Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Running scared

It is relatively easy to be successful and somewhat innovative when the economy is booming and life is good so to speak. As the world entered in its deepest recession in decades what made companies successful just lost is relevance, it just became the recipe for disaster. All of sudden these buoyant and confident, and sometimes over confident and damn outright cocky executives, are no longer sure of how to react. They know they have to be more cost effective and more efficient. The product has to be tailored to meet new customer realities.

So, enter first gut reaction, we need to save on expenses, OK so far so good. So please make sure you vet your office related bills and pay for all your personal calls or else we will charge you for the whole bill, and please reduce the use of stationary, and we just go from cost effective to cheap on all non technical purchases. Basically, we went petty.

Then, next gut reaction, no more hiring, full stop end of story, but we need this person for a function that will increase productivity or efficiency. Sorry, no hiring, gotta save buddy.

All of a sudden, they wonder why staff is demoralised, easy it is the prevailing economic malaise, nah more like the prevailing scared and petty once over confident executives. Staff can smell fear guys.

Economic downturns are awful and not a pretty sight but remember cost cutting is subject to the law of diminishing returns and revenue enhancement the sky is the limit. You need cost cutting, efficiency and productivity increase then ask the experts.... duh....... yep you got it champ, ask your employees. Oh you forgot they were part of success and you thought they were coming on your ride. Involve your staff, they know their work, they know what, where and how to give you real savings, real productivity and efficiency.

They also have a stake in making the company thrive, harness their energy. Treat them right and the will Billy Ocean sings "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" http://bit.ly/1DS8jZ



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lexus-itis

LEXUS-ITIS a temporary condition that afflicts otherwise sweet people while driving a Lexus

OK, OK, I know that a Lexus may not be relevant but I am sure you suffer of a similar affliction with a different car. So, bear with me

Where I live and work a Lexus, all models, is a very popular car, and since I commute daily I get to see a lot of cars. Well, my friends, I see a lot of Lexus cars on the road and they all have one thing in common. They will not overtake you, they will tailgate you, flash their lights at you and even honk at you until you get out of their face. It seems in the owners manual it is written, thou shall not overtake. They see that either side are blocked, but they insist.

I am sure these are sweet people but just beware once they are behind the wheel of a Lexus

The other affliction is the Hummer Wannabe, those are the Toyota FJ drivers, they think they own the road, and the make Lexus-itis look like the common cold, enough said.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The New Norm

I heard this term "THE NEW NORM" on a business talk show and it refers to life after recovery from the current global recession. The New Norm what a scary reality, you mean life is not going to be the same a few months in the future?! duh.... what do you think?

A lot has changed, organisations and even countries were stripped of their civilised exterior, that thin veneer of civility to reveal an ugly and scared entity lurking below. Foreclosures by the thousands, not even willing to negotiate a payment plan, putting people off on the street, out of a job, the number of times I heard how we are a good neighbours, socially responsible and community oriented, all went down the drain, reacting like scared wounded animals.

Yes, after this recession there will be "The New Norm" but what kind of norm is it going to be?

Is it a civilised and benign norm or a more austere, harsh and insensitive norm. Will we have learnt our lessons? Will we forget and forgive? There is a big divide, a huge credibility and trust problem between people and institutions. Those who lost their life savings, retirement funds, their hard earned money after a life time of toiling, will they ever manage, their lives have been transformed permanently.

Life will continue, regardless of "The New Norm" but the scars for some of us will be too deep to heal quickly. Will they live in a bitter world? For some of us, the lucky ones who have weathered the storm with minimal damage, "The New Norm" might not be that much different from the old one, but we better learn from this life lesson.

I hope "The New Norm" will be a kinder and more humane norm but who knows.............




Monday, August 17, 2009

Just Culture

I am not getting all technical here, I just believe this is a cool thing that we all should embrace and not only as it relates to Aviation Safety, but to other aspects of our personal or professional life. It is a good means of opening communication channels within the organisation.

Just Culture is an aviation safety culture that fosters openness and encourages people to report safety concerns as a part of a continuous improvement process. It promotes a non-punitive culture whereas people come forward and report their errors or safety concerns. However non punitive does not mean getting off free. It also assumes that the organization and management may have created situations that lead to unsafe practices and problems.

