Financial Stability: What can business learn from an F‑16 Fighting Falcon?

Creating financial stability in our business

With the future business climate uncertain, many businesses are searching for financial stability.  Whilst we are looking at having this stability, we are challenged by the level of uncertainty we are experiencing and how we will respond.  Despite these challenges, now is time for us to find a way to be agile, adaptable to changing conditions, whatever the weather.

With our need for clarity, to know where we are today and where we want to get to, there is a need to build resilience into our businesses, protecting the value we’ve created, whilst creating the framework and foundations for future value.  Working with our senior executive colleagues, as well as our finance teams, by operating as one team we can do this.

In this article we’ll be sharing what we can learn from an F-16 Fighting Falcon, applying many of its strengths to address the challenges we are facing.  Let us begin at the beginning, how do we first enable ourselves to fly level.

Why is flying level so important? 

We have been seated in an aircraft during turbulence, remember how we felt.  Where was our focus?  Now consider that in comparison to flying level, in control.  What can you do now?  How much more secure do you feel? Where can you focus?

An F-16 can fly level no matter what the weather or conditions are like.  Through its Fly-By Wire Flight Control System (more on this later) it can correct its course to always flight under control. Can we say the same for our businesses? Flying level enables us, much like an F-16, to have stability, an ability to focus on our objectives and respond to any changes in conditions we may experience.

By creating stability in our businesses, and more importantly creating the ability in the business to remain stable in its environment,  we can protect the value we have created and turn our attention to creating future value, improving margins, and generating more cash and profit.

The question is, how to fly level when all around us is turbulent air?  What can we do?

Bubble canopy and GPS

The pilot of an F-16s has great visibility.  His bubble canopy has an unobstructed forward and upward visibility, and enables the pilot to see to the side, and to the rear.

Along with this, they have enhanced global positioning and satellite navigation systems.  The pilot is always able to see where they are going, where they are now, and as necessary, where they have come from. They even improved the seating position to enable gravity force tolerance. It has through its systems and design, great situational awareness, and adaptability

Is your business able to do this?  Do you have the visibility and awareness of an F-16 pilot?  A challenge for many businesses right now is to set out where they want to be and how to get to their destination safely and complete the mission

With so much changing around us, and forecasts changing weekly it feels like an impossible task.  Though set a destination we must and have consistent feedback on how we are going, what are the challenges, current and in the near future, to achieve this we need.  All this whilst looking out of the bubble canopy, which right now is foggy for many.

The starting point?  Understand your current situation not only financially, but for the whole business operations.

Fly-By-Wire flight control system

Pilots of F-16s have excellent flight control through what is known as the Fly-By-Wire system.  This means traditional pilot controls are replaced by an electronic interface.  Connecting all the systems of the aircraft together.

What does this mean for the F-16?  It becomes a far more agile aircraft.  Making timely incremental course corrections enabling the F-16 to response quickly to changing conditions.  The pilot receiving instant feedback through his set of systems and dashboards.

As a business, our systems tend not to be so agile.  How many of our Finance systems connect to the systems of sales, marketing, HR?  How often do environmental changes in one, fail to feed through to the others and help present a complete picture on which to take corrective actions?

No one version of the truth, no one integrated model, no agility to respond to market changes.

Lightweight fuselage, without reduced strength

F-16’s have a light-weight fuselage without reducing its strength. This has been by design, to reduce costs and maintenance whilst maintaining its strength.  What does this mean?  Pilots can withstand 9 G’s, much more than any other fighter craft.

With pilots being able to withstand 9 G’s, resilience and strength has been built into the aircraft without losing any of its manoeuvrability and agility.  Pilots can handle greater challenge and environmental change and still achieve their objectives than pilots of any other aircraft.  What a competitive advantage.

As business leaders, how many G’s, how much change and environmental instability can we cope with?  How are our systems helping us cope and what can we do to improve this?

What we want to avoid is environment G’s, far more than we as people can handle and systems that are unable to take the strain, that we blackout and systems breakdown. Yes, we need to build resilience into our systems.  Improve processes, improve visibility and make sure systems are connected for one version of the truth.  This though is not enough.

We need to ensure our people have the skills and capabilities to work in unstable environments.  We need to train and develop our people along with our systems, bit like Top Gun school for F-16 pilots.  Having a fighter that can sustain 9 G’s, with a pilot who can handle 4 G’s is a disconnect that fails to optimise.

How strong are your systems and ready are your people?  Looking at where we are, when our businesses can fly level, like the F-16, this allows us to navigate any change in our environment and enable us to focus on creating future value.

How can Cognition24 help?

Cognition24 are proud authorisation partners of FinancialForce. Our expert product specialists and project managers will guide your team through the implementation process and steer you clear of common pitfalls. FinancialForce unites front and back of house systems – providing a complete view of the business from sales to accounting. Whether you are a CEO, CFO, Sales leader or financial controller, FinancialForce’s suite of tools put you in touch with your organisation’s data.  If you’d like to find out more, please contact one of our FinancialForce specialists today.