This summer my family and I spent a week in Panama City, Panama. [Beware: there’s a Panama City in Florida, which is not the same as Panama City in the country of Panama – I came close to making an embarrassing mistake when booking tickets…]
The highlight of our vacation (at least for the kids) was a boat ride on the Panama Canal which culminated in a visit to “Monkey Island”.
When I was reading the description of the tour, it all sounded very nice – a boat ride on the canal, a chance to see some wildlife… birds, monkeys, blah-blah-blah. But I was somewhat skeptical about the monkeys part. I mean – you can’t be sure you’re going to see wildlife, since wildlife is, you know… wild. So I wasn’t counting on any monkey sightings, I just figured we’d have a nice boat ride on the Panama Canal and if we saw some monkeys or other wildlife that would be a nice bonus.
However, the monkey island tour guides were not leaving anything to chance.
- There was a very specific island with a large population of monkeys that they visit every day.
- When they got close they made special monkey call noises to tell the monkeys that they were close by.
- They then brought the boat up to the shore, presumably in the same spot they always visit.
- The guides then handed out peanuts and mangoes, so we all had treats to share.
- And then we waited for the monkeys to show up.
To be honest, we didn’t have to wait. You see, this was not the monkeys’ first rodeo. As soon as they saw the boat coming they headed for the shore. They knew that there would be peanuts and mangoes available, and they wanted to be first in line for today’s goodies.
Were they nervous around humans? Not at all. These humans had mangoes and peanuts, so they jumped on to the boat, climbed all over us, and grabbed the delicious snacks on offer. Yes, I have some photos – and even a short video.
What can we learn from the monkey tour?
Let’s set aside for today any ethical concerns about tampering with the environment, or the potential that the monkeys, freed from the need to scavenge for food, might instead spend their time plotting to overthrow the government. Instead, I want us to notice what the tour operators did well.
- First, they identified an island with the greatest concentration of monkeys – with the greatest chance of monkey sightings.
- Then they started visiting that island regularly – gradually refining their process over time.
- And now, they have the whole process down pat. They always visit the same spot, they always make monkey calls when they’re getting close, they always bring snacks for the monkeys.
As a result, they took a complex and unpredictable environment (much like any significant telecoms project) and used their experience to create a refined process with a very high chance of success. They still can’t control everything – the monkeys are still wild animals and the weather is unpredictable – but their process maximizes the chance of success, and their experience gives them the wisdom to know what to do when nature throws a curved ball.
That’s the benefit of expertise.
In your work, there will be tasks that you perform with great skill, partly through your natural ability, and partly because you perform these tasks on a regular basis, so you know exactly what to do for the best results.
In the same way, our team at Award Consulting has decades of expertise in SS7 migrations, translations updates, building trunks… and many other projects that are rare for each individual telco, but are pretty frequent activities for us. So we have refined our processes through many repetitions, and if something doesn’t go as planned, we have enough hard-earned experience to adjust the plan.
So if you’re planning a big project next year, don’t hesitate to reach out and see if we can help. Let’s have a budget conversation early – because unlike the monkeys, we don’t work for peanuts.