Thread: Why did the FAA ground US domestic flights and how does it connect to Incentive Theory, Innovation and Hiring?
First Posted: January 23rd, 2023
Why were all US domestic #flights grounded a few weeks ago and what does this have to do with #management, #IncentiveTheory, #ReinforcementTheory and #hiring? Let's dig in 🧵
- On Jan 11th, the FAA instituted a 90 min grounding of all domestic flights in the US. As mentioned, It is estimated the glitch disrupted at leas 11,000 Flights. This was due to a failure in the FAA's NOTAM system. NOTAMs (Notices to Air Missions), are messages that alert pilots of potential hazards along flight routes during transport. Alerts can be significant, telling pilots that a certain runway is closed or that a portion of airspace is closed due to military aircraft exercises. The system failure even had an impact on military flights that partly relied on FAA NOTAMs.
- The FAA initially reported that the system failed after "personnel ... failed to follow procedures" damaging files and later expanded that contractors were synchronizing a main and a back-up database when they "unintentionally deleted files". Turns out, this isn't the first time (a similar event happened in Florida at the beginning of the month) This raises questions about the reliability of FAA's tech. But what’s most concerning, is that this comes after years of red flags.
- This raises questions about the reliability of FAA's tech. But what’s most concerning, is that this comes after years of red flags. The Transportation Department previously described NOTAM as "failing vintage hardware" in a document requesting $30m to fund upgrades. Aviation leaders have since called on congress to divert more funds.
- Interestingly, this may connect to statements previously made by the FAA back in 2020, when they complained about how hard they are finding it hire good technical talent.
- Every manager faces the challenge of balancing short term needs with allocating resources for long term goals. In general, humans tend to favor short term rewards over long term investments.
- Society overcomes this in private markets by internalizing external incentives such as competition, that motivate us to recognize the need to innovate and invest for the long run earlier in the cycle.
- This is less prevalent in the public/government sector when there is no competition. "Necessity is the mother of innovation" - In the private sector, necessity comes much earlier (because you must compete to exist) as opposed to the public sector (which tends to be better at imminent risks like military/security matters/health). Over time, what initially seems like innovation becomes necessity and lack of it becomes disaster.
- Moreover, There is far less positive reinforcement in the governmental sector which is critical for driving innovation. Mostly, you get scorned when something goes wrong (negative reinforcement), which is more useful for reducing negative activities, not increasing positive ones.
This recent event demonstrates why managers must balance: A) Day2day operations B) Building for the long run, & C) Hiring top notch talent for both. Understanding incentives, reinforcement & what drives innovation is critical to achieving this