Monday, January 26, 2009

Timely Deloitte Advice

Today (Monday, January 26), being the first day of the Lunar New Year, brings some good tidings to those who fear this year might indeed be a “dreadful” year (a description that is a Tory understatement, if ever there was one, as expressed by the UK shadow business secretary Ken Clarke, and posted on BBC News, January 25). The good tidings come in the form of a Deloitte Malaysia advice that spells out their 7 secrets to survive this economic downturn (Star, Malaysia, January 26, 2009, p B6). I do hope my bosses at HICT are pondering over this article, and reading and re-reading it, to hopefully learn from the free lessons contained therein. In fact, these 7 survival strategies are very simple to understand and execute – and believe me, they are very relevant to HICT because just as we are growing, we must still be mindful that the present is very unsettled and capricious – and therefore, we need to be strong and resilient enough to ensure performance sustainability over the long-term for our organization. These 7 strategies are:

Decide how much cost improvements are required by evaluating individual company’s situation.
Start with the obvious such as streamlining general and administrative functions and materials and services costs.
Take the enterprise view by looking beyond organizational silos to include cost-cutting opportunities across the entire enterprise.
Balance short- and long-term improvements and adopt a tiered approach to cost reduction.
Choose the right business model that fits in a period of downturn.
Protect strategic investments that have value-add activities.
Actively manage change which involves overcoming resistance to necessary change in an organization.

Basically, what the above means, is that we should institute strategic structural improvements, rather than tactical improvements. But here’s my point: We should examine the individual and department in terms of their “measurable” contribution to the organization. We should not treat each and every individual and department as being equal because resources and budgets are already limited and even stretched, in some cases. We must consider that the outcomes an individual and department yield are bound to be unequal – we simply cannot afford to manage the organization as a sum of equal parts because we are not (equal). We will need to re-examine the way we do things at HICT because what we have achieved so far, are not very tangible and certainly, not far-reaching enough. At meetings, I am resigned to the fact that most of us are happy with what we have achieved thus far, because we have made meager improvements here and there. What we lack is a strategic perspective of the business.

Right now, we are not focused. We do things on an ad-hoc basis – perhaps because we do not have an understanding of how the jigsaw puzzle pieces fit together; we tend to be reactive rather than proactive; we engage in trivial pursuits; and yes, we spend too much time politicking. All of these detract us from the real purpose of the organization: To grow and prosper within a given time frame. And so, it is my hope, that we take these lessons to heart, immediately and seriously. We need strong leadership now – more so, in 2009, no more playing musical chairs, no more pussyfooting around, and definitely, no more political one-upmanship.