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Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle


Altering the Customer Experience -- A First Try?

I just read a report that the ICC is encouraging West Indians to bring musical instruments to the Cricket World Cup matches, insisting that there never really were any restrictions intended.

I am not sure, but it seems that they are saying that the 6 million people of the region have misunderstood their rules, and that it is somehow our fault...

Click here to read the article entitled "Cricket organizers Want the Calypso Feel Back in the World Cup."

In a prior post I mentioned that there was still time for the Cricket World Cup Organizers to alter the customer experience. It seems that they have decided that the cricket-loving people in the region have been staying away from the matches because they are unable to make their own music on the ground.

Better if they had just apologised and taken responsibility for their part in the miscommunication, owned up to the poor customer experience they have created, and announced a raft of immediate changes, based on a respectful if not obvious request that they be forgiven.

In the meantime, World Cup tickets on eBay are languishing... unsold and unwanted, with no bids being made.


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The Demise of "World-Class" Standards part 2

The report reproduced in part 1 was instructive, and gave some important clues as to why an emphasis on standards, even "World-Class" standards, is insufficient for companies.

Clearly the hosting of the Cricket World Cup is a BIG DEAL, and the various organizing committees have told the public over and over that this could not be business as usual, and that the event would have to be organized along World Class standards.

I think that the problem began when the organizers committed an error in assuming that what is World-Class is always better.

However, if there is one lesson to be learned from the empty stadia for Caribbean companies it is this: World-Class standards are meant to produce a particular experience for First World people. It is an experience that First World people desire, and often pay a premium to have.

However, World-Class standards do not necessarily produce an experience that Third World people enjoy, and this, I think, is what is at the heart of the reason why St. Kitts was forced to gave away so many tickets to school children in order to help fill the stadium.

Essentially, the organizers neglected to ask themselves what it would take to create a particular experience for Caribbean people. I believe that they assumed that we would appreciate the World-Class standards all by themselves, and be happy with them.

Well, they were wrong. From the very beginning, the experience of the ICC Cricket World Cup across the region has been that:
  • we had very little say in the "runnings"
  • ticket prices would prevent the average citizen and cricket fan from attending
  • the same prices meant that the crowd would be more upscale, less experienced in the game, and therefore quite different
  • tickets were hard to get, ordering was complicated, some tickets could only be bought as part of 2-match deals and the information on getting them was scarce and often blatantly incorrect
  • we were restricted from doing the things we always do to enjoy cricket matches -- eating what we want, wearing what we want, playing music the way we want, etc.
  • they were trying to "change Caribbean culture" according to Stephen Price, the tournament's commercial director
The organization seems to have left a little something behind on the floor of the planning room.

Yet, this oversight is not unusual -- many companies do the same with their over-focus on standards, and lack of focus on the customer experience, and here in the region, it gets them in all sorts of trouble.

For the ICC Cricket World Cup, there is a small window of time to get things right, and to reverse the customer experience that currently exists. Hopefully, someone will take the opportunity.

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The Demise of "World-Class" Standards part 1

New stadium dominated by empty seats for high-profile clash

Andrew Miller in Antigua March 28, 2007

Brian Lara has vented his frustration at the lack of support West Indies have received over the past two days of their contest against Australia at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua. In a match that ought to have been the plum draw of the Super Eights - an inaugural fixture at a brand-new venue against the reigning world champions - a pitiful crowd was in attendance. Despite suggestions the match had been a sell-out, the 20,000-capacity ground was barely half-full for the first rain-affected day, with perhaps half that many when the sun came out for West Indies' run-chase.

"It's very disappointing," Lara said. "You'd back yourself to think that at least every single game that West Indies plays is going to be a full house. We were received very well in Jamaica, where we got a good crowd against Pakistan and Ireland, but I thought I would be able to close my eyes here, and for the rest of the tournament, and just see our people come out and support the World Cup and support West Indies."

The attendance figures don't square with local anticipation of the match. One disgruntled fan suggested that the fault lay with the local organising committee, whose marketing of the game had fallen way short of what was required for such a big occasion. "There's no culture of buying [tickets] online in the Caribbean," he told Cricinfo. "Instead there were queues around the block for the few kiosks at the ground, and everyone assumed the seats would have gone."

Stephen Price, the tournament's commercial director, told Cricinfo 11,100 tickets had been bought in advance for this game, and a further 700 on the morning of the match. He denied that the pricing or the marketing strategy had been at fault for the poor attendance, but added that plans were in place to distribute the spare tickets to local schools and tournament sponsors. They were unlikely, however, to be implemented in time for Thursday's match against New Zealand.

"Centres in each of the territories put tickets on sale at the same time as they went online," Price said. "We also utilised a global network of 50-plus agents. Tickets were easily accessible, and with a significant amount of entry-level prices, starting at US$25, which is the equivalent to a category two ticket in a regular bilateral series. But in some cases, the fans have not attended."

Price said there had been an attempt to change the Caribbean culture into one that buys early instead of leaving everything to the last minute. "Tickets went on sale ten months ago," he said. "For a normal bilateral series, they would go on sale two weeks in advance. But there have been the same number of kiosks as ever. The queues may have been long in the late evening, but in the early morning they were empty. People could have come out at lunchtime, or in their own time. To claim otherwise is just an excuse."

"The infrastructure is good, so now it's time for the manpower

The commentator Mark Nicholas was disappointed the match was not a sell-out and said the locals were frustrated by the long queues. "A lot of them gave up and said 'no, I'm not prepared to wait two hours'," he said. "It's been one of the problems confronting spectators. The huge amount of security, that's one thing, the other is the long lines for tickets and long lines for food."

Nicholas said the remoteness of the site - "you can only park a mile away despite huge areas all around" - was a problem when comparing it to the previous venue. "The old ground was in the middle of St John's and it was very popular," he said. "There was a great party feel to the place, but it's going to be very difficult to rekindle that here."

The controversy dampened an occasion that ought to have been a proud moment for West Indies and for Antigua. "It's a very good stadium, it's beautiful and it's a tribute to the man, Sir Vivian Richards," Lara said. "It's been an awesome effort by the Antiguan people getting this ready, and it's going to be wonderful for West Indian cricket moving on. The infrastructure is good, so now it's time for the manpower."

Not everyone was impressed with the positioning of the new ground. Built on a greenfields site 20 minutes outside of St John's, many fans had to walk for several kilometres to reach the entrance, or pay for a shuttle service. An impassioned West Indian supporter told a local TV station that it was the spectator's right to expect to be able to park outside a new and purpose-built ground, while others complained that the spontaneity that had existed at the old Antigua Recreation Ground was missing from the new venue.

But Lara said there would have to be a change of attitudes all around as West Indian cricket gets used to its new era. "When you're talking about the improvement of facilities the spectators also have to adapt," he said. "It's not enough to be able to stay in the same areas or stadiums just because the atmosphere was great. We've had some wonderful times at the ARG, but now we move on to the Sir Viv stadium and it is something to be proud of over the years.

"Some of these stadiums were dilapidated. Georgetown and other grounds have been around for donkey's years. I'm sure people will adjust. I may have been disappointed with the crowd today but I thought the party stand wasn't bad here or in Jamaica. People are going to enjoy it, and I think the cricketers are very happy that we have facilities that are second-to-none. If you go to the MCG or Lord's the facilities are great. It's nice to know we are getting there."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo


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Muna on the Apprentice

Recently, a full-accented Jamaican and a participant on Donald Trump's show -- The Apprentice" was fired because of... her accent.

