Archive for April, 2015

Flight to clarity

April 29, 2015
Still cruisin'

Still cruisin’

Sometimes life sends you a message to make sure you’re awake.

Last week I was heading away on a customer incentive trip to the Kimberley in far north Western Australia. It’s one of Australia’s most remote locations; far from mobile and internet connections, electricity and the comforts usually associated with corporate travel.

I was looking forward to it; a new place, a new experience: fishing with Barramundi, Queenies, Cod and a variety of other species sharing the waters with crocodiles, sharks and stinging box jellyfish.

Swimming was off the agenda but fishing and trekking to caves with 40,000-year-old Aboriginal cave paintings was the order of the days ahead. Leaving from Melbourne, we had four flights and over twelve hours of travel – further and longer than many overseas destinations.

We made the first flight to Perth and transited to Broome, two and a half hours up the WA coast. From there, we transferred to a Cessna and then we would take a helicopter for the final leg.

The Cessna took off on schedule and save minor buffeting we settled in for the two-hour flight to Mitchell’s Plateau. There was a buzz on board with the boys and making predictable jokes about small planes crashing into crocodile-infested waters.

It was a hot day and forty-five minutes into the flight we were relaxing with the gentle drumming of the engine and the staccato of the blades making us sleepy. This was abruptly disturbed by the shrill of warning alarms and an acrid smell in the cabin, followed shortly by the cabin filling with smoke.

The plane had an electrical fire. The pilot banked sharply and dropped from 6,500 feet to just over 1,000. From the tight bank, I could see the landscape rising quickly. I assumed the pilot was in control but he was looking worried and calling ‘Pan-Pan’ into his headset, the precursor to a mayday.

I looked at my colleague in the next seat and said, ‘We could be in a bit of trouble here’.

The silence on the plane was eerie, no panic, no calling out; just a stunned silence, hoping we were going to make it.

The fire extinguisher was at the back of the cabin so the pilot shut down the electrics to contain the situation. As the plane levelled out, I felt great relief. In the distance I could see a small landing field, one of very few on the journey. The plane roared across the tree-tops, flaps inoperable so we were coming in hot, at more than double the normal landing speed. The pilot kept the revs up and put the plane down hard.

We evacuated rapidly while the pilot hit the console with the extinguisher. We went into a small shed and were told to stay there due to the number of crocodiles in the area. By now the tension had eased and the boys were joking again.

A few minutes later we had police, ambulance, fire brigade and SES roll in under full noise and lights. The paramedics rushed in to find eight blokes drinking coke and looking bewildered, none of us appreciating the seriousness of a fire on a plane.

‘Bugger me; that was close’, said a police officer.

The pilot came in to talk to the police and received a rowdy round of applause from our group of very appreciative passengers.

He had done a great job and we asked him if he was going to take us the rest of the way.

‘No more flying for me today’ was his response, and we settled in for the two-hour wait for a replacement plane from Broome. Thoughts of work were far from our minds and we were relieved to find we still had phone reception and everyone rang home.

Now that’s a business trip that really put our priorities into perspective.

Save me from corporate speak

April 4, 2015
Keep it simple ...

Keep it simple …

Having just returned from four solid weeks of customer and international collaboration meetings, I’m up to pussy’s bow with corporate speak.

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or, at the end of the day, move into a new space, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it like that.

No longer the province of consultants and business-school types, the annoying corp-speak trend has infused businesses everywhere. Used as a means of corporate elitism, such talk, along with obscure acronyms, make people feel part of the club.

Well, here’s a cliché to kick us off: talk is cheap.

Because sincerity requires more than lifting something from a business magazine in an airport lounge. Anyway, to get you up to speed (sorry), here’s a far from exhaustive list of corp-speak, with a few [comments] along the way. Some on this list are clichés, others are aphorisms, but they’re all equally irritating. I’m sure you’ll have many more.

  • What the mind can conceive, it can achieve [But can you fly like a bird?]
  • Winners never quit [But to become winners, they do change their approach – a more subtle argument.]
  • What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger
  • Teamwork to make the dream work [Pass me the bucket.]
  • Money can’t buy happiness [Oh yes it can.]
  • There’s no ‘i’ in ‘team’ [What about healthy teams that appreciate constructive individuality? By the way, there is a ‘me’ in team.]
  • Good things come to those who wait [Why wait?]
  • It was meant to be [Then why did we bother trying to make it not be?]
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results [Sometimes you have to do the same thing many times to get the result you want – it’s called practice.]
  • Let’s take that offline [Are we really that digitally focused?]
  • We’re moving into that ‘space’ [It’s not cool when everyone is saying this.]
  • Everything happens for a reason [Who decides the reason?]
  • Innovative, solutions orientated, service focused [You get the picture … blah.]
  • We’re going from ‘good’ to ‘great’
  • Blue ocean, red ocean
  • People are our most important asset [Yet most businesses certainly don’t act like they are.]
  • It is what it is
  • Live each moment like it’s your last
  • Follow your bliss
  • It’s just my personal opinion [No, tells us what someone else thinks.]
  • Let’s not reinvent the wheel
  • I’m a thought leader [Not if you have to say you are.]
  • It’s not rocket science [Unless you work for NASA!]
  • It’s all good [Usually said when it isn’t.]
  • The time is now! [Of course it is. When else!]
  • Make hay while the sun shines
  • Bespoke solution [Great for Rolls Royce, silly for almost everyone else.]
  • Don’t assume – it makes an ASS out of U and ME [Another bucket please.]
  • What’s done is done
  • Greed is good [Finally, one I agree with.]
  • Pushing the envelope [Air Force to Corporate, a giant leap …?]
  • Nice guys finish last
  • Paradigm shift [Has no meaning but people like to pretend it does.]
  • Go with the flow
  • No offence, but … [We know what’s coming next.]
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day
  • Work smarter, not harder
  • We’re all in this together [Group failure is always so much better.]
  • Everything always works out in the end
  • Tomorrow is another day
  • It could be worse [From whose perspective?]
  • Think outside the box
  • The best things in life are free [Do you really believe that?]
  • Work hard, play hard
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same [No they don’t!]
  • Fail harder [Whatever that means, but I’m not inclined to try it!]
  • Perception is reality [What about when your perception is psychotic?]
  • Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm [How about winning occasionally. Talk about a negative mind set!]
  • At the end of the day [My most hated. Never again.]

So, there are a few phrases to throw into the mix and see what sticks so you can transition your brand trajectory, without offshoring, to leverage your core competencies to drive efficiency and ensure client-centric solutions for a valued added experience.

Please, try something new.