How many Ps make perfect products in Pakistan?

During a recent quiet day here in Karachi, with the normally crowded streets and our normally busy hotel and restaurants virtually deserted due to the nationwide strikes called after the latest bloody massacre in the beleaguered city of Quetta, I decided to gather my heads of departments and my small band of management trainees and interns to spend the day talking about the current situation, and how we can not only survive the current calamity but actually thrive once it’s all over.

I started what was essentially a training day by asking the group what we can do to right here, right now to secure new business in what is a rapidly shrinking market, and then gave them a rather cryptic challenge, which was to ensure that all suggestions for improvements begin with the letter P. The team then split into four groups: executive committee, heads of departments, assistant heads of departments and, finally, the young trainees and interns.

Here are the answers from the intern and trainee group, some of whom are as young as 18 — answers that reflect not only common sense, but also reality when attempting to improve market share and financial results.

Needless to say, their “well-seasoned” colleagues around the table were suitably impressed and delighted that these fresh-faced kids seemed to already grasp what the fundamentals of the hospitality business are all about, especially at such a tender age. Here they are in the order presented. 

The interns’ 10 Ps for improvement

1. Passion for excellence and service

2. People development

3. Productivity benchmarking

4. Product development

5. Planning efficiency

6. Pricing strategy

7. Positioning within the competitive set

8. Promotions to inform and entice a greater market share for all segments of our business

9. Praise for efforts, and not just results


When Ayesha, the leader of the intern team, was questioned by me on why profit came last on their list, her answer was refreshingly simple and amazingly perceptive. She said, “If you can improve numbers 1-9, then number 10 will surely come,” an answer that I am pleased to say drew an enthusiastic round of applause from my management team.

By the way, as a footnote, let me add that the first item for improvement beginning with the letter P on the management team’s list was — yes, you guessed it — pay!