RyanAir’s real mistake

It’s fundamental.

If you don’t look after your people they’ll eventually leave. All the more so if there are lucrative alternative opportunities on offer.

What seems so incredible about the crisis at RyanAir is how business basics appear to have been overlooked by senior management.

It’s fine to operate a low cost, “strip out all the frills” business model. Offering cheaper prices than the competition yet still remaining profitable.

But you still have to deliver an effective core service.

Last time I checked, you can’t fly a commercial passenger aircraft without pilots.

So if it’s true that there’s been a serious exodus of pilots in the past year, particularly to Norwegian Airlines, how come nobody in RyanAir management pressed the alarm bells, until it was too late?

The consequences of the “do nothing” option were surely predictable, as was the heavy price RyanAir will now surely pay for this mistake in terms of lost profits and tarnished reputation (many flyers would argue that their reputation had already been tarnished).

Which leads to a key point. About knowing which business KPI’s (key performance indicators) to monitor regularly, based on exception analysis.

Leaving aside staff motivation, a likely and fundamental cause of the problem, why was there no (or inadequate) managerial monitoring of staff turnover data?

Surely even the simple measure of “Total Leavers/Total Employees (%)” would have served to highlight a data “spike” and a gathering crisis?

The lesson here for all businesses is to be more holistic in measuring performance.

By choosing the relevant KPI’s, monitoring them, and then taking early corrective measures as required.

And in business, people matter. Employees as well as customers.

Brexit vote – lessons learned for decision making {0201}

OK, I admit it. I’ve turned into a real Brexit bore.

Happy to engage in seemingly endless conversations on the implications of Brexit. Conversations that always conclude rather unsatisfactorily with “Who knows?, Let’s wait and see?”, as Brexit fatigue finally sets in.

I make no apologies for being a “Remain” supporter, and I have a list of reasons why I believe we should have stayed in Europe. My European and American friends are as shocked as me that we voted to leave.

Yesterday, in the spirit of acceptance and “moving on”, I decided to really explore the issue from a Brexiter’s point of view. To understand why so many of my fellow citizen’s voted “Out”.

All decisions have consequences, some unintended.

Given the historic nature of the decision for our country it would be nice to believe that “Leave” supporters used a rational process when deciding.

At the very least weighing the “Pros” versus the “Cons”, using the information at hand {albeit some of a highly dubious nature}.

The 4 “Cartesian Questions” add a slightly different dimension to decision making.

Helping to dig a little deeper and be more explicit about the possible outcomes.

Evaluating expectations using the Cartesian Questions goes something like this {for example only, accepting that much comes down to personal opinion and who to believe}……

  1. “What would I expect to happen if I vote to Leave?” > less EU immigration, restored UK sovereignty, new trade deals e.g. China, stricter conditions for accessing the EU market, devaluation of sterling, a stock market correction, an economic downturn etc.
  2. “What wouldn’t I expect to happen if I vote to Leave?” > to lose my job, to continue to sacrifice  income to fund immigration costs, the EU to play “hard ball” in a Brexit deal {due to long established mutuality as friends and neighbours}, the break up of the United Kingdom, the birds not to sing tomorrow morning! etc.

Then there’s the “Do nothing”, status quo option {always important when assessing a business case for change}, namely….

  1. “What would happen if I vote to Remain?” >”The Establishment” {the EU, MPs etc.} carries on as before, with individuals and families financially better off in the short term {but then what?}, immigrants coming into the country in greater numbers, globalisation marches on untroubled, the financial sector and corporations continue to grow richer at other’s expense etc.
  2. “What wouldn’t happen if I vote to Remain?” > having a second chance to vote to leave the EU, significant EU reforms to reflect citizens’ democratic needs, a recession, reduction in overseas investment to the UK etc.

So there you have it. Balancing all these issues, a democratic decision was reached that we all now have to live with, however we voted.

The wider learning point here is the use of proven techniques to improve decision making.

When your business is faced with a key business decision, why not start by exploring the “Cartesian Questions”? It’s bound to lead to further questions and avenues of enquiry.

Yes, in the end the buck for any key business decision still stops with you, but at least you can be confident of having explored all the obvious angles and consequences before deciding.

And as for Brexit………I’ve had more than enough of that for today…….so I’m going to bed!

Sleep well.

Stephen C.


Sneak preview of Stephen C. Business TV (SC-BTV)

Just giving you an early glimpse of pilot material from Stephen C. Business TV (SC-BTV), a new internet channel aimed at small business owners, new business start-ups and those seeking a healthier work-life balance:

The programme draws on the presenter’s wealth of experience and knowledge from coaching and advising small business owners and new start-up entrepreneurs, research into customers and markets, and through the provision of broadcast TV facilities/production services.