Read my take on it here.


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What is a Chamber? Or a Business Club?

From Wikipedia:

A Chamber of Commerce (also referred to in some circles as a Board of Trade, though this phrase is not commonly used in the United States) is a form of business network. The primary goal of a chamber is to improve the business climate in a locality, typically through business networking, lobbying, and common projects and a selection of business services.

Q: What is a Business Club?

A: Pretty much whatever it wants to be, I guess!


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My Vision of a Trini-Jam Chamber/BizClub

What would a Trinidadian-Jamaican Chamber of Commerce, or a TriniJam BizClub actually accomplish?

After the doubles and jerk-chicken are over, and the reggae and soca music has stopped, and the wining and dubbing is finished... what else would happen?

I originally thought of the idea when I did a couple of research projects in Jamaica that included multiple interviews with Trinidadians. A former Managing Director first put the idea in my head, saying that he would love to be able to learn from the other Trinis that were coming to lead companies in Jamaica for the first time. He said that there was much that they could learn from each other, and that had me think that there was not only a lot they could learn from each other, but also a lot they could teach Jamaicans about doing business in Trinidad.

Since then, and recently, the public row over the LNG issues and the trade gap between the two countries has resulted in a war of words, in which Dawn Rich's column in the Sunday Gleaner represents perhaps the most extreme opinion.

Maybe the Chamber/Club, with a chapter in Kingston and another in Port of Spain, could be a place where:
  • Trinidadian - Jamaican business relationships are fostered on an individual level
  • the ins and outs of doing business in each country are shared
  • business-people working away from their home country can find help in assimilating to their new surroundings
  • the culture, laws and practices of each country can be frankly discussed, compared and understood
  • innovative business ideas can be shared
  • success can be celebrated
  • myths can be addressed and dismantled
  • equality of opportunity can be balanced between the two countries
  • the goals of CARICOM can be furthered
  • our companies, employees and people can benefit from our willingness to cooperate
A Chamber/Club with these goals is obviously not for everyone.

For one, it will take a certain willingness and awareness of the big picture -- that we are all bound to each other, and are all one.

While it may be interesting to, at one level, to compete with each other in business, a short-term focus on my company's success over yours is ridiculous for this small a region. It is much better for us to cooperate in expanding the pie, than it is for us to fight over the crumbs.

While I wouldn't recommend that in the Chamber/Club each company gives away its trade secrets to its competitors, such an organization would benefit those members that have an interest in putting cooperation first.

So, that Trini-Jam "whatever it is" would be a place for Trinidadian and Jamaican businesspeople to cooperate for the greater good of our countries, companies, employees and people.

P.S. If you want to join the mailing list for the most recent information on this topic, add your name by sending email to fwc-triniexec@aweber.com. You will automatically receive a copy of our report "The Trinidadian Executive in Jamaica," plus be added to a mailing list of those are interested in business-people with an interest in Trinidad and Jamaica.

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Response to the Trini-Jam Chamber Idea

I promised to update anyone who might be interested in the response received to the idea of a Trinidadian-Jamaican Chamber of Commerce.

It has been good, by my estimation, given that I asked for people who would be interested in putting some of their own time and effort into the formation of such a body. In short, there are enough people responding both in Jamaica and Trinidad to have at least a meeting in each country.

I am thinking of an initial meeting here in Kingston in the May time-frame (well after Jamaican carnival,) and at the moment am wondering what an agenda might look like.

Also, I am wondering if the word "Chamber" is just too heavy a word for what I have in mind. Here in the Caribbean, words like "Chamber" and, say, "Legislative" have a rather musty, old-man feel to them.

Instead, should it something more informal and energetic like a "Trini-Jam BizClub?" Here is an example of the New Zealand Business Club.

Hmmm -- send me your comments, or add them to this post below.

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Bombastic Trinidadians

Dawn Rich started off her column in the Sunday Gleaner with the following:

Any reader will know that I think the country's domestic financial sector was handed to Trinidad and Barbados on a platter. By any measure this is a strategic industry.

Also by any measure there is nothing more bombastic than a Trinidadian. The Barbadians are still conscious of the fact that they occupy a little atoll, even if its real estate prices now beat those of the Bahamas, which were high to begin with. Their sea-front villas are being snapped up by rich people from the industrialised world. As a direct consequence, the Barbadian prime minister has had to defend himself against charges of selling out the country to rich foreigners. In effect, he's replied that he doesn't regret it.

This is a heck of a diatribe, and is worth reading in its entirety, by clicking here.


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T'dad / Who Understands Jamaicans?

This, from an Editorial in the Trinidad Guardian:

The perception that is being spread in Kingston is that T&T businessmen are privateers or marauders just waiting to pounce on any available “meat.”

On a Jamaican radio station on Monday, one of the hosts asked me what I thought about the trade war that some elements in the north Caribbean country (including the editorial writers of a major newspaper) are pushing their government to declare on T&T.

Click here for the rest of the article.


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More Criticism from the JMA Towards T'dad

Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter

The Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) has levelled harsh criticism at the actions of CARICOM partner Trinidad and Tobago who reneged on an agreement to supply Jamaica with liquefied natural gas (LNG).

President of the JMA, Doreen Frankson, yesterday described the action by the oil-rich twin-island republic as a betrayal of trust.

"Jamaica would never have given a commitment for something and then not deliver it. We have never done that," she told The Gleaner minutes after delivering greetings at a Mass held at the Stella Maris (Roman Catholic) Church in St. Andrew to mark the JMA's 60th anniversary.

Ms. Frankson argued that over the years, Jamaica has been extending itself "beyond the call of duty" to make the partnership work, but that other CARICOM partners such as Trinidad and Tobago had not been doing so.

"Not all our CARICOM partners will extend similar courtesies to us," she said. "We have resolved not to repeat history but to change its course by ensuring that we are not shackled by these agreements."

She pointed out that the time has come for Jamaica to benefit from these agreements.

"Isn't that why wenegotiate trade agreements - to make our people better?" she asked. "Not for one-way trade."

In 2004, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the supply of 1.1 million tonnes of LNG for use by the Jamaican Aluminium Company Jamalco and the Jamaica Public Service Company power plants.

But recently, the agreement fell through after Trinidad and Tobago said they had none to spare. Just last week, the Government signed an agreement with Venezuela to establish an LNG plant to supply more than two million tonnes of LNG to Jamaica.

Reservations were raised, however, by president of the Natural Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago, Frank Look Kim, about the Venezuelans' ability to meet the 2009 date.

Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Phillip Paulwell, dismissed this, and insisted that the Venezuelans would honour the agreement in the time specified.

Yesterday, Frankson expressed confidence that the Venezuelans would also deliver as promised.
"Venezuela has always been a good friend of Jamaica and yes, they will deliver," she said with confidence.

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Component #2 - Emptying Part 1

Emptying is the activity that logically follows Capturing (which was described in my prior post.)

This entry has been posted in my new 2Time Management blog.


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Component #1 - Capturing

In an earlier post, I talked about the fact that there are certain key components that need to be included in an effective time management system.

Component 1 -- Capturing

This post has been moved to my new blog.


