A quick morning exercise

For those with access to the Wall St. Journal.  Last Friday, Joe Queenan had what was supposed, I guess, to be a light and airy column, but I think it was quite profound. In fact, it may be the best column on business I’ve seen this year, those in this blog excepted, of course.

Here’s the last paragraph of “Cosmetic Change? Joe Queenan Wants Us to Get Real” (paywall):

So here’s my advice to airlines: If you want to make the public happy, try building planes designed to accommodate human beings. Try offering movies that someone has actually heard of. Try brewing coffee someone might want to drink. Try service with a smile.

So your exercise for the day is to interpret this in cheng / chi terms.  To refresh your memory, here are a couple of quotes from Patterns:

Employ cheng and ch’i maneuvers to quickly and unexpectedly hurl strength against weaknesses. (13)

Cheng/ch’i maneuver schemes were employed by early commanders to expose adversary vulnerabilities and weaknesses (a la cheng) for exploitation and decisive stroke (via ch’i). (14)

And there’s always the sixth chapter of Certain to Win. Good luck!

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One thought on “A quick morning exercise

  1. Without access to the article, but from what you have quoted, I to think it profound, in that it exposes the obvious.
    Obviously, and in the context of the airline industry, customer happiness (at least giving all customers happiness) is a pretty small force that your enemy could use against you, so a Cheng/Ch’i maneuver against that force is a waste of time. However, it is a place to start.
    I believe customer happiness is such a small force that no weaknesses nor vulnerabilities will be exposed for exploitation So the amount of force present, in giving your customers happiness, is so small, no decisive stroke in that area would be needed. Or any maneuvering in that direction is a waste of time.
    At least the maneuver would be good for the short but bad in the long, time-wise. Customer happiness would be something to keep in mind, if your Cheng/Ch’i maneuver in other directions exposed vulnerabilities in the process. Once a force that can be exploited is found, customer happiness could be added to the force you were able to exert in your actions of Ch’i.
    If one of the airlines actually wanted to perform a Cheng/Ch’i maneuver against one of their enemy’s (sorry I mean competitor’s) forces, my guess is that they would hit the massive force found in reservations.
    A lot bigger bang for their bucks, it has been used successfully in the past, and goes along well with customer happiness, which could be added.
    In today’s world, if you could employ a rouge nation-state without being observed; and if you let them hack into all the reservation systems in the world including yours; and if in the crises your decision making could be more precise and accurate than all of your other competitors; and if the world-wide system could be down long enough; you would find yourself with a huge advantage over the other survivalists.
    Of course that is a lot of “ifs”, but then that is a lot of what maneuver warfare is all about; precision, accuracy, and timing.

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