Follow the Recipe

Please welcome guest blogger, Bob Schick, the Director of Safety & Risk Management with TAC Air.

My wife makes the most amazing corn chowder. I mean when I smell the bacon cooking and see her getting everything prepared it makes my stomach do a happy dance. Then she serves it up and…wait just a minute! This doesn’t taste like the last time you made it! Why doesn’t it taste the same? What has been changed? Did she follow the recipe? Does she have a recipe or does she just wing it? How do I express my shock and awe without being told “make it yourself”?

Our line and MX operations aren’t much different are they? We go along doing our happy dance until something happens. A customer gets upset, we don’t service the plane on time or correctly. Even worse, we damage something or hurt someone. Then we ask, what has changed? What is different?

We invest time, money and resources both internal and external in our operations on a daily basis. We develop procedures (recipes) to detail how we want both the simple and complex tasks performed. We hire the right people and then provide training to them so they have the skills to perform the tasks.
Yet we are amazed and befuddled when things go wrong. When we get that poor customer comment card, when we miss a ramp or service time. When we damage something or hurt someone. When a favorite food doesn’t taste the same, what has changed?

The only way to ensure and control the process from deviating too far is to check it. Perform an audit. Audits can be as complex, or as simple as you decide necessary to identify when the recipe is changing. Just go out and watch what they are doing. Fight the urge to jump in and correct and just watch, take notes and document/quantify what is really going on. “Inspect what you expect.”

Audit to ensure that they are following the procedures and then evaluate that the procedures are getting you what you want. Does the process produce what you expect it to produce? Are they following the recipe? Does it make you and your customers do the happy dance?

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