Heera Training and Management Consultancy

eNewsletter June 2011

Dear Everyone,

Hi! And how are you all? Firstly, my sincere apologies for sending this newsletter out late. I have been up to my neck in work and I can’t wait for August, where my schedule will slow down quite a bit. And yes, I got myself a new toy i.e. the Ipad 2. It’s been a lot of fun learning and playing with it together with my daughter. Right now it’s being used more for recreational purposes i.e. playing ‘Angry Birds’ and ‘Fruit Ninja’ with my daughter rather than serious stuff. Will get to the serious stuff soon though.

The other day, I read two letters in the mainstream Malaysian newspapers (English) which infuriated me. Firstly was one person who complained about the fact that he was summoned by the local municipal authority for parking his car in an illegal spot. According to this person, he admits to parking his car illegally, but just for five minutes, to purchase something from a Seven Eleven store. His contention is that the authorities should show more empathy and be more practical since there were no parking lots nearby. He continues that he was after all only parking illegally for five minutes.

Cannot see the Forest for the Trees

My anger is the fact that this guy broke the rules and yet wants the rules to be bent to suit him. Firstly, he was parking illegally, which is a fact. Secondly, because of his illegal parking, he could have created a bottleneck which would have led to traffic jams. Thirdly, he expects sympathy because he ‘only parked for five minutes’. My question is where do we draw the line as to what is okay and what is not okay. If five minutes is okay, what about seven minutes or twenty minutes for that matter?

The second letter which got me angry was when someone suggested that the fine for motorcyclists who do not wear helmets should be lowered to make it more ‘affordable’. I am really appalled by this awful suggestion. The point is that the objective of fines is to serve as a deterrent. If it is affordable, then this objective would not be achieved and people will continue to flout the law. The law was designed to ensure the safety of motorcyclists and if they are not bothered, then the state will have to intervene to ensure their safety.

In both cases, my view is that the people concerned have a myopic view of things i.e. they can only see things from a narrow perspective which is usually for their own individual interest. As much as we may laugh at them, let me assure you that there are many people like these in organizations. These people cause lots of problems and take up lots of meeting time as they always insist on looking at issues from within a narrow band of personal interest while neglecting the wider scheme of things such as the need for organizations to continuously innovate and change to remain competitive and relevant. Even when flaws in their thinking are pointed out, they will not accept differing views because they are so set in their own ways. Too much time is therefore wasted in organizations on trivial issues, whilst ignoring the larger and more critical concerns.

Using an analogy, these people cannot see the forest for the trees. Anyone who has walked in a forest (or jungle in our environment) will know that it is very easy to fall into the trap of just looking at the individual trees, rather than considering the forest as a whole. So what can be done to ensure that we have a ‘wider view of things’? Some simple ways are as follows:

    1. Reading – I honestly think that reading is one of the best ways to widen your so called ‘helicopter vision’.
    2. Watch good TV programs where current issues are debated or views given. I love to watch the Doha debates in BBC for example. You see current issues being debated from all perspectives from authoritative personalities such that by just listening you start to see the forest, rather than the trees.
    3. Get feedback on issues from different reliable sources. You will be amazed at how many ways and angles there are to look at the same problem.
    4. Finally, be a good listener. By making a concerted effort to listen to other people’s views without pre-judgment, you will certainly be able to see things from a wider perspective.

Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. I do hope it has ‘widened your views’ just a little bit more. Till my July newsletter, have a great month ahead and do take care.