Posts Tagged ‘Strategy’

Days are passing by and the end of the year is around the corner. For a lot of companies and a lot of managers, these three last months of the year are so critical. It is time to revise plans, goals, budgets, and not to forget, performance appraisals are just around the corner.

In such heated situations, there are two types of leaders that you may encounter, or might be yourself:[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=clowns&iid=76347″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/76347/clown-business-suit-with/clown-business-suit-with.jpg?size=500&imageId=76347″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]

  • True Leaders: Those who already have well crafted planes and smart objectives earlier that year. A lot of their goals have been accomplished or about to be completed. However, they might face some missed targets and deadlines here or there. In such situations, they calmly and logically sit to restudy the situation, and ask themselves and their team members a lot of why’s and how’s. They turn obstacles into opportunities and failures into lessons learned.
  • Clowns: Those who built their plans on vague inputs, poor data, and sometimes pure dreams!! Most of their goals are missed, if not all. But nothing will stop them from raising their voices and pointing their fingers on everybody around them, even their own team members. Whenever around one of those, you will start witnessing a lot of fightings during meetings, a lot of heated emails, and a lot of passing the ball theory practices!

Look around you and check; which type of managers are you pumping into more often?


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[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=airlines&iid=292693″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/292693/airplane-over-runway/airplane-over-runway.jpg?size=500&imageId=292693″ width=”234″ height=”350″ /]The Saudi low budget Sama Airlines is suspending its operations in the Kingdom starting today until further notice.

Should this be a surprise? I would say: No, it was expected!

The whole scene of civil aviation industry in Saudi does not look that good. Whether we are talking airports or airliners, It is a mess, to say the least!

Operating an airlines is a tough business, no doubt about it. Lots of head to head competition and very turbulent business environment. And when you are working in a messy market like the one both Sama and Nas had stepped in, the situation becomes even harder.

I am not sure what kind of business plans they had both studied to reach the decision that the Saudi market is an attractive investment opportunity. Maybe by only looking at the status of Saudia and how almost all Saudis agree that it suck! the idea of having a second airlines should’ve looked appealing. The fact of the matter is that Saudia is a company both owned and supported by the government. And what makes it even worse for commercial activities in such market is when the regulator (GACA in this situation) does not provide any guarantees to protect the fairness of competition. Maybe the new comers received some promises, but businesses are not usually built on promises, they are built on facts, at least when it comes to the market environment.

Now both of the companies are waiting for the promises to be fulfilled especially for fueling prices. It could be a tactic played by Sama to get the attention of higher authorities although it is a hugely damaging move to the company name (especially that Nas did not play along, if it was a tactic!!)

It is another sad story added to the book of sad stories of Saudi airlines business!!

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For any business owner or leader out there; the moment of truth kinda of question could be the following one asked by Jim Collins (according to this HBR blog post):

If your company went out of business tomorrow, would anybody really miss it and why?

Although it’s a simple question, its answer contains the essence of the organization, its soul, and its whole purpose of being alive and competing in the market. If a leader or a number of executives failed to answer such question, then there must be something wrong!

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=confused+woman&iid=5191135″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/5191135/close-young-woman-with-her/close-young-woman-with-her.jpg?size=500&imageId=5191135″ width=”234″ height=”234″ /]There are some interesting points the blog post is referring to in case a leader wants to know why his/her company should be missed. But let’s look at it from the other way around. Let’s see it through the eyes of you; the customer. Think for a moment of a company that you will be really missing if you heard now that it will be a history starting from tomorrow, and why would you miss it?

If you honestly answer this question, your answers will be almost the same as those mentioned in the HBR post, the answers that every business leaders should be aspiring to and working on having in his/her company.

Allow me to be the first to start … These are my choices:

  • Starbucks: This is by far my most favorite brand in the world. You could even say that I am emotionally connected to it. Noting that I am neither a heavy coffee drinker nor someone who spend a lot of times in coffee shops. But I admire it because I feel that they care. They care about the quality of their products and the quality of the services they are providing.
  • Sony: The Japanese electronic manufacturer will be my second choice. I trust whatever products they’re producing. Whenever I see Sony, I see high quality.
  • P&G: Proctor & Gamble, the known FMCG manufacturer. There are no choices whenever that one of the products to be choosing from carries this company name. They have a vast range of brands under P&G, and they are all my first choices especially in Health & Well being and Household care categories.

Now, what are your favorite brands and why?

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Just before the summer vacation sneaked in, I wrote ‘Tourism is a Business’ talking about how I, and mostly anybody I know, have never been persuaded by any local tourism activities.

