On a recent flight I found myself sitting in the front row of a small regional jet. The weather was perfect, and there was no other obvious reason that we could be delayed. I sat in the front row and observed up close a common problem in the airline industry, a flight delay.
Was it a mechanical problem? No.
Was a crew member sick? No.
Were we waiting on a connecting flight? No.
Was the air conditioner out? No.
Was there a problem with ice? Kinda.
There was no ice on the plane, neither on the exterior or cubed. That's right, my plane was delayed twenty minutes because the flight attendant did not receive a fresh bucket of ice for the in-flight drinks. I watched as she frantically called for help only to be told it was "on the way." At one point the pilot came out of the cockpit looking like he was about to tear someone's head off. No doubt, his performance is rated on some metric including his on-time statistics. Finally, a miserable looking guy in a yellow vest brought a tiny, mostly melted bag of ice in a clear plastic bag to our packed plane.
It is the inattention to detail that is ruining companies today. I do not know for sure but I bet the airline completes a 100 point inspection of the plane before every flight. In this case, a simple and easily resolved problem created frustrated customers, an upset flight crew, and yet another delayed flight on the illustrious record books.
I think about this example and it reaffirms my commitment to not miss the proverbial "ice bucket" for our customers. We work hard everyday to focus on the details that make us successful. There is nothing that upsets us more than missing the easy stuff. We work hard to solve problems that our customers bring us, which means we do not have time to waste on things that should be routine.