The reference points for every budget plan are:
Assumptions based on records from previous year(s)
Assumptions based on records from previous season(s)
Assumptions based on factors that may influence the performance in the next year
Assumptions about costs
Assumption about revenue
Assumptions about profit
Assumptions about passenger numbers
Assumptions about weather
Too many assumptions lead to too many disruptions. We tend to make a company's plans look smoother and prettier, always including our desires to do things better. They last up until the company undergoes the test of reality. This is the time when wrong assumptions become visible, leading to bumpier road ahead and to less control over the outcomes expressed through cost, profit, and other performance metrics.
The majority of airlines miss this unique opportunity for learning. The road of 'lean' airlines with simple business models is less bumpy as they can have an easier access to reality and learn about what works and what doesn't work for them. Traditional airlines, however, are more heavy - trapped in once successful but now hard to control business model accompanied with rising complexities. This makes them more and more susceptible to unexpected losses caused by even the smallest challenge.
Can we reduce number of assumptions and flatten the road ahead?
Yes we can, if we embrace the practice of validated learning and:
Start thinking outside of boxed practices
Become open to learning on the go, not only from the past
Start testing assumptions in organised way focusing on biggest diversions from flat lines created during the planning processes
Validated learning is an invaluable tool for achieving resilient performance in the age of uncertainty - something that no business school or business course can teach you.
Related posts/Slideshare:How plans can go wrong