Attention Captain

On Wednesday, a Boeing 747 landed at the wrong airport by mistake. I’m not kidding. A massive plane flown by two pilots communicated successfully with air traffic controllers, was cleared for landing at the correct airport, and landed at the wrong airport – 8 miles away from the correct airport!

The plane landed on a runway less than half the length of what’s usually required for a plane of this size, and had zero communication with the airport they landed at. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.

You see, I’m actually surprised this doesn’t happen more often. I’m not an aerodynamics expert, but I bet that given the speed of a 747 and the distances traveled by modern aircraft, that going eight miles off course is likely a very tiny mistake. I’d be willing to guess it’s less than a 1% deviation.

What’s the lesson here? It’s simple. The lesson here is we always need to keep our eyes on the small stuff, because before you know it you might find yourself off course and miles away from where you were planning on going.

As a CEO, business owner, or executive, you know the importance of setting up systems and processes to ensure that your staff is doing things the right way – all the time. As Atul Gawande showed in the medical world, something as simple as a checklist can make a huge difference! But as all business owners also know, it’s not enough to tell your people what you want them to do – you need to make sure they’re doing it consistently. Otherwise, you’ll end up landing 8 miles off course.

Who’s piloting your plane?