You might not, at first glance, think your business has much in common with aviation.

A pilot completes a checklist - one of the best defences against skill fade
We should probably thank aviation for its obsession with checklists – one of the best antidotes to skill fade

We would have thought that at Be Bold before we got involved in flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It thrust us into a whole world of new acronyms, checklists, flight reference cards and having to write and follow a 55-page Operations Manual which had to be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.

What has become extremely apparent though is how much business generally has to learn from the very ordered, systematic, collaborative and safety-first world of aviation.

Today we received one of the CAA’s routine Safety Notices, this one dealing with ‘skill fade’; the decaying of skills over time because they have not been used.

You can see why this is a concern in flying – no-one wants their pilot to have forgotten critical procedures – but as the commercial world wakes up again and builds back up to doing business at full tilt, it’s worth thinking about what might have been lost in the interim.

Stay current to avoid skill fade

Even businesses which have been operating throughout the pandemic and lockdowns might have been using changed or slimmed down processes, which make a return to ‘normal’ something which takes extra thought and maybe some refreshing.

A number of factors are at risk here, from shop floor safety to record keeping and, yes, communicating. What has changed about day-to-day practises that could put your people and your reputation at risk? The expectations of your customers and suppliers might have changed, or they might expect everything to go back to how it was, so are you and your people ready for that?

If you’ve made strides in any area or revolutionised your business in the last year you need to shout about it (that, of course, is what we do…).

Have those little touches and flourishes of service which made you stand out been lost? If someone who knew their job inside out has left while on furlough, have their particular skills been lost to their replacement?

Maybe a run through of even the most mundane tasks could reveal any evidence of skill fade or it might highlight methods of changing things for the better in an altered world.

The lesson to be taken from those who look to the skies for their living is that clear procedures, check lists and practise are essential to ensure everything works as it should and risk is reduced to As Low As Reasonably Practicable. And yes, that’s one of the aviation-favoured acronyms – ALARP!

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