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Time Management: The Martial Art for Working Professionals

In one of the prior blogs on Time Management, I made the point that within every time management system there lies a structure that is always present.

I compare it the bone structure that makes up the human hand.

Although hands might be different, a fully functional hand must have all the component parts. They each serve a distinct purpose. While it is possible to function without all the parts, there are a few essential bones that must be either present, or replaced, in order for the appendage to work.

In the same way, a time management system must have certain basic components, without which it does not function. These basics are Capturing, Emptying, Tossing, Storing, Scheduling, Acting now, Listing, Reviewing, Switching, Warning and Interrupting.

While no two hands are the same, functioning hands share certain basics. The same applies to time management systems.

In fact, an effective time management system in 2007 must be able to do things that a time management system in 1970 just was not designed to do. Here is why:
  • between 1950 and 2000 human knowledge doubled
  • scientific information doubles every 5 years
  • A single Sunday New York Times has the same amount of information that a person in 1750 was exposed to in their entire lifetimes
  • internet traffic doubles every 100 days
The sheer volume of information has increased rapidly, and is increasing more rapidly. A time management system created today will probably be a hindrance five years from now for those professionals that do not understand the basic components and how they need to work together.

The great thing about understanding the basics is that it reduces the temptation we might have to go out and buy the newest system that is advertised. Instead, we can make an intelligent choice about whether or not to include the new gizmo in our system -- does it enhance the basics, or not? Does it fit my habits or not? Will it work with my basic components?

This is not to encourage professionals from upgrading--in fact, new technology is a must if we are to continuously upgrade our time management systems. There is a simple fact behind this need for constant upgrading.

The better a professional is, the better able he is to manage his time. The better able he is to manage his time, the more that others with whom he works are willing to give him to do.

There is an old saying: "If you really want something to be done, give it to someone who is busy."

Clearly, there are a range of practices that a professional can use, some of which are more effective than others. For example, when given a task to perform in a meeting you may have noticed the following practices for Capturing:

Practice 1 -- I'll remember it without writing it down

Practice 2 -- I'll write it on a Post It note

Practice 3 -- I'll record it in a reliable place (e.g. a notebook) for later processing

These are all approaches that might work, in faithfully translating the given task into action. However, Practice 3 is clearly superior to Practice 1. Professionals who use more of Practice 1 than Practice 3 are likely to be less reliable.

It's not too different from the way in which a Black belt is different from a White belt in the Tae Kwon Do. To the unpracticed eye, they might all look like they are doing the same moves, but to those experienced in the martial arts, there is a world of difference.

Professionals that are expert in time management know the different practices that are available in each of the basic components or disciplines.

In the system that we are developing, professionals will also have a chance to use a system of belts to understand where they are in the development of their own time management system.

One major difference from Tae Kwon Do is that every professional has some system that they are using to manage their time, so the starting point need not be at the bottom of the ladder, as if they know nothing.

Instead, once they understand the basic components, they will be able to decide what level they currently are at in each of the components. Our experience tells us that very few are complete Black Belts, and almost no-one is a complete White Belt. Instead, professionals tend to be a complex mix of capabilities in each component.

Therefore, the plan for each person will be different as they integrate, and learn new practices. we plan to encourage people to plot their own path, and to phase the introduction of new techniques over time, essentially giving themselves an opportunity to adapt and change to incorporate new habits that, for most people, change slowly.

The biggest mistake that we have seen professionals make in learning new time management habits is to try to learn too many new habits too quickly. The result is frustration, stress and ultimately failure as they build too steep a learning curve for themselves, innocently underestimating what it takes to change entrenched habits.

Instead, our new system will encourage them to move themselves from one level to another slowly and comfortably, adjusting their knowledge and habits as they go along. From the little that I know of Tae Kwon Do, it takes years of practice to progress all the way up the ranks.

Professionals in the workplace would do well to think of their time management practice as their own martial art.

P.S. The follow-on posts to this discussion on Time Management have been moved to an entirely new blog: The 2Time Management Blog at

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An Open Letter to Trinidadian and Jamaican Businesspeople

Written to the recipients of the report: "The Trinidadian Executive in Jamaica."

As a recipient of our recent report "The Trinidadian Executive in Jamaica" I can imagine that the current volley of words flowing back and forth between Trinidad and Jamaica has caught your attention.

If so, I would like to you to consider taking time out of your busy schedule to put some muscle behind the formation of a Trinidadian-Jamaican ("Trini-Jam") Chamber of Commerce.

Clearly, the growing environment of distrust and harsh words is bad for business on both sides of the Caribbean. No-one is winning, and the upset words being spoken in public are going to be harder and harder for those speaking them to take them back. Unchecked, this probably can and will grow worse.

I don't know about you, but I believe that we, Trinidadians and Jamaicans, can all do much more, and probably should have done much more a long time ago to help create stronger and more lasting bridges between businessmen in both countries.

I suspect that you know what I am talking about. You know Trinidadian and Jamaican businesspeople who have never visited the other island saying things that you know are sheer nonsense, and come from a simple lack of experience. You may have heard talk about people being "backward," and other talk of "Tricky-dadians."

What it will take to reverse the current slide into something none of us can afford is simple -- it will take you and I. We are ones to be proactive, and to forge an environment of trust, partnership and prosperity.

Let us:
  • meet to get a Trinidadian-Jamaican Chamber off the ground, with a chapter in Kingston and another in Port of Spain

  • pass this email on to others who have a vested interest in Trinidadian-Jamaican business relations

  • start to convince our colleagues in the two countries to get on planes, attend trade shows, take vacations -- whatever they need to do to start to become familiar with our countries
First step: send me an email to francis@fwconsulting.com letting me know that you are interested in participating (i.e. with some of your personal time) in the formation of a Trinidadian-Jamaican Chamber. I will schedule a face-to-face meeting once we have 5-8 who are interested here in Kingston.

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The War of Words Between Kingston and Port of Spain

Thanks to my colleague Wayne for sending this over:


Jamaica Gleaner EDITORIAL -

More action less talk, Mr Manning
published: Tuesday | February 13, 2007

Mr. Patrick Manning, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, has to do more than make statements if he expects to win back Jamaica's trust and assure us of his government's commitment to the ideals of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).

His declarations, therefore, have to be backed by concrete action. So, we look forward to the follow-up from Mr. Manning to his promise that Jamaica will be supplied with LNG from Trinidad and Tobago, to fuel a major energy conversion programme here. We, however, would not advise Prime Minister Simpson Miller nor the Jamaican authorities to hold their breaths.

Indeed, the Trinidadians knew that a US$1.6 billion investment by Alcoa to double the capacity of the 1.5 million tonne alumina refinery it jointly owns with the Jamaican Government was predicated on the LNG project that would lower the cost of energy and help make the plant globally competitive.

At first, Port-of-Spain quarrelled over what would be their pricing obligation for LNG, within the concept of the CSME, this seamless economic space that the countries of the Caribbean Community are seeking to create. Kingston insisted that Jamaica, being part of the same market, should enjoy the same price that Trinidadian domestic producers pay for natural gas. The only addition would be for cost liquefaction and transportation.

The Trinidadians held that LNG was a different product that should be subject to Henry Hub pricing, thus seeking to place Jamaica on the same plane as "foreign" buyers. This is a dispute that will eventually be resolved by the Caribbean Court of Justice, but in 2004, Mr. Manning signed a memorandum with then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to supply 1.1 million tonnes of LNG a year on a preferential basis, although the specific price was not agreed. He signed the same agreement with Mrs. Simpson Miller when she succeeded Mr. Patterson.

