• The Human Factor

The Human Factor

The Human Factor

09 Jul 2021

1. Part – What a week …

I usually write and submit my articles during the week but considering the last 10 days I had, I don’t even know where to start. Joy, sorrow, foolishness, fatigue all combined.

The main flurry of my already whirlwind-busy days began last Tuesday. I was happy because MSA, which is taking successful steps towards becoming an international brand, had a final meeting with our business partners in Russia, which went really well and pleasant.

On Wednesday, a completely different but equally brilliant topic was on our agenda. We are carrying out this wonderful project to internationally promote a 178 year-old brand (since 1843) that is truly source of national pride; we had a very long meeting.

That evening, I received one of the good news during our three years in Lisbon as a family. I had to leave urgently on Thursday to come back on Friday. A 4.5-hour flight on Thursday morning, a pleasant deal in the afternoon,and a nice dinner with friends from Lisbon in the evening.

Just as I was saying, ‘Knock on wood for our prosperity’ on Friday morning, my cousin Bige gave me the news of the passing of my dear uncle (Atıf Aksel –1930), whom I loved very much. Besides his wonderful personality and courteousness, he was one of the mastersof tennis in Turkey. I used to have this very candid love for my uncle, may he rest in peace.

Following the Lisbon-Istanbul flight during which I was consumed with this sad news, I was excited on Friday afternoon, because in the morning our family-planned two-week family vacation, which had been in the works for a long time and which I believed that I had deserved for a long time, was going to begin.

Ever since the children were born (it also used to be a favorite pastime with my mother and father), we have been traveling all over Turkey by car. With this in mind, we set out for Bodrum on Saturday around noon (I had slept till noon because I had been exhausted).

Our situation in the car was as follows: My wife, two daughters, one of the dogs, everyone has their own suitcase, bag, etc. You will soon understand why I am giving you these details.

We cruised along the road chatting pleasantly, stopped at the Iskender on the highway, and having reached our goal that we look forward to (once) every year, we set off on the road again.

30 kilometers to Izmir, our car broke down (such a breakdown that it was impossible for us to continue with the same vehicle).

No warning, no blinking lights! It happens sometimes; no matter how new the car is, electronic systems can betray you.

So we are stuck in the middle of the highway, in that fullcapacity situation I described above. 

I’m not sure whether you would call us lucky or unlucky but we were on the road again in 1 hour and 10 minutes after being organized within 1 hour by being transported from one vehicle to another thanks to a friend of mine of 40 years from Izmir (who is in the automotive industry), who sent us a test vehicle in addition to the tow truck sent through the car service from Istanbul.

We finally arrived at our house on Saturday at 23:00 aftera very adventurous and costly journey.

I had to rest on Sunday (even if the body can rest, how could one’s mind rest?), Monday is my uncle’s funeral.

And if Mehmet were to come to Istanbul on Monday, would dear MSA leave him alone? Meetings were already set in motion for Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon we also had an MSA podcast recording appointment, there goes our vacation!

As soon as I got off the plane on Monday morning, I changed my clothes in the car and reached the funeraljust in time. We buried my uncle next to my father and grandmother with a small ceremony with the family, accompanied by two commemorative flowers of from Galatasaray High School and the Tennis Fencing Mountaineering Club.

When I got back into the car, I started to feel a pain onthe left side of my stomach. The pain that started in Maltepe, and let me cut to the chase, got so bad that I barely managed to get myself inside the hospital.

Between my groans, they were trying to diagnose what was wrong, and from the tomography they conducted, we found out that I had a kidney stone, which had been making its way from my left kidney to my bladder as I was driving between Maltepe and Nişantaşı!

By the time I realized what was going on, the intravenous prescription medicine had already been going through my system and I found myself inside the hospital room, amongst green plains, blue lakes and crystal clear waters. I wouldn’t have said no to a kaleidoscope either…

At that very moment, my old friend Emre was by my side, and my dear wife was on the plane. I’m not even sure, how they were informed and how they got organized so quickly.

I went from the ‘groaning phase’ to the ‘I’m awesome phase’ in 10 minutes, and was told that I was to stay overnight in the hospital for controls and follow-ups. Accompanied by my confidant, my foul-weather friend, my love, my beloved wife, I spent the night in the hospital.

I needed to be discharged early in the morning so that I could go home and pack up right away, because I had to go to the office to attend an MSA London meeting that we truly care about. But how could Mehmet have it that easy? I came to my senses at the office when the chef Emre poured boiling tea on my arm. And again after another very nice meeting, we’re on the road to Bodrum as husband and wife. How I missed having a one-to-one with my wife.

I got up in the morning; a little bit of swimming, a littlebit of writing…

I’ve had a whirlwind of 10 day, haven’t I?

I spent days filled with setbacks, sorrows, exhaustion and joy, and away from the digital world, wow.

