Debugging Six Sigma

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

SixSigmaIf you don’t know what Six Sigma is about, read this Wikipedia-article first.

I had some discussions lately about sense or nonsense of Six Sigma. Part of the information flooding today is that there are a lot more variations of “best practices”. So I do not disagree with Six Sigma, but there’s two points you should keep in mind with their or any other best practices. They are guidelines. Not a panacea. And with all such best practices, they are about what you make out of them.

For Six Sigma especially, there is a point I found far to strictly adhered to: The financial focus.
In most jobs I have done in my life, I was the fire fighter for managers who did not understand the value of a fire fighter. Because a fire fighter is paid like an insurance. You are happy if you never need it.
We call it the Saint-Florian-principle:

Oh dear holy Saint Florian,
Don’t burn my house
take the other one…

automationThere are many such jobs in any company, but that’s the jobs, most often the first ones being cut by Six Sigma disciples. Service, support. They are cost factors, they do nothing but cover for the mistakes done up front. As there must be no mistakes, there’s no need for service and support. It’s a very typical trend for any company where managing responsibility is transferred from the entrepeneur to the finance, money driven folks.
Good ideas are declined as they are risky and you got to believe in the idea. Speaking to the financial guys, my experience is that you hit a brick wall. The same is true if you talk about “non-essential” services. Like service. And my experience is that the entrepeneur has a total different understanding of Six Sigma or other such best practice principles, than financial bean counters.

So it is not about Six Sigma or not, but what you make out of it! I think, we just learn, what bean counters got and get us into. I call it greed and fear. “CYA”: Cover your ass. I learned that from a CEO with finance background. I may live better if I would live their way. But I sleep far better trying something and standing up for my own mistakes.

What a chance the U.S. to have a president-elect who is creative and open to change = risk? I hope the focus of companies shifts from a conservatory play-it-safe back to a search for creative new ideas and do some trial. Sure, not everything will work out. But I predict: The survivors are the ones that move.

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Information Overkill

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

FVW Blog just mentioned a senior travel industry manager asking, who has time to read all that information published “Web 2.0”.

Classic Books vs. Digital
Classic Books vs. Digital

In the good old times, we had no control on who said what. But it did not matter much, as the word was forgotten quickly. Today, thoughts are not voiced, but published. So word reaches more people. But similar as in the good old days, the word gets lost. In the noise of flooding information, to find the interesting part becomes valuable.
Consultants recommend to keep control on what is said and published about your company. But where do you start, where do you end? Inflation of the value of the written word. So the good old paper publishing companies recover their value. Not limited to the printed issues. But to have editorial teams that built a reputation of “quality”.

Shift Happens » It’s all about control of the information flood. Information overkill. If I seek one information, I limit myself before on how much time I invest in it. I use a timer. Usually the time is gone by faster than I anticipated…

Google was founded in 1998. Before Google, there was Yahoo. I do miss the old Yahoo. I do miss a solution that qualifies the information that I get. I get too much crap searching Google. So as Google revolutionized Internet search, what will come after Google? In 1998, Google started with 24 million indexed pages. In 2004 they had already 8 billion pages in their index. (Source: Wikipedia) That means: These pages existed. How many today? Google doesn’t tell…
[Update 2016, Wikipedia says: “In 2012, Google has indexed over 30 trillion web pages, and received 100 billion queries per month”]

So if a consultant recommends you to keep an eye on the information published about you in the Internet, better ask him/her how. To date, I have not received a decent answer. So I keep 10 web pages and 10 Blog Feeds as my personal maximum. You want me to read your blog? If I do, I ask myself, which other blog I delete from my RSS-reader (Thunderbird). Interesting, more and more friends tell me they do the same. The more IT-focussed their business is, the earlier they limit their monitored information to the valuable ones
And on top of that list are: The company’s own website. The renowned, famous references. Blogs or independent websites? Only if I don’t find the information elsewhere…

Food For Thought.
How do you handle it? What’s your experience? I’m curious. Let me know 😀

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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.

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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.
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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 🙂

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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.
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Are You Good At Selling Yourself?

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

MomoA discussion on LinkedIn triggered thoughts about personal priorities in business. And keep in mind that it’s the (wo)man in the mirror that makes a change (or doesn’t).

I do think we far too much try “selling” and many people have forgotten the good old habits of reliability, honesty, trust and faith. We spend all our time making money to spend on luxuries and saving it for spare time we do not have. We forgot how to live.

Many managers nowadays aren’t any better than Ebenezer Scrooge and one just wishes the Ghosts of Christmas to visit them! What is important? The money you make? The money some unknown investor makes? Welcome to the Grey Gentlemen! If you are a manager, what are your values? Think about it!

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Bring me a Rock

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

From: http://bringmearock.blogspot.com/
By Edward J. Fern, Time to Profit, Inc.

Bring me a RockThroughout the time I was employed by others, I played a game I call, “Bring Me a Rock.” The game has thousands of minor variations but they all follow the same basic format.

The game begins when the boss calls me into his or her office and invites me to have a seat. Over the next several minutes of extended conversation, the boss’s message can easily be summarized in four words, “Bring me a rock.” I’d then return to my own cubicle or office and construct a list of the features I believed the boss’s rock should have and begin to study where and how such a rock might be developed.

Hours, days, weeks, or months later I’d return to the boss’s office and proudly place my rock squarely in the middle of the desk. Aghast or at least disdainfully, the boss would ask, “What the #e!! is that?” Gently I would remind, “You asked me to bring you a rock.”

“That,” derisively, “is not the rock I wanted.”