But in reality, Port-of-Spain dithered, and while Jamaica waited, Alcoa began to have second thoughts about the expansion project. Alcoa's and Jamaica's fears would have been deepened with the statement late last year by Frank Look Kim that Trinidad did not have the natural gas with which to supply Jamaica. It could hardly be Mr. Look Kim to whom Mr. Manning referred as the "dubious sources" that had stated Port-of-Spain's inability to fulfil the LNG compact. What Mr. Manning should be aware of is that Jamaica's project cannot await an agreement with Venezuela on the development of gas fields that straddle the borders of the two countries. By the time that happens, new alumina refineries will be well under way in China and the Alcoa plant will hardly be as attractive as it used to be. In other words, this is an issue that demands urgency.

It also demands common sense politics, which, for Trinidad and Tobago, also translates into good economics. Jamaica is Port-of-Spain's largest market in CARICOM; it enjoys a balance of trade of about US$500 million. It is in Trinidad and Tobago's interest to support Jamaica's economic growth to help maintain that market. And Jamaica, after all, only requires a fifth of its current gas supply. Some market shifting may be in order.

And Mrs. Simpson Miller must not let Mr. Manning forget that balance of trade figure.

Financial Gleaner
March 10 2007
By Wilberne Persaud, Financial Gleaner Columnist

Surviving regional operations of the colonial enterprise known as the British West Indies and the sabotaged West Indies Federation include cricket, meteorological services, University of the West Indies - morphed by UWI Alumni-led governments and compliant former administrations into a besieged dependent, struggling hybrid - and not much else.

Let me immediately avoid misinterpretation: Jamaica's referendum was no act of sabotage.

I refer to manoeuvrings of the former British Colonial Office which in a sense were calculated to end in that referendum. The British knew political expedience, poverty, uninformed opinion, conflict over Chaguaramas as United States Military Base vs. Federal Capital and political rivalry would take us there. Eric Williams aptly concluded: 'One from 10 leaves zero'.

Recently, P.J. Patterson checked with Patrick Manning, trying to make one plus zero ten again.

They too failed causing The Gleaner to replace 'one from ten leaves zero' with "Myopic economic nationalism" - the title of its February 25 editorial - its description of Prime Minister Manning's reneging on an "undertaking to supply Jamaica with liquefied natural gas (LNG) for an energy conversion project critical to Alcoa's proposed US$1.6 billion investment to double the capacity of its Jamalco alumina refinery here."

Sluggish growth

The Gleaner opines: "Jamaica, with its troubled economy with sluggish growth, is Trinidad and Tobago's largest and most lucrative market. Port-of-Spain enjoys a US$500 million trade balance with Kingston."

Discussing Trinidad's non-supply of LNG, The Guardian had resorted, according to The Gleaner, to jingoism in making an "inconsequential case [seeking] to claim it was an attempt by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to divert attention from corruption and criminality in Jamaica ahead of a general election".

Stranger things have happened. Yet, The Guardian's views on supply of LNG, Jamalco expansion and the rationale for subsidy rested on solid foundation.

The case relies on the fact that subsidised LNG would facilitate the "profitable operation of a three million-tonne alumina refinery in Jamaica that would be 80 per cent owned by Alcoa. Alcoa would then transfer the alumina, which is being produced at a lower price because of subsidised LNG, to T&T, where it would be smelted into aluminium in the 100 per cent Alcoa-owned facility in T & T."


The question for Manning was how to justify subsidies to Alcoa in face of Trinidad and Tobago's other pressing needs.

But this question raises so many others in the saga of bauxite in Jamaica and West Indian economic cooperation. The idea of Jamaican bauxite with Trinidad and Tobago power generation is not new.

The LNG idea may be. Because Jamaica has no money to invest with Alcoa in expanding the plant, our ownership stake is diluted.

Of greater interest is why Jamalco becomes only 20 per cent Jamaica owned after significant contributions to capital potential in the form of the bauxite levy? And why have we seemingly moved away from a bauxite ore basis of payment back to an income tax basis after the long hard struggle to change it?

Bauxite is a wasting asset. Mining and processing create huge environmental and other problems.

In the deals colonial administrations brokered with mining companies it would not be uncommon for US$0.20 cents or thereabouts to be the norm a country realised per ton of ore extracted.

Bauxite has no known market price since really, no market exists. Our formula, the core of which was developed by Alfred Francis, now retired, Emeritus Professor of Applied Economics at UWI, used the revealed price of aluminium ingot, a commodity for which there is a ruling price on the London Metal Exchange.

Obviously, if bauxite becomes aluminium there is a conversion ratio for bauxite input to aluminium output - elementary really, and equitable too, it seems to me.

Bauxite levy

That formula was instituted around 1974 and the payment termed the bauxite levy. It provided Jamaica payments ranging from US$12-16 per ton of ore extracted.

My late friend Ronald Manderson-Jones, brilliant historian, foreign affairs practitioner and lawyer, always insisted that a different name should have been found for it and that Prime Minister Michael Manley should have refrained from discussing it as a triumph over the multinationals.

This,he suggested, created problems Jamaica did not need.

That aside, the question remains: Would Trinidad and Tobago have provided LNG if Jamaica owned 50 per cent of both Jamalco and the smelting operation in Trinidad and Tobago? Interesting questions, answers to which I could not provide.



Trinidad Guardian March 14th

Jamaica manufacturers threaten blockade of T&T products


Doreen Frankson, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers Association, has threatened to lobby the Jamaica government to ensure that products from T&T do not enter that market as freely as they have been.

So said Paul Quesnel, president of the T&T Manufacturers Association (TTMA), stating that Frankson had written a response to an editorial in the Jamaica Gleaner on February 13, which criticised T&T Prime Minister Patrick Manning for reneging on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to sell natural gas to Jamaica.

Venezuela and Jamaica on Monday signed an MOU which will allow Kingston to buy 2.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually from Caracas- a development that will give impetus to Jamaica's plan for major developments in the bauxite/alumina and electricity generation sectors.

The agreement, signed at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay by Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, came two weeks after T&T, which was to sell Jamaica 1.15 million tonnes of LNG, backed out of the deal.

The Gleaner wrote in its editorial: "Indeed, the Trinidadians knew that a US$1.6 billion investment by Alcoa to double the capacity of the 1.5 million tonne alumina refinery it jointly owns with the Jamaican Government was predicated on the LNG project that would lower the cost of energy and help make the plant globally competitive."

Responding to these developments, Quesnel yesterday said there are no hostilities toward Trinidad businesses operating in Jamaica.

In reply to Frankson's statement that it's not as easy for Jamaican businesses to set up shop in Trinidad as it is for the latter to operate in Jamaica, Quesnel said: "Trinidad businesses face problems in Trinidad, that it takes well over 18 months to get all necessary approvals to set up a business."

Quesnel said, too, that all the industrial parks in Trinidad are full and E-Teck, which is responsible for such parks, has not built a new one for the last three years.

Quesnel quoted Frankson as saying that Trinidad had a lot of non-tariff barriers to block Jamaican businesses from entering the Trinidad market, to which he has offered the TTMA's assistance to any Jamaican business that feels it is being discriminated against.

