Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beginning or Ending: Count Paradigm vs. Countdown Paradigm?

A month ago on the beginning of Ramadan, I posted the following on Facebook "Beginning and end are 2 sides of the same coin. The beginning of anything means the beginning of its end or the beginning of the countdown towards the end. I guess if we looked at it that way we would know that the month has started to end yesterday".
Few months before that I had a discussion with some colleagues about what I can call the countdown paradigm; about looking at time and processes always as countdown towards the end. So it simply means that if you joint a job today then your days in the job have started to decrease and the remaining days are less until you reach your last day on this job even if it's after 10 years from today.
Few days ago, it was my last day with an employer to join another employer.
I'm currently going through many beginnings and ends, and I guess we all do that everyday on a level or another but sometimes we don't pay that much of attention.
My question for you is, how do you normally look at it? How would you like to look at it? When you join the new job, are you beginning? Or are you ending? Is the beginning the beginning of the end? Or is the end the end of the beginning? 
I guess we would all say that there's a beginning and there's an end and there's a timeline in between. I guess we may sometimes disagree on where the beginning ends so that timeline would begin or where that timeline ends so the end would begin.
In many cases, you all of a sudden hit the unexpected end and then you can't really clearly define those three entities; beginning, timeline and end.
I normally adopt the count paradigm and not the countdown paradigm, especially for those things with unknown or undefined end dates. I normally say I've been in this position for 3 years and I don't think of it as I have 1 year left.
There're very clear things where we adopt the countdown paradigm like in contracts, studies .. etc. And I don't get surprised when I see people adopting the count paradigm in those cases as well.
As we're very familiar with the count paradigm I would like to elaborate a bit on the countdown paradigm and see how good or bad, convenient or inconvenient it could be.
  • Countdown paradigm is very-result oriented, it looks at the time as a resource against the set of objectives, with the bell ringing for the beginning you'll know that the resource is decreasing and you'll be more mindful on what you've to get done for yourself and others.
  • Countdown paradigm is very much focused on what's next, it's not focused on the end only as it clearly proposes the new beginning after the end, so it always helps you be ready.
  • You're heading towards the end and towards the new beginning at the same time, and both do have requirements that you have to work on now.
  • Countdown paradigm is not pessimistic, it's very optimistic, it's about nice glorious ends and challenging beginnings, it's about advances and new frontiers.
  • Countdown paradigm is not stressful, it's a real stress-relief agent, It helps you arrive at destinations prepared and makes you ready for surprises and unexpected ends.
  • Countdown gives you a good criteria to decide on things, investments, decisions based on their contribution to the end and their value at the destination or the at the next beginning.
  • If you took the macro countdown paradigm into account, you'll wonder about your end in this life and your objectives towards yourself and others and you'll be focused on the next beginning depending on what you believe in. In the end it'll always help you be better in managing your presence in this world.
What do you think?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hospitality 2.0: Intro and Community Engagement In SD and Delivery

The Main Idea
Web 2.0 has inspired us on everything 2.0. It's about making things, more shared, more co-created, more personalized, more crowd-sourced , more democratized, more long-tail oriented, more design-for-generosity themed and more user-generated.
During working on the Intensified Hospitality project, I used to reflect on what hospitality 2.0 can be like. I remember driving along the Doha Corniche and thinking, "how can we make these hotels less-rigid and involve people more to make the experience more-engaging?"
I looked on the web to see what was written on hospitality 2.0 and what I saw was more on the technology utilization side or the social media utilization. I'll try to propose a different perspective on hospitality 2.0 in the following directions.

From this point of view I'll list what I think of Hospitality 2.0 and how it may look like when we think of it that way, and what are the values that customers can contribute with to create a better value for the whole society.
In order to come up with what hospitality 2.0 could be like we can think of what web 2.0 included of techniques and try to apply those to hospitality. We can also look at the outcomes of the transformations driven by the web 2.0 on business models, pricing, agility, lifecycles, customer involvement, industry structures .. Etc. . I'll not go with you through this process. I'll jump to my findings, and you can follow your own process and come up with your findings, and please share them. In this post I'll just address one direction and I'll continue in future posts.

