I’ve always been fascinated by aviation so have been interested in the progress of Boeing’s new 787 dreamliner aircraft. Maybe it has lessons for us:
1. It is designed to be cheaper to run. Boeing recognised that as costs rise they needed to design an aircraft which would be 20% cheaper to run than existing versions. They do this is by eliminating some traditional ways of running the aircraft, using batteries instead. The lesson? We must keep looking at ways to reduce costs, recognising that this may require radically different ways of doing things to the ones we are used to and will mean we stop some familiar things.
2. It is designed to operate point to point, not via hubs. Traditionally airlines have worked with a hub and spoke method. When I travel to Iquitos, I fly on a short haul flight to Amsterdam or Paris, then on a big long haul jet to Lima and finally a smaller short haul flight to Iquitos. To run a long haul route needs about 1500 passengers a week. By contrast, the 787 is designed to operate from city to city and on routes with fewer passengers. Lessons for us? Who needs hubs or central base any longer?3. Using modern materials means the aircraft is both strong and flexible. If you see pictures of it you can see how much the wings bend. But for both aircraft and church, having structures which are lightweight, flexible and strong is the way to go.
4. When the batteries caught fire they didn’t give up. The 787 has had some initial problems with battery fires. Boeing could have decided that they needed to revert to older tested technology to solve the problem. Instead they worked on fixing it. Lesson for us? Having started on a process of change for the denomination we need to stick to it; cutting our costs so they can be paid out of home mission, radically overhauling our organisational culture and being determined to be relational not administrational.