I haven't had a call yet. The TTMA is willing to assist any Jamaican or Caricom partner who wishes to set up a business in Trinidad in whatever way we can, be it lobbying government or helping it to get through the paperwork," Quesnel said.

Quesnel also said that the Jamaica Manufacturers Association has not attended the TTMA's Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) for the last five years.

They say they can't do business in Trinidad. If the Jamaicans wanted to do business here, the TIC is an ideal place for them to come, expose their wares, meet all the regional agencies, E-Teck, Customs, the Bureau of Standards, to be able to find out firsthand what they need to do to enter the Trinidad market," Quesnel said.


Trinidad Guardian

Editorial March 15th

That MOU just a fairy tale

ON MONDAY, Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and Venezuela President Hugo Chavez signed a memorandum of understanding covering the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Jamaica from Venezuela.

This MOU has some significance for the local business community which has looked on in shock and awe at the bellicose rumblings coming from Jamaica on this thorny issue of LNG.

Jamaica's private sector is upset at what it perceives to be T&T's failure to live up to its undertaking to provide cargoes of LNG to Jamaica.

Last week, the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) said it had reached the end of its tether with respect to trade relations with T&T. Referring to T&T's private sector, the JMA said it had never witnessed a "more insular and selfish group" which seemed to be only interested in "plundering our country to increase their wealth and the current US$500 million trade surplus which they enjoy with our economy."

The JMA also advocated that T&T "must be brought to book and held accountable" and threatened the Jamaican Government that if it did not do so "the JMA will be forced to act on behalf of its constituents."

Not to be outdone, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce issued a news release stating that T&T's perceived failure to supply Jamaica could threaten the future of the Caricom Single Market and Economy and disrupt Jamaica's future development.

"The perception of a large segment of the Jamaican business sector is that it has always been difficult to trade with Trinidad, because non-tariff barriers are used to block the entry of Jamaican goods and services into Trinidad, even while there is the expectation that Trinidad will have free access to the Jamaican market," the Chamber said.

Thankfully, the local private sector and its leaders have responded in a mature and measured fashion to the intemperate language coming out of Kingston.

Is the anti-integrationist rhetoric from Jamaica's private sector justified? Absolutely not.

The first difficulty for our northern neighbours lies in an appreciation of the difference between an MOU and other kinds of agreements.

By its very definition, an MOU is an expression of intent and not a promise to supply.

By its very definition, therefore, an MOU cannot be breached because in signing an MOU one undertakes to use one's best efforts to deliver a product or service. Such an expression of intent is subject, always, to the undertaking of feasibility studies and negotiation of the final terms.

So the common-sense understanding of the MOUs between T&T and Jamaica (one in 2004 and one last year) is that T&T expressed an intention to supply 160 million cubic feet of LNG to Jamaica by 2009.

The MOUs that T&T and Jamaica signed are likely to be quite similar to the one signed by Jamaica and Venezuela on Monday. This means that Venezuela would have expressed an intention to supply LNG to Jamaica by 2009, just as T&T had done.

It would be interesting for the Jamaican private sector to note that President Chavez signed the MOU without having in place any identifiable LNG facilities whatsoever. While President Chavez may purchase LNG shipments on Jamaica's behalf, it would be difficult for Venezuela to supply LNG over the long term without the requisite liquefaction units.

It is also worth mentioning that it took Atlantic LNG four years from the signing of the sales contracts (not the MOU) to the delivery of the first LNG shipment-and that was considered to be warp speed in the LNG industry at the time.

Also relevant is the fact that Venezuela has been trying since the early 1970s (more than 30 years) to get an LNG facility off the ground and that the closest the South American country has come is the framework agreement signed by Shell and Mitsubishi five years ago. Little has been heard of that project, involving two blue chip multinationals, since 2002.

Monday's natural gas MOU, then, is a fairy tale as it is highly unlikely that Venezuela will be able to deliver LNG to Jamaica within two years.

However, if Jamaica's private sector believes that President Chavez's fairy-tale MOU will come through for it, it may stop trying to provoke Mrs Simpson-Miller into declaring a trade war against T&T.


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One Page Digest Issue 10.0

Framework One-Page DigestIssue 10.0

We sent you this digest because we believe you have an interest in these topics. Please PASS IT ON to others of like mind. If we are incorrect, please send us email at newsletter@fwconsulting.com, or follow the directions at the end to be automatically unsubscribed.


Getting Things Done (time management): If there is one common area that professionals everywhere must continue to master, it is time management. This site, based on the book by David Allen, is the best resource on the web, and the perfect compliment to his book by the same name.

Google (Blog/News) Reader (web service): If you are a heavy blog reader, then it's time you stopped skipping from one blog to another to find out whether anything new has been added. Google's reader picks up the latest entries and puts them all in one place, saving you time and effor. While you're at it, add in our company blog to get the region's latest ideas for running your business.

CANA News Agency(online news service): For regional news that is timely and far-reaching, this source can be viewed as an RSS feed -- by the same Google Reader described above.

YouTube.com (Framework video): This link will take you my own bio -- which is not the point -- but it has a video introduction at the bottom of the page that demonstrates the power of YouTube by example. I love how easy it is to use, and the world it opens up. Coming up soon: a full speech on techniques for Caribbean networking.

Also of Interest
Do you have some ideas on what you would like to see covered in the One Page Digest? Let us know here.

More Depth?
In FirstCuts, our monthly ezine, we share our newest management ideas in depth. In the latest issue: "Delegating in Caribbean Companies" we look at why finding and training replacement managers is so difficult for executives in the region.

To subscribe to FirstCuts, Visit our homepage and sign-up at the bottom of the page.

Did you miss the Framework blog discussion?
A Caribbean Approach to Time Management: we are developing it, and we are sharing the content as we go along -- warts and all. Add a comment and tell us what you think.

About This E-mail

The Framework One-Page Digest is produced monthly by Francis Wade of Framework Consulting, Inc. and is intended to provide E-level managers with a reliable source of new ideas for managing Caribbean companies. To join the mail list, visit http://urlcut.com/digest and follow the instructions to subscribe to FrameworkDigest, source of the One Page Digest. Past issues can also be found at http://urlcut.com/digesthome.

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HBR: Proving Some Common Sense

I like it when a source like the Harvard Business Review finds some evidence that backs up some hunch I have had. Here are a couple:

From the June 2006 issue.

When to Let Them Duke It Out

In a white paper I wrote a few years ago entitled "An Executable Strategy for Every Employee" (available by sending email to fwc-exstrategy@aweber.com) I argued that it is important to have executives fight amongst each other in order to come to consensus. We encourage that they do so in our particular approach to strategic planning.

This is the very opposite of dividing up a document into parts and then farming it out to different vice presidents.

In this short article, Tony Simons and Randall Peterson show that
  1. Teams whose members mistrust one another are less effective in implementing their strategic decisions
  2. Decisions imposed by a powerful executive are twice as likely to create distrust that damages implementation, than decisions derived by consensus
In short, politically driven teams, or those driven by mistrust benefit the most by making consensus decisions.

I witnessed a CEO fired during a strategic planning retreat (to his surprise.) In 18 months, his successor who was at the retreat was also gone.

It was an ugly situation that undermined any trust that might have been possible, and today the company still suffers from the aftermath of that inexplicable decision.