Then I would inquire, “Can you tell me about the rock you want?” “Yes!” emphatically, “I will know it when I see it!”

Eventually my last boss got tired of the game and let me know I was being laid off. As I heard his words, I realized that I too was tired of the game.

If this has happened to you, this blog is just for you.

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Do you still enjoy privacy or do you Google already?

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

A German saying asked “Do you still have sex or do you play golf already?” (Hast Du noch Sex oder golfst Du schon?). Adapting it this week to “Hast Du noch Privatsphäre oder googlest Du schon?” (see title).

Following the general and naive media hype (can the media be truly that naive?!) about the new Google Chrome, German ZDF and some other more reputable news media took a closer look. Do you remember the public outcry when Microsoft was found “phoning home”? Google’s Chrome does not just call home. Your browsing history (aside others) is stored right on the Google servers. Interesting enough, despite ability to develop tools cross-plattform, the Chrome browser is only available for the Windows environment.

Another report did address the fact that Google builds “The Cloud“. As most my readers are travel industry related, you may recall that Amadeus Germany (“Start”) replaced the last “dummy terminal” in 1993 with a “PC”. Enabling storage of information locally. With “The Cloud”, you need to be always online, but you do not need a large hard drive any more, as all programs and data is stored on the servers in the web. The Google servers that is if you ask Google… Welcome back to our roots!

1 ½ years ago, at my anual ASRA presentation (4,1 MB), I addressed data security. The friends in ASRA joked about me being paranoid. Last weeks the “loss” and misuse of private government data (in large style) is all over media and politics in Europe, especially U.K. and Germany. In Germany even the official registration office (where any citizen must register one’s address) sells the data quite publicly. So paranoid? Or just realistic? Or underestimating the case?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is reported to actually pick laptops from travelers without a particular security concern (“spot checks”). Too bad, if that happens to an Airbus official, who denies to give the passwords to access the encrypted data. And there is no official information, how the data is secured by the DHS. So the data may end up at Boeing quite “legally”. And yes, sure there are many ways to ensure the DHS not getting access to any privacy data. The Cloud Computing can also be set to communicate not with Google but with your own server(s) and a nice, unobtrusive special login allows you to invisibly purge (not just “delete” recoverably) all private data including server accesses in case that becomes necessary. Then you login in via VPN (access details not on the computer) and just restore your work environment. On this or just another PC… Details on request 😉

Hmmm… The DHS and politicians sure know that terrorists are not so stupid as to answer “did you pack a bomb” with “yes” (still “normal” question at U.S. airport check-in) or that they are usually organized good enough to secure their backs better. So if they know that, am I paranoid to believe them to not be interested in terrorists but to increase their control of us, their citizens?!
It is a radical change of the legal paradigm that one is innocent until proven guilty. Today we are all presumed terrorists and have to proof we are innocent citizens! All that under the argument that an innoncent person does not have to hide anything? What a complete farce!
George Bush, Wolfgang Schäuble, read my lipps: You will be going into history for having brought down freedom and established the surveillance state. Oh, sorry George Bush, you did better, you’ve become the president leading the U.S. into global wars being proven lier, using faked proof for “weapons of mass destruction”. Your “holy wars” have as much justification as the holy wars of the mideval ages! What was that movie? Wag the dog… Good to start a war to cover up the real business – such as to establish a surveillance state? The land of the free… The what? … Well done Mr. President!

So as a summary: Be careful with your private data and start to consider preference of non-commercial Open Source software, such as Mozilla, Open Office and Linux instead of Windows – it becomes increasingly a (vital) privacy issue! Not only privately, but increasingly also for corporations…

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Data Security

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

Best Western hit the media this week being reported to have been hacked and 8 million customer datasets being stolen. Best Western objected the news, mentioning they have no proof for such hack and they would delete their data anyway frequently.

Say WHAT? Corporations spend millions acquiring customer data and Best Western deletes them? Hmmm…

asra2007datasecurityNo matter, if this has been a newspaper hoax, there is something good in this. Who knows today, where data is collected, how it is stored, kept secure, who has access to it? How “secure” is “secure”? The Internet by definition is insecure. An old – even pre-WWW saying in IT: To have a secure system, remove all input… If a user in old DOS entered “format c: /u” the drive was formated irreversably. Oops, I forgot to backup that file? Too late. In my 2007 ASRA-presentation on Airline Sales & e-Commerce, my friends in ASRA joked that I would be paranoid… Today they know better, thanks to media coverage of data insecurities. I get increasing inquiries.
Most large corporates have a faulty and flawed security. Most even do not use encrypted communication with the most sensitive data they send through the web. Discussions on LinkedIn confirm the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to pick Laptops. Where does the data on them end up? Maybe your U.S. competitor has access to it?

But now we talk about personal profiles. Where is what data stored electronically about you? Have “they” told you they store the data beyond the immediate transaction? No. We only learn by security breaches becoming public that such behavior is not the exception but the rule. And thanks to the global networked world we live in, data is no longer limited to “my hotel”, “my supermarket”, “my anything”. But the hotel reports some or all of the data to the central server somewhere. Next you arrive in another city, they do have your address data on file. Hmmm… What else do they have???

And then we come to the new laws in the U.S., Germany and sure elsewhere, legally forcing providers to collect data and make it available to their government representatives. Said what? What is a “government representative”? Do I trust him or her? Not the government – I don’t trust “government”. But worse, “the representative”. Who controls the controller?

So sorry for the bad publicity Best Western, but thank you for another example to make people aware and think about their personal information. Did you ever read 1984? George Orwell did not even imagine what exists today!

Shift happens! Internet meet World. World meet Internet…

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