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Kaleidoscope Desk

July, 2018

BUSINESS WITH HUMANITY IN MIND


Global enterprises interact across many cultures and social environments. The diversity of these, where communities are either reasonably rich, impoverished, exploited or inadequately recompensed for their services; has led to calls for businesses to conduct themselves with humanity in mind.
For such businesses ‘humanity in mind’ is not a mantra but a core value. It means thinking about the bigger picture within a company and how the decisions it makes may affect their employees and the communities in which they operate. It is a desire to do something for humanity which has led to persons like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi and Sheryl Sandberg becoming internationally known philanthropists. They use a significant total of their income to help others less fortunate. They also recognise that it is their staff that deserves special consideration for their contribution to a company’s success. Of course, there will be those who ask; “Why should we bother about humanity, I am happy just making money for myself?” However, research confirms that when staff is valued from the top down and when a company actively engages within the communities where it operates, then the bounce-back goodwill is worth its weight in gold.
Many services and products have become ever more comparable and interchangeable. Clients now have more choice because the internet means they are better informed and consequently are no longer necessarily loyal to companies, brands or services. They may be satisfied with a product but nowadays it requires more than just satisfaction – it requires meaningful interaction and a ‘we like your company’s attitude and approach better than others’, to maximise customer retention.
Doug Conant, an internationally renowned business leader with over 40 years leadership experience with companies including Nabisco, Campbell Soups and Avon Products, highlighted how business with humanity in mind starts: – ‘To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace’. When leaders go with what they feel is right, being true to themselves and only treating others as they would like to be treated; then humanity starts cascading down. However, wherever we find ourselves in this chain there is one thing that frequently halts the process. It’s our own egos! Once we start to think it is important that others recognise that we are important then our ability to build positive relationships is soon frustrated. Putting aside our egos, and focusing on how we may help others develop, means that all of us may grow together. It’s currently known as ‘giving back’. Often, it’s the little spark, a magic moment that starts someone on the path to success. Be it within a company, or an interaction between a company and a community; a catalyst for good carries its own inherent rewards. Where a company, a leader, a team or even a single salesperson are known to encourage others and think about how they can help; the ‘we like your company’ attribute soars.
Equally the same applies when ‘giving back’ includes interacting with communities. Starbucks, the American coffeehouse chain, was founded in Washington in 1971. It now operates in 28,218 locations worldwide. Their ‘Meet Me at Starbucks’ campaign was an exceptional method to involve communities enjoying the experience of getting together in a Starbucks café all around the world. It showed how it could adapt to regional cultures, whilst offering the guarantee of a recognised quality brand served by staff focused on their regional environment. So, everyone is happy because they are being recognised for who they are, where they are and in a way that connects the company with their individual experience.
No matter what the size of an organisation the bottom line, when it comes to ‘business with humanity in mind’, is that everyone within a company equally from the leaders downwards, provides opportunities for others to flourish as individuals. At the same time humanity requires we seek out those, within a community, who may benefit from a little help. Random acts of kindness go a long way especially if given from the heart. Receiving smiles from others, as you conduct your business, is great recognition that you are succeeding in putting humanity into your business. It also means that your brand is honestly endeavouring to give something back – this really is operating your business with humanity in mind


