IN all aspects of life, there are things beyond our control—big or little things that affect our performance and cause delays in carefully drawn plans. In the end, how we can recover from those delays matter.
Time-sensitive businesses in transportation and logistics use the concept of On Time Performance (OTP) as one of the most important yardsticks in measuring their performance. When a company contractually binds itself to deliver goods or perform services at a particular day and time, customers expect nothing later than what was promised. Some food companies even commit not to charge their customers in case orders are not delivered within certain time periods. In the airline business, OTP is directly proportional to a customer satisfaction (CSAT) score; that is, the higher the OTP, the higher the CSAT. Philippine Airlines (PAL) recently reinforced its customer-recovery efforts through instant online feedback and empowering all station heads to consistently apply customer-recovery guidelines every time they encounter dissatisfied passengers.
Currently, PAL OTP revolves around 60 percent to 70 percent, which means that 3 or 4 out of 10 flights of PAL are delayed on a weekly basis. Delays are due to external, uncontrollable, maintenance or internal factors. In recent months, based on our Integrated Operations Control Center, PAL OTP should be more than 90 percent if delays due to external factors are not taken into consideration. These external factors include runway closures, weather disturbances, sunset limitations, and other incidents beyond the control of the airline. Thus, no matter how much the technical crew of PAL wants the flights to be on time, delays are simply unavoidable.
I recently came from a trip in Australia. A colleague from PAL, lawyer Elaine Tan, drew up the itinerary for our group of five lawyers. Elaine and I go a long way, as she was my former law student in Ateneo, a former Associate in Malcolm Law and a former technical staff in the Bureau of Immigration. After all those years, I know her to be very meticulous and patient. I was not mistaken. The group of five lawyers was supposed to see the usual tourist spots, play golf and enjoy the nightlife—according to Elaine’s plan. She laid out activities for each day so that the group can maximize its time in Australia. However, as in most plans, not all details were followed. The group had to adjust—happily I might add—inasmuch as we understood that there are just some things beyond our control. Having been trained and educated in OB Montessori, University of the Philippines and in the Ateneo Law School, Elaine somehow managed to keep the group intact and the trip worthwhile as she adjusted along the way. The group got lost a few times, but we managed to regain our bearings, largely due to Elaine’s efforts and initiatives. Elaine had the firmness to follow the plan and the flexibility to adjust our itinerary.
Talking about plans, during the six-day trip, the group learned that the Sydney Opera House was originally planned and designed to be completed in three years at a cost of seven million Australian dollars. From more than 200 design proposals, design number 218 from Danish architect Jorn Utzon was selected and commissioned by the government. Utzon, however, left the construction project in 1966 for various reasons, principal of which were disagreements with government executives who naturally changed over time. The Opera House was eventually opened after 15 years of construction at a cost of 102 million Australian dollars, most of the investment coming from casino funds. Plans were drawn up, but adjustments had to be made to complete the task.
Business leaders will make plans. Some succeed. Some fail. In Proverbs 16:3-4, the Bible tells us, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end.” While Utzon was ousted due to some internal squabbles, he was eventually vindicated. Several years after he left, government tried to reengage Utzon, this time as a consultant. Since he was already 81 years old and too old to travel, Utzon did what he could do, remotely, before his death in 2008.
When the Sydney Opera House was declared a World Heritage Site in 2007, Utzon became only the second person to have received such recognition during his lifetime. Utzon was even granted a Pritzker Architecture Prize, the highest honor for architects, a few years before his death. In the case of Elaine, the group OTP in terms of the scheduled itinerary was not as great. Somehow, Elaine managed to keep the CSAT score high enough, as all of us were pleasantly satisfied during the trip.
In business and in life, we have our desired timetables and schedules. Nothing can outmatch God’s timing. Delays can ruin the best-laid plans. But the task can still be achieved, just like how PAL and Elaine have done it, by patiently making adjustments with a smile and with lots of prayers. More on OTP in my next column.
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