Home > Articles > Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.

Want to receive these updates in your inbox? Sign up for my mailing list using the form on the right. (or below if you're reading this on your phone)

I'm not a pilot, but I've always been a bit of an aviation enthusiast. One of the first rules pilots are taught in flight training is this:

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.

In a nutshell, this means to first keep the airplane in the air. After that, know where you are and where you're going. Then communicate with flight crew, air traffic control, passengers, etc. This bit of advice is broadly applicable across many disciplines, especially in a crisis. Lots of people have written about it, but here's what I love about it:

It acknowledges that communication is costly, but necessary.

That is to say, communication is not your first priority. You must first ensure that the aircraft is flying safe and level, and that you are aware of your surroundings. But once those priorities have been addressed, you still have to communicate your status and intentions.

Of course this is true for development teams as well. As teams grow, you have to put communication protocols in place to keep the team humming as a cohesive unit. Developers who had been used to working in isolation and keeping to themselves sometimes chafe at these additional requirements. They've gotten used to aviating and navigating, and haven't had to communicate much or at all up to this point. A lone pilot in the middle of the desert can aviate and navigate without communicating. A developer on a product team does not have that luxury. She is in charge just of one portion of a much larger craft (the product) with a multi-person crew (the product team) and flying with dozens or thousands or millions of passengers on board (the customers). All of this in very active airspace (the market). She can't afford not to communicate.

Next time, we'll talk about how to keep communication protocols as painless and unobtrusive as possible, so your developers can spend as much time as possible aviating and navigating.

What protocols has your team used that either really work or really don't?

Ben Wilhelm

Do you want to introduce an Agile workflow to your team, but you're not sure where to start? I can help.

Sign up for my free 5-day email course detailing a minimal agile setup for small to medium teams.
"What we got from Ben was more than just expertise: it was expertise plus organized thinking, clear communication, good humor, and an obviously habitual willingness to listen before advising. We recommend him without reservation, and look forward to the next time we work with him ourselves."

Work with Me

You want to ship quality software consistently? You want to confidently tell your stakeholders when you'll reach the next development milestone? You want a tight-knit, self-organizing team that takes initiative so you can focus on long-term strategy?

I want these things for you too. I've helped other teams achieve them and I can help you.

For your convenience, I'm offering my best consulting services as low-risk, fix-priced packages. If you don't find a package that meets your needs, drop me a line at [email protected] to discuss a custom engagement.

1-Hour Strategy Call

Sometimes you just need the right advice at the right time. A Strategy Call can be just the ticket.

Find Out More

Individual Coaching

I'll meet with you 1:1 each week to help you build and execute a plan for improving your team's output.

Find Out More

Full Team Consulting

I work directly with your entire team to build routines that deliver results.

Find Out More