In short, what I want to say is that, even if you have theperfect digital tools or technology, there are so many things that can happen because of the human factor…Many things can happen like the death of my uncle or a kidney stone or Emre and Teri’s superb planning abilityto end up by my side so quickly due to the very unpredictable human factor.

And this all due to the organic nature of human beings even in the midst of all this digitality.

After all, no matter what happens, people adapt to life once again. 

Part 2 – The balance between the analog and the digital

For this week, I actually thought about writing an article on the importance of the human factor in our highly digitalized world. And below, you will find the things I can still remember for that particular article following the last 10 days I had.

Years ago, during a meeting, the conversation led to the topic of ‘the internet of things’, and my guest (the senior manager of a big white goods brand) said, “There is such a thing, but we and companies like us still haven’t quite figured out what to do with it.” They were conducting research on both their customers and the younger generation in order to find out ‘What use could we get from this.’ And well, who would need a blender that can be operated through a mobile phone or who would want a refrigerator that can be controlled remotely?

I have always had a tendency to tread lightly when it comes to issues of technology and digitalization. Especially with the pandemic, people have increasingly started to have a penchant for digitalization. Yet there is the human side of the issue, which I find unsatisfactory, and there is the inefficiency aspect that makes one think that it would have been easier to just have an on/off button. 

The same goes for jobs. Numerous professions are becoming digitalized, human jobs are becoming automated; robots are taking over the world, etc. I always focus on the human side. Even though machines ease the toll of manual labor, automation systems undertake uniform/mass production tasks, even if computers handle the most complex calculations, that human necessity (look, I’m not saying brain power, I’m talking about the ways in which the brain is utilized) will obviously be very valuable in the future. Men will now be equal with women, and we will recognize how helpless we actually are in some matters compared to women.

I’m thinking about this issue from a completely different perspective. Recently, I was chatting with the owner of White Rabbit, which was selected the 16th best restaurant in the world (I should actually say, the White Rabbit Group, as they have about 30 different concepts and restaurants in various cities in and outside Russia). The topic of our conversation circled back to humans. See, how does a restaurant get thousands of dollars from its customers just for a reservation, which is non-refundable if you are a no-show, and when you do indeed go, you have to board two different elevators that finally take you to the 85th floor, where you have a once in a lifetime experience? In short, we can list the reasons under four categories…

First gear: Making the customer feel good (Feeling good). He defines his work as a stage. Is it a business dinner, the table will be observed from afar, the table will not be visited often, no one’s conversation will be interrupted, the table setting will be as simple as possible (with spaces) so that notes can be taken even on a napkin if necessary, every different item that might be needed should be at the ready such from prescription glasses to pens, chargers or whatever you can think of… Is it adinner date, is one side going to make a pass to the other side, then the whole idea is to be on the side of the wooer… Is it a group of friends eating out to have fun, then anything to reinforce their joy is put to play. 

He listed so many different scenarios and variations that I can’t even remember most of them, and even if I did, it would take ages to keep count. Everyone working at the restaurant is ready to assume their role, the scenarios are already spelled out, and all that’s left is the display. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s just like a theater stage. 

Second gear: The customer will be curious, learn and self-improve (Education). I guess everyone likes to be in environments that teach something, makes one think and makes one wonder. It can be the decoration; a play of light; a particular object or furniture, it could potentially be anything and everything that arouses one’s curiosity.People always want to look at aspects/things that will amaze, wonder, instigate imagination, develop their visions, change their points of view, or just unknowingly educate them, and thus want to be in such environments.

Third gear: Appealing to the customer’s senses (Senses). The ambient music, the lighting, the scent, the texture, everything.

Fourth gear: Food (Taste). The taste you experience, the emotions you feel, the pleasure you get from every bite you put in your mouth.

Could a machine do all this? Could a machine set up such a stage, prepare it for the spectacle that will ensue, and could a machine act/play and could it offer you such pleasure? No, at least with today’s technological possibilities, but I can’t predict the future. There will certainly be developments that can’t yet be imaginable but as you can see I am talking about something that is very human. 

Even the fact that this humanity is being fictionalized is quite strange, but let’s look at bright side. I guess people still want to feel ‘human’.

Recently, in my article on sustainability, I had mentioned that I think that it would be more realistic for everyone to undertake projects and responsibilities that are scalable. I think that asserting, “Our age is the digital age”, andgoing on turning the ceiling lights on and off with a mobile phone or to be totally consumed by a mobile phone and its trashy content when there is a wonderful life around us, is quite sad, and that

– The issue of digitalization must be handled with a cool head,

– While, closely following all developments,

– Determining the most appropriate usage patterns for one’s business, one’s brand, but most importantly, for the people in one’s ecosystem,

– And last but not the least, for these digital tools to be utilized without letting them cloud one’s human feelings.