We were all saddened by the news of the Germanwings crash earlier this week. Today we learned the news that the co-pilot has deliberately made the plane crash and took 149 lives with him.
In the past weeks we have repeatedly talked about the importance of people for a business. This tragedy shows this in a very painful way. It also shows that our systems remain vulnerable and can be destroyed by human error and human will. They are as strong as the weakest link, and that is often a human link.
We can avoid things like this by adding technological safety-nets. But people can work around them. Every system depends on human action, be it in its design, its operations or its maintenance.
Lufthansa management stressed the fact that selection procedures are very strict and that this could not have been prevented. And they are probably right.
Gary Hamel talked about love and humanity. He said that work and organisations have been dehumanised. And he’s right. In our quest for efficiency and profitability we have lost to a large extent the human aspect. I give the introduction for the training for emerging leaders in my company. I talk about empathy (listening to people and finding solutions for their problems), fairness (keeping balances), reciprocity (give and take) and compassion. These are 4 human traits that we need to find within our companies. And something that Gary said struck me:
the answer to our problems lies not in one of the extremes, nor in the middle. It lies in all the extremes.
So we have to be empathic, reciprocal, fair and compassionate at the same time.
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who died on flight 4U 9525. They died because a person failed. And because our systems failed. The company and the industry will learn from that. We all will.