Seven Weeks Without

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

7wochenohneIt is Easter Sunday. In the wake of my father’s death (the reason there was no Food For Thought last week) I think about god. Yulia does an Easter Lent. So I thought about the Easter Lent in Germany and learned only today about “Seven Weeks Without”, an Easter Lent initiative in the German churches. This year’s motto: “Decide! Seven Weeks Without Hesitation” (Sich entscheiden! Sieben Wochen ohne zaudern).

The publications that came along with the motto say we make the mistake to play it safe. Don’t we all know (what we call) the “egg-dance” of politicians, trying to avoid any decisions? I have too much of those to my liking lately.

Then I received a post by my dear friend Sapphire, called Orphan. About the missing link to god. I do not believe much in church. But in the wake of my father’s death, I also learned the truth of the saying “You can remove a boy from the bible belt, but you cannot remove the bible belt from the boy” (the bible belt is a very religious region in the U.S. midwest). I was raised Lutheran (a Christian variant). I believe in god. And as Yulia just said to me yesterday: It is the believe in god that unites us.

But this Food For Thought is a business blog, so why do I address something like god, the lent or Orphan here? Because of the lent motto. Decide! We cannot always play it safe. This is another recurring topic, in this case on LinkedIn Q&A: What makes a good manager. A good manager decided, stands to his decision (doesn’t blame others on failure) and reverses it quickly if needed. Not like a politician without an own opinion. First it is the decision. And no, not the decision not to decide 😉

Especially in the crisis, the decision makers are likely to survive. They move.

Or to quote Barrack Obama: Change! Yes – We CAN !!!

Food For Thought. Thanks for sharing yours!

1 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

The Power of Bureaucrats

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

The past weeks have been quite a dramtatic change to me. Taking over the marketing at Erfurt Airport was the right decision. It calls for a fire fighter. And the first weeks produced a lot of bureaucratic overkill that made my life more miserable than it hat to be – challenging and fun as these weeks were.

bureaucracyWhat I discussed with family and friends is actually the thought, why bureaucrats are that way. Why is it, that they require reports and statistics on obviously clear things? Why do they knowingly destroy instead of create? I will never truly understand it, but we are all facing them, so the bureaucrats are somewhat a part of life we got to live with.

Some discussions on LinkedIn address the same topic. What makes a “leader”? My first ever boss told me some basic rules:

  1. Keep your supplier in mind. Only if you pay decently he will produce good work and only then he will remain your supplier. And suppliers are a small family always – they know each other. So once you go the cheap route, you will have trouble getting decent quality.
  2. A leader decides. Get as much data at as short time as possible and decide. Sometimes you have no data. Trust your experience. Some call it “intuition”. It’s as good a guide than any made-up figures. Future holds no guarantees.

Thinking about the last sentence: We all learned that lesson well last year, did we not? But one sentence is also true and may make the bureaucrats happy. We do need the bean counters. They shall question us. We better have a good idea, what we are doing. But we are here to do something. Not to count the beans.

1 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

The Impact of Government Safety Funds

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

There were two interesting reports on German Television lately. A short summary:

MoneyMarketBubbleThe Money Market

Currently the Money Market is a soap bubble. Anything is dealed, put into mass, dealed again and again and again. For any winner, there is a looser though, but no-one tells about the loosers.

Industry

You can only sell products. Money in itself is no product. Neither is “service” in itself. But did you know that Porsche made about five times more money on “financial market” than on building and selling cars?

Governmennt Funding

They are a very short-sighted remedy! Experts expect inflation to explode to 10% and more quite shortly, as all that money does not provide any additional value!

Food For Thought:

Inflation will result in increased prices. So we will see another explosion in crude-oil price within the year, with a drastic impact on aviation and other industries dependent on crude oil! And we better all understand that the “financial crisis” is not over, until the markets value industry and industry products again and cut down on “services” to a healthy level.

Virtual Reality meet Real World. You got to produce (and value your producers) to be able to spend on secondary services. Cut that down to the old businesses: Farming, industry. I am educated in “whole-sale” and we learned that whole-sale is just the distribution of goods, but the goods is what it’s all about! It does not help to have streets or rails if you have no goods to ship!

