Friday, 24 May 2019

Learning from Mistakes

If you’re anything like me, you HATE making mistakes.  None of us begin the day (I hope) thinking “how many errors can I make today?”, but we’re all human and so likely to have “off moments” which cause mistakes.

In my time working with the aviation industry, I’ve been impressed by the approach it takes to mistakes and safety.  Anything that can be a lesson in how to do things more safely is distributed so that others can use it, making aviation one of the safest industries in the world.

When investigating mistakes, one technique used is to analyse what are known as Contributing Factorsand Performance Inducing Factors.  These can be defined as follows:

Contributing Factors (CF): 
A condition or activity that contributes to the hazard or makes it more likely to happen.

Performance Inducing Factors (PIF): 
A condition or activity that acts on how a person performs an activity that contributes to the hazard or makes it more likely to happen.

A simple example of a Contributing Factor would be the classic slapstick comedy situation of a banana peel being left on the floor.  Someone slips on it and takes a fall (hopefully, without serious injury).   The CF here is the banana peel.

A Performance Inducing Factor would typically occur in a situation where someone was under pressure to get a job done fast, with the increased likelihood that they would ignore certain steps in a process that they feel prevent the job being done quickly, but which result in more time being pent correcting their error.

Another typical example of a Contributing Factor is an out of date manual that gives incorrect instructions.  By following the manual as written, one is bound to make a mistake.  Alternatively, the guidelines written by “Compliance” may upset customers who take it out on staff.  In this case the Performance Inducing Factor is the staff not weaning to deal with an irate customer (possible losing business for their employer) and thereby ignoring a process that is intended to safeguard the employer’s interests (albeit at the expense of an upset customer).

At times, both Contributing Factors and Performance Inducing Factors  will be present!

How many Contributing Factors and Performance Inducing Factors could we eliminate if we talked to the people that matter – our staff and customers?


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Wednesday, 15 May 2019

When Should We Review?

Our lives are spent reviewing – although we may not actually realise it.  We “review” what time it is so we don’t miss that vital appointment or flight.  We “review” the speed at which we’re driving – particularly when we pass a sign reminding us of the speed limit or to slow down.  Once we’ve reviewed, we take some kind of action.

When it comes to business, again, there’s “subconscious review” which I encountered as a bank commercial lending manager.  I was always amazed at how many of my small business clients knew to almost the dollar/pound or other currency how much profit they’d made for the month and year to date.  It was just “instinctive”.

When I ask, “When do you review”, I’m talking about the business.  For some, it’s a case of when something happens that forcesthem to review (e.g. when a new competitor starts undercutting them).  Others (particularly larger organisations) tend to review at periodic intervals. What suits one doesn’t always suit the other.

The first thing we need to do as business owners is work outwhatneeds to be reviewed and when. For some owners, as long as they continue to show an excess of income over expenditure, they may feel they only need to review their financial position once a year when it comes to closing the books.  They may, however, review their competitive environment much more frequently.

What about staff as well and the “annual appraisal”?  We need to reward our good performers and motivate those who need it.  We need to know if what we’re paying is “competitive” with the market, that is, with any other business in the same line of work that we are.

We could go on thinking of what needs to be reviewed – equipment, uniforms, condition of premises, and so on.  Quite often, we’ll get an untimely reminder that maintenance needs attention (e.g. a pipe bursts…).  

Who should be involved in the review?  We should never underestimate the knowledge our staff have of what's going on with customers and preferences, for example.  Suppliers may also have good ideas.  

After reviewing, the critical step is reacting  within an appropriate length of time.  If a competitor drops their prices and we lose business because we didn’t (or couldn’t) react quickly enough, we have a problem.  If salaries in the industry go up and we can’t raise them, we risk losing our best staff.  Reviewing sometimes means anticipatingwhat others might do and when.  This comes from both experience and what some call “gut feeling” or instinct.

What needs to be reviewed in our business, and when’s the best time to do it?



I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Passion or Paycheque?

In the world of work, we see two basic types: employer/business owner and employee/worker.

Assuming we’re the lucky owners of a growing/successful/both business, it’s because we have a passion for whatever it is we do and have managed to convert that into a working business model – and at a profit.    

I’ve also noticed that this passion isn’t necessarily shared by one’s workforce and herein lies the fundamental difference.  Many employees often see a job as a means of earning a living.  Hopefully, they work in that business because at the very least it interests them.  However, in some cases, they have no choice through no fault of their own.

I’ve seen entrepreneurs complaining that their workforce just aren’t “interested” in or “committed” to the job.  The paragraph above is the reason why.  It’s easy to forget that what motivates us doesn’t always motivate others.  If we’re lucky, a few come to share our passion, but the majority may simply not have the same degree of attachment as we do.  

Is there a solution? Part of it lies in recruitment and in efforts to find people who “fit”.  In a limited labour market, though, we may have no choice and it will be up to “Quality Control” to ensure that any key criteria are met and enforced.

At best, we’ll have to accept that there will always be a part of our workforce who simply don’t “feel the love” but who nonetheless perform a vital role.  It’s the others that make the real difference to our success. 


I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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