ogilvydo.com Talks To Azran Osman-Rani
We talk to Azran Osman-Rani, the CEO of AirAsia X, about risk – and how preparedness to make mistakes, move on, and course-correct, are powerful tools in the business world today.
Transcript – AZRAN OSMAN-RANI
In order to always stay ahead of the game, you have to be willing to make mistakes, and you have to have a philosophy that says “we’re going to try ten different things and if we get six out of seven things right we’re doing very well”. But the key is when you do get three or four things wrong, how do you course correct, and not get stuck in this culture of blame and responsibility – because up front, you know you’re going to have those errors.
When we launched AirAsia X one of the ideas we had was for a new, innovative seat design in economy. Initial design was one where the seat, you achieved the recline by, what you sit on glides forward sort of like this – so you get the same angle of recline, but the back of the seat doesn’t go backwards and invade the person at the backs space. But the reality was, when it became mass-produced and installed in the planes, the gliding mechanism wasn’t perfectly smooth, and it wasn’t intuitive.
For us it was quickly about changing. Even if it means a very significant capital write-off, and replacing all the seats that we’ve installed, we went ahead with it. Many other examples. We even were one of the first LCCs in the world to have in-seat in-flight entertainment. We realized when we rolled it out that you’re installing these video units on every seat yet when 40% of our flights are late night, not a lot of people want to watch and pay for content on every single flight, and Hollywood charges very expensive licensing fees based on the number of seats, not based on the number of people who actually watch it.
It’s one of those things where, you try, but you know you’re doing something different, and you’re expecting that some of the things you do won’t turn out well, we just move on. If we have to take a write off we take a write off, but we move on to the next thing and I think that’s a critical part of staying ahead of the game.
External factors, may impact on the business model, but they also create opportunities for you to differentiate yourselves. What’s happened in the world you can’t change but you can change how you react to still capture the opportunities.
The world that we live in today is incredibly turbulent. It’s no longer about forecasting, having a plan and just executing to plan which is the traditional approach, but, taking a portfolio of actions and realizing and expecting that some of those things won’t go well because external factors would have changed, or your internal capabilities may no longer be the right fit for the opportunities you were pursuing. So you’ve got to be able to make those course corrections almost dynamically, consistently, always finding it, because that’s just the reality of the new world we live in today. And I think it’s important to have leadership that understands that as the baseline expectation, and not wishfully thinking that we’re always going to live in this linear world where projections will grow at a steady state rate and everything will be fine, it doesn’t exist anymore.
You may also like: