There’s a saying that if you look after the little things, the big things look after themselves.
Personally I’m not so sure about this as arguably it’s more important to get the big things right.
Using business terminology, Critical Success Factors are (wait for it …..) factors which are critical for the success of an organisation (probably not the most detailed definition of a Critical Success Factor (CSF) you’ve ever heard but on the positive side it is easy to remember).
An airline for example could have CSFs such as safe flights, in demand routes, on-time flights, etc.
CSF are measured using KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).
KPIs are monitored for each CSF and if they fall below a set figure it could mean there is a potential problem which would need to be investigated – eg if the KPI for on-time flights falls below say 95% it would need investigating.
There was an interesting situation at Korean Air recently.
Cho Hyun-ah was vice president of the Korean national airline and was on board a Korean Air plane sat in the first-class section. As the plane taxied for take-off she was served some macadamia nuts without being asked whether she wanted any. The nuts were also served in a paper bag rather than on a plate.
Ms Cho was responsible for cabin service for the whole airline and when she saw this breach of in-flight service etiquette (apparently the nuts should be served on a plate in Korean air’s first-class cabin) she reportedly screamed at the flight attendant who served the nuts.
Some people may argue that attention to detail is very important in areas such as first-class travel but the manner in which he dealt with it leaves a lot to be desired.
Rather than reprimand the flight attendant who made the mistake in private she insisted that the plane return to the terminal so that the flight attendant who served the nuts could be removed from the flight!
So, which do you think is going to be more helpful for the success of the airline – disciplining an employee by removing him from the plane or delaying the flight for 300 people together with the associated bad press the airline has received?
Ms Cho has no doubt realised her mistake and she has now resigned from her position as vice president of Korean air. In hindsight, the decision to order the plane back was a Critical Failure Factor in her career.