Innovation starts with one small thing

17 december 2018

It is fair to say that today innovation is a big factor in society. Innovations in health, science and technology are rapidly changing the world. It is also about innovating industries, to make them more efficient. Aviation and the airport industry are no exceptions. There are numerous large innovation projects surrounding (regional) airports but for them to really succeed, you have to start small and continue steadily.

When you hear about innovation projects, it often is about big, ambitious projects that want to innovate everything all at once. That is not just within individual companies, it also goes for innovation at airports: an immense overhaul of the infrastructure using the latest techniques, a radical change of policy and procedures and the general believe that ‘if we all do it together, it will work.’ It is as often that these same projects will run into delays or eventually even fail completely, because they did not bring the change people hoped for. We think there is a good explanation for why they fail.

Most of these innovation projects are simply too big. All the partners on the airfield are asked to go from one to a hundred instantly. They are often obligated to invest heavily in new technology, share information and change the ways they have been working dramatically. That last one should not be a reason not to innovate, but as everyone knows: change is hard. It is not about innovative technique per se, but about the mindset of everybody involved.

Keep it simple

That is why we believe that innovation should start small and simple. First off, by having a plan. Why do you want to innovate? Is it because you feel innovation can improve operations on the airport and with that handle more passengers and cargo in a more efficient and cost reductive way, or is it because you feel the need to innovate so you can say you are innovating? It sounds very simple, but we have seen different projects where the latter one seemed the main incentive.

Once there is a plan, start small. Start with step one; the people that are going to have to work in this new innovative environment. The hardest part of transforming an organisation is not changing the technology, it is changing the culture within the organisation. Simply saying ‘we need to’ is not enough. If everybody is willing and able to innovate, then half the work is done. After that, just take it one step at a time. It is easier to adjust procedures and technology to smaller steps, than big ones. And yes, this might sound simple too, but that doesn’t mean that it is wrong.

There are a lot of possibilities thanks to innovation. We know that technology plays a big part in it and we ourselves are always looking to innovate our technology and with that, help innovating our clients. But we also understand the implications it can have on the entire organisation and all the partners on the airport. That’s why we feel ‘simple and steady’ is the better way to go.

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