Enhancing Organisational Learning with Flight Levels and The 5 Activities

Discover how Flight Levels can transform your organisation with its five key activities. Learn to enhance agility, improve communication, and foster continuous improvement for a more dynamic and responsive workplace. Dive into practical insights for implementing these strategic principles effectively.
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When we talk about making an organisation agile and responsive, it’s often about more than just speeding up processes or chopping down project timelines. It’s about creating a system that sees, understands, and adapts. That’s where something like the Flight Levels model comes into play, providing a blueprint for deep, impactful change.

The Flight Levels approach isn’t just another corporate strategy; it’s a way of thinking and operating that permeates every layer of an organisation. It starts at the ground level, where the real action happens — where teams are hands-on with products and services. Here, the focus is on the day-to-day work that push the company forward.

Moving up, there’s a layer dedicated entirely to coordination. This isn’t about red tape and endless meetings. Instead, it’s about making sure that communication flows smoothly between teams, ensuring that everyone contributes to the customer’s value effectively. It’s about connecting dots in real time, making sure that what’s happening on the ground aligns with the bigger picture – getting the right people, talking abut the right things, in front of the right information, at the right time!

At the top of this model is the strategic level. This is the visionary space, where big ideas take shape. Here, priorities are set, and the link between everyday tasks and overarching goals becomes clear. It’s about setting a direction that guides everything else.

What makes the Flight Levels approach really stand out is its focus on visibility and action. Imagine being able to see everything that’s happening within your organisation—not just the successes but the bottlenecks and challenges too. This visibility is crucial because it informs what comes next. It’s about having the clarity to focus on what needs to be finished, rather than just starting new things. This could mean cutting down on the number of projects running at the same time, so you can actually finish them more effectively.

In this system, conversations matter—a lot. They’re not just about checking in; they’re about making change happen. Having the right conversations at the right time can spark innovation and solve problems before they grow. And these aren’t just top-down directives; they’re collaborative, purposeful interactions that help refine and direct the group’s efforts.

Of course, knowing whether you’re heading in the right direction is crucial. That’s why measuring progress is a key part of the Flight Levels system. It’s not about tracking everything for the sake of data. Instead, it’s about choosing specific metrics that tell you if your adjustments are working. Are you getting closer to your goals? Is the work flowing better than before?

Lastly, it’s all about continuous improvement. The idea is to keep refining your processes, learning from what you’ve done, and making adjustments. It’s a cycle of doing, checking, and evolving, which helps every level of the organisation stay agile and effective.

The beauty of integrating Flight Levels into your daily operations is that it offers a structured yet flexible approach to improving how you work. Whether you’re deeply embedded in agile or just starting out, this approach can make a significant difference in how your organisation runs.

So, if you’re looking to bring about real change in your organisation, consider how the principles of Flight Levels can guide you. It’s not just about faster or more; it’s about better and smarter. And who knows, pinning these ideas up on your office wall might just be the first step towards a more dynamic and responsive workplace.


The Five Key Activities of Flight Levels

What we’ve explored above encapsulates the five key activities central to the Flight Levels framework. These activities;

  • Visualising the situation,
  • Creating focus,
  • Establishing agile interactions,
  • Measuring progress, and
  • Operating to improve

are the pillars that support every layer of an effective, agile organisation. By embedding these activities into daily operations, an organisation not only enhances its responsiveness but also its capacity to drive meaningful change. Whether pinned to your office wall as a reminder or integrated into your strategic planning, these activities form a robust foundation for developing a more dynamic, agile, and responsive workplace, ensuring that the organisation not only keeps pace with current demands but also anticipates and shapes future challenges.



Frequently asked questions

Q. How do organisations measure the effectiveness of each level within the Flight Levels framework?

A. To measure the effectiveness of each level within the Flight Levels framework, organisations typically employ a variety of performance indicators tailored to the specific functions and goals of each level. At the ground level, metrics might focus on productivity and quality of outputs, such as the speed of task completion and error rates in products or services. For the coordination level, effectiveness can be assessed through metrics like the smoothness of communication flows between teams and the time taken to resolve inter-departmental issues. At the strategic level, indicators might include the alignment of daily operations with long-term goals and the success of strategic initiatives. Regular reviews and feedback sessions help ensure that these metrics accurately reflect the realities of each level and provide meaningful insights for improvement.


Q. What are some common challenges organisations face when implementing the Flight Levels model and how are they typically overcome?

A. Regarding the challenges of implementing the Flight Levels model, common issues include resistance to change from employees, difficulties in aligning existing processes with the new framework, and the initial complexity of setting up effective communication channels across levels. Organisations often overcome these challenges by investing in thorough training and change management programs that help staff understand the benefits and practicalities of the new system. Leadership commitment is crucial; executives must consistently support the transition, demonstrating the value of the new practices through their actions and decisions. Additionally, starting with pilot projects or smaller-scale implementations can help to iron out any issues before a full-scale rollout.


Q. Can the Flight Levels model be scaled down for use in smaller organisations or teams, and if so, what adjustments need to be made?

A. For smaller organisations or teams looking to adopt the Flight Levels model, certain adjustments can be beneficial. Smaller entities might not require the same complexity in their coordination and strategic layers as larger ones. In such cases, simplifying the framework to fit the scale of operations can help maintain clarity and focus. For instance, smaller organisations might combine the strategic and coordination layers or adapt the tools and methods used for visualising workflows and measuring progress to better suit their limited resources and personnel. Tailoring the approach allows smaller teams to still benefit from enhanced agility and responsiveness without being overwhelmed by an overly complex system.


Flight Levels Book - Leopold, Kaltenecker

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