Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Art of the Termination

Samples from the forthcoming self-help book:

Dear Fred,

I have received information that you were talking about me behind my back to a mutual friend. I can’t condone that type of betrayal and as a result I am terminating our friendship.

While I appreciate that you have not accused me of flirting with your wife on three separate occasions, nevertheless, I have concluded that you are no longer a friend.

It is essential that we go on with our lives and do not engage in friend activities. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

+++

Ms Jones,

I have received emails from colleagues that you are not effectively managing your department. As a result you are hereby terminated effective immediately.

While I appreciate that you have not accused me of sexually harassing you on three separate occasions, nevertheless, I have concluded you are not able to effectively lead your group.

It is essential that we find new leadership for your group and restore the trust of your team. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

+++

Son,

I have received information that you have been experimenting with drugs. As a result you are hereby grounded and have lost your cell phone privileges effective immediately.

While I have not been accused of doing drugs three separate times when I was your age, nevertheless, I am taking this action to send a message.

It is essential that you clean up your act, stop using drugs, and restore trust with your parents. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

+++

Dear Heather,

It has come to my attention that our marriage has become loveless and unfulfilling. As a result I am hereby filing for divorce.

While I appreciate that you have not accused me of having an affair with your younger sister on three separate occasions, nevertheless, I have concluded that it is best we go our own separate ways.

It is essential that we each to grow into our full humanity separate from one another. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

United Airlines made the right decision. Just not the smart one

How DARE United Airlines drag that poor man, a DOCTOR, with PATIENTS! Did you see the video? You HAVE to watch the video. OMG, I just can’t stop SMH. You know this is JUST what is wrong with AMERICA. We have lost our RIGHTS!

Hasn’t it been fun? The OUTRAGE! This is some good-shit, collective-consciousness, crack cocaine we are smoking on this media frenzy.

Beyond the specifics of what happened on United Flight 3411 is another story: what happens when businesses become so laser focused on the bottom line that they forget their customers? Add to that the difficulty in assessing the risk of very rare but exceedingly costly events.

Imagine we are at United’s corporate office where they look at and review policies. Someone or some team was responsible for developing the policies and procedures for handling “bumping” a passenger from a flight from overbooking, moving pilots around the country, and so on. And somewhere is the case where no one is willing to voluntarily be bumped, regardless of the incentives, so they choose randomly. The end.

So when a randomly selected passenger says, “no, I’m still not leaving regardless of your incentives,” we invoke a different set of policies and procedures. We now have a “belligerent” or “non-cooperative passenger” with guidance ending with calling in local law enforcement to forcibly remove the passenger.

Could this have been anticipated? Maybe, maybe not. But it is now! United is taking the heat but every other airline has some variation of that approach.

But consider this: United was acting rationally. They overbook to ensure all seats are full. It’s cheaper to bump passengers than run a flight with empty seats. It’s cheaper to bump passengers to accommodate pilots “dead heading” to another airport. It allows the airline to run with fewer pilots rather than having unused pilot capacity sprinkled around the country. From a pure profit, bottom-line assessment, to return the most to it’s share holders, United is acting just as it should.

But are there costs to this approach? Imagine the conversation of one United’s policies and procedures teams in the corporate office: “You know, what if something bad happens when we bump someone? They are not in a ‘happy place’ and willingly go along with it? What then?”

Risk analysis of this type is tricky? What is the probability that will occur? And then, what is the cost if it does occur? Could someone have estimated the PR costs, then lost revenues from boycotts? The media spin campaign and special consultants to fix it? The lawsuits? Hard to say.

If you want to see something interesting, check out United’s Annual Report (SEC 10-K) filing then look at Southwest’s. It’s interesting to note the cold, data reporting, tables, and such of United’s while Southwest’s opens with a three-and-a-half page letter from the CEO that ends with this:

"… our Purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives with friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel. We take great care of our Employees, so they can take great care of our Customers. If we do both well—keep our service levels high and our fares low—we can take great care of our Shareholders. 
… 
And, ... we aspire to more—to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline."

That’s good stuff. It says a lot. Shareholder value? Yes, yes, of course. But people? Oh Yes! Very important. And this is how Southwest manages it’s risks. By ensuring their cultural goal includes becoming the most loved airline. When the boots on the ground -- the gate attendants, flight attendants, and pilots -- are operating from that cultural orientation, rather than solely the numbers, different outcomes become possible.

It’s a culture thing.

And we can see how United is starting to handle this. With a new policy. 

I wonder if they want to be loved too?