Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy People Deliver Great Service - UL 309 07th November 2014

Being a regular traveller on Srilankan Airlines, national carrier of Sri Lanka and several other airlines 20 -25 times a year I have come across all sorts of air hostesses. Irrespective of the promise many airlines make about their "legendary" service levels, on air it is suffice to say "they do their job" as required and nothing more. 

In almost all airlines they come in standard configuration! Very polished, very well dressed (won't call them immaculately dressed though!), walks about with air of confidence (may be arrogance), do what they are suppose to do exactly (meaning from safety demos where applicable to food and drinks rounds and duty free etc). However I've mostly found them to be very formal, talk to many first time flyers with sense of sarcasm when questioned on a basic matter such as pressing the "attend" button mistakenly, mostly with a straight face (poker face at times!). What really takes the cake is the complicated, put up accent they talk to passengers! (Probably they take pride in their complicated pronunciation that most don't understand). 

However UL 309 SIN-CMB on 7th November 2014 was different. At least for those of us at the Economy Cabin. We were serviced by two Sri Lankan Air hostesses, "Kylie" and "Ashani". They were not the most eloquent or elegant that I have come across.  But they went about their tasks with such lucidity and in a friendly manner it brought about a smile in almost all who experienced the two of them. They were genuinely enjoying their tasks and they had fun in doing it (just between the two of them). When serving food there were several occasions that they ran out of the popular food in their trolly. They were quick to replenish but the beauty was the manner in which they took the shortage, attended to the same and put a smile in the passengers face. On the face of things they did not look veterans in the industry, contrary they looked quite the opposite!

Towards the end of the flight I did walk up to the chief stewardess and paid a compliment regarding the two who served us. Surprisingly I found here to be more friendlier than the others as well. (My bad I forgot to take down here name). Even the Purser was a friendly gent.

Kudos to the UL 309 team on 07th November. Hope Srilankan will be able to infuse that sort of energy to more crew members! 

Feel free to share your thoughts or feedback on this posting under the comments column

Monday, February 24, 2014

Everyone should have a plan

Over the weekend I was conducting couple of sessions for professional students on "Individual Development Plan". I was amazed as to the number of people not having an individual development plan. 

Come to think of it, many people spend much more time in planning and strategising  purchasing assets such as selecting a motorbike or a car (sometimes even clothes!!!) Even a weekend trip takes lot more planning. 

Here's the thing. Imagine you want to build a house. Anyone with a proper sense knows the process starts with finding a good architect, sharing your requirement and getting the architect to draw up a plan. You would provide feedback to him, make alterations to fine-tune the plan according to your liking. Only then you think of building the house. 

Lot of people tend to take this aspect for granted when it comes to their 'lives', probably the most important plan one would ever make! Most approach this all important task in the most hap hazard and casual manner.  Some allow it the fate. Most tend to have a vague idea as to what they want to achieve of course with minimum clarity. If you ask them they'll probably say they want to be a "CEO", "a manager","a  doctor" etc. Beyond that they rarely have a plan to achieve it. 

This is absolutely disastrous. It's almost like building a house without an architecturally drawn up plan. Surely one will end up with a building. But it will never be a proper home. What amazes me most is the number of people who approach life without any proper plan. That number is a lot more than what we think. 

Even those who have drawn up a plan have drawn that up several years ago with no active monitoring and revising the plan on continuous basis. 

Here's the thing. Simply having a plan will put you with top 5% of the people in the world. But just like any corporate plan if you work on it without actively reviewing it you'll end up somewhere totally different than your intended destination. Plans should be reviewed on regular basis. At least several times a year if not on monthly basis. Just like corporate plans become irrelevant based on external environmental changes (which by the way happens all the time and much more frequently than before) personal plans too become irrelevant over time. After all who said individuals are immune to market volatility! 

Feel free to share your thoughts or feedback on this posting under the comments column

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Celebrating failure

Recently I had the good fortune of attending the LBR LBO CFO forum in Sri Lanka. The theme of the forum was Middle Income Challenge for Sri Lanka.

Among topics discussed was, what specific skills development would be required for Sri Lanka to emerge from the so called "Middle Income Trap" . Whilst most speakers focused on the technical competencies, it was Udena Wickeremasoriya, Group Director of Brandix who said that their focus was on making people more entrepreneurial. He emphasized on the fact that the most important mind set change required was the ability to "celebrate failure.'

