3rd Feb 2007 | By Raghu Ananthanarayanan

A leading hotel chain had invited all its staff for a ‘face to face’ with its CEO. We had worked on very successful kaizen projects for a year and the CEO had come down to celebrate the success and announce a company wide commitment to management excellence.

The meeting started on time. Just when things were starting to cruise along, the PA system had a small hick up that resulted in a crackling sound that quickly became a thunderclap! The CEO was about to talk about insitutionalising quality processes. There was a laugh all around. He took it in his stride and went along. A few minutes later, a second rumbling and after 10 more minutes a third and each time, just when the idea of “company wide commitment” to world-class quality was touched upon! Finally, he could not contain himself and asked, “Why is this happening? Do you realise that our major revenue is from conferences and we could lose customers if this happened?” Promptly, the person in-charge got up and said “Sir! This is not the hotel’s fault, the PA System is hired from sub contractors and manned by them!