Aug 26, 2008

Does your strategy serve the client or the business?

This morning an article in the Montreal Gazette mentioned that an Air Canada Jazz affiliate had chosen to ditch life vests from its aircraft as a cost-cutting measure. The gist of the story can be found on CanWest's news site. A spokesperson for Air Canada Jazz put the blame on high fuel costs.

Airline regulations only require airplanes to provide life vests if the plane flies more than 90 kilometers from land. The regional carrier rerouted some of its planes to make sure they met this criterion. In other words, they are complying with their obligations.

Contrast this with Maple Leaf, the meat packing company. This week, there was an outbreak of listeria, a deadly bacteria that has already killed 12 people in Canada.

In today's paper, there was a signed, full-page letter from Maple Leaf president Michael H. McCain apologizing for the problem and expressing his sympathies to the families of the victims. In the letter, he also outlined how his company had decided to go beyond the call of duty: they have recalled all of the products that came from the plant where the problem was found, even if the evidence showed that only part of the meat was tainted. He also decided to close that plant until appropriate measures are implemented.

To put things in perspective, there have been few water landings by commercial aircraft. So in effect, the life vests are probably a luxury. However the perception will linger that Air Canada Jazz, to "save a few bucks" has put the safety of their passengers in jeopardy.

Information is what you say and communication is what the other person understands. Air Canada Jazz needs to step up their communication strategy to make their clients understand that they in no greater danger now that life vests are no longer standard equipment on some of their aircraft.

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