Just Culture looks at four (4) types of behaviours: Human Error; Negligent Conduct, Reckless Conduct and Wilful Violations. Once an error is reported an investigation to determine the root cause by looking at all probable causes whether they are personal, procedural or organisational.
If the violation was other than human error, then management has to look at some form of personal coaching or even taking punitive action.

The above is a very quick overview of Just Culture and probably a shallow one.

Just Culture is part of the Safety Management System (SMS) that is currently being mandated as a civil aviation regulation across the globe.

Be safe and enjoy



Saturday, August 15, 2009

On the Balcony

As Summer inches on and friends and family leave (physically) on vacation.
I find myself lounging on the Balcony (well not literally). Social Media has provided us with a Balcony to sit back and watch life unfolding in front of us, giving us the option to just stay back or jump in and participate.

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and others give us this luxury. Sometimes it is enough to just lazily monitor tweets, blogs and other entries watching life unfolding and yet allows us, at a whim or moment's notice, to jump in and participate. Allowing us to help out a friend with a problem, to discuss current affairs and breaking news or simply gossip and have a virtual visit sharing our latest news and activities with friends regardless of time and place.

Social Media will never and should not replace the intimacy and warmth of physical interaction with people. In a way we are lucky to have this opportunity and facility as long as we keep it in perspective.

Lounging on the Balcony watching the river of life lazily unfolding or examining the rapids as life boils over is a real luxury and privilege.

A sign of the times


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Angels in the Sky

Summer holidays are almost over and by now most of us have flown and came back home. We also swapped our horror and war stories of how terrible the service on board the aircraft was or said our few kind words about how helpful the Cabin Crew/Flight Attendant(s) were.

Well, have you ever wondered why are these young (or in some cases not so young) women and men on board the flight. For most of us, they are here to do the service, and be there for our every little request. Try again, these are highly trained people, they spend five weeks doing initial training in Safety and Security Procedures, First Aid and Fire Fighting among other subject and then have periodic training to stay current.

Their main purpose in life is to make sure that the passengers remain safe and secured and finally well served with a smile.

So next time you travel don't bring on board carry on luggage that weighs more than your checked baggage and expect them to lift it for you (there is a reason why not, if one hurts their back and have to be offloaded passengers may have to be offloaded to stay within the rule of 50 passengers per Cabin Crew/Flight Attendant);
or sneak to the toilet for a cigarette and set smoke alarms or God forbid start a fire;
or horse around and be unruly (trust me they will restrain you)

Try to make their life a little easier and they will do their best to keep you safe and secure and mostly happy.

They are your Angels in the Sky.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Roots or Hydroponics

The majority of people are fortunate or unfortunate (depends on your point of view) to remain in their country and some of them in the city they were born, for them the question of roots, ties and belonging invariably never comes up or is questioned. However, for the few who leave for work or immigrate and become global citizens experiencing different cultures, these are real issues and pose serious questions.

So, where do you call home? where do you set roots? what makes a place home?

For starters with modern technology you are only physically remote, with social media, chat lines, video, Internet and the many other IT and technology wonders, you probably know more than your family and friends of what is going on there. And, if you happen to live within a couple of hours away there is nothing to stop you from flying in every other weekend.

On the other hand you are working and living in a country you can not call your own but a lot of the younger generations who were born there know no other. For them this is home, they grew up there. it is these generations that probably will have the most difficulty in setting roots, for what they think of as home is only a guest house and what is a vacation spot is home.

So do we need to set roots or can we be like "hydroponics" requiring only a suitable medium to grow, flourish and contribute, easily relocatable as long as our web enabling tools are with us.
Are we looking at a new brand of citizens that we can truly call "Citizens of the World"

Honestly, I don't know. On a personal level may be I am into hydroponics but for sure at certain times it sure feels good to have roots.

Sign of the times.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bars

Ok Ok Nooo it is not an invitation to a cool drink or a salad, it is about the Standards we set for ourselves or others set for us.

Ms. Masarat Daud, describes herself on Twitter as a "Non-conformist. Indian girl-child. Producer of talk radio in Dubai. Defying stereotypes, working for rural empowerment in Rajasthan, India. BarCamper!" spent the last few weeks in India, when she first got there her aim was "When I came here a mth back, the only thing on my list were: conduct 8-day Academy, start library & grant a scholarship. Little did I know."

And when she left she achieved "Two rounds of 8-day Academy (50 ppl), sponsored a child's edcn for a year, paid for 3-month English courses for two, [ctd.]" and "Achieved (2): Started a library, visited settlements in Jaipur, got books for a second library in a different village."