First Direction: Community Engagement in Service Design and Delivery
 The entity that delivers hospitality does exist in a society, which it shouldn't be isolated from.  Surely, it needs to set the frameworks and platforms for this involvement and engagement, and this should define the rules of the game.
Hotels could think of the surrounding or operating society as customers, and as partners.
A partner doesn't have to be an established business. If a person is able to offer a service that a guest may need or use then he could be a partner.
With this way of looking at it, we would see many opportunities and new roles needed within the hotel to manage this relationship.
Let's agree that the guest doesn't usually come for the hotel itself, but he comes for what he's going to do outside the hotel, which may be business, tourism or any other activity.
The hotel should know how to play a part in the experience the customer lives while trying to get these needs satisfied.
We need to take into consideration that hotels have always been successful in giving us silos to be in. The amount of work it requires to keep those silos ready, tidy and "occupied" takes a huge percentage of the hotel resources and the rest could be dedicated to the customer. This means that there are not that many resources to dedicate to the customer, as most of hotel resources are dedicated to the property itself.
From that point of view, hotels can't really deliver personalized experiences with their current capabilities and their current operational models.
It's just like how you think of the amount of content in Britanica and the corresponding content in Wikipedia. Or the amount of video coverage before and after YouTube and similar video networks.
 It's the same. For now hotel rooms are just good concrete walls, and that's it. The same room fits for James,  Adam, Linda, Sara, Omar or Abdullah. We need a totally different level of focus to drive this experience layer.
The hotel should think of how to manage the involvement of the society to create a better hotel experience.
Now in order to think of new concepts we have to imagine that if we told anyone about people building an encyclopedia for free, taking photos, videos, writing and more for free they would have said we're talking nonsense. It's the same as the response from David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s when they said "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?".
The following are some rough crazy examples of what could this involvement be, these examples are so easy to criticize, but they do show what I mean by community engagement:

    Hotels can stop renting rooms to guests. They can utilize the society to create sub-hotels in the hotel. In this model, the hotel will provide the rooms and some basic services to those sub-hotels, ensure certain standards are applied. And would give the opportunity for those sub-hotels to create different customized experiences and get their sub-hotels advertised and reserved through the Hotel system. Those sub-hotels could exist in more than a hotel, with the same name where you know they mean a certain brand value. They can appear as restaurants or any other service concepts as well. In this concept the hotel takes care of the basic and standard hotel-aspects to leave the room for sub-hotel management for creativity of personalized experiences.
    Well, in order for the hotel to provide me with a nice experience it doesn't mean that I have to be in the premises and jurisdiction of the hotel. For sure, Large hotels have to decide on where their branches could or couldn't be. What if I'm a business person going on a trip to a smaller city and I'd like to stay in this hotel, where it decided not to have a branch. With hotels thinking lean and modular, they could partner with different smaller entities in the society where they can manage a series of smaller properties or even apartments that provide the same level of service and brand promise of the main hotel, and even under the same brand name, with smaller versions of mobile house-keeping, concierge.. Etc. facilities.
    Every society is full of talented and skilled people who have skills ranging from Tai-Chi and swimming to handcrafts and flower arrangement.  Hotels can provide a very wide range of learning experiences by establishing and maintaining a catalogue of local training services which the customer can book upon reservation or check-in.
    Local people can still cook and serve food in small kiosks or on counters in the main restaurant. The experience could extend to have the guest having his lunch at the comfort of a traditional home of one of the authorized dining partners.
    Who can setup a room for a man in 50s better than a man in 50s? Or a girl in 20s more than a girl in 20s? Or a mom with a baby more than a woman of a matching profile. Housekeeping here doesn't only mean to straighten up the room, change the sheets, re-fill the used amenities or the coffee trays.  It also include supplying his room with the like-minded books to read, newspaper, update on events. Choosing him a matching soap, shampoo, TV channels prioritizing .. Etc. In this model, Housekeeping person has the capacity to establish a connection with the guest even if asynchronous to know more about his likes and expectations, can the regular housekeeping person deliver the same personalized and human experience?
    Hotel should help customer have a direct access to local people, local recommendations, local information ..etc. a facebook group of hotel local club would help customer find answers on any questions he may get at any point of time. Following up on the group, would help the customer know a lot on what's going on in the city without having to keep up with the media, or for stuff that wouldn't even appear in the media like sales, accidents, shows .. Etc.
    please review the post "Towards more business-oriented business centers"