Now, as most of the Saudi cities are living the so called ‘Summer Festivals,’ one of SCTA’s members went out on Arab News and talked about how these festivals are poorly organized, and how much they lack creativity and fresh ideas!

Most of the points he touched on like prices, transportation, diverse activities, and even electricity and water cutoffs, almost reach the level of agreement between those interested in the idea of local tourism, and we as customers are certainly interested.

The point is that if one of the organization’s members knows and can so eloquently list all these problems and shortcomings, I believe it is legitimate for us all to ask, where are the solutions??

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It’s been more than 10 days since my last post. I had the chance to take the family to the magical city of Paris and the magical world of Disneyland Paris. And since I am still in the mood of vacation and tourism, there is nothing better than talking about the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA). And I have to say, they are not going to like this!

I will start this by a confession; although the Saudi Commission for Tourism has been around since 2000 (they later became the SCTA in 2003), I have never been persuaded by any of their activities in those 10 years of operation to change my tourism destinations to inside instead of outside the Kingdom!! And to generalize this confession a bit, I’ve never seen any of my family members or friends change their vacations plans to the inside. Not that we do not have terrific destinations and rich heritage to visit and enjoy, and I mean my words; it is more of the fact that we do not have the business mindset of tourism.

The interesting thing is that the SCTA has an active and regular presence on the media scene and this is something they should be really praised for. However, putting the whole PR campaigns aside, there is nothing you can touch on the ground. At least from where I see it as a customer of whatever service they are providing!

In my belief, their strategy should’ve been built to satisfy two major objectives (they actually have a very long talk about their objectives, vision, and mission in their web page, but I would quote Seth Godin to describe it ‘You write and write and talk and talk and bullet and bullet but no, you’re not really saying anything.’)

  • Objective 1: Creating the Tourism Culture

It is creating the culture of hospitality and understanding of differences. The local community of tourism destinations are better to understand and be ready to accept and interact with different people of, sometimes, different cultures. That’s why Egyptians grow up knowing that their country is a major tourism destination. That’s why the people of London, Paris, and Rome are familiar with strangers filling their streets all the year long!! This objective is a pre-request to the objective number 2.

  • Objective 2: Creating and Developing the Tourism Business

And this is not something expected from the commission only, but it is expected to lead the orchestra. The business of tourism is all about being organized and taking care of the tiny details. it is in the museums, theme parks, resorts, cultural activities, historical monuments, and logistics (i.e. transportation, tour guidance, information availability, etc). Strangely, our understanding of tourism attractions stopped at shopping festivals and opening bigger malls!! You want a proof, try the next time you visit any hotel around the Kingdom to ask the reception (or the concierge, if there is one!!) to give you a map of the city you are visiting!! And try the same thing in Dubai for example!!

Satisfying the above two objectives is only the beginning of the journey and the first steps on the road … so what do you think the SCTA has accomplished in its 10 years life time?

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Saudi Airlines


No matter how much money some organizations are budgeting for their advertisement, it won’t work and they better keep it for more rewarding plans. This occurred to me while watching the new commercial of Saudi Airlines. 

It is really sad to see some big companies lose all their sense of direction and start stumbling in the dark seeking to score a point here or there when their main concern should be realizing their critical position in the market and how customers are actually looking at them (and bad mouthing them for that matter). 

Saudi Airlines is, unfortunately, one good example of such companies. A good example of a company lost its brand value by being ignorant at times and short sighted at others. A lot of market opportunities have been lost following that behaviour, back then, when it was the largest player in the region. 

Now, should the solution lay in producing more ads? I do not think so! Saudi Airlines needs to start thinking about adapting an integrative marketing strategy to rebuild its brand. A strategy based on the main reason of its existence; that is, SERVING its customers!! 

The lack of a truly believe in the essence of customer service is the main reason why people are looking down on it, especially when comparing its services to the neighbors: Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways. Therefore, its managment should really consider building a customer service supporting culture. Yes, not an easy job, but not an impossible one either! Thereafter, this culture should be embraced by all its members, throughout its many levels (I do not remember the last time I met someone of its staff who was genuinely smiling or really trying to help!!). 

Having said that, I really doubt people will be interested in its new comfortable seats! Because, I am sure, whenever Saudi Airlines pop up on their minds, they will be remembering the time wasted on its reservation line, the rudeness of its sales and ground staff, and the lameness of its on-flight services. 

Now, I would really like to see how many commercials could possibly fix that.

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