The week that was 1-5th August 2016
Singapore – Singapore, Weekend 6-7 August 2016
Definitely an unexpected but challenging week…Instead of the planned trip to China, I had an unexpected week in the office as our flight to Hong Kong and onwards got cancelled last minute courtesy of raging typhoon Nida that was expected to make landfall around the time our scheduled arrival. Better safe than sorry and spending indefinite hours in an airport waiting for your flight to go or not. We discussed with the client and pushed the trip back to a later date. That created a nice 3 days of unexpected time in the office, but rather then a quiet and relaxing week it turned out to be quite a challenging one! However with my travel schedule about to kick off soon with near continuous travelling till October (including my planned annual leave in France in September) this was a welcome “gift” from Mother Nature. In my case it was a typhoon, one of my friends got stuck in Bali earlier in the week also courtesy of Mother Nature when ash clouds from a nearby erupting volcano were disturbing flights as well…
The challenging submission.
As it turned out, lucky I had some extra time on hand as the tender submission for our Australian masterplan projects was far more demanding than anticipated. Most of all the format was very restrictive and while I can understand that a streamlined structure of submission is easier for the adjudicating panel to judge and administer, it put a lot of restrictions and limitations to what could or should be put in the tender. It was also an exercise in pruning and prioritising; we tend to put way to much information wanting to make sure that we show ourselves from every possible “positive” angle, however simplicity and soberness can sometimes be as effective. With a fairly large team that included some overseas lighting experts as well as some urban and planning related team members it was quite a sizable task to manage. Cutting project references, write-ups and CV’s down to the bare and relevant minimum, was quite a challenging exercise but after we submitted finally on Thursday we looked back in satisfaction, happy with our submission. Now it is fingers crossed and wait to see if we did enough to convince the City that we are the ones!
The challenging SILE event organization.
The next big thing this week was the organization for our booth and the speakers for the Shanghai International Lighting Exhibition (SILE) to be held from 31st August to 2nd of September. My CLDA / IAC team had promoted me to be in charge of the sponsorship to get speakers and manufacturers to support the event and with the event approaching fast I had to decide on a cut-off time to allow progressing into the final details. In the end I managed to secure 5 out of the targeted 6 manufacturers to sponsor us, not a bad score considering the very short time frame and the fact that many of the manufacturers have their budgets for the year already locked in. But like myself and the CLDA / IAC team we very much believe in this concept and that was probably what made the difference. With the further full support of Messe Frankfurt HK it is even more gratifying to see this coming to fruition. We now have a stand-alone booth design of 180 square meter no less (!) which will house a reception, 6 integrated smaller semi open booths (one to be taken up by the CLDA) and an open plan speakers arena which will provide seating for an audience of about 40-50 people. The booth will further have 6 art works specially designed by Chinese artists that will be lit by each of the respective speaker/ sponsor teams in a small lighting design workshop together with some of the CLDA students. The booth concept has been dubbed the Agora concept and will make its debut at SILE. The theme is “art and lighting design” and besides the speaker presentations, the booth design will all be application oriented and centered around this theme. Member’s project work will displayed around the outside of the booth. I spent much of the week coordinating sponsorship matters, booth fit-out issues, speaker and travelling arrangements…when I took on this role I did not realise the time involved would be so much…and all that because I am passionate about giving back to the industry that has been so kind to me 🙂
The challenging relationships.
This maybe a slightly contentious subject and I will be careful in my wording. In an ideal world we sign a contract, we never look at the contract ever again, we happily deliver our work to a happy client and we champagne toast with all involved for a successful completion of the job. In the real world this seldom happens, we have clients who are inflexible, interpret the contract one way (their way), keep bugging us for the slightest detail are, hold our fees to ransom to squeeze more out of the contract, find fault in the slightest little issue and most of all have poor decision skills and take very long to approve let alone pay for our services. I find myself once in a while writing very delicate emails to my clients setting the situation straight, reminding them of the contractual agreements they signed with us and exercising due care to get them re-aligned with the process of design and deliveries. Some of the new clients in the business have little understanding of a process that has cause and related chain effects and takes time to realise. This week I had to attend to several “burning fires” that were pushing us in a position of blame where we had actually nothing to do with. One of our project clients accused us of delaying the project by poor and slow response to the agreed schedule. After my detailed explanatory reply, it became clear it was his own team that was at fault and the accusations were quickly rescinded with an apology. In another case, I received a message from the hotel general manager about many of the landscape lights that were failing, in covert words implying that we had done a poor job in specifying. The reality is that ever since the supply on site, they have not involved us in the implementation (allowing them to hold back a considerable chunk of our fees). I checked with the supplier (who also is still owed a good chunk of his payment) and it quickly became clear that it was unlikely a product failure but rather the result from poor installation work, as it generally is in 90% of the cases. My subsequent explanatory reply to the GM brought things back under control and I am now waiting to receive a request (and assumed payment of outstanding feesJ) to come to site to resolve it. Yet another project payment was being held back because we had not issued a “hard copy” letter form the operator that everything was checked and coordinated with the team. While this was all done and clearly documented in email correspondences, the sudden request for a specially signed letter from the operator very much reeked of delaying tactics. Even after issuance of the letter we received comments that the letter was wrongly worded, wrongly addressed…overall this is a typical client and project manager who has no feel of relationships, does not understand how to build durable relationships. The only thing he is achieving is people reluctant to go the extra mile…not something that bodes for a good outcome…
I am off for a long weekend courtesy of Singapore’s National Holiday on Tuesday back on Wednesday, enjoy your weekend.
Images from the cities existing lighting strategy
First images of our booth in Shanghai, still fine tuning and improving…