As a student and practitioner of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) this was wonderful to hear. Further, it argues well for the country when the largest apparel exporter vouches on such statement. It is the primary difference in mind set between those who achieve things in life and those who don't. 

Many people do not know that each individual has the same number of neurones. Non of the leaders be it political, religious or for that matter any other who has made a mark in this world has a different type of a brain. We are all born with the same number of neurones, one billion, billion neurones at that! the difference amongst ourselves comes in the form of the neuro connections we make! 

What that means is that if an individual can achieve something, any other could achieve the same result without any doubt. ITS ONLY A QUESTION OF strategy. 

According to NLP there are three types of people in this world, depending on how they view failure. 

1.  Those who view failure.... as failure! After one attempt they decide that they are not good  at it. They simply give up. It becomes worse when they logically justify why they cannot achieve something. Common excuses include factors such as genes, ability, was never good at it etc. 

2.  The Second Group is better than the first. They might get knocked down, but they get up again. They dust themselves up and try again. They do the same thing hoping perseverance shall prevail! Unfortunately with this group it is only a question of time before they throw the white towel. Some give up as early as the second or third attempt. 
3. The Third Group views failure, very differently to the other two. For them, failure simply means "feedback". Feedback on the strategy that was adopted to achieve success needs correction or fine tuning! Each time persons of this group make an attempt and get "feedback" they review their strategy and   take corrective action on that particular strategy .They continue to revise the strategy until they achieve success. Edison fine-tuned his strategy 9,999 times before succeeding in inventing the light bulb!

So go ahead, be an achiever. Remember, there are no failures, only feedback.

Other articles you might like, 
                    Every one needs to have a Ricky  -

                    Peddling down the road less travelled

                    Racing your way through life

                    Swimming without goggles

            Feel free to share your thoughts or feedback on this posting under the comments column

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Champion Monsters

How often does organisations grow champion monsters within their ranks who eventually might be the biggest hurdle for the growth of the organisation? This is a crucial question many leaders fail to address in a timely manner. Repercussions could be far reaching and non reversible that any subsequent changes could be painful for the entire organisation. 

To elaborate this point let me take Information Technology domain in a normal brick and mortar organisation. When the organisation is at a relatively primitive stage, "John" joins the company as the sole IT resource person. Being very high in IQ and ambitious John goes about automating the organisation. Results are both encouraging and extremely useful. The company continues to expand and grow and John too grows within the ranks of the organisation and now he becomes a Department Head with his own team of IT professionals. John continues to add value with more and more meaningful contributions to the business functions bringing IT to a level of a business driver. He continues to grow in stature within the organisation. He creates a fortress around himself and rather than becoming a facilitator who unleashes business potential through relevant information sharing he becomes the judge and jury on whats relevant and necessary. Given his clout in the organisation many people give up at the first sign of resentment. With time many staff members ascertain there is no point seeking information through him. Some gets frustrated and leave the organisation. Others simply manage within the existing status co. 

Over time the company reaches the scale that is of a top player in the industry. Value provided by John is limited to the best of his ability or several of his deputies. John does some research on his own and try to incorporate best IT practices. However he is driven by the sense of individual accomplishment and would do everything within his power to justify his view point. It's natural that he feels that he knows whats best for the organisation. Usually at such a point John will reach a level where he feels that his intellect is above all solutions out there. To his credit he has developed groundbreaking systems in the past.Thus he logically dispels outside solutions mostly citing cost and justifying to the management that he could develop something bespoke for a fraction of the cost. With a myopic view on cost management cede to John. He becomes stronger and stronger in the process. 

A scenario where John receiving a better break and moving out of the organisation could be a blessing in the disguise for this company. For starters they will be able to instil new blood to the position who could bring in a fresh perspective. Usually such personnel would rarely leave an organisation or for that matter the position. They become so comfortable with the environment they resent any change. And why should they? They enjoy themselves and the company certainly takes care of them. Greater danger for the organisation lies in the continuation of John in his current capacity. With its myopic view the organisation has reached a point of stagnation in terms of the potential of their systems as it is limited to John's thinking. They fail to understand that outside, third party solutions are fine-tuned based on thousands of customer feedback around the world thus incorporating industry best practices which are evolving on a daily basis. The fail to recognise the fact that best in class solutions do bring industry best practices to the organisation. Any progressive organisation understands that "our way of doing things" is not the best way!

