How to turn your business into a flying circus
Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 9:48AM
Dane in agility, effectiveness, flying circus, innovation, speed, the red baron

Speed, agility, innovation, effectiveness. These words invoke thoughts of the world’s best companies who have weathered many storms and found value and growth where other firms fail.

The story of Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, Germany’s WW1 most famous pilot provides a great example of how being focused on outcomes and giving teams the freedom to innovate can lead to amazing results. 


An uncommon German trait, the Red Baron wasn’t interested in conformity, but instead focused on effectiveness. After being installed as commander for several squadrons, he did not try and instruct his pilots to fly as he did, instead he focused on outcomes. He gave simple instructions, ‘aim for the man and don’t miss, and if you’re fighting a two seater shoot the gunner first.’

It was this freedom of the Red Baron’s squadron (later named the flying circus), which enabled the German’s to devastate the allied planes and their formation flying strategy.

Organisations that embrace creating their own ‘flying circus’ by creating teams of people who are focused on simple goals, but given lots of freedom on how they get there are often the most successful. Often opportunities are revealed through unconventional approaches to problem solving, and while all organisations need systems and processes, when your CEO is demanding creative solutions, assemble your own ‘flying circus’ and see what happens.

Article originally appeared on O'Shanassy Projects (
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