All her friends on Twitter followed her progress with pride and support as she tweeted in real time.

She is an inspiration to all of us regardless of gender, ethnicity or age and when I tweeted telling her she raised the BAR for all of us her answer was "@obsalah There's no bar. Each of us contribute within our own perimiters, limited by our circumstances."

Setting the BAR is a a function of expectation by others and ourselves. Parents and Bosses among a few other set bars (targets) for us to meet and achieve as we progress through life and they define our succes or failure in life.

However, her tweet made me pause and think; the toughest BARs are the ones we set for ourselves. But it takes someone like Masarat to remind us and motivate us by showing us what can be done when we are motivated and push the BAR to higher levels not only improving the community but positively affecting our friends and colleagues and most importantly ourselves.

Kudos Masarat, you have been an inspiration to all of us.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Double Standards

Double Standards, who among us have not voiced these accusations against parents, spouses and or bosses. We all had damn good reasons, didn't we. I never gave it a second thought, until I started giving Quality Awareness courses and found out that we wallow in Double Standards.
How so, in Aviation just as in other critical industries; Quality, Safety and Security are not nice things to have, they are core values, they are culture and should be second nature. We should breathe, think and live these values. (This is the party line)
Back to reality, in Quality there is a need for continuous improvement and we have that nice Plan, Do, Check, ACT (PDCA for short) process. In our personal life PDCA is intuitive, we plan to go some place, we start the journey (do) we find a problem we change our route (act) and then check again to see if there is another problem until we reach our destination. And we do that for every thing we do.
The other intuitive aspect is Risk Assessment, in our personal lives (unless we are distracted or doped) we run a quick risk assessment and mitigate the risk for every thing we do, be it crossing the street, driving, playing or cooking you name it.

So why don't we use it in our professional life, the standard answer is we are too busy with work, duh. Really, too busy to improve or be safe. Why is it when it comes to our personal issues we perform certain things and when it comes to work we don't even think of these things; Simple DOUBLE STANDARDS.

So please before you start accusing people of double standards, have an inward look at yourself.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Walking on Hot Coals

Literally walking on hot coals, have you done it, chances are you did not; will you do it, chances are a big NOOOO. Well I did along with a large percentage of Air Arabia staff as part of a motivational outing. Actually it is not that daunting except for the waiver/disclaimer the organisers make you sign (that scares the hell of everybody).

So why do it, because it focuses the mind and make you look straight ahead at your target. The feeling you get after you have walked on these hot coals is tremendous, it is like you have conquered the world and there is nothing that you can not do.

I personally felt exhilaration and was very focused and generally happy, anyway it lasted for a few weeks until life and work caught up with me. Seriously, this helped bonding among staff, it almost became a rallying cry, " you guys walked on hot coals so what is a little competition" and damn, did it work!!!

OK OK I will tell how it is done, I think it is a stretch of 4 to 5 meters of hot coal, at one end you dip your feet in cold water, look ahead concentrate and move with big strides, no running or looking down at your feet. By the time you cross the water has almost evaporated.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Anniversaries

Anniversaries are milestones and vista points on the ever changing and bumpy road map of life. They are occasions to celebrate life (life together), to celebrate the joy, the love and yes sometimes the sad moments of life. It is time to celebrate with life partners, with family what makes one and with friends, the bonds that tie us together, the things we take for granted and then forget about to our own detriment. Anniversaries are the time to slow down and catch our breath as life overwhelms and pushes us around. They are times for us to look back and if we are lucky draw life lessons from our mistakes.
But, most importantly the time to affirm our love and commitments to our loved ones and look ahead to the future and resolve on how to continue together on this bumpy road we call life.

And in case anyone thinks I am a stick in the mud, yes have a great party to manifest our joy.

To those who are celebrating, Happy Anniversaries, may GOD bless us all.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Simplicity

"Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication" Leonardo Da Vinci

A motto I tried to live by navigating through life both on the personal and professional levels.
As if life is not complicated enough to have people make it more complex. It seems a lot of people thrive on complex relationships and solutions and then complain how tough things are and how they just can not cope.
Life and work are full with complex and simple problems but these problems do not require complex solutions all the time. A lot of problems can be reduced into several simpler issues with definitely simple, easy to implement and efficient solutions (similar to distributed computing a few years back).
I am not advocating oversimplification of life or work but at least let us attempt not to overly complicate it.

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