Air traffic controllers shoulder tremendous public safety responsibilities. They have to process various information sources and flawlessly coordinate many airplanes trying to move through the same airspace.

Change “airplanes” to “priorities” and “airspace” to “resources,” and it all of a sudden sounds a lot like having to manage competing priorities in business.

To get a few new ideas, delegate your project and priority management challenges to an air traffic controller and see how they’d handle it. Shoot for 3 new ideas from each method below that air traffic controllers use:

  • Undergo rigorous training & certification
  • Employ a specific organizational method
  • Follow rules to keep things separated from one another and avoid conflicts
  • Remaining flexible while applying the rules
  • Incorporate & process information from various sources
  • Maintain an orderly flow of activity
  • Communicate precisely
  • Communicate regularly with everyone in their areas of responsibility
  • Speak in special terms & language known by participants
  • Display exceptional listening skills
  • Visualize what they’re controlling
  • Continually monitor each element of a situation without overly focusing on any single one
  • Focus on preventing potential future problems
  • Take breaks to deal with stress and to refresh their perspectives
  • Stay current by practicing / using their skills regularly

Check out a compilation of "Change Your Character" creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown


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