“Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding” – Proverbs 3:13

In September 2000, in this column, I said that we are now in an information age where knowledge, including information, complements money, materials and manpower to become the fourth factor of production. In fact, we are forced to continually move along the discovery spectrum – data, information, knowledge, understanding, insight and wisdom – if we are to remain competitive.

The questions are “How do we mobilise wisdom to sharpen our vision of the future”? and “How do we move this knowledge around the business in a timely manner to facilitate optimal decision making”?

In 2004 Gene Bellinger reported in www.systems-thinking.org/kmgmt that knowledge management (KM) is the hottest subject of the day. The question is: what is this activity called knowledge management, and why is it so important to each and every one of us?

A web definition of knowledge is: the psychological result of perception, learning and reasoning; and that of KM is: capturing, organizing, and storing knowledge and experiences of individual workers and groups within an organization and making this information available to others in the organization. I submit that the best decisions are made when we find wisdom and gain understanding.

I recall that one of the major arguments used in defending the large expenditure by Caribbean Governments in mounting ICC CWC 2007 was the “legacy” benefit. There would be significant TV exposure during the 51 matches, following the 16 warm-up matches, and this would provide a major promotional foundation on which to sell the Caribbean in the future and enhance the tourism arrivals to the Caribbean in a sustained manner.

Unfortunately, before the matches have begun there has been instant (information age) world-wide negative publicity which has not subsided since the release that “visitors to the Caribbean from a number of countries participating in the World Cup – in particular India, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand – will need to obtain a new US$100 visa”.

For those of you who are not regular visitors to www.cricinfo.com let me give you a few examples of the global negative feedback: (1) “This visa scheme is a racket invented by conniving politicians to earn fuss-free money. As a Trinidadian and a member of the Caribbean community, I am often ashamed at the shenanigans of the authorities. This one is among the lowest scams and if I were a foreigner visiting to see the World Cup, I would combine with other countries to remove the visa requirement”; (2) “Mates and I plan to follow the Australian team through the entire tournament, and have managed to secure tickets and transport without any hassle at all, but this visa, which has been implemented seemingly at the last minute, is proving a nightmare. As an Australian based in the UK I can’t even get an answer whether I can apply here or have to send my passport to the non-existent Sydney office. Shambolic. I just hope it’s not a sign of things to come during the tournament. It certainly isn’t boding well”; (3) “The CARICOM visa thing is an absolute shambles and a farce. I travel internationally for work and I cannot hand my passport over for three weeks to another authority to get it stamped, which means I am completely at the mercy of the Sydney office being set up and operational. And even then, I cannot confirm on the CARICOM website whether or not they will need to hold my passport for processing or whether they only need to see it once before stamping it after processing. To make matters worse for me, my partner and I are getting married afterwards in the Caribbean so any failings here will not only stuff up our Cricket World Cup plans, but possibly some very expensive wedding and honeymoon plans” – and so on.

Also, I received an email on the weekend from a friend in South-East Asia who was coming to stay with us for a week during the World Cup. Here is an excerpt – “Considering the many factors about coming to Barbados, I have decided not to travel there, and watch the matches on TV here instead” .

What have we done or are we doing with regard to damage control?

Knowledge management could have helped us from getting into this marketing mess.

The legacy is nothing unless we have satisfied customers and open hotels. Other factors will enhance the legacy benefits. It has been reported that tourism ministers met in Barbados last week to discuss the visa issue. Presumably one of the items on their agenda was the negative impact of the visa requirement on tourism.

Was the tourism industry not consulted when the decision was made to impose a visa? As I see it the perceived issues are unhappy customers, frustrated hoteliers, cost, country discrimination, security, timeliness of delivery, freedom of movement legacy benefit and legacy “fallout”. Is there not a much simpler solution to the problem, even at this late stage?

It is not too late to recognize the collective wisdom available to address these issues and gain understanding which would lead to a simple effective solution. This would lead to happy decision makers, happy customers and happy tourism entrepreneurs.