In the following posts I'll address the following directions of hospitality 2.0:
  • Guest Engagement in Service Design and Delivery
  • Information Creation and Sharing
  • Global Hospitality Co-Creation Perspective

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Monday, June 28, 2010

The Art of "To-Start"

In the first post in this series we highlighted the problem of priorities in our lives. We asked how to make the tasks that are meant to have the highest positive impact on our lives more urgent and not to remain as dreams till we run out of life.
In the second post we addressed the causes that drive each of us to not take his dream that seriously and to keep it as a dream and no more.
This is the last post in the series and I'll reveal the sercret solution of the problem. If you didn't read the 2 earlier posts, please do. It should help you understand the problem more and so you'd know if this solution is for you.
The solution is to start. Yes, to start achieving your dream, to put it into action, to take it off the shelf and to make it reality.
When I say to start, it doesn't mean to take your PhD now, but it means to work on your first smaller task on the whole big task of the PhD. If this smaller task is to pick your subject then do this now and let this be your urgent task.  If it's to find the suitable university or program then this is your urgent task. If it's to get a certain prerequisite, then this is your urgent task. Whatever that smaller task is, do it and focus on it for now.
The first question we asked was how to make the PhD as urgent as buying the tomatoes your wife asked for. I would say that getting the PhD couldn't be made an urgent task, but the smaller sub-tasks that form the PhD as a whole could be urgent tasks. So getting your PhD could not be an urgent task, but submitting your proposal, documents, studying for an exam, submitting a review, and meeting your project group are all urgent tasks.
You may have accused all those who're around you of being unfaithful, insincere, betrayers as you've found out that they're following you up on unimportant tasks and never asked you seriously about your PhD and when you'll be done with it.
Let me tell you that as the start will turn this monster task into smaller mice it will also establish new followers in your life in addition to the current followers. All those followers will be advocates for these new mice. Your school colleagues, lecturers, supervisor, program director and family will all be very serious followers on your new highly urgent tasks.
By starting, the monster will become a queue of mice that come one after another, and all of them will build the required urgency around themselves. They will be followed by the new agents until they're all finished, that simple.
Let's go through the causes we've listed in the last post and let's expose them to the "to-start" solution and you'll see the magic of this simple solution.

  • Starting will put you in the environment, will give you the example, will make the benefit clearer to you since your first visit of a university website.
  • Starting will make the route clearer, will clear its milestones, and this will help you effectively go through it. 
  • Starting will help you focus on your current tasks, will help you know what you have to do now and not to be busy with what's to come. A task after another you'll find yourself defending your thesis and then comes the honor. 
  • Starting will build your credit of achievement and with each step you make you'll be more capable to continue and accomplish.
  • Starting will turn the dream to truth, hope to achievement and bitterness of regret and defeat to joy and dignity of progress.
  • Simply, after you start you'll be a totally different person, and you'll be on your way to achievement. 
  • Whatever comes on the road after your start is nothing but a problem that's easy to solve. 
  • Every failure you encounter after starting is a new learning experience which qualifies you more for achieving your goal. 

In brief, before you start you're a fantasy, after you start you're reality.
So dear traveler, get busy with your first smaller sub-task, hold the first ring on the chain and start. Push yourself to start or get pushed. Throw yourself into it or find someone to throw you in it. Hold your breath and jump in. Don't worry, you'll not drown, there's plenty of companions and plenty of boats only for those who've defined their destination.

