Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 26th 2016 Contents BG18 COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MAY 26 • 2016
On August 6, 1987,
Korean Air 801
Guam for a night-
time landing. One
of the instruments
on the ground that usually guides
pilots to the runway for an instru-
ment landing was not working that
day (the glideslope) . This is typically
not a problem as pilots then used
what was known as a non-precision
approach. On this occasion, the cap-
tain saw a flicker on the instrument
and---despite the copilot and flight
engineer indicating it was a false
signal and that the airport was not
in sight---the captain exercised his
authority and proceeded to fly the
aircraft, eventually resulting in the
plane flying into a hill and killing
228 of the 258 passengers on board.
There have been several other air
disasters that have occurred due to
the inability of the cockpit crew to
question the decision of the pilot
even when it was clearly wrong.
Arising out of the 1977 air disaster
in Tenerife in Spain, the National
Transportation Safety Board in the
USA began formally developing Crew
Resource Management (CRM). While
retaining a command hierarchy, the
concept was intended to foster a less
authoritarian cockpit culture, where
co-pilots were encouraged to ques-
tion captains if they observed them
making mistakes. CRM focuses
mainly on interpersonal communi-
cation, decision-making and lead-
ership in the cockpit. The results
have been spectacular, with a huge
improvement in air safety.
So, what does this have to do with
How is your executive team run?
Do you have the power to respect-
fully raise your concerns with your
CEO or chairman?
Is your company's culture one of
"do as you're told?"
Many say they have an open-door
policy or that you can raise your
concerns freely but do they always
practice what they preach in the heat
of the moment?
Does objection result in increased
tension and reduction in respect?
Human beings can be quite irra-
tional at times.
Is there a place for autocratic lead-
ership in an organisation?
In 2006, Ford was in a bad state.
The world had given up on Ford and
it was losing US$1,400 per vehicle
sold. No one wanted to take the helm
of this failing company. Then came
the most authoritarian CEO that
Ford had ever seen, Alan Mulally.
He was a newcomer to the auto
industry and forced the design teams
to radically shift their thinking. He
decided to get rid of Land Rover,
Jaguar, Aston Martin and Volvo. He
did not rely on sales figures or sta-
tistics to make his decisions. Every
Thursday morning he held a meeting
in what Ford called their Thunderbird
room. During that meeting there
was a lot of name bashing as he
attempted to shame the non-per-
formers. He called his chair the
"pilot's seat." He wanted results.
Under Mulally's leadership, how-
ever, Ford's market capitalisation
increased a whopping 370 per cent.
Suddenly, no one was muttering
about narcissism or any other mean
Is there a place for this type of
leadership in a company?
Obviously there are instances
when someone has to take the bull
by the horns. But one must be careful
because there are an equal number
of failures to match all the success
stories. We have also seen immense
corporate scandals from "big name"
companies when no one had the
authority to challenge the CEO for
ethically questionable decisions.
Strategy can be a subjective deci-
sion, but should ethics also not be
In the case of the airplane crash
above, a more forceful intervention
by the other flight deck crew may
have saved 228 lives.
In the case of Ford, the autocratic
leadership had to do with strategy
in a company that was already at
the bottom of the pile.
When Steve Jobs took over Apple,
the company was floundering and
he used his legendary tyrannical style
to produce measurable results.
You would also recall the Enron,
WorldCom, Tyco, Lehman Brothers,
Satyam and Bernie Madoff account-
ing scandals. Obviously these are
ethically and legally questionable
strategies that were carefully con-
ceived and executed.
raise the red flag until it was too
Were these cases of blind faith or
Take another case of Air France
447 on June 1, 2009; when the cap-
tain left the cockpit for a short while.
During that time a problem arose
with the airspeed indicator and the
aircraft went into an aerodynamic
stall. When the captain returned,
they failed to communicate effec-
tively in assessing the aircraft's sit-
uation, which caused the crew to
employ the wrong corrective meas-
ures with disastrous consequences.
Leadership and communication
styles are very important.
Each has its strengths and weak-
nesses but it is important to have
your pulse on the organisation.
Without having an understanding
of the organisation, the possibility
of miscommunication and misun-
derstanding now becomes a reality.
