Loop Consulting guides airline's in the discovery, development and implementation of these capabilities and is becoming globally renowned for their ability in this regard.  Our profound insights into creating an e-enablement vision and frameworks and discovery of business case benefits that deliver considerable returns on investment ensures our client airlines extract considerable value through their engagement of Closed Loop Consulting.


    Baby Steps

    Baby Steps


    If there’s one thing that the aviation industry is known for, it’s a love of terminology. Okay, it’s also known for flying airplanes, but adherence to concisely defined terminology unquestionably contributes to keeping them in the air. Communication that’s ambiguous or otherwise lacking clarity is universally recognised as undesirable. Pilots drill on Standard Operating Procedures until they’re second nature because the value of such well-defined process has been proven since humans learned to organise themselves. The objective of this article is to provide a definition for the term “Baby Steps”, then examine how that fits with two approaches to implementing operational programs, which I have coined as “Cartography” and “Navigation”.


    At Closed Loop, we’re often told by airlines that their preferred approach to developing a complex operational program is to take baby steps, which we tend to interpret as an intention to roll out functionality slowly, likely only obtaining budget for it as needed. The term itself is somewhat whimsical, evoking imagery of immaturity, so being delivered with an implied wink and a nudge, as if to say “you know what airlines are like...” Sadly though, the term is often appropriate. A baby treats every step as a discrete achievement rather than part of a journey from one point to another, so doesn’t correlate a submission to gravity as anything other than one failed step. Accordingly, there’s little concern for failure, nor is there any reason not to just stand up again and set off in a different direction. Baby steps in an operational program are similar – there’s too little responsibility to the one previous and too much uncertainty about the one following. Of course nobody plans to fail, but with the luxury of considering only one step at a time, it’s pretty easy to underestimate the gravity of failure. It’s also too easy to set off in a new direction.


    Cartography is a task that unless previously done badly, needs only to be done once. I suppose that would make it a somewhat depressing career, knowing that notwithstanding ongoing geographical changes, every day that one does their job well is one day closer to them no longer being needed. While unquestionably scientific, cartography relies absolutely on baby steps. What has occurred previously is known and what will occur in the future is not. There is purpose and beauty in the mapping of every inlet of a coastline and in fact, the more of the map you try to take in at a time the less you are able to appreciate the nuance. The here and now is important, days past are less so and the future is so unknown as to be irrelevant. Cartographers who take baby steps are brave, as every step carries risk. Airlines that take this approach to operational programs are not afforded the same nobility as the team hacking a path along unexplored coastline and nor should they be. They are conflating two objectives – the first being an understanding of the problem domain and the second being an attempt to achieve a result within it. Trying to complete these in tandem immediately brings to mind the idea of learning on the job (which thankfully, is not common practice in the more critical parts of the airline industry). There are so many things that can go wrong, the most obvious being that the destination is found not to match the hopes of the organisation. Despite concerns that I may be overstretching the analogy, the realisation that they are back where they started forces airlines to conclude that they have just circumnavigated an island. Maybe for the first time, maybe not... Airlines that take baby steps are foolhardy, as every step carries risk.


    Every morning when they get up, navigators say a silent thank you to cartographers. Navigation is to cartography what colouring in is to art. The lines are there – one need only stay within their boundaries to succeed. That’s not intended to diminish the role of the navigator in any way, it simply illustrates how although they both focus intently on the map, the two roles are otherwise almost unrelated. Navigation is also highly scientific and often reliant on incremental progress. Thanks to the cartographer though, these are not baby steps. No navigator worth their salt will accept being told that their destination has not been established, but that they need to forge a path toward it. By their very nature, they want to be provided with a destination and use their skills to determine the most efficient route to arrive at it. The navigator may plan to traverse the same route between two points as the cartographer did, leading the casual observer to remark that the journey was the same, but the mindset behind the two couldn’t be more different. Airlines that deploy a navigator to manage operational programs recognise the difference between the roles. They realise that navigators are risk averse. Their professional pride relies on not just the successful journey, but one that was also comfortable and interesting. They feel a deep sense of accomplishment not just about the good parts, but also about the pitfalls that only they and the cartographer were even aware existed.