<< Why You're More Serious About The Tomatoes and Not As Serious About the PhD

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Towards More Business-Oriented Business Centers

This is not a part of the intensified hospitality project but it’s an idea that was always there during the project.
I don’t know that much about the evolution of business centers in the hotel industry. But I would assume that at a point of time there were no business centers and then they started to add them to satisfy some basic communication needs that only business people needed back then and weren't easy to find around. And as far as I know it stopped there.
I see that most of business centers in the hotels today are incomplete secretarial centers. They sometimes provide more modest communication facilities than what we're already moving around with in our life of mobility.
I would think that business center is where a hotel can most add a value to business. I would simply say that hotels have the opportunity to be real business centers, all of the hotel, the entire hotel and not a small room thrown behind corridors. but let me now keep it to the same business center and not a business hotel.
I would say why don’t we have business centers being the places where business takes place? Where networking happens, where the hospitality industry weaves its values around a very huge portion of its customers and their real needs and interests.
I guess we need to move away from thinking of all customers the same way, and of business guests just like any other customer where their needs are expected to be a bed and a bathroom. Normally, when you even come to what executive rooms mean, it’s more of a luxury and not that much to add in the business domain. According to the proposed concept, following is what a hotel business center can offer.

  1. Establish and maintain a directory of local business entities and business people and make it available for guests.
  2. Establish and maintain a reputation system for those local business people who benefit from the business center. The reputation system relies much on the feedback given by the guests who established a relation with the local business person or entity.
  3. Establish and maintain a repository of catalogues of products and services for suppliers operating in various fields for easier selection and ordering.
  4. Create the opportunity for guests to communicate with other guests for networking and exploration of opportunities based on their preferences.
  5. Create the opportunity for guests and local business people to communicate for networking, exploring opportunities based on their preferences.
  6. Providing secretarial, translation, legal, accounting and tax advisory facilities for faster deal closing.
  7. Hosting a bank branch for faster on-site banking and financial services.
  8. Stock market follow-up and transaction facilities.
  9. Running a linkedin group that would connect guests and local business people before and after the visit.

Do you think such a business center will have a different value to offer to you on you next business trips?

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Intensified Hospitality- Third Concept: Weave & Style

I've posted the first concept "Intented" then posted the second concept "Moment Share". This will be my last concept and my last post on the intensified hospitality project.
Concept Description
The concept is about enabling the customer to tailor and design his own experience. The customer is utilizing the menu of hotel offers to create his own blend of stay. The customer is highly empowered to design his stay style according to his stay purpose. In addition to the settings the customer chooses for his service, the hotel makes available for the customer a wide range of related information, services and tools.

Mood Board
Service Evidencing
The following is an imaginary ad for the service.

That's it for the intensified hospitality project. Should you need other parts posted from what you can see in the project outline, please let me know.

Following are the posts on the intensified hospitality project on Auroralahti:
Intensified Hospitality- Third Concept: Weave & Style (this post)

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why You're More Serious About The Tomatoes and Not As Serious About the PhD

In the last post, I asked the question "What Got a Higher Priority: Getting Your PhD or Buying a Kilo of Tomatoes?", and I was actually raising the question of how to make the most important tasks from non-urgent tasks to urgent tasks? how can we take an action about them? how can we get the same attention and follow-up from those around us on those important tasks just like how we get their follow-up on buying the kilo of tomatoes? How can we stop dreaming before we find our life is over?

So we're accurately here addressing the case where we think, dream, intend and then look for some urgent important or unimportant tasks to push achieving this dream away, to postpone the change, to stop our growth while the world around us is rapidly moving and progressing.
The solution is really simple. And before we jump into the solution let's look at the reasons, the causes behind this problem. What's it that makes us less serious about our dreams. I will take the PhD as an example, and I'll compare the dreamer and the actor.

No Charger To Begin With
When dreaming about having the PhD, the dreamer's motivation to finish the thesis is not as serious as the actor's, the one who's already working on his thesis. The dreamer's feeling of the return is also incomplete. The actor is already seeing the impact this step will have on him. It's enough for him to look at his lecturers, or peers who're about to finish or have finished their PhD and he gets that everyday. For the actor the benefit is crystal clear and for the dreamer it's vague and uncertain. The actor sees the benefit and charges his motivation daily and dreamer tries to imagine those benefits and how they may feel or look like.