Thus the water cooler conversations,
though not the official communi-
cation channel, now becomes the
most trusted one and contributes
organisational inertia. In such an
instance, how are the organisational
goals perceived and internalised by
As far as strategy is concerned, it
can always be debated. However if
you believe ethics and legality are
being compromised you should indi-
cate your disapproval. I am not sug-
gesting insubordination or stepping
out of line but you can respectfully
raise your concern in the appropriate
forum. Your concern can be heeded
or ignored after all, the CEO is still
Bhushan Singh is a lecturer, con-
sultant & team lead sustainable
and renewable energy project incu-
bator of the Arthur Lok Jack Grad-
uate School of Business. He has
worked in both the public and pri-
vate sectors and has served as a
consultant in both a technical and
professional capacity locally and
Food insecurity affects man in different spheres
of his life, from issues of obesity, chronic non-
communicable diseases, educational and social
development. In a 2013 study in the USA and
published in the Nutrition Journal, it was noted
that "detrimental physical, psychological, behav-
ioural, social, and educational functioning in children and
adults" as a result of food insecurity. Research involving house-
holds in a Texas border town presented as a main conclusion
that food insecurity resulted in students' lower level of "edu-
cational attainment" in comparison to their food secure coun-
Another study, done in Jimma Zone, Southwest Ethiopia
in October 2011, was done so that scientists could test the
effects of food insecurity on the population in lower income
countries, "...because all other studies on food insecurity were
done in high income countries."
At what stage of its development is a country, or area within
a country, considered as having a food security problem?
The United Nations, at the World Food Summit in 1996,
provided a guideline for the discussion, defining food security
as "all people at all times [having] access to sufficient, safe,
nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life." Broadly
speaking, the definition deals with the supply of food, its
accessibility, usage and the reliability with which the first three
criteria met. When a country does not meet these requirements,
it is said to be experiencing a food insecurity problem.
There is an economic cost to food insecurity. Even without
the benefit of scientific studies on the effects of food insecurity
on a people, the costs are readily apparent. It costs to manage
obesity. Health insurance premiums are higher not just for
the obese but everyone. Then a government must provide
wider and sturdier seats in public spaces: stadiums, parks, bus
stops, public toilets, etc. Tests must be done to determine
impact of heavier body mass indexes on brakes and steering
wheels of vehicles.
More gasoline is used to transport bigger bodies, an April
2012 Reuters article reported which means increased spending
on public transport.
The Reuters' article, describing the economic cost of obesity
as startling, focused on the American society and compared
the body mass index (BMI) of passengers in 1960 with those
in the 21st century, stating that nearly a billion more gallons
of gasoline is being used annually to transport passengers.
On the upside, a study reported by the AIDS journal found
that the level of food insecurity decreased when patients took
their HIV/AIDS medication. As these patients are able to turn
out to work, they become more productive citizens and fend
for themselves as they were able to secure their own food
supplies, thus easing the economic burden on the society.
The factors resulting in food insecurity are far ranging and
not all readily obvious. For one, absenteeism in schools increases
food insecurity. The Centre for American Progress reported
on a study, Hunger in America, which states that in 2010, the
American economy lost $5.8 billion because of school absen-
In calculating the cost of the "value of poor educational
outcomes and lower lifetime earnings linked to hunger and
food insecurity" the organisation said US$19.2 billion was
spent annually to deal with the problem of school absenteeism.
Studies show a strong correlation between missing school
and incarceration. Thus, the level of students' absenteeism
poses further burdens on the economy as repercussions can
include deviant behaviours which then impinge on the justice
and prison systems.
A judge in California once told a parent of a third grader
who had missed school for two months that the State looks
at the number of students who are absent from school at the
elementary level to determine the number of cells to be built
in the jails.
The assumption is that if the student absenteeism rate at
the primary level is high then these students will most likely
become school dropouts in their teenage years. There is also
the cost added to the social security net with provisions having
to be made to take care of this category of the pre-workforce
Consequently, a major part of the country's budget caters
to the needs of law enforcement and correctional institutions
instead of developing the agricultural and manufacturing
sectors, which would increase the country's level of food secu-
Why do airplanes crash?
The growing cost of food insecurity
T&T Chamber of
Industry and Commerce
Arthur Lok Jack GSB
Links Archive May 25th 2016 May 27th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page