    So, cartography or navigation? As much as I respect cartographers, I wouldn’t want to be one. Cartographers rely on baby steps and baby steps are dangerous, so cartography is dangerous. Navigation leverages from cartography, so isn’t dangerous... or at least, not in the same ways. The next time someone tells you that an operational program is going to be done as a series of baby steps, consider exploring what they mean by that. Perhaps it’s just a throwaway line and everything will be fine, but perhaps it’s an indication of an underlying and somewhat unhealthy corporate culture. In that case, it may be worth questioning whether your participation in the project will provide you with personal satisfaction and the organisation with the benefits that it should be able to realise. If the cartography hasn’t already been done, the project might just be another statistic in the making.



    Closed Loop is pleased to announce the recent completion of our initial engagement with Icelandair. We were engaged by Icelandair after the Darmstadt conference last year to deliver several company-wide workshops on best practice for EFB projects and to assist them with the conceptual and business case frameworks to support their considerations. Complimenting the Icelandair EFB team, the result was an outstanding success for the airline. To read our release about the work we did with Icelandair, visit this link. This engagement followed a specifically tailored methodology developed by Closed Loop and was extremely successful as demonstrated in the web news item.

    To learn more about what a similar process can do for your company and your airline’s project portfolio, arrange a visit from Darren or a more detailed and individually tailored workshop for your company, let us know by clicking here.

    We can’t finish off this newsletter without noting some of the material that has been circulated recently, such as claims by some that the FAA is now certifying particular software, or another article criticising the industry practise of including the RFP process in their project doctrine. We have considered these and other articles in depth and have decided that they serve to obfuscate and confuse aspects of EFB and as such, have resolved to discuss some of them in detail. Watch for our responses in the downloads section of our website.

    I think that is about enough for this newsletter. We do look forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming Stockholm conference. Tell us in advance of your attendance and we will be sure to arrange some time for a get-together.

    2013 Conference Program

    2013 Conference Program


    Closed Loop Consulting will again be running a Master Class and presenting one of the Keynotes at both MRO OPS/IT Conferences. This year, we will be introducing Marcus Carr, Closed Loop’s Director of Projects, to the pressure of the Keynote to amplify his discussions from Bangkok last year. Since then, we have received a bit of comment about Marcus’ article as connectivity gains more momentum. There is a lot going on in ARINC and with a number of the suppliers regarding this aspect of EFB and some effective capabilities in the pipeline. Ask us for an appraisal by clicking here. His comments at our cocktail party were particularly well received by the airlines present and we know many of you desire more information about how to leverage your EFB projects to the maximum extent possible.

    We have also updated the Master Class as a result of some feedback from last year’s conferences. This year, we will be focussing on a roadmap framework for EFB projects. Over the last 12 to 18 months, we have been concentrating on addressing the structural issues behind EFB project difficulties within the industry. This year we are going to discuss our suggested program frameworks and the components to help you build the benefits, develop a rigorous approach to requirements and why that is absolutely critical – and then, manage the change necessary to succeed with your implementation programs. All of this is designed to put you in control. This year the Master Classes will be much more detailed and will be relevant to a broad range of operational domain projects including EFB and MRO system implementations.

    Bangkok, October 16/17

    We will be hosting another evening function at the Bangkok event. We will liaise with the organisers to determine the best opportunity to allow the maximum review time at the displays but also ensure that those wishing to attend will have the best opportunity. If you are coming to either of the conferences, let us know in advance and we will make arrangements to spend some time with you, focussed on your company so that the conference benefits to you can be taken to the next level.


    London, October 1 & 2

    Closed Loop Consulting is pleased to have accepted the invitation to Chair this inaugural meeting in the series. We will be providing further comments here as the conference approaches.


    Hong Kong, November 12 through 14

    We have just received the dates of the next EFB User Forum and EFB Expo. It is to be held in Hong Kong during the above dates. As usual, the Expo will be held on the first day/evening, with the main User Forum plenary sessions to be held November 13 and 14. The hotel is still to be confirmed.