The water, fire, virus act

What do water, fire and a virus have in common? These days the virus rules the media and seems to control the world. But a little while ago Australia was all over the news when the court try was on fire. But where do water, fire and virus cross each other ?

We start with air and turbulence

Back in 2011 I was part of a team that had to reposition an airline that drifted into heavy turbulence. Newcomers, had changed the game. They had stolen market share competing in a new way by using a digital advantage. Next to bridging a technological gap a cultural gap had to be closed.
Where airlines run very rigid operation based on airtight security procedures. The technical operation was found everywhere. However these new forces were playing the marketing game in a different way, less rigid. They benefited their newcomers advantage using state of the art technology. They were the early users of growth hacking principles and they had the guts to move fast. They experimented and acted in a continuous sequence of tiny steps. They were allowed to make mistakes as long as they learned and adapted fast. Todays new would be overruled by tomorrows messaging.

Creating common ground

I believe it was Darwin who said that it’s not the strongest or the biggest that is going to survive but the ones that are able to adapt fast. However, to be able to let go of old habits, not necessarily needed in each and every part of the operation, we first had to establish common grounds. Values and a purpose that would not only motivate each and every person working with or for the airline, but values and a mission that was recognised and embraced creating recognition while changing behaviour and transferring old patterns into new shared elan. Determining the true spirit in a convincing way with as a result a growing number of satisfied customers.
So there we were jojo ing up and down the organization establishing common ground. We spoke with customers and employees in every corner of the company and altogether they told us exactly what made the airline unique. Now this is a long intro to explain that it is quintessential to have a common ground established.

Shared insights beliefs and values

Proud of what we found we wanted to share all the video’s shot on the way to the airline employees and all its partners and stakeholders. A hangar was emptied. A giant video screen and a vj were hired so we could share the found common ground from the people they all knew so well. Their very own colleagues. In december we practiced for the kickoff in january. The VJ, a fantastic creative guy from Israel spent his holiday with his family in Israel. When he arrived back in the Netherlands he spoke the words that triggered a quest. He said: “It feels so good to be back in the Netherlands it feels just like Israel. And I said you are making a prank. Its cold, its wet and dark and you just spent two weeks sunbathing, swimming with the dolphins at 27 degrees celcius. You got to tell me what it is that you feel that makes you say that you have the same feeling both in Israel and the Netherlands. We have got to go into the pub and drink until we know. And we did. However we never got drunk. We actually found out what it was that both Israel and the Netherlands have in common. We both created countries in places where forces were at hand that didn’t want us to live there. We know the neighbors surrounding Israel that do not agree with the state of Israel and in the Netherland we actually made land from the water. We both have forces at pur gates that want to flus us away. Since nobody wants to be on the frontline constantly we both build a system to safeguard our way of living on a particular spot on earth. And we have become very good at it. Watermanagement has been crucial in safeguarding our Dutch way of life. For many centuries we were building the water fortress Netherlands. And this is a continuous proces since water is a constant changing enemy with extraordinary skills. So there we are a tiny country fighting water for centuries and we had to adapt constantly to the changes taking place on earth and in society. Over the years, with more and more data drive insights we learned from the forces that were beating the dikes. And slowly the fortress started blending into nature. When fighting nature will eventually exhaust all your resources starting to cooperate with nature will strengthen your position.

What water, fire and virus have in common

Where we Dutch have been fighting water over the centuries and Australia has been fighting fire the last months we all over the world now have to fight an enemy in the form of a virus. 

What fighting water, fire and virus have in common is that we want to contain the elements. Where the dutch have discovers that in order to safe the sub sea-level parts of the country we have to flood specific parts of the countries in a controlled way. Where fire fighters in Australia had to let fire burn down specific parts of the countries in order to prevent new fires all around the world experts in virology and  contagious disease are trying to find the best ways to control further outbreak politicians try to frame this new global enemy to fight their existing believes.