March, 2018

Managing Your Empire


If you look at the history of great empires including Roman, Tibetan, Spanish, Russian and British, you see that they all grow to a certain size and then start to fall apart. The simplest and easiest reason for this is because the ethos, that originally bound them together, becomes lost across the ever increasing expanse. Those at the edges start to question why they should conform and the rational for doing so becomes weakened, eventually leading to the collapse of an empire.
The same effect may be seen in any business, company or organisation. If the centre loses connection with the lowest or farthest component then things can rapidly change adversely. Consequently if things change at the centre it’s important to let those furthermost away know what is happening, so that they remain inclusively involved and aware. Even in smaller workplace and social environments if the message and focus, which unites purpose, becomes cloudy then a breeding ground for misunderstandings may quickly start to permeate. In such a situation even an award winning team may, slowly and almost inconspicuously, start to fall apart simply because of the insecurity that is generated.
One report, from the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, recently published that some 41% of employees from all types of business noted high levels of stress. Whilst this increase is often blamed on our modern lifestyle, it’s insecurity which usually plays the trigger role. Generally we all prefer to know and understand what is expected of us, as this helps us achieve the goals that have been set. Probably like the writer of this article, we all gain satisfaction from knowing that we have done a job well and that the boss appreciates us. But until you get to the top, where the buck stops, even the bosses have a boss. Consequently any changes in management structure at whatever level may effects in areas where no one anticipated them.
Owing to modern demands, emails, texts, tweets news soon travels. Gossip quickly becomes the truth and fake news proliferates. Social media quickly spreads fear of failure and creates a ‘company sickness’ even though there is no real foundation for it! This is why it has become so important to ensure that everyone is, ‘in the loop’ when it comes to spreading good news.
So how may you test to see if you are getting good vibes in the workplace?
Well there is one simple way. Ask yourself this question. When emails arrive or your office telephone rings do you think they are bringing you problems or solutions, good news or bad news? If you appreciate your Company’s mission, and you enjoy being part of the team, then you will regard them as opportunities regardless of their nature. If not, you need to find time to chat with your colleagues to see what may be done to reverse any adverse trends. This is important because expectations about ones professional life have changed over recent years. Work, a pursuit others previously did for money and status, is now assumed to provide us with personal fulfilment. The logic goes that, without fulfilment, we will not realise our potential and will therefore feel unsatisfied at work and less productive. Obviously this is a situation that not only ourselves, but also management, wish to avoid.
So the bottom line is that when management changes are not communicated fully or understood properly it may lead to uncertainty. Uncertainty can then give rise to insecurity, which may cause anxiety, which in its turn brings on stress. As a consequence the motivation to provide our best and achieve our full potential is lost. This is a situation which benefits none of us.
Because of the greater focus on social media and its impact on spreading information, there has been a focus on how beneficial interactions and discussions are encouraged. Many companies now have role-play, get-away-days and other types of ‘out of the box’ ideas, so that staff feel more able to socialise on a friendly basis. Outside the restraints of being in the workplace, a more relaxed atmosphere often produces worthwhile outcomes. However here is an old chestnut story which, in this context, is worth repeating.
A sales representative, a project assistant and their manager went off to lunch together when they found an antique magic lamp. They decided to rub it and the Genie of the lamp appeared. The Genie said that each of them could have one wish.
Me first!” says the sales representative. “I want to be on my own magnificent house boat being waited on hand and foot, in my own estate, in the Kerala Backwaters without a care in the world.” Whoosh – their dream wish comes true.
Me next!” says the project assistant. I want to as rich as Elon Musk and have my own paradise island, relaxing on the beach, with an endless supply of everything I desire.” Whoosh! Their dream wish comes instantly true.
OK, it’s your turn,” says the Genie to the manager. The manager says, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.
Now if you understand the logic behind this story, and it makes you chuckle, then you’re already well on the way to dealing with any opportunities changes may bring within your workplace. Keep an open mind, build on your experiences, listen to others and have a friendly collective approach and you’ll never find yourself stuck on the edges of an empire. You’ll be part of the driving force for the better.


January, 2018

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS – WHY BOTHER?



