Courtesy

We can be much more courteous to others.

This became much more apparent to me while living in Hong Kong. In general, people in Hong Kong are not too courteous (as mentioned in a previous post “Manners of Hong Kong”).

By making a point of saying “thank you” to every driver who is courteous to me. I hope to be the catalyst of change to improve the driving etiquette of Hong Kong drivers.

Traffic Solution

Traffic congestion in Hong Kong is a big problem. This is especially so, for the areas around the “Central Harbour Tunnel”, on both the Hong Kong island and Kowloon sides. This congestion had been a problem for many years, and for almost every hour in the day, 365 days a year.

Recently the Hong Kong government wants to levitate the congestion by increasing land reclamation on the Hong Kong island shore front so to build more roads.

In the mean time there are 2 other tunnels; “Eastern Harbour Tunnel” and “Western Harbour Tunnel”, neither of which are used by many Hong Kong drivers. This is mainly due to economics. There are truck drivers who would drive many kilometers more just to take the Central Harbour Tunnel rather than taking the more direct route of the Western Harbour Tunnel.

I believe there is a much simpler and more economical solution. Just increase the toll of the Central Harbour Tunnel so that it is much (approximately HKD10) more than the other two tunnels.

While at the same time decrease the toll of the Western Harbour Tunnel, which is capable of accommodating a much larger volume of traffic.

Inventions

Ever wonder what the world would be like without inventors who created products for our every day problems?

For example, take the lids on disposable soft drink cups. I remember the days when I ordered a soft drink from a fast food restaurant, they would mark the lids of the cups with either a “D” or “R” for “Diet” and “Root Beer” respectively. Now they just push down on the little plastic bubble on the lid to indicate the kind of soft drink inside.

How about the bendable straws? Before this invention, patients in hospitals would frequently spill their drinks while drinking in bed. Now with the bendable straw this is no longer a problem.

These are all simple solutions to problems. I believe the best solutions are the ones that are simple, and the best candidates for innovative solutions are those everyday problems that people constantly take for granted.

So, if you’re a closet inventor, pay attention to those every day things you take for granted. Some of them may turn into great inventions.

Technology As The Solution

I was forwarded an article (“How has information technology changed your life?“) from the BBC.Com web site a few days ago.

The following is a quote from the article

Technology can improve the lives of millions of the Earth’s poorest people, according to UN chief Kofi Annan

Sometimes people do not understand that technology are not always appropriate and it is not the solution to all problems. Being a futurist/technologist, you must be surprise to hear me say that. Although, in my opinion, knowing this fact is the first step of being a good technologist.

Indeed information is one way to empower individuals who may not know better; case in point the many of the people in the rural area of China. These information may not need to be delivered using technology at all. There is also the issue with government policies in these countries which prevents the free flow of information. It is in the advantage of the individuals in power to keep their people (citizens) in the dark; one way to keep control. The are also many human rights violations and massive disease control problems at these countries that the article is referring to.

The UN and the various [technology] companies who want to help; if that is what they really want to do, should gather together and focus on these issues first, before shoving new technology down the throats of the “so-called poor people of the world”.

This sort of approach is very common among Asian companies, from my experience. They would come up with the products or services first and sell (market) them to the people (in the best of cases; the “target audience”), instead of figuring out what the “people (the target audience)” really need.

Pilots

Today I had my first war game with a bunch of “local trained” Cathay Pacific pilots.

It is obvious why they are the cream of the crop. They are a group of very competitive individuals, that are very intelligent and adaptive to challenges. Unfortunately, working as a team is one of these challenges, which their competitiveness gets in the way.

I now feel even safer knowing that at the front of Cathay’s planes are individuals like them who command the aircraft.

Different Working Styles

It has now been more than 5 and a half years since I’ve moved back to Hong Kong.

At first I was quite lucky and was sheltered from most of the typical working style of Hong Kong businesses. I worked for large corporations like “Hongkong Telecom”, “Arthur Andersen” and most recently “Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.”.

My immediate reports for the past 5 years had always been North Americans. To be specific, North Americans who had been working away from North America for a short while (less than 10 years). Also, they have worked in North America for many years prior to coming to Hong Kong or Asia.

You may ask, what is the difference between North American style and Asian style? Well, from my short experience here, I would say it is the objective or driving force behind a task or goal that the employees are trying to achieve.

What do I mean?

In a North American business, when it comes down to getting things done, achieving an objective, one would rarely say that they have to accomplish an objective because of so and so. It is always because it benefits the organization (company) that they are currently employed at.

Where as in Asia (at least in Hong Kong), employees frequently refer to an individual, who is higher up in the echelon, as the reason to achieve an objective.

Which is the better way to success for a company? Well that depends on the individual high up in the echelon who is making all the demands.

To further consider this question; just think of the most successful companies in the world and the cultures they come from.

I have come to my own conclusion, but I will leave it to you to find your own.

Long Time No Talk

Many of you have pointed out to me that my Blog is out date.

Well I have no excuse for that. I do apologize to all those who check my Blog regularly.

On the subject of talk. When someone say, “let’s have a talk”, usually that means something no good is about to happen. Especially if it comes from someone who normally does not find time to talk to you out of the blue.

Very few people come right out and tell you that something bad is about to happen. Those who do, will say something like, “we need to discuss this sitting down” or “I have to tell you something important”. These messages give you enough warning so that you can psychologically prepare yourself for what is about to happen.

I think people need to be more brave and be more direct. Let’s stop talking “in between lines”. Just come right out and say it, of course you will need to be tactful while doing so.

Personal Goal Achieved

Today was my last working day at Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd..

It is always sad to leave an organization which one had been with for many years (in this case over 2 years).

All the business relationships developed, personal friendships nurtured and understanding how things get done. These all took much efforts and time. But, nothing can compare to the one personal goal I have with every organization I join. That is to be able to make a difference in both the organization and the people in it.

It is not until an event like my “sudden” departure that I see evidences of what I had achieved at Cathay.

With the news of my departure beginning to spread, there were numerous emails, phone calls, SMS and ICQ messages that reinforced these evidences.

“… you are a good person, they are the bad guys, don’t let this event make you think otherwise…”

“… thank you for all your help, I do not know what I would have done without you…”

“… thank you for being there when no one else care…”

I am touched and grateful that these people allowed me to make a difference in their lives at Cathay.

Thank you!

Scare Tactics

Crosswalk

Is this what is has come to?

I found this picture on the street of San Francisco in front of a cross walk.

For those of you who cannot see the picture clearly, it is the chalk outline of a victim with the statistics of fatalities caused by jaywalkers.