Business, HRM, Management, MBA, Project Management, Projects, Thoughts

From Madrid to Barcelona’s olympic port (and a captain)

Some weeks are so hectic that you simply don’t have time to write. And if you do, it’s not because you’ve had the chance to sit back and reflect about something, but because you have some free time in-between things to be done. That’s the case for today: a few free minutes.

The day began in Madrid, in the Indian embassy, queuing for such a simple and stupid thing as a visa. It’s incredible how certain processes are still done as the last century, or even the previous one. The fact is that if you want to travel to India from Barcelona, first you must go to Madrid to get your visa. The alternative is waiting around three or four weeks to have it.

And if you went there without a warning, you’d be astonished to know that they only issue a limited number of visas, clearly outnumbered by the people that need them. So the queue starts around two hours before they open. By the time they unlock the doors, there’s enough people waiting to fill the entire waiting room. If you arrive at ten, just forget the visa. Come back tomorrow (in Spanish “vuelva usted mañana” although the Indians speak more English than Spanish). And that’s the only way for the 46 million inhabitants of Spain to visit the 1,100-million-people country.

Well. I finally made it. I was sixth on the line. Then, to the airport to take a plane back to Barcelona. And from the airport to one of Barcelona’s marinas: the Olympic port, built for Barcelona’s Olympics 15 years ago.

From air planes to boats: time to sail. That’s why I am here for. I am to renew my sailing licenses and, following legal requirements, I need several navigation hours with a captain instructor. A good way to ensure that people actually know about boats before granting them the right to sail them. That’s what I am here for.

Time for the final comment. Where is management in all this? Well. Ask it to Captain Marcos Rivera. In a ship, there’s only one captain. Such affirmation is something that we tend to forget. Authority is not a very popular value these days. It is still necessary nonetheless. Someone has to decide. There must be someone in charge, asessing the risks, analysing and drawing conclusions, and then, finally, deciding.

That doesn’t mean that he (or she) is the only one to think. That would be a great loss of value, rationality, thinking capacity, a loss of options. Empowerment is still essential (and compatible), as it is dissent. But there’s a limit to it. And when the captain decides, the others must follow.

Have you ever felt that, in a project or a workgroup, the problem was that the decisions were not actually being made? Or being enforced? Have you ever felt that authority was missing? That indecision and ambiguity was undermining the whole execution? That’s when a good methodology for making decisions is needed.

There’s a time when every task becomes critical: just give it enough wandering time and you’ll see. IT comes a time when further procrastination is no longer possible. That’s when a chieftain is needed.

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One thought on “From Madrid to Barcelona’s olympic port (and a captain)

  1. India used to be a very-commanded economy, which means that bureacracy procedures were rampant. After decades, at last they discovered that lots of interventionism and bureucracy harmed economic growth, so they started liberalising industries and procedures. I suspect however that old bureaucracy still remains in not-so-important (in quantitative terms) issues.

    In the case of China I have to say that the visa application process was extremely fast. In fact, it took me to get the chinese visa 1/10 of the time I needed to renew my passport. BTW, you can get this visa at the consulate, or by mail.

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