1 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

The Need For Consultancy

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

I lately got involved in discussions about the need for consultancies and how that market suffers the first from the financial crisis.

Roland Berger
Roland Berger

German top-consultant Roland Berger was quoted saying “You cannot push-start a car from the inside”. Which I found valuable. But it reminds me of a major shortcoming of todays managements: I have not needed to push-start a car for decades. The view is rather rare on the streets. But I need to confirm: The job of a consultant in most cases is to have an unbiased look at the company, speak to the people, listen to their advise, organize it and present it to the company. At that level, some creative suggestions on how to solve the identified shortcomings helps to make you a good consultant.

sxc439663Another cause is the discouraging of creativity by the bean counters. “Do your job, don’t think” is very common in larger companies with strict hierarchies. Mostly these companies are “managed” by bean counters, thinking of staff only as a little wheely in the machine – a “human resource”. Exchangeable, not valuable. In such cases I either can make these managers understand the value of a reevaluation of their values and the advantages of motivation of creativity, but more often I can only help them by voicing what they overheard for too long from their own people.

So the job of a truly good consultant (but they are rare) is to listen. To gain the trust from the people. To qualify, summarize their needs, consider solutions and present the findings to the management. The best ideas on the job are usually not mine. My experience only helps me to qualify them and put them into a structure and present them to management in a way they understand. Being the moderator…

Food For Thought.

0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

Crumbling Facades

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

What is money all about?

Crumbling FacadesFirst the financial market in the United States failed. Constructs where a single person is responsible for the loss of 50 Billion US$ are just the top of an iceberg. That ice berg turned and we all feel it’s repercussions.

But it was not the U.S. that caused the problem, but the greed of financial managers and the corruptibility of the politicians that made it possible. German’s federal state banks had to be sold, only to learn the buying banks from the other states are simply in similar troubles.

Deutsche Bank manager Ackermann and Deutsch Bahn boss Medorn keep up the facade of the reasoning for the indecent salaries they and their buddies in other corporations pay themselves, blaming others in their companies for the problems their companies face. Isn’t it the CEO who is ultimately responsible? If he has his company not in check, he may not be worth his salary. If his company looses money, they make a bonus? When they fire people, they make another bonus? “No risk, just fun” the yellow press recently titled…

Companies asking for help, often “suddenly” coming up with hidden “treasures” and financing leaks often as high as the losses so far admitted. Oops. If I have a management that has no up to date information about their financial situation, I can imagine this in a start up or small company – but we talk “global players” here! My advise: Fire them! Sue them! You got to, they got to learn the basics of business before they are allowed any management job again!

Politicians having been informed as early as August about the financial troubles of German Hypo Real Estate but now claim their innocense?

In Russia, Oligarch Boris Abramovich lost first the control on AirUnion, which meanwhile “somewhat” restarted as Rossavia as a state airline, now looses Malev as well. His buddy Lebedev is out of a deal to take over German Öger Tours, he’s short on money – weren’t these the people anyone worldwide envied for their incredible wealth?

And wasn’t “U.S. President” a synonym for integrity? Thank you Mr. Bush… What a legacy for Barrack Obama.

So with all these crumbling facades, it is not the time for blame. But it’s time to roll up your sleeves and work to get us out of the mud hole these irresponsible and greedy idiots drove us all into. I am daily facing cases, where good people loose their jobs to managers, still thinking to cut heads is the solution. Or airline managers believing that it’s important to increase revenue at all cost. Flights take off fully booked but causing the airline to loose money?! That has nothing to do with bad sales, but with a bad, price-only-focussed strategy of short-sighted managers. Good service needs good people. But our industries miss to show their own strategy. What makes an airline commercially successful? More aircraft with less people? A drop in service? A university graduade being sent to the key account having no idea what a cross ticket is or what makes a travel reseller select one airline vs. another? Pay for coffee inflight? The next business for airports and catering companies is logically to have vending machines offering snacks and drinks at the gate (or on the aisle infront of the waiting room) at cost below that offered inflight…

BethuneQuote

But what keeps my mind busy is the question, why the facades visibly crumble, why we work in an industry where everyone tells me no one in his right mind would invest in? I did question the human “resource”-thinking. I hear from Lufthansa that the “Lufthanseat” (the employee news) is off reality. American Airlines staff tells me they have never heard of the company update video I remember from the 80s.