Which Highway? Any Idea?
The dreamer knows that he generally wants to have a PhD, from which university? In what subject? What're the prerequisites? What's the process until the thesis defense? How long would that take? How is he going to do it? He doesn't really know. Who's his thesis supervisor? What're his requirements and expectations? He doesn't really know. As a matter of fact, his dream is not really defined, it's just like how they always try to visualize the dream; foggy, blurry and whitish. The actor knows the answer for most of these questions in addition to sufficient answers to support his progress for a year ahead. The dreamer dreams of a dream that he doesn't really know, and the actor is acting on tasks that are crisp and clear.

Frozen By The Monster
One of the biggest problems is thinking about our dreams as a whole and not as a sequence of tasks or events. We see the PhD or the book to author or the business as a result, as a point and not as a process. And this is the reason of feeling unable to approach this big monster. The actor sees his next task to be delivering chapter 3 of part 2 for revision, while the dreamer sees his next task to be getting the PhD.

100% planned.
The dreamer didn't start yet, he didn't exert any efforts to accomplish his mission and so all of the mission is remaining. And this is an enough reason to not attack it. If we imagined that he finished half of it then he only has to work on the other half. If he did, It should make his mission easier and should make him a bit committed towards what he has accomplished so far.

Bone-dry Feet
The dream is still a dream. He didn't get his feet wet. He didn't feel the taste of achieving one step on the road. And when considering the above reasons it would make it feel more difficult for him to work on. Surely, achieving one step on the road should make him on the other extreme.

Solo Dream vs. Crowd Action
The dream is his and his alone. He may narrate it to others but it remains his dream. As long as it's not put into action, people are only able to share his dream for few moments. On the contrary, in the times of action millions will give a hand to help him get his PhD. Yes, it's not only about his family, the lecturers, the supervisor, the dean and the librarian. It also include the researchers working in the same field all over the world, and those who're facilitating their lives and operations. It includes the passport control officers, the airlines companies, the bus driver and the guy in the grocery store. Yes, everyone can help when it comes to action, otherwise the dream is his and his alone.

Tic .. Tic …. Tiiiiiiiiiiiiic. ……….. (no more)
He dreams for an hour then sleeps for hours. It may hit his mind once or twice a year when the academic year is about to start or when he hears about someone who started or finished his PhD. In the beginning it's more of a reminder, then it becomes a painful feeling of guilt that he tries to escape. For the dreamer, It comes every now and then and then stops. The actors lives it in every single moment with all his senses and attention.

See? I Was Right! ... Yeah, Right!
When the dreamer looks at someone who has started and then stopped or faced a problem he would say: "See? I was wise I didn’t start". He sees that he didn't risk his time and money which both may have been already wasted in hundreds of kilos of tomatoes. He would forget that the gap between both of them is really huge. The actor that faced a problem has to look for a solution and then he would be done. The dreamer is in front of a dream that he didn't have the courage to attack. After a short or a long period of time, the actor would have achieved, and the dreamer would have achieved a dream. He thinks that he didn't risk anything, but indeed he risked his life and his dream.

To continue to dream of the PhD for years leads us to getting used to dreaming, and makes us even more far from approaching the achievement. And It's worse to add more and more dreams in addition to the PhD, and then we end up with dreams as our daily bread.

No Resources. It Should Be Ok
There's no doubt that we can't do anything we don't have the resources for. I do believe that lacking the resources doesn’t have that much of impact when compared to the other reasons. Mostly if the dreamer started to work on his dream then lacking the resources will just be another problem like any other problem that he has to pick the solution for from plenty of available solutions.

Is there any other causes you'd like to add? Are we close from the solution? Can you detect it?
<What Got a Higher Priority: Getting Your PhD or Buying a Kilo of Tomatoes?
Next on this series: The Art of "To-Start">>

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Monday, June 14, 2010

What Got a Higher Priority: Getting Your PhD or Buying a Kilo of Tomatoes?

Don't rush into an answer, I'm not really asking you about what you think, but I'm more of asking you about how you behave.

