Everyone Hates RyanAir. Not me.

You read and read those dry HBR and assorted blogs and Inc, Fast Company and Fortune Magazine articles about how SPEED is a competitive advantage. You hear CEOs intone how their firms are committed to it and then, finally, you see the real thing. It was glorious ‘efficiency porn’ and it was absolutely riveting to watch. 13th October 2012. Berlin. Schönefeld Airport. Around 9 PM. Dry cold day. Clear skies.

The RyanAir BERIN-LONDON boarding area is full, there is NO chair available to sit so I am standing and getting more fidgety by the minute. Jutsyna and I had spent a long day in the city, 6 hours of which were spent cycling. I am tired. So are the 2 dozen other people who don’t have a chair to park their aching feet. And the 100+ sitting passengers didn’t look too energized either. And the plane hasn’t even landed!

And then it did. And the 737-800 pulled right next to our waiting area. 20 feet away.

I found myself thinking despairingly  “Damn…they are going to take more than an hour to seat us inside!”

And I then saw what I suspect is either incredible German efficiency or maybe RyanAir’s . Or more likely an even mix of both. Because, AND I KID YOU NOT, in less than 25 minutes that plane, that had just landed and disgorged it’s passengers, was cleaned, refueled, recharged and the waiting passengers seated and we were taxing OUT for take off. In less than 30 minutes (I wish I had timed it for precision) we were wheels up and on our way to London. In less than 30 #$@%$&$ minutes !

There are flights I have been on where they took 30 minutes to DE-BOARD the passengers! And there are FAST FOOD outlets where I have had to wait longer to get served. Hotels where I have had to wait longer for a ROOM to be cleaned. And you too, I am certain, can probably think of countless businesses where SPEED was touted as a promise and then seen the promise resoundingly broken by the company.

RyanAir gets a lot of flak for a lot of things but this was a winning moment where the critical act demonstrated right there how their low fares were achieved.  It is difficult to join the pitchfork mob online when one sees this kind of visceral proof of efficiency and commitment to speed. No brochure from their PR team can match this pit stop magic.

After this Berlin incident I find myself constantly thinking on many meetings and con-calls “…. we should be able to do X in less than 30 minutes …Surely if a Boeing plane can be turned around in 25…..”

20 signs you are working at a mediocre firm

1. The in-house PowerPoint presentations are always 10+ slides and each slide is crammed with more words and graphs than a bombay local.
2. ….which the presenter reads line by line. Slowly.
3. No meeting ever starts and ends on time and none stick only to the agenda
4. There are no clear goals so people obsesses and focus on behaviors
5. The DON’T List is longer than the DO list passed from HR.
6. The dress code is more than 20 words long. (btw Google’s dress code: You must wear clothes)
7. Firing a staff takes longer than hiring a staff
8. They frisk you at work
9. Everything is done either on Excel or PowerPoint. No one has heard about Dropbox/Basecamp/Slack.
10. There is a deep and rich culture of CC’ing and BCC’ing
11. Stock solution to an client escalation/complaint is  “Standardization!” or More QC’ing.
12. Candor is considered a deadly sin.
13. The Q&A session after a presentation is even more tepid and boring than the presentation
14. You have to sign into a ‘log book’ for everything everywhere
15. People prefer emailing versus picking up the phone or walking across to their colleague
16. Everything needs an approval email from the boss
17. People use ‘Sir’ when speaking to or about a senior colleague
18. There are emails that start with “Dear All
19. People are expected to bond at ‘Off sites’
20. No one tweets at/about your workplace


Infograph to check if you are you at a good firm

So this senior leader finished his presentation, that like a bad movie lasted too long. After this powerpoint slides orgy, he turns to us and optimistically inquires “Any questions?” For about 60 seconds all of us there are treated to the sound Indians in cities rarely enjoy : Silence. And then he,  with palpable relief ,says “Good. I hope you all now got the point. Thank you!”

Here is the real point to remember instead :