A the very end, the authors deliver a zinger -- CEOs that think this doesn't apply to them might be in trouble, as the vast majority of CEOs in the study "couldn't accurately describe the level of trust among their team members. It's as if they were describing a different team and did not realize it."

The High Cost of Chinese Labour

Replace the word Chinese with the word Caribbean and all of a sudden, this article makes sense to us in the region.

Low cost labour measured on an hourly basis is an incomplete indicator of total costs.

In fact, the cheaper the labour, the more likely there is to be turnover because a 5 cents per hour difference might be small to someone earning US$10 per hour, but to a Chinese worker earning 75 cents per hour, it represents a big difference.

Here in the region, our workers seem to be quite inefficient, evidenced by the number of human beings sitting idle or moving sluggishly at any fast-food establishment, construction site or manufacturing facility.

Yet, we know that if you take many of those same people and give them visas to live in Toronto, all of a sudden they are able to work many times harder at 2-3 jobs at one time.


It seems that our managers do not understand the total costs of labour, as described in this article, and fail to take into account the costs related to turnover. Whenever a manager says "I can just find someone else," they are probably ignorant of this cost.

Also, managers fail to see that hiring 10 people is not the same as hiring 5 at double the wage. It might be the same in the narrow sense of dollars and cents paid in payroll, but the principle of the mythical man month is well-known to software developers, but ill-understood outside that industry.

Here is the idea: doubling the number of programmers on a project almost never cuts development time in half. The reason is that while the number of people may increase linearly, the number of working relationships and communication channels to manage increases by the square of the number of people.

For example, increase the team by 1 person, from 3 to 4, and the number of communication links goes from 3 squared =9 to 4 squared = 16. Increase from 5 to 10 and the number of links goes from 25 to 100.

Managing these links becomes much more difficult very quickly.

To put it in more concrete terms, the number of ways in which one worker could diss another (resulting in the need for a managerial intervention to prevent a fight or a prolonged cold shoulder) goes up dramatically. Their job becomes radically harder extremely quickly.

By virtue of these socio-psychological economies of scale, it makes sense to hire very carefully, and to consider total costs (measurable or not) rather than just the unit cost of labour.

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Emotional Intelligence

I made reference to a definition of EI that I have been using:

According to Wikipedia , Daniel Goldman (the author of the book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ, 1995) defines the following components of EI.

Goleman divides emotional intelligence into the following five emotional competencies:
  1. The ability to identify and name one's emotional states and to understand the link between emotions, thought and action.
  2. The capacity to manage one's emotional states — to control emotions or to shift undesirable emotional states to more adequate ones.
  3. The ability to enter into emotional states (at will) associated with a drive to achieve and be successful.
  4. The capacity to read, be sensitive to, and influence other people's emotions.
  5. The ability to enter and sustain satisfactory interpersonal relationships.
In Goleman's view, these emotional competencies build on each other in a hierarchy. At the bottom of his hierarchy "1" is the ability to identify one's emotional state. Some knowledge of "competency 1" is needed to move to the next competency. Likewise, knowledge and/or skill in the first three competencies is needed to read and influence positively other people's emotions ("competency 4"). The first four competencies lead to increased ability to enter and sustain good relationships ("competency 5".)


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Measuring the Mood

Now and again I read an article that takes my breath away. Taking the Measure of Mood by Patrick O'Connell appeared in the March 2006 issue of the Harvard Business Review and it did just that.

The idea is simple and has powerful ramifications for our region.

But first, a little background. The author is a chef at The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia. Their goal is to provide customers with nothing less than a transformative experience.

They do so by training their staff to be keenly observant and sensitive to guests' words and behaviour--especially to body language. They also developed a system for tracking and communicating this information to everyone who needs it.

They are trained to quickly evaluate the mood of a party, by using the indicators that we all use--body language, eye contact, voice tone, etc. They start off by assigning the party an initial score on a scale of 1 to 10, and logging that score into their database.

They go to work on those parties that enter the establishment with low scores to increase this subjective assessment to at least a 9.

They use common facilitation skills -- asking questions, paraphrasing, clarifying, asserting, etc. Actually, they use ALL the means at their disposal to increase the score, including the choice of waiter, speed of service, taste of entrees, seating, music, etc.

They consider the job done when the customer volunteers their personal story, which for the staff is the proof that an emotional connection has occurred.

While I have tackled the issue of customer experience creation at different points in this this blog -- click here to see a page of past Chronicles entries on the topic -- this takes things to another level.

Something about this article brings me home to our region. In the past year, I have spent nights at hotels in a variety of countries, and there is truly something distinct about the service we render here in the Caribbean.

In other posts, I have referred to it as "Friend Service." This is the closest I can come to describing the feeling that happens when an emotional connection is made, and the switch is turned ON with a Caribbean customer service provider.

(When the switch is OFF, by contrast, the experience is positively painful.)

This article has led me to think that a service provider who is emotionally intelligent, is better able to read the mood of a person or group of people However, if I use the definition of Emotional Intelligence that I have been using lately, that explanation seems inadequate.

How to define the skill is the next problem I'll be tackling, but my instincts tell me that we have an advantage over service providers in other cultures, for whatever reason, in detecting the unspoken experience that other people are having. I am guessing that this advantage carries over into the customer service profession.

I have my theories regarding slavery, our education system or our parenting styles that are my best guesses, but I will be exploring the subject further in future posts, and in my work.

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What to Do About Whining

I have always been wary of those exercises in which companies do an opinion survey to try to find out what employees are unhappy about.

Typically, the next step is to create teams to tackle the items of unhappiness, in the hope that by correcting them they will go away, yielding happy employees.

In theory, this seems to make sense. In practice, it never does.


I think it is because we humans will always and forever have thoughts that are unhappy ones, no matter how much material wealth we possess, friends we have or family who love us. It appears that we each possess an invisible and eternal "unhappy thought generator" embedded in our genetic makeup.

Companies that think they can solve the problem of unhappy thoughts with the latest team-building program (or anything else) are fighting a losing battle. shortly after the program is complete and the problem solved, the whining starts again, except that now it is directed at a different target.

A May 2004 article from in the Harvard Business Review's forethought sections seems to back this up to some degree. The article is called "Whining Away the Hours: Employee's complaints are often good for morale, particularly when nothing's done about them."

The author, John Weeks, argues that employees that get together to whine about innocuous items are actually engaging in a form of community in which sharing what they don't like actually connects them together.

He distinguishes between "recreational negativity" from "constructive dissent," and argues that an important skill for executives is to be able to tell the difference between the two. He adds that "there is nothing people enjoy complaining about more than a meddling manager who runs around trying to fix things that no one really wants or expects to be fixed."

I remember a manager I worked with who claimed to be able to save $50m by simply cleaning up a database... (this in a factory that earned $100m per year.) He took himself quite seriously, which made him the regular butt of office jokes.


Based on my prior post on cleaning up the promisphere, I would say that any complaint involving a threat to the promisphere, constitutes constructive dissent.

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Cleaning Up the Promisphere in Companies

Recently, the breakdown in worker/management relationships at RBTT Jamaica and the Fiesta Hotel in Hanover, Jamaica have made me think where I would start, if given the chance, to make a difference in each of these companies.

I would start by working to restore the condition of the promisphere in each company.

What is the promisphere?

