Opinion – Doug Smith, Co-founder

My career has largely centered on technology as a growth enabler for business, but my passion lies in aviation. A pilot for over 20 years, I’ve built nearly 1500 hours of experience in the skies. The insights I’ve gained from aviation heavily influence how we operate and deliver value at Acacia Advisors.  

Blending Technology and Human Capability

Few industries blend technology evolution and human capability as seamlessly as aviation. This sector not only values experience but also promotes a culture of learning from mistakes—both your own and others’. It fosters a shared understanding of human psychology and decision-making, emphasizing the need for strong communication within teams. 

The Role of Experience in Aviation and Business

In aviation, experience teaches that there are no shortcuts, especially as automation increases and operations grow more complex. Distractions are plentiful, and the pace is relentless.  This truth applies equally in business, where seasoned insight is crucial for solving complex challenges. Technologies like Machine Learning and Generative AI hold great promise but can distract unless paired effectively with human expertise. Integrating these tools with professional experience allows businesses to focus on what truly matters, ensuring decisions are informed and strategically sound.

Continuous Learning and Teamwork

Aviation isn’t just about logging hours; it’s about learning, training, and maintaining proficiency. This expectation nurtures a culture where honest, open feedback is invaluable. The ability to remain composed under pressure, collaborate as part of a team, and manage immediate challenges confidently are skills honed through continuous focus and openness to learning from others. These are invaluable in business, where quick decisions and effective teamwork are crucial.

Mastering Complex Skills: From Aviation to Business

Proficiency in aviation is built on a solid foundation of self-study, “pilot in command” hours, and collaborative learning with an instructor. Training emphasizes mastering technical, physical, and communication skills through disciplined practice and expert guidance. Similarly, business leaders confront complex challenges that necessitate a deep understanding of their operational environment, alongside tested problem-solving strategies, reliable data interpretation, and confident decision-making.  

Leadership Qualities Learned from Flight Training

In training to become a flight instructor, I’ve learned that it is about much more than earning a title; it requires deep knowledge, educational skill, a commitment to student success, and excellent management capabilities. These are precisely the qualities you want in business advisors—experts who can guide, educate, and manage resources proficiently while focusing on improvement of your teams’ capabilities.

Strategy and Execution in Aviation and Business

Flying requires a mix of strategy and execution for every flight, with very little tolerance for confusing the two. Similarly, in business, separating strategy and execution can avoid common pitfalls, effectively manage risk, and ensure a safe, effective course forward. Pairing seasoned veterans with less experienced team members can create a powerful dynamic that accelerates success and minimizes setbacks.

Elevating Business Strategy with Aviation Principles

Effective leaders cultivate environments where teamwork thrives on open communication and mutual respect, while situational awareness helps businesses anticipate and adapt to market changes efficiently. By integrating these aviation-tested strategies, businesses can enhance decision-making processes, optimize team dynamics, and steer toward sustainable success with the same precision required.

How Acacia can Help

For those ready to elevate their business strategy with proven practices, Acacia Advisors is here to guide you. Our seasoned expert advisors are equipped with deep industry knowledge and a commitment to fostering the key principles of situational awareness, teamwork, technology integration, and leadership within your organization.  

Elevate Your Business Strategy

Fill out the form and we will get back to you as soon as we can, so that we can help you make better decisions that lead to better outcomes.