BransonEmployeesOur industry is like the opposite to the car industry, but not any better: Where they focus to build the big cars for big money and ignored the growing demand for low-consuming cars, our managers seek quick revenue at any cost…? Load factors and market share at the cost of yield and income.

We can learn from the current U.S. president. Airlines got to learn again that the manager is head of the family. That means (s)he also has to look after the family income and budget. But they got to get out of their glass domes, listen to staff and customers alike and finally start face reality!!! And come to grips and learn to make money!

Food For Thought – your thoughts about this sure are welcome…

0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

Value of Time

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

MomoHaving linked Momo last week, I know the book is worldwide not as well known as in Germany. It is the story about a little girl fighting the Grey Gentlemen, who live of time and suck it (just like vampires) from us. We have less and less time to be happy. People themselves become grey. “Time is money and we don’t have any” is a joke I increasingly hear. Itself and it’s variants. Seminars in “time management” are said to be a cash cow.

Time is the only commodity we cannot replace.

What good is it, if you are wealthy but lack happiness? Friends wonder that I take one hit by Murphy after another, still smiling, still happy. A question of priorities: I am happy. Yes, I can live of Hartz IV if I have to. No, nothing I fancy. But we are lucky to have such a fail-safe! I visited Russia lately. The average income in the city I visited is 10-15.000 Rubels (350-500 Euros). No real social security. The average cost for a one-room apartment is 10-15.000 Rubels. Oops…? I have met people living there. Happy people. Not rich. But happy. Something becoming rare as people gain wealth…

Money ≠ Happiness?

Do I want to be wealthy? No. Yes, a decent monthly income doing a decent job would be great. And I love to do a good job. I am happy.
0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

Blood Money

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

VampiresAn Inuit chief once compared the human life on Earth with cancer. Instead of looking after the world and trying to live in balance, we exploit its resources, extinct other life-forms, farm life, even kill and eat other intelligence, such as whales. No symbiosis but parasite. Like vampires.

What was not said, but I imply it – is that not all people, but just some (powerful) humans are like cancer. Many managers think they must be “tough”, make utmost profit at all cost (who told them that?). And humanity’s and world’s immune system fails.

The “Western” industry nations are build on a religious system that values life. God gave us Earth to foster it. But there is a strange implied value system that builds around “wealth” and “power”. It’s an old question: Are rich people happy? Can you purchase happiness? If you dominate, are you loved?

Starting my own business, I was (very) quickly confronted with “Corporate Social Responsibility” and questions about corporate morale and ethics. Questions as alien to me as the question “Do you breathe?”. (If I don’t, the question is useless).

Thinking about this, I hope that this crisis will enable some of our “decision makers” to recognize some of the disease and cut it. But I doubt that. Too many politicians (and journalists) are part of the systems, suck blood themselves. They would risk too much of their own blood-money, are part of the system. Welcome the Gray Gentlemen.

0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

Managers Learning From The Nuremberg Trials

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

Thanks to friends like Sapphire, I discuss lately questions of Ethics and Morale. If you like to join into the discussion, I recommend you our SapPhilosophy blog.

"If I wouldn't have done 'someone else' would have"
Neither was: “If I wouldn’t have done ‘someone else’ would have”

If I look at the managers today, they hide behind the same old reasons as did the people with powers in the Third Reich. Did we not learn from the Nuremberg Trials? Oh, I am German and this is about Nazi-Deutschland, I am not supposed to touch it…? Come on, this is history and we should learn from it.
The Nuremberg Trials clearly condemned the idea “I was under orders” or “If I did not do it, someone else would have done it”. Company X publishes an increase in revenue of 15, 20% but anounces about the same time job cuts of about the same many employees? Who decided? Who is the responsible boss? He did not know? Get outta here! The Nazis all were the same innocent. But charged guilty and many got hung.
So maybe we should call in for a new Nuremberg trials – and look at the current managers and politicians? Look into the mirror: You, for yourself. What do you do? Can you maybe improve on your personal (and also corporate) morale and ethics? Are you guilty?