The promisphere is the internal environment within a group that consists of promises and agreements that have been made, broken, changed or are hanging in limbo. It also includes promises that are expected to be made, believed to have been made or thought necessary to make at some point in the future.

The total environment of promises collectively work together to create a promisphere.

Just like our physical environment, a promisphere can be polluted. In fact, there is almost no perfect promisphere that exists, simply because groups are made up of people who are imperfect.

In the case of RBTT Jamaica, the workers went on strike on Friday. In the case of Fiesta Hotel, a worker was shot in a recent riot. In both cases, the workers will be back to work on Monday. At RBTT, they have been ordered back to to work by the government. In the case of Fiesta, there was a negotiated agreement, again brokered by the government.

On Monday morning, it is likely that each situation will be a tense one.

There will be a temptation for the leadership of both companies to "grin and bear it" -- try their best to "just move on" without dwelling on the problem at hand, or the past. In fact, they will be quite happy if collective amnesia were to set in.

Unfortunately, this remains the best tool that most managers have -- an ability to force things to move on, and to avoid talking about the difficult issues at hand.

However, this approach only works to delay troublesome issues, and in the case of the Jamaican workplace, it only serves to allow issues to build a quiet, dark momentum.

A much better tactic is to deal with the promisphere.

In each company I have consulted with that has issues between individuals, or groups of individuals, there has existed issues with respect to the promisphere.

A promise made in public that no merger was underway, was broken when the merger was announced within a matter of days. A promise made to clean up the physical environment is abandoned. An agreement to increase wages is laid aside.

An expectation that the company is a family is willfully violated in a newspaper report. A secret told in confidence is leaked. An expectation that a manager will be around to lead his people is violated with an abrupt resignation.

These are everyday occurrences in business, and they happen between people and groups who are good, bad or somewhere in between.

The point is, that a transformation in the culture of a company, department or team cannot happen unless the following takes place:
  • broken agreements are restored
  • amends are made for forgotten promises
  • apologies are rendered where damage has been done
  • mis-understood promises are openly dealt with
These simple acts take courage, but their effects are powerful. Trust can begin to be restored, forgiveness can start to heal relationships, and the promisphere, which is critical to getting complex work done in groups, can be restored.

A well-working promisphere is not one that is empty of promises -- instead it is filled with clarity, and the simple power that comes from human trust and mutual expectations.

Ultimately, and in the real world, all promises cannot be kept.

In a well-working promisphere all members are vigilant for the smallest instances of pollution. They act as if the smallest promise that is broken is easier to resolve sooner than later, and that the collapse of this very fragile entity starts with small instances of overlooked agreements.

The very worst companies do not even acknowledge the existence of a promisphere, and are oblivious to the effect that seemingly simple actions have. They rely on unauthentic and hollow "rah-rah" efforts to get people excited, which fail because they are built on promispheres that result in:
  • skeptical employees that assume the worst -- "Yeah right..."
  • pessimism and doom-saying -- "Whatever..."
  • constant questions about whether or not the newest statements/efforts/projects/initiatives can be trusted, because of what happened in the past
The worst companies just try harder, with more posters, slogans, slicker graphics, more consultants, newer programs, more exotic team-building, longer surveys, new mission/vision/value statements, etc.

As a consultant who is sometimes brought in under these auspices, I try to ask each and every time when an executive explains that things are not working -- "What is the state of the promisphere?" (without actually using the word.)

The truth is that companies should forget about trying to do anything different until they begin to see some gains in cleaning up their promisphere. Only then will they be able to move them, and their people ahead.

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Trinidad Manufacturers Respond

The Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association has responded to the outcry from Jamaican businessmen that Trinidad remains a country in which it is difficult for outsiders to gain entry.

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Jamaican Businesses Protest to Trinidad

This recent call, regarding the broken LNG deal, says it all.

In particular, the complaint that this unfairness has an ongoing historical basis, is one that I often hear here in Jamaica.

Perhaps this is more evidence of the need for a Trini-Jam Chamber of Commerce.

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Customer Experience "Intelligence"

An article entitled Understanding Customer Experience recently came out in the February 2007 issue of the Harvard Business Review that echoed some of my earlier posts on the topic.

Here is one of those prior posts.

I am convinced that a focus on experience can be more easily taught to Caribbean service workers, than training based on abstract standards or vague definitions of "customer needs."

Perhaps there is scope for something called "Experience Intelligence" which has to do with a customer service provider's ability to scope out the experience that the customer is having in the moment. This phrase seems like a much more precise way to define this important skill.

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Turnover Documents and Small Biz Owners

As a former President of my high school's student council (Wolmers) I remember reading the organization's constitution -- with all the awe that a 16 year-old can muster. Part of my job (as
defined in the document) was to amend it and make it current -- it was my first attempt to write a "turnover document."

When I was appointed to a different position -- Head-Boy -- the following year, I was acutely aware that there was no document whatsoever that described the job, and all I had was the imperfect memory of my predecessors to try to follow. When I was about to graduate I panicked -- and only made up for it by taking a very long walk with my successor around the school. In
an hour or so I did my best to pass on the experience of some 255+ Head-Boys that the school had had up until that point.

I suspect that my 18 year old mind did more to scare my 17 year old successor than anything else.

Yet, I am sure that my experience is close to what happens when executives turn accountabilities over to managers without doing the tedious work of systematizing their functions, and undergoing the painstaking coaching required to turn them over in phases. The result is a sharp loss of trust that is rarely replaced, because few executives realize that the source of the managers failure (and success) is actually in themselves, and not in the manager.

What does all this talk about turnover documents have to do with small business owners?

Simply put, even small business owners must work ON their companies, as well as IN them. In other words, they must work on the structure of their companies as much as those professionals who work in the largest multinationals.

Why so?

For example, I am having a challenge converting this issue of FirstCuts into html, and placing it on my blog. I do not know html very well, yet each month I have to determine why the html in Blogger (the blog host) works differently than every other place.

While I may or may not ever hire an IT specialist, I am suffering because I didn't capture the procedures I used back in February, and now that I need them in March I am having to reinvent the wheel.

Secondly, in my opinion, the difference between a small, casual company and a small, serious company is the degree of infrastructure the owner has created to run the company on a consistent basis, whether there are ten people or just one person on the payroll. Only hobbyists can afford to run their company casually, and without infrastructure -- and even hobbyists can make money.

However, at the end of their careers, hobbyists have little to show for their efforts other than a company that supported them at a casual level. Their company cannot be bought, sold or merged because its success is reliant on the personality of the owner, rather than the infrastructure they created to keep the entity viable.

These are the two reasons I can think of -- if you'd like to add your own, please do so in the comments below.

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FirstCuts Issue 9.0

FirstCuts Framework Consulting logo
A Framework Consulting Online eZine
High-Stake Interventions -- New Ideas Issue 9
March 15, 2007

Delegating in Caribbean Companies (part 2)

by Francis Wade


A few weeks ago in Jamaica, there was a riot at the construction
site of a hotel being built by a Spanish hotel conglomerate:
the Fiesta Hotel Group.

The bottom line was that a worker was shot, cars were burned,
offices were looted and work was suspended for almost two weeks.

Now and then I receive a reminder that our work in the region can
have very dramatic results, and that when we discuss ideas such as
those we tackle in FirstCuts it is not just a matter of
intellectual interest, but also a matter of doing work that
impacts the lives of workers, families and communities.

