Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas coming randomly from my experiences

Archive for April 2010

Why to do this job ?

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Michel Kacenelenbogen, founder of the theater "Le Public"

Last week, I was dining in a restaurant with my family, and I heard from another table a woman talking about a member of her family. She was telling that the person found a job in the administration, and that it was the best professional situation, because he will get a better pension when he will be retired. It is a fact that in Belgium, the people working in the public administration will have a better pension when they will be retired, compared to the pension gained by people from the private sector and the independents, which are lower. By hearing such opinion, I was thinking about this “strategy” of career.

I can understand easily that people could be concerned about their future, and it is always interesting to think on a long term basis. But if you think only on a long term basis, if you think only about the future, you will probably miss the present. Is it reasonable to choose a job in function of future benefit you will gain, and, in this case, when you will be retired? I have doubt about it. In my mind, the only reason to do a job is because you like to do it. I know that everybody has not the chance every time to get the opportunity or the chance to do the job of his dreams, but in this matter, we have to start by thinking on another way.

To do a boring job you do not like, because you are expecting a better pension, make me think that you are waiting for the week end, the end of the month to be paid, the holiday, your retirement, …..the death !! Personally, I do not find this as an exciting perspective, and I want to say too that unfortunately, some people never reached the age of retirement because accidental circumstances of life. Let us think about the consequence of not enjoying a job, particularly when you are teacher, doctor,…This could have consequences for you but also for other people, because the motivation is not there.

Not only for people, there are also consequences for the economy. I agree that a country need to have a performing administration, and of course need people to fill functions, but if everybody was choosing a job only for pension level reason, it is obvious that our economy would not be competitive, and the public finance should not be on the top.

I mention here a problem of incentive, but the problem is not only a question of incentive, but more a question of how we consider the success. Is the only way of success material, by having a high position in an administration or in a company, by having a bigger house than the one of your neighbors? Or is the success the fact to realize your projects, by measuring concrete results and achievement, by gaining expertise and knowledge, expanding your capabilities …and good memories! Let me tell you the story about a Belgian guy, Michel Kacenelenbogen, a Belgian theater actor, and fonder of the theater “Le Public”. When he was young, he was dreaming to become an actor, and to found a theater. In order to realize his dream, he founded a marketing agency, KI Partners, in 1993. The goal was to earn money to be able to concretize his dream. Eleven years later, in 1994, he founded his theater, “Le Public”, which is one of the most popular and innovative theater in Brussels. He finally met the success, in accordance with his dreams, his vision of life.

By telling this, I want to underline also the importance of interest for things. We are living in a society where we are more considering things as useful or not. But by having curiosity, interest for culture, to learn languages, we are giving us the tools to develop our own career, to discover ourselves. By increasing our potential, our capabilities, we are giving us the chance to have choices, to realize our dreams, to conquer our freedom.

Do you think that by choosing the job you like you will have a good pension later, I do not know, but you will be happy now,..and for a long time!

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Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 21, 2010 at 22:11

Passion and team spirit, the ingredients of successful projects.

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Solar Impulse, the fruit of passion and team work

Wednesday, april 7th, Solar Impulse, the first solar plane did his first flight. This plane took off from the military airport of Payenne in Switzerland. This plane, with a wingspan of an Airbus A340 (63,40 meter) and the weight of a car (1600 kilos) is propelled by four electrical engines, fed by around 12.000 photo-voltaic cells, charging lithium-polymer batteries. The plane flighted around two hours.

This event represents more than an evolution in the aerospace story, we could say that it is a revolution. Since a lot of time, the man was dreaming to fly, and it is in the year 1903 that the Wright brothers built the first glider. It was a revolution at that time to be able to make fly an aircraft. There were after a lot of steps and improvements, from transport planes to jets. Today, another step starts, with a plane using renewable energy sources.

This solar airplane represents a wonderful technological achievement. Bertrand Piccard, a swiss psychiatrist and entrepreneur, is at the origin of this project. He wanted to demonstrate that it is possible with the development of new technologies to minimize the usage of fossil energy. Solar Impulse is supposed to fly by using only solar energy. Following Bertrand Piccard, if we are able to develop this technology for an airplane, we can develop it also for other transport mode or applications.

This is a revolutionary technological achievement, but it is also an extraordinary human adventure. Bertrand Piccard and his team worked on this project during six years, on design, simulations and construction. The success of such project is only possible if two ingredients are there: passion and team spirit. To lead such project to the success is a question to gather competences and expertise, but also to gather people moved by passion. The first point is to believe in the project, to believe in such project because you have an entrepreneur mind. The entrepreneurs have always a project in advance, they are visionaries. For then, impossible is not a reality, and if there are doubts about that, they will try to see if it is really the case. In this case, we could add also an humanist dimension to this project. As said Bertrand Piccard, “With this project, we would like to send a message, to demonstrate that the renewable energies are not trivial, but they are a credible alternative contributing to the environment preservation and to economical development. During many years, ecology and economy were opposed. Today, the development of new ecological technologies presents a potential of economical growth and sustainable jobs.

During an interview after this inaugural flight, Bertrand Piccard was explaining that he had tears in one’s eyes, that he was so happy to see the fruits of his team work. We could imagine easily the satisfaction and the happiness to succeed such project. It is an evidence that such project has not been only moved by cerebral activity, but also by the hart. It is when things are coming from your hart, that you find the energy to build the different steps of your project. You are in a mood where you have not to convince yourself, because you are already convinced. You are maximizing your change to reach your goal, because you are focusing on it.

If you gather people having the same passion, who want to pursue a common goal, and who are aware that there is no personal success without team success, then you have the most important ingredients to realize your projects, to transform dreams in reality.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 14, 2010 at 20:46

Incentive plans for who ?

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Workers on strike at AB Inbev Belgium plant

Recently, the management of an insurance company, Fortis Holding, remaining on stand alone after the dismantlement of the banking insurance group in the Benelux, considered there were not paid enough, and intended to ask for an increase of remuneration to the shareholders at the general assembly. Today, newspapers announced that the CEO of AB Inbev earned around 7,22 millions of euros in 2009, it means 7 times what he earned one year before. Is such amounts really reasonable ? It is a matter of fact that the management of companies have important responsibilities and it is normal they are paid for. But are such salaries reasonable, when on the other side, people are asked to decrease they salaries or to increase their productivity?

I am precisely not a specialist in human resources, and not qualified to evaluate the correct level of salaries for each function. My concern is that recently, I brought some volunteer help to a non-profit organization in my locality, helping people facing financial and social difficulties. The person in charge of the administration of the organization told me that since one year, with the financial crises, there were an increase of demands of assistance, and today, we can see also people having a work, asking for some help, because they have not a decent salary and they are obliged to make some choices: to eat or to go to the doctor, to eat or to send they children at school,..

As I already mentioned in previous postings, is such economy sustainable, when people are unable to pay for what we are producing ? It is a paradox, when today, we are talking about human resources policy, about wellness of employees, and we see this increasing pressure on the workers. Is it a real HR policy or is it purely a marketing argument ? I find a little bit strange that some people consider that people should stay motivated by accepting salary decrease, because it is better than to lose your job, but these people considering that, are considering themselves they are not paid enough.

As mentioned before, it is normal that people are paid for the function they are ensuring, and we have not only to consider the amount of remuneration of people, but the way that everybody needs to be paid. People have not to be paid on a equal way, but on an equitably way. But since many years, the gap between lower and higher salaries is constantly increasing. Should the incentive plan not be applicable for everybody? It should be if you consider the human capital as an asset and not as a cost.

Remember this quotation: if you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

April 7, 2010 at 21:47