Monday 7 September 2009

Onwards to Korea

I admit it: I succumbed. Walking past MacDonalds at the airport I saw they had an egg and bacon burger! And I haven't been inside a Macs for over a decade!But you can have just too much sushi and I was worried my body might go into shock at so much incredibly wholesome and healthy food. I suspect Korea will be as " good "....

Why is it airport bookshops are full of management textbooks? Wandering round one at Narita , I noticed such homely titles as, " What got you here ain't what will get you there" ( an obvious nonsense- ain't done me any harm) and , " What are you doing with your life?" ( If you are asking this, its time for another drink! ). Perhaps I should pen an improving management text? One that challenges all the trash you find in american style management books?
However I do make an exception for Martin Gladwell, whose " Tipping Point Leadership" I much admire. His recent book, " The Outliers" is superb and challenging. Its good for sector leaders and our style of management. It knocks the myth of innate talent over sheer hard work, luck and being in the right place at the right time.

Gladwell has an amazing study of Korean airlines and their bad safety record. I'm reminded of this as I board a Korean plane bound for Seoul! He said a study of their record showed it was the effect of what he describes as "mitigation". In other words, because of the Korean culture of respect no one junior to the pilot would ever criticise or challenge a pilot's decision ; so even if someone had spotted a failing engine or running low on fuel, they would only be able to point this out so deferentially and slowly that the pilot often failed to notice. And Gladwell goes on to point out that the majority of air plane accidents occur when the pilot is flying rather than when the co pilot is, because the pilot is able to shout if they notice an error! Korean Air instituted a training programme for air staff to correct this. It involved all staff talking in English; apparently the Koreans have no less than 7 different forms of address depending on ones seniority!

Its often true for a CEO. If staff feel unable to raise concerns or even new ideas for fear of the boss's reaction we may loose important information. Of course good talented staff soon work out how to mitgate effectively... Often a question of the right time and right approach. I'm sure that ACEVO staff have this down to a fine art!

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