Until next month,


Delegating in Caribbean Companies (part 2)

In last month’s issue of FirstCuts, I wrote about the need for
regional executives to think deeply about the process they use to
turn over accountabilities to new direct reports. I mentioned the
need for executives to systematize the work they do so that it can
be captured and passed on effectively.

In that issue, I discussed the need for Caribbean executives to
produce a “turnover document” for every new accountability. In
addition to writing such a document, they must also create ways to
progressively delegate the content of a new job. (To see the prior
edition of FirstCuts, visit http://urlcut.com/FirstCuts8.)

In this issue, we describe the way in which we have worked with
executives to produce the critical content included in a turnover
document. Once the document is produced, we advocate a phased
turnover of tasks to ensure that learning takes place.

More on Turnover Documents

While turnover documents might include all kinds of important
details about a job, at the heart of them is a list of key
activities. These activities are discovered by breaking down the
job into three tiers, as follows:

= Tier 1 consists of a list of top-level Results to be produced
= Tier 2 consists of the Targets to be reached to accomplish each
= Tier 3 consists of the individual Tasks that must be performed to
hit each target

An example of the breakdown of results, targets, and tasks (i.e.,
the elements that make up a job) for a sales manager might be as

= Result: $100 million revenue increase

That result might be broken down into two targets:

= Target 1: Motivate top salespeople to increase sales by 20% each
= Target 2: Create new sales of $10 million for new product X

Each of the two targets outlined above can be further broken down
into tasks to produce the following:

= Target 1: Motivate top salespeople to increase sales by 20% each
- Task 1.1: Coach each salesperson to manage time better
- Task 1.2: Look at top prospects and determine a way to enter
their network of friends and colleagues

= Target 2: Create new sales of $10 million for new product X
- Task 2.1: Create a list of features and benefits for product X
- Task 2.2: Test new product X with five customers in a focus group

Ideally, this cascade of results, targets, and tasks should all be
prepared in the turnover document for a new manager before he or
she ever takes the job.

However, once the information has been adequately developed, it
would be a mistake to dump the turnover documents into the lap of
the new manager. This is a trap into which many impatient
executives fall, hoping that a well-written document telling a new
manager what to do is all that the new manager needs to be

Our research shows that the best executives do things differently—
they actually use the turnover documents in phases that coincide
with the ability of the new manager to learn the job.

A Phased Turnover

The safest assumption for executives to make is that new managers
know little or nothing about the new job and that they cannot be
trusted to undertake it successfully. In the beginning, they should
assume that on the new manager’s first day, the executive is
responsible for getting 100% of the job done, and this number can
only be decreased as the new manager’s capabilities increase.

We recommend that executives start the reduction from 100%
gradually—and that they first delegate tasks, then targets, and,
finally, results.

For example, Task 1.1 in the above sales manager turnover document
involved the need for the manager to coach salespeople in managing
their time. While new sales managers may have generic coaching
skills, they probably would not yet know the intricacies of the
salesperson-to-sales-manager relationship. They would not yet
appreciate the time pressures that salespeople face or the
successful coaching techniques that managers before them had used.

This information, if passed on by a prior executive, can make all
the difference in learning this new skill.

Once a crucial set of tasks has been mastered, the executive can
then decide that the next objective would be to delegate a
particular target. Once the target is mastered by the new manager,
it can be delegated. The same applies to the third tier of the job:

In this way, the manager’s competency grows gradually but steadily,
guided at different phases by the turnover document.

However, something else is happening while a new manager is
becoming more proficient. The executive’s confidence in the
manager’s ability, so critical to the process of delegation,
steadily grows.

As it grows, the executive is increasingly able to supervise the
manager through periodic written or verbal reports, and the
executive can trust that he or she will be brought in by the
manager when help is truly needed. Less of the executive’s precious
time is therefore needed.

It’s worth repeating that executives must resist the temptation to
impatiently walk away from this phased process before the new
managers are ready, or before their confidence level is where it
should be. The results of doing so can be disastrous.

What executives need to know is that this process is not designed
to bury them in a world of micromanagement. Instead, they should
understand that the time commitment involved is very different from
what they might expect from their own past experience.

A Different Time Commitment

As the executive engages in this process of turning over tasks,
targets, and results to the new manager, the time required by the
process can vary greatly from day to day.

When a new element or skill is being taught, the executive must be
prepared to spend a great deal of time helping the manager to
understand the details. This kind of hands-on coaching can only be
done in person, although it can be facilitated by the existence of
a good turnover document.

In most cases, questions from the new manager require some
thinking, and executives may decide to update the turnover document
on the spot, as they remember what is truly needed to execute the
job effectively.

Over time, however, the time spent up front more than pays off in
the manager’s increased capabilities, and when the job is properly
delegated, the executive can effectively forget about it. When a
new task, target, or result is chosen as the next item to be
delegated, the intense time involvement starts again.

This sawtooth pattern of time commitment is quite different from
the everyday process that we’ve observed.

Our experience tells us that busy executives who hire new managers
typically hand them little more than a job description. They try to
spend time with the manager in the beginning, squeezing in time
between other existing commitments.

In short order, a crisis hits and the executive becomes too busy to
spend time to ask anything more than, “Is everything fine?”

When the manager (who, at this point, is undertrained and ill
prepared) experiences a significant failure, however, the executive
is ready to swoop in to firefight and control the damage. The
executive does what many executives do best—which is to save the
day, using considerable time and energy.

The new manager feels like a bit of a fool. The executive’s trust
begins to waiver, and he or she watches the manager more closely.

More failures occur, and the firefighting continues until either
the manager learns through trial and error or the executive loses
patience and fires or ostracizes the manager.

In one regional company, an executive explained that he “could not
be expected to keep the person on board because he was taking too
much of my time … and, after all, no one spent that kind of time
with me when I had that same job.”

This executive didn’t realize that the manager’s shortfall was
actually the executive’s failure—he had done little to prepare the
new manager to be successful.

Failures and Feedback

Even in the best of circumstances, however, failures do occur. At
this point, executives must be ready to step in to avert serious
problems. Rather than coming in like a hurricane, blowing away the
credibility and confidence of the new manager, the executive should
instead go back to the drawing board with the manager and reexamine
the turnover document.

Frequently, the seeds of the failure can be found here—in poor
turnover timing, inadequate definitions, and incomplete training.
In the most extreme cases, the executive must be prepared to step
in and re-assume responsibility for items that had previously been
turned over.

For example, in the case of the sales manager, if there is a sudden
rise in complaints about salespeople being late or a surge in
missed appointments, then the executive may decide to resume
coaching the salespeople and subject the sales manager to further

The difference here is that the feedback is used to surgically
reverse the turnover, retrain the manager, and develop the manager
to the point where the turnover can once again be undertaken.


The bottom line is simple: make turnover documents an integral part
of your company’s culture, and you will empower your managers to be
successful from the very beginning.


P.S. I had promised that I would address the question of why
entrepreneurs and small business owners also need turnover
documents in this issue. I found that the content would not fit
this issue, so instead I have picked up the topic in my blog at
this entry: http://urlcut.com/smallbiz

Useful Stuff
Tips, Ads and Links
I referred to Michael Gerber's book in this Issue. His website is also filled with information: http://www.e-myth.com, most of it geared towards entrepreneurs. The ideas that I have extracted for this issue are at the heart of his approach.

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