If you are being completely honest, how many of you will confess that you have frequently failed to keep a New Year’s resolution? The fact is more than 80% of them are never kept. It’s therefore no wonder that the value of making resolutions is easily brought into question. However as each New Year comes round it’s an interesting and easy topic to keep our attention, asking friends what their New Year’s resolutions will be. Whilst it’s said that, ‘Procrastination is the thief of time’; we still keep promising ourselves that we will do better next time. But by making New Year’s resolutions, the greater majority of us are just setting ourselves up for disappointment. So why bother?
There is no doubt that resolutions only succeed when we are resolute. Research shows that we are simply not wired to be suddenly resolute. Becoming so is a brought about by a process, through which we need to go. It needs to take place for any resolution to have any real chance of succeeding. Basically there are four stages to reaching a point where it is reasonable to make a new resolution. So if you are mindful to bother about resolving to do something, here are some markers to help you. Importantly you need to determine what stage you are in.
Stage One is where you are thinking about making a change but, in your heart of hearts, you know you really don’t want to do it. Perhaps, for example, you are being pressured into making a commitment by a well-meaning friend. This approach will not be enough to ensure you succeed.
Stage Two is where you are not only thinking about making a change but you are also considering the practicalities of doing it. You wonder how you will find time to go to the gym. How much is it going to cost? Will it make me too tired to do other things? How will I benefit? At this stage you are actively considering the situation. This is important because without having weighed-up the ‘pros and cons’ of a resolution you will be unprepared. As a consequence the first unexpected hurdle you face may well cause you to quit.
Stage Three is where you are out of denial about the benefits of any decision. You really do appreciate the benefits and you now recognise the need for change. At this stage, which is realistically a contemplation period, you have to be prepared for even your friends being for or against you. Some will egg you on and others will tell you that you are about to waste your time. You must be confident that your list of benefits outstrips any list of drawbacks. With this knowledge, a belief in yourself and your ability to succeed should assuage fear of failure.
Stage Four is the place you need to be at when New Year’s Eve arrives. Many of us feel pressured to commit to changes when we are not really ready. Being at Stage Four, when your friends want to know what your resolution is going to be, will enable you to make a really meaningful and achievable resolution pledge. Stage Four is the visualisation period where you are able to see and appreciate where you will be when you have successfully carried out your resolution. Having your end goal in focus, on your horizon, will provide a worthwhile incentive.
Following these four stages will underscore why you should bother – you know you can and will succeed. Once you have started along your new resolution pathway it is also a good ideal to have a plan to assess progress. This should include knowing your specific goals and having a way to appraise results. A fundamental principal of psychology is, ‘If you can measure it, you can change it’. By examining on a regular basis, where you are now, you can judge if you have hit a plateau, are slipping back or moving forward and adjust your efforts accordingly. It is also important to be patient because progress is seldom linear. Some see rapid gains only to slip back later whereas others improve gradually. Remember making sustainable changes really does take time. Even successful people have set-backs. Their difference, which sets them apart from those who fail, is they see everything as a step along the path to success.
So if you really do want to bother making a New Year’s resolution, make sure you are at Stage Four and remember:- It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you are determined enough to get back up. So if you have a temporary slip-up with your resolution, get up and carry on to achieve your goal. Winners always do!


September, 2017

Money Can’T Buy Everything In Life ?


How often do you hear someone say; “If only I had the money?” No doubt, just like the Kaleidoscope team, you have even said it to yourself. Having money seems to be the answer to many, if not all, of our problems. Money plays an important role in our lives because without it we cannot buy food, clothes and other essential things. Most of us will agree that money, and the more we have of it, enables us to own many things; houses, cars, the latest gadgets as well as gaining power and fame. However, whilst such things may satisfy our desires and needs, having them will not necessarily make us happy.  A way to understand the role of money and how it affects you, for good or bad, it is consider that it is only a tool. If you do not know how to use it then it could injure or even kill you! Once you start on the money escalator, it’s said that you must never forget your roots, otherwise you will lose yourself.

Nearly sixty years ago ‘The Beatles’ wrote their worldwide hit song, ‘Can’t buy me love’. In the chorus they sing; “I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love”. This statement is more revealing, when one considers its implications. Many lottery winners relate stories about how, after winning all the money, they seemed to lose their friends. Suddenly gained new friends turned-out to be ‘money’ friends who were only attracted to their new wealth. Having money and spending money buys you services, that brings with it courtesy and attention, which may be confused as friendship. The more money you have the greater the attention and service. People around you begin to say what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear. They do so because they do not want to upset you. They need to keep either your friendship or their job!

