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Will your airplane fly?

Recently, on a flight from the USA to Europe, I enjoyed a meal while watching a movie. The ambient temp was around 72F. Very comfortable.

... And then I considered that less than a foot away from me, on the other side of the window, the temperature was -50F and the air was rushing past at 500 mph! I'm sure that I would not have been able to enjoy my dinner and movie in those conditions.

This Airbus 330 in which I was flying was designed to take people long distances at high altitudes. A single engine Piper Pawnee certainly would not have done this job. But then again, I would not expect the A330 to do a great job of crop-dusting!

The design of these aircraft had taken external factors into account.

How well do businesses take external factors into account?

When you consider that most small businesses do not survive 5 years, the environment in which they operate is as deadly for them as it is for a human outside a plane traveling at 500mph at a hieght of 36,000ft.

Many businesses look outside of their four walls with rose-colored glasses. Seeing the opportunities and planning how to exploit these. This is not a bad thing (in fact, it is essential). However, in our desire to see the positives we often miss the external threats to our survival and do not take the measures to counteract these.

External threats include competitive activity, changing market/consumer patterns, and advances in technology. Your people with valuable skills could also be lost to competitors. The business model that worked when you were operating out of your basement, will not work when you have 200 people working for you. How have you aligned your people, systems, technologies, processes and policies to adapt to these external factors?

How will you ensure that your plane does not break up when you climb to an altitude of 36,000 ft?

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