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As the air transport industry is going through the transformation of decarbonation, it is time to reflect on the nature of a “transformation”.

Some may say that “Transformation” is just a buzzword with no substance behind it. Some may find “transformation” too risk and “continuous improvement” a safer way to sustainable profitability.

What we call “Transformation” at Threedot is a major, complex, non-linear change that involves processes, organization and technologies. “Transformation” is typically opposed to another kind of change, “continuous improvement”, which is incremental, repeatable and linear. Both cannot apply equally.

For example, the invention of the automobile, at the end of the 19th century with the combustion engine and at the beginning of the 20th century with mass production, is a complex, non-linear change. The car is not a continuous improvement of the previous mode of transport, the horse.

In another example, continuous improvement applied to a paper process will lead to a more robust paper based process, whereas a transformation may lead to a digital process, without paper. The mobile boarding pass (a 2D barcode on a phone) is more than a continuous evolution of a paper boarding pass that required a physical printer and check-in desk to be printed.

A transformation may happen only once. Because of this, business leaders must weigh the risk of undertaking the transformation versus the cost of doing nothing. “Transformation” is about the risks worth taking, and the cost of doing nothing.