Some years ago, one of the Kaleidoscope team visited Los Angeles for the first time. He was sneaked into a Universal studio lot where filming was taking place. It featured a movie-star who was known to be rather unpredictably emotional. Hiding at the back of the sound stage, imagine the astonishment of everyone when the star stopped the filming and shouted out; “Hey what are you doing here?” Thinking this was a sign of trouble there was a hushed anticipatory silence. This was happily broken when the star called to his manager; “Look after that guy. Give ‘em whatever they want.” It turned out that years previously, when completely unknown, the star had been a film extra, desperate for a meal. He hadn’t forgotten who had bought him one without asking for or getting any payment. It was now unexpectedly repaid in full. Maybe this was why the unpredictable emotional actor had such acclaimed acting qualities, he hadn’t forgotten his roots. The pleasure it gave everyone involved, remembering and chatting about things were when they both had very little money, gave real pleasure than money could buy.

The pleasure and joy of having a happy family is also something that money certainly cannot buy. Add to this respect and inner peace and it becomes more obvious that money really is just a tool, something which can be used to oil the wheels of life so they run more freely. Clearly a great advantage for those who have it but more dangerous for them, when they start to let the love of money drive their lives. Nowadays, as our world becomes ever more excessively concerned with material possessions and money-oriented, emotional, spiritual and mental welfare tends to take a back seat. We forget that only by using our money correctly may we achieve a happy heart and agreeable life.

Internationally acclaimed, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is someone else who appears to be determined to remain grounded in his roots.

He disclosed, during a BBC Radio programme that he employs, and surrounds himself, with his old school friends and family members. The reason is because they know him well enough, when he had nothing, to tell him when he is being stupid. If you stop believing your close friends, those who knew before you had money, you have probably started to create trouble for yourself. Guess how Ed summed up his attitude to enjoying what really matters to him? He said that, even with all his money, a luxury item he always makes sure he has, when touring, is a bottle of tomato ketchup.

If you think having more, and even more money, can give you the best feeling in life, maybe this true incident will convince you otherwise. When Big Bazaar opened their store in Trivandrum, Kerala; a customer noticed an elderly lady looking confused standing before an escalator. “May I help you?” he enquired. The lady replied that she had never seen ‘one of these before and didn’t know what to do’. The customer recalled later, to his friends, how much joy it had given him to see the pleasure in the lady’s face when they reached the top. The incident had made his day. I wonder what the lady would have said if she had known that her helper had been a millionaire film/record producer English tourist. The pleasure she had given him, with the look on her face, was worth something that money could not buy.

Which brings us to our punchline in response to the proposal; ‘Money can’t but everything in life’. Whilst money plays an indispensable part in our lives it is not everything because family, friends and love are the only things which may give us true happiness. Unless you feel happy, content and have a good sense of self, when you reach the top of the escalator, then clearly you will realise that money can’t buy you everything in life.


November, 2016

World’s Largest Shipyard To Be Built In Saudi Arabia


HaskoningDHV UK and Hyundai Engineering & Construction have been selected to perform the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) for the infrastructure of a new maritime yard in Ras Al-Khair in Saudi Arabia.

The maritime yard will comprise a separate shipyard facility for large shipbuilding, large ship repair, offshore rigs fabrication, and offshore support vessel repair. As planned, this facility will become the largest maritime yard in the world providing a range of services. It will be located north of Jubail on the Arabian Gulf. Royal HaskoningDHV’s specialist shipyard consultancy experience combined with Hyundai E&C’s track record in Engineering-Procurement-Construction (EPC) projects will provide comprehensive technical knowledge for all elements of the shipyard’s design.

Adrian Arnold, project director at Royal HaskoningDHV said: “Maritime yards must be globally competitive with facilities which are cost-effective, operationally flexible, and durable. This project combines four different yards into a single development, creating significant opportunities for economies of scale and enhancing the country’s economic development.”

The maritime yard will have an impressive range of facilities including seven fully-equipped dry docks, two basins and five piers, a shiplift system, workshops, warehouses, utility services areas, as well as office buildings, living quarters, and recreational facilities for more than 10,000 workers.

Royal HaskoningDHV undertook the initial market study for the maritime yard in 2014. The FEED development work is now scheduled to take five months.


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