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Friday Report ~ March 27, 2015

Innovation - I recently took a trip to attend a wedding in Dayton, Ohio. For those of you who are not aware, Dayton is the birthplace of Aviation as the Wright brothers were raised there and owned a bicycle shop among other ventures.

Orville and Wilbur were the epitome of entrepreneurs. They had numerous business ventures and were always looking for the next innovation that would change the world.

During my trip, I was fortunate to be able to visit the Wright Brothers museum and hear fascinating tales of their drive and commitment to flight and how many years it took them to perfect the idea. This included trips back and forth, with all tools in tow, to Kitty Hawk, NC. These young men were driven and confident that their idea would work. In the face of nay sayers, they pressed onward and put their entire heart and soul into this venture. As we all know, they succeeded.

Over the years, aviation has changed dramatically. New technology and scientific advancements have made planes faster and more efficient. The fundamentals of flight are the same as they were in 1903. The processes we have developed to use for passenger travel however are broken. Why do I say that you ask? Let me share the details of my return from Ohio.

Leaving Dayton on Sunday afternoon, our flight was “delayed” on the tarmac for 30 minutes due to heavy snow in Chicago. Upon landing in Chicago, as we sprinted to the next gate to fly to Portland, I noticed a distinct lack of snow… anywhere.. in Chicago. After missing my flight, the nice woman at the airline desk informed me that they would not pay for my hotel as the delay was due to weather or ATC. She did give me the good news that my luggage had made the flight and was on the way to Portland. The next morning, Monday, we promptly arrived for our 7 am flight. The snow had finally arrived as well. We loaded onto the plane and waited our turn for the de-icing truck. After de-icing, we taxied out to get in line with all the other planes to fly to Philadelphia. As the delays continued, the pilot informed us that he was going to pull over and get de-iced again as a safety precaution (one I agreed with). He was informed however, by the airport authority, that he had to return to his original gate to be de-iced again. Upon arrival back at the gate, we were informed that due to the “passenger Bill of Rights” we had been on the plane too long and had to disembark and rescan all of our boarding passes. This of course meant another delay. My flight from Philly to Portland had already left Philly, but we were still desperate to get out of Chicago. At roughly noon time, we finally left the ground in Chicago and flew to Philadelphia. Upon landing, we were told that we had been rebooked, on Tuesday morning, to fly to Portland. My wife and daughter had little interest in spending another night in a hotel and another day in the same clothes. At this point, we gave up on the Wright brothers and decided to rely on the invention of Karl Benz and we rented a car and drove to Portland.

That was a long story to get my point across. We tend to accept the status quo way too easily. In any other industry, we would never tolerate receiving goods or services that didn’t come anywhere close to meeting our expectations. In the major airline industry, we simply keep lowering our expectations to meet the actual results. I made a joke that next time I would simply fly in a suitcase, as they got my bag to Portland on schedule. That got me thinking about innovation. What if we all flew in pods? It may sound silly, but something needs to change.

So my message this week is this. We need to continue to support those who foster innovation and those individuals, like the Wright Brothers, who are looking to make this world a better place. There are countless opportunities on the web and at “maker fair” innovation events to find exciting new ideas and help them grow. Please help these folks improve our world.