21.09. I referred to the “Gray Gentlemen” from Michael Ende’s bestseller Momo. If you don’t know it: They are stealing the time of people and the people become busy and successful and rich, but poor in the true luxuries: Time, family, friends.

And if you believe in God, do you truly believe your soul is anything but black, if you just pray to the gods of wealth? How many families you condemn by hiding behind the above excuses? Or the one calles “Shareholder Value”? If you are a shareholder? Aren’t you responsible if the management of the company you own part of works that way?

A month ago I/we also addressed the 10 New Commandments. I would very much appreciate if you read them and also that you let me know what you think about them. Or if you find them truth and spread them!

No. 10 quotes the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

What Is Luxury?

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

MarriedWithChildrenWhat is luxury to you? Is it the ability to travel the world? Is it a challenging job? Is it time with your family and kids? I do appreciate your feedback!

The luxury of my life was to get my eyes lasered. Some of you may recall me with the glasses. Thank goodness I got rid of them – sometimes reading glasses, I do not get younger either 😉

Currently the luxury I want is to be Married with Children 😉

To achieve this, I think I prefer a decent job. The fun part on that one: If I send out an application (even if on demand), I usually do not even get an answer. And that is especially in the hospitality industry… Excuse me? I would consider it an honor that you apply with me and a common courtesy to tell you if you don’t fit my needs.

Ahem. What's the Question?
Ahem. What’s the Question?

Not to answer is a typical sign of what is wrong today in the travel industry. It is a service industry. Decent treatment of applicants and staff, decent salaries and work hours are complains I hear all over the places. Be it travel agency, airline, or hotel industry…

Two side notes: This is a pre-prepared post as I return today from Russia. Interested to know more? Let me know! And I sure will write a summary of my experience with that trip.

December 3-5 I will be doing a workshop and a presentation at the conference in London. If Sales, Marketing and CRM in hospitality are your business, I sure appreciate to see you there 🙂

0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post

Web 2.0 and Modem 57.6 …

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

RJ11modemIn all the euphoria for Web 2.0 I am lately traveling in “Modem-country” again. Oh no! Do you remember?! No high speed Internet, connections with 40K or even 33K (thousand) only, where a slow DSL is 768K, normal are 2M (million). Wow. It is relatively easy to use Google and many other websites, but then I stepped into “Web-2.0-content” and got into the World-Wide-Wait…

And I realized how many website developers add into “unclean” code, complex but unnecessary flash animations, large images that have not been optimized to quick loading times. I received mails with 2MB attachments, happy that we use an IMAP-server, so I did not need to download the attachments as in earlier times!

It’s also frustrating if you send me my entire inquiry back, as if I wouldn’t be able to remember what I wrote or look up my mail. If you quote, fine. If not, be so kind and delete the inbound mail. Ctrl-A to mark all, or Ctrl-Shift-End to mark from the cursor to the end. Then hit “delete”…
We became so quickly used to high speed, many just don’t care what the recipient uses to connect. And yes, I got a 20MB file attachment too… Lucky I use a decent software that did not automatically try to download it… Sorry, I will only read it upon return.

Best of all, I do like the Word.doc-attachments, they always look so funny when I open them with Open Office. Some even warn me of activated Macros in the document (which I usually disable) I know why I prefer PDF 😉 And sorry people, I will not click to auto-confirm reception, I find this rather annoying.

So my friends, you better think about all this gadgets you like on websites. Especially when you address an international audience, I may not be the only one who cannot use your site.

Mimizing to the maximum is my recommendation.
0 - click to show Jürgen you liked the post