Further the organisation would at the mercy of John with such level of dependency! Certainly not the risk mitigation strategy that would be to the liking of any board of directors. 

Over a period of time a progressive leader might recognise this issue and may take corrective action. But the question is, whether it would be too late then. 

On a different note John too may suffer professionally if he is forced to look for  job outside of his current organisation. At his level companies expect "John"s to partner with business and proactively see how they could add value to the process. They would rarely expect John to spend valuable time in reinventing the wheel. 

Feel free to share your thoughts or feedback on this posting under the comments column

Friday, May 3, 2013

When e-government initiative fails to deliver results

Providing government services to its citizens via the web is one of the most progressive moves by any government and the government of Sri Lanka and its ICTA agency should be commended for its effort to bring some of the citzen services such as revenue license renewel and EPF services.

However the efforts become futile when the government machinery is unable to bring on board data from all Insurance companies that would enable the citizen to utilize the said services. Afterall being such a regulated industry, Insurance companies should be able to share such data with key government initiatives. Private sector companies should take equal responsibility to make such initiatives sucessful for the common good of the citizen.
Feel free to share your thoughts or feedback on this posting under the comments column

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Everyone needs to have a "Ricky"

Recently I was on a personal development program where I was part of a group which had a volunteer coach. His name was Ricky.

While I always appreciated the true value of a coach, initially I was skeptical about the value my coach might be able to impart on me other than smoothly coordinating assigned group work.

In many ways Ricky was unassuming and one of the most down to earth people I have come across. He was a soft spoken and relatively quiet.

On the second day during one of the field activities, he walked up to me, took me to a side and gave one of the most valuable insights I have ever received. In essence, he told me that I was very vocal, cheering my my team mates, but never present at that moment!

I was stunned, though I wasn't surprised with the feedback. I myself knew that I was "acting". My shock was due to this person's ability to pick that up when all the others thought I was an ace team man who was very involved.

That was a powerful message that hit hard on me. I was consciously 'present' thereafter throughout the program.

Subsequently there were several other chats we had which allowed me to realize few other ground realities in life!

Many misunderstand the role of a coach. A coach is not necessarily someone who is better than you technically, neither is s(he) a person who should have experienced life more than you. that's what is expected out of the role of a mentor.

A coach is someone who will consciously observe you and tell you when you are moving off course. He will ask you the hardest questions. Help you discover the answers yourself. All tennis players including Roger Federer and  Rafael Nada who are the best out there have a coach who goes on tour with them. Not that these coaches are anywhere close to the skills and talent of these top players. But they know there success depends on their coach who is able to give candid, valuable and thought provoking feedback.

So go find your own "Ricky". Because "Ricky" rocks!!!!!

This is a personal tribute to Dr. Ricky Chua, who was my coach for several days during a life transforming program. Thank you Dr. !

Feel free to share your thoughts or feedback on this posting under the comments column

Monday, November 12, 2012

Self Development - Do something unusual

Recently I attended a sales training program in Singapore. It was striking to note that there were many ladies (and few gents) pin their very much mature years attending the program. 

Some of them were making career changes while others were completely out of the box, meaning they were housewives. There were quite a few who have just started their careers as real estate agents. 

Leaving their demographics aside, key thing that struck me was their hunger to learn. Many of them diligently took down notes and took serious trouble to understand complicated and interesting topics such as buyer psychology and rapport building. Given the kind of questions they were asking it was obvious that they mean serious business! 

Hats off to these ladies for taking a path which is not typical. In fact I volunteered to help these ladies to set up things such as blogs, twitter and FB accounts. Yes, they are very keen on being engaged in Social Media. 

I certainly expanded my horizons on the subject and our coach was a fantastic person! Leroy you were great! 

There is a powerful lesson in all this. In life unless you explore certain new things you really don't know what the water feels like. 

To those who are taking the roads less travelled! I salute you! 

Feel free to share your thoughts or feedback on this posting under the comments column