Home > Ideas, Leadership, Managerial Skills > Missed Opps or Messed Ops?

Missed Opps or Messed Ops?

Recently, I was forced to spend couple of hours in the departure lounge, at Mumbai Airport, while the airline decided whether to fly that day or not! First they blamed the Civil Aviation at some other airport for keeping their aircraft on the ground and later they said that it was the weather en route, or some such thing.

Instead of getting worked up I decided to hunker down and work on the next article for my blog – lost in thought, creating a mental picture of what I was going to put down on the page, I felt a tap on my shoulder and a voice said: “Hi, Stranger!”

Looking up I found the smiling face of a former colleague from my telecom days – while I had made an exit from that industry some 5 years back he had stayed on and was heading business in one of the Northern Circles.

As usual when former colleagues meet, after courtesies and routine questions regarding family and common friends, the talk drifts towards work and business.

I asked him how things were going in the telecom game and the weary expression that appeared on his face said it all.

Even the man on the street is aware of the troubles faced by this one-time dream business. Now, there is a phone in every hand but the balance-sheet of most companies is awash in red ink – as if that wasn’t enough there are a few scams tainting the reputations of the already tottering business owners.

I asked how it has been for him.

He was returning home after a business meeting – the Business Heads had been working through the weekend to recast numbers and to prepare some strategies for revenue growth.

As a Consultant, I was an interested outsider, and eager to grab any information on business – it was grist for my mill.

He said no business plan would make much sense if the basics were not in place. I egged him on in order to hear more.

He asked – “What are the chances of your game-plan succeeding when you don’t have people on the ground to run them?” No much, I said.

Due to the stagnation in the business the manpower losses were not being made-up – the workload was being shared among the team-members who remained in the system and fearing further dip in business more were leaving.

He said that while his two main competitors had 35-40 people each to cover the market, he was asked to make do with 17-18 – there was no budget to take on more people this year.

Channel Partners either stopped stocking the products or were disillusioned due to lack of support – there weren’t enough Captains around to rally all the foot soldiers. Eventually, many distributors stopped dealing with the operator and took on other agencies. Retailers had to turn customers away because there was no supply of material.

A tired horse won’t run faster even when its whipped and with two riders astride – it would just give up.

Your plans may be brilliant, they may have been the result of days of thinking and strategising – you probably called every member of the leadership team and picked their brains too. The estimates you made and the timelines drawn up could be realistic and do-able. Trust me, nothing will come off it if you don’t have the necessary infrastructure in place to run those schemes or plans.

Your infrastructure plan has to be a component of you planning document – it should say who should do what and how many people are needed to ensure successful rollout.

Imagine having a carefully thought out Channel Incentive Program and your channel appointment is way behind schedule – how do you expect to get the necessary business results if there is no one available to run the program?

The Operations of the airline I was using that day was clearly messed up and instead of facing the issue squarely, they palmed the blame off on the air-traffic controllers and Civil Aviation authorities. Blame others and making customers wait are easier than working on a corrective action program.

And then the airline decided to take us home – I wished my friend well and walked to the aircraft with this thought running in my head:

“I hope the telecom companies play it differently get their wires untangled real soon.”

  1. October 4, 2012 at 8:14 am

    A tired horse won’t run faster even when its whipped and with two riders astride – it would just give up…Loved that line….Guess I would quote it if I get an opportunity 😀

    • JayadevM
      October 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Hi Jayashree

      Thank you – its special to get appreciated for a turn of phrase!

      Do use it when the occasion permits. Regards.

  2. October 4, 2012 at 8:52 am

    There are so many tired horses around these days with noone to look into their problems…everyone expects them to run with all its pains n troubles….an eyeopener for me…truly….n J about the problems in the airline….i have seen it myself…most of the time even the staff are not told by the managment what the real problems are.The staff who face the passengers are told some story which they in turn feed to the passengers…:)

    • JayadevM
      October 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      Hi Kathy

      I know! That airline has seen better days – its heading for a stall. Quite sad.

      Am glad you found the message useful.

