Fly Responsibly

Bullshitting about your Purpose is good too

They did mention some initiatives KLM was starting up like biofuels. Though this could only be done when other airlines would do the same. If they would not, it would be too expensive and therefore not possible. Interesting.

Other measures were a requests to us, the public, their passengers. We should be the ones more responsible! By taking the train more or doing a call instead of face to face. KLM did not make clear how they were going to help us.

Next actions was buying channel hopper. Meaning more flights instead of promoting the train via the chunnel. This shows them doing the opposite of what they are supposed to stand for.

Expected reactions

People are starting to notice these marketing ‘tricks’ for what they are. In other words, we are developing a more sensitive bullshit radar. When it feels like we are being fooled, the needle jumps in the red and we develop an adversity against the bullshit sender.

The thing is, in and around KLM there are people too. They work for and with them and have this same radar. The effects are twofold:

  1. They are smart and there is a way to rationalize your way out of almost everything. A reason on why you had to act against your Purpose can always be found. It still does not feel good though. This will be mostly the reaction of the leadership.
  2. Employees are part of KLM and therefor feel bullshitted twice. The Purpose is what they are supposed to stand for. It is them, so they are being fooled directly. The people around them, not working at KLM, asking questions about it will not improve that feeling. This will be true for everyone connected to KLM.

What do dissatisfied workers do? They try to get satisfied. They want to feel good again. Still the logical reflex is to ask for more. More wages, better terms etc. They go on strike to get it. Or compensate by working less hard; disengagement. Probably not the anniversary present the KLM leadership was hoping for.

So why is bullshitting about your Purpose good? When you mess up there is real urgency to get your act together. There is no way to go back to before you put this beautiful Purpose out in the world. Now you have to become the real thing!

There are lots opportunities

KLM has chosen this trajectory of becoming a Purpose led organization by connecting Purpose to their brand. Now what can they do with it?

I have a few suggestions as consultant with this specific expertise. The people within KLM will be endlessly more creative and innovative when their Purpose becomes real and authentic for them. But before the steps are taken to implement and enculture the Purpose to make it work for the organization, a few suggestions:

  1. Become concrete: Tell when and how short flights will be replaced by train connections.
  2. Bring Thalys/Eurostar on as a Sky team partner and built a close win-win working relation. As a nice side effect of abolishing the silly short flights, there will be more space for other more lucrative long distance flights.
  3. Make it visible by offering connecting flight-train ride arrangement. Envision KLM blue train coaches being part of the Thalys. Of course with stewardesses and all. That will be great free publicity and great for visibility.

Being Purpose led opens a whole range of opportunities for all stakeholders involved.

  • Build the tag line out to a heartfelt complete Purpose that resonates with KLM employees. Implemented in the right way, engagement will go up also attracting top talent.
  • As leadership strategize around this. Further connect with governments who will be happy to have great examples of a responsible airline and support them on regulation needed.

The Stakeholder dynamics overview

It will not stop here. It is a spiral up.

Stick your neck out and do what needs to be done. Your passengers will love you for it and you will set a new industry standard. The way to be around another 100 years! Make it happen.

Purpose is one of the four tenets of a Conscious Business. Conscious Businesses are successful for all the stakeholders related to them. By doing better than their peers and doing good, they improve the world. Only Conscious Businesses remain in the end. Interested? Do contact us.

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