More details to follow…..

Stephen C.

Where will new customers come from in 2015? (PRfB 0101)

The Business “Pain”:

Now you’re into a New Year, why not step back and take a critical look at your business strategy?

Fundamentally, make sure you have the “right” offer for the “right” customers and that you’re making enough profit. It’s easy to drift and be outmanoeuvred by the competition. It can be a slow process of attrition that can suddenly catch up dramatically on profitability. Don’t forget your existing customers.

There’s a key distinction in Marketing between the ‘strategic’, and the ‘tactical’. You may be impatient to take action right now by spending money on marketing promotion to find new customers. That’s tactical activity.

However it’s likely to be ineffective and a waste of money if you don’t first have a clear idea of profitable target prospects, and an attractive offer with which to tempt them.

A Remedy:

It’s logical for strategy to precede tactics.

Do your homework. Check out what’s really going on in your market and with your competitors. Analyse your management data carefully to establish any significant patterns.

Crucially, gather as much direct feedback as you can from customers and prospects.

The key questions: Who?, What?, When?, Where?, Why?, How? (Many/Much) are fairly self-evident (to focus the mind, consider what questions a friend would insist that they had answers to before making a 5-figure investment in your business?).

It’s particularly important to know why prospects didn’t buy from you, and why previous customers stopped buying.

Make this a regular activity cycle, as part of a continual learning process.

If you need to make changes have a plan. To implement a customer proposition and promise with at least one valuable customer benefit that competitors don’t offer. This then drives promotional activities.

Set clear, realistic expectations with customers and prospects, checking that you can service the demand you create.

If you need help, find someone, a trusted friend or a business coach, who can act as an impartial sounding board and “Devil’s Advocate”.

Stephen C.

PRfB 0101

“Pain” Remedies for Business (The PRfB series)

For effective selling it’s much better to focus on a buyer’s “pain” rather than any potential “gain”.

Why? Because by nature human beings normally prioritise removal of pain first.

Take a sudden burst water pipe in the house as an example.

How long will you wait for a plumber to turn up? How likely are you to dispute their emergency call-out charge?

Effective selling means good questioning, helping potential buyers to identify their pain, and then effectively magnifying this pain in their mind so it can’t possibly be ignored.

Let buyers fully experience this powerful emotion, which is the basis of most decision making.

Then offer the solution to remove their pain. Available right now! Making sure to provide the key back-up evidence so they can justify their decision later, to themselves and others.

No doubt you recognise the same process at work within your business.

The upcoming “Pain” Remedies for Business (PRfB) blog series will cover many of the common, uncomfortable “pains” faced by small business owners, along with a few simple, helpful remedies aimed at making it better.

It takes a structured approach, categorising by type of pain, and building to a handy reference catalogue.

I trust you will find it useful. If you do, please pass it on to your friends.


Stephen C.

Business Coach





Why doing jigsaw puzzles can be good for business

Why doing jigsaw puzzles can be good for business


There are all sorts of techniques for maintaining a disciplined business focus.

One of the better analogies in the business language lexicon is the “helicopter view”.

Put simply, this means balancing big picture information with the detail on the ground in order to make informed decisions and plan a route to success, which can then be clearly communicated to others.

Doing a jigsaw puzzle can help you better appreciate your business from a helicopter’s altitude because:

  • There is a goal, which is to complete the jigsaw, in other words a plan well executed
  • This can’t be achieved without sight of the “big picture” shown on the box, or in business terms, that important overall environmental assessment that gives your plan a context
  • …..but you also need to pay close attention to the individual pieces without which you can’t complete the jigsaw at all – that’s the detail in your implementation plan making the changes work in practice
  • The jigsaw process starts with you finding the outside pieces that set the picture’s boundary, or in business terms, the overall approach or strategy to be taken
  • Then you look for the “pictures within the picture”, putting pieces together as sub-assemblies, analogous to the role different functions play when making business changes happen
  • As you get into the task you begin to recognise patterns, the colours and shapes of individual loose pieces that fill the gaps in your puzzle – in business terms, these are the new insights and gems of information that allow adjustment to your planned actions to make them more effective

The whole jigsaw puzzle process starts slowly then gradually gathers pace, even accelerating towards the end. When finished everything is perfectly integrated.

Concentrating on the puzzle for long periods can become counter-productive as you become tired and frustrated, struggling to find any pieces that fit.

However when you take regular breaks how often to you come back and immediately find a piece you have been looking for?

Does any of this ring true for you and your business?

Maybe doing jigsaw puzzles can be good for your business after all!