  3. Kailash
    October 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I liked the title J, and yes it’s easy to blame other instead keeping our house in order. But for telecom companies i would say our government has done a lot to make their life hell. As you know the re-auction prices for licenses. J our telecom companies where never making as huge money but to sustain in the market they have to keep the prices at rock bottom. And hence now they are trying and cutting cost on almost all departments.

    • JayadevM
      October 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Kailash

      I agree – the Government has to accept blame for the mess the telecom companies find themselves in – and true that their profits were never huge.

      But there is an urgent need to look inward and accept their flaws. As recent as this evening I spoke with a Call Centre Agent (outsourced for sure) of my service provider and found him grossly inadequate in skill and attitude – I was totally disappointed and annoyed. The Agent was following processes like an automaton and seemed least insensitive to my concern.

      Are they cutting cost or cutting their own feet?

  4. Jamy
    October 6, 2012 at 4:07 am

    Jay,great read again and the horsewalla phrase is especially catchy, no doubt ! Here in Barbabdos, tourism is on the decline a bit for many reasons and as usual everyone is blaming the government for not running the show properly and for losing points with an unstable economy. Having said that, there are a few hotels and hospitaity- oriented companies who are doing very well because of the kind of planning they did a few years back when things started looking a little less rosy- the emphasis was not on just reducing expenses but also how to train and coach people to work smart and not compromise on quality. These days, I and my colleagues are constantly questioned by other hoteliers as to how we are managing such a high occupancy and great ratings on Trip advisor, JDP etc. In fact, I am proud to say that Fairmont Royal Pavilion just won for the second year in a row the prestigious award of being the Region’s best luxury resort. Sometimes cost cutting can work if it is accompanied by sound planning and precise execution!

    • JayadevM
      October 6, 2012 at 4:20 am

      Hi Jamy

      Excellent example, as always.

      Cost Cutting should not kill the business, it should help improve efficiencies. I guess your hotel got it right.

      The others “resorted” to blaming the Government and external factors? Or they cut cost (scaled down operations too, I guess) without taking cognizance of the impact it might have on their image and revenue.

      Understanding the market, working out the right Strategy & Execution Plan are critical – and then do it well!

      Congrats to your hotel (and you) for having got it right and won accolades too.

      Thank you for reading all the articles in detail – you always connect the content with your reality – which adds & reinforces your learning and helps validate my message too.


  5. Sunil Menon
    November 8, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Hey Jay,

    Its been a while I visited your blog, vagaries of life.
    Clearly, you had exited from this industry but a cursory glance will give you the reason for desolate and sorry state of affairs.
    Look back and you will see that during the last one decade, except innovation and research in network and equipments, thanks to which we have superfast wireless networks, there has been no change in the way sales, marketing or customer service is panned out.
    Look at any youngster in wireless industry ,in couple of years they become fat around midriff than nimble on foot.The sales and marketing people,which isthe only mainstream function left in the industry(rest being outsourced), want to cling on to the comfort of their ramparts for the rest of their life.
    None want to go out and identify a niche , become an entrepreneur, seize the opportunity, innovate the process.
    Business owners will always look at cost reduction to maintain their EBITDA margins, why blame them, get out and slug it out or just shutup.
    Yes, I don’t deny the sordid nexus between politicians and business owners, but then, instead of blaming find your own mooring.
    By consanguinous and incestuous way the recruitment are done, keeping the bloodline within the industry will never bring any fresh thought and process and people will keep blaming others.

    • JayadevM
      November 8, 2012 at 3:28 am

      Hey Sunil,

      Although I exited a little while back there has been contact with the industry because I do a lot training for telecom companies.

      You stayed on as an insider by turning into an entrepreneur. You have given the true picture of the telecom playground in India.

      Isn’t that largely true for every sector in India – the fingers go in deeper into the bigger pies. Telecom, Real Estate, Education, Mining, Infrastructure, ad nauseum. There is the stench of corruption everywhere. But we go on in spite of it and hope that we too are able to eke out something. Maybe win a bit if we are in luck.

      But I do not believe in accepting corruption and coteries or being blind to it.There is a need to fight it every which way we can.

      Pleased to see the way you use language – reading good language gives a great feeling.

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