In the Egyptian media there has been this stereotype about the wife forgetting the tomatoes and calling the husband to pick a kilo of tomatoes on his way home, although it is not happening anymore due to the lifestyle changes, but it's an example that goes for many other things. We all know the Eisenhower method in categorizing tasks into important/ unimportant and urgent/ not urgent and dealing with each task accordingly.

I listened one time to Stephen Covey and he was addressing one of the most critical quadrants which is the quadrant of important not urgent tasks. And he said that if you thought about tasks that are meant to have the most dramatic impact on your life you'll find that they all fall in this quadrant. They are always important but not urgent.

Think about getting your next degree or starting you own business it's all important and if it happened it may change your life totally, but it remains non urgent. Such tasks don't follow-up on you but you are are the one who should do something about them. You don't have to only follow-up on them, but you have to actually attack them as they're mostly difficult ones.

So the comparison here is about the task that may positively change your life dramatically and I gave the PhD as an example and which you may postpone for many many years, and between the kilo of tomatoes which with the urgency created around it, it remains not that important.

If this is the picture, how can we make those very important tasks from not urgent to urgent? How can we achieve the dreams we had for a long time now? How can we pay more attention to these tasks more than the kilo of tomatoes that grabs our attention because someone is following up on it? It's all between you and yourself, it's your own dream and nobody is going to follow you up on it.

This issue was something that I thought about for a long time and I've gotten to a solution, which I've seen many fruits come from. Until the next post, please share with me and the readers the solutions you tend to take to tackle this problem in your life.

Next on this series: Why You're More Serious About The Tomatoes and Not As Serious About the PhD
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Intensified Hospitality- Project Outline

I have only one concept left to share. Before I post this concept I though to share with you the project outline in case you thought there may be something you'd like posted from the understanding and thinking phases. I'll start with the project cover just to set the mood and then to the Table of contents which contains all the project outline then will post a couple of section separators just to further support the mood :)

Following are the posts on the intensified hospitality project on Auroralahti:
Intensified Hospitality- Project Outline (this post)

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Intensified Hospitality- Second Concept: Moment Share

In the last post, I've shared with you the first concept of the intensified hospitality project (Intensified Hospitality- First Concept: Intented ) which was about deep authentic, traditional and local experience. In this post I'll share with you another concept which is moment share. Unfornaturely I couldn't put as much effort in explaining this concept as I did in the "intented" concept but I hope the effort made will make it easy for you to get my proposal about it.

Concept Description
This concept is about enabling the guest to leverage the social media capabilities to share his experience with the world. The hotel would embed the recording, capturing and publishing capabilities within the hotel processes. The customer just sets his preferences in the beginning of the stay and then it goes with no interference, he would just comment and interact with his family and friends based on these posts made by the hotel on behalf of him. The hotel also provides a framework for sharing between hotel guests in general who can share knowledge about hotel and local experiences.

Mood Board

Service Evidencing
The following is an imaginary ad of the service.

Following are the posts on the intensified hospitality project on Auroralahti:
Intensified Hospitality- Second Concept: Moment Share (this post)

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Intensified Hospitality- First Concept: Intented

In the following posts I'll publish some of the concepts I got to explain in the explaining phase. Before I start with the first concept I would like to share with the readers that my project innovation focus was on the front office operations. The hotel I did the project for proposes the position of offering arabic-culture driven hospitality. And this will explain the focus on the culture-driven hospitality as one of the concepts.

Concept Description:
The concept is about delivering an authentic, original and traditional hospitality experience in the hotel. The concept will feature painting the hotel with the different aspects of the culture. The concept delivers this value to customer even if he’s staying only for few hours in the hotel. The concept also helps the guest take the experience home with him through the “take it home” concept of being able to buy certain items of the hotel equipments. The hotel utilizes different role-playing and scenarios to help customers live the experience.

Mood Board:


Service Evidencing
The following is an imaginary magazine ad of the service.
Someone saw it and said "Wow, your hotel doesn't have a logo" and he's right. The ad missed a hotel logo.

What do you think about this concept? Did you like it? Would you like to live this experience? What would bother you about it and you'd want improved?

Following are the posts on the intensified hospitality project on Auroralahti:
Intensified Hospitality- First Concept: Intented (this post)

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