Have you ‘purified’ your business?

February 4, 2013 – MANILA, Philippines – There is an old dictum that says, “Nothing purifies like the bright light of the sun.” This means nothing will get at truth and reality faster than putting a situation under the glare of a spotlight!

We can see this in life all around us. The recent victory for the P-Noy administration on sin taxes was a result of finally shining a light on the past 16 years of an unfair and low-revenue excise system. Once Congress saw the many flaws, as good and responsible leaders, they had to enact change. And stop protecting a monopoly.

Or Lance Armstrong. Once the glare of the investigation bore down on him, no longer did we see the strong denials. Now there is admission of guilt. A cleansing.

Nothing purifies like the bright light of the sun.

This not only applies to laws and individual, but to businesses. Every business needs to have a bright light shone into every corner, especially in today’s competitive world. It never ceases to amaze me the number of businesses I see that are out of touch with their business realities. They desperately need to be purified by some bright light!

I flew three weeks ago on an American airline into LA. Judging by the attitude of the flight attendants, they must think they are “so good” then can act with such arrogance! Every request seemed too difficult and a burden! To put it blunt: bad food, poor service, and wide-body flight attendants instead of wide-body aircraft.
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I land in LAX. What a mess, on par with the worst African airports I have flown into. Over an hour to wait for passport control — and I was in the US citizens line! Then another 75 minutes to get my bags and get through a long line for customs inspection. And I thought Lagos airport was bad. It was just a crap experience.

One has to wonder if the entire US travel and airline industry have ever subjected their businesses to the bright light? To purify, to see what they really have? I am not so sure.

How does one shine the bright light? There are three key ways. And I bet the US aviation industry has not done any of these for years.

1. Benchmarking. This means defining who your competition is, defining the KPIs (key performance indicators) and then laying it down side-by-side — you versus the rest. This will tell you quite quickly how you stack up, just like PBA standings tell a coach how his team is doing. Do you benchmark? Do you know who your competitors are? Do you know the key measures? I have never failed to see a production site that has done this work and not galvanize itself into action to bring costs down once they see they are uncompetitive. Benchmarking is a big wake-up call to many organizations.

2. Use the competition. Nothing upsets one more than to use competitive products or services as a consumer and be satisfied! I can recall using competitive detergents and shampoos and liking them — and then using this to take up my product performance on my own brands. I dare say if we flew a few more US aviation leaders on Singapore Airlines or Asiana Air, we’d see some improvements in service! The differences are downright embarrassing. I say make every US flight attendant fly one of these airlines. Show them what the new standards are. Shape up or ship out! Literally and figuratively.

3. Get a true third party opinion. Ask your team and perhaps they will tell you what you want to hear. One of the biggest challenges of any leader is to get at the truth. As we rise we love to hear the positive press! So bring in some fresh eyes. Ask them to give you a no-holds-barred look at your operation. This will tell you what you have.

The bottom line is, no business in today’s global world can afford to ignore purification. Shine the bright light on your operation. You may not like what you find, but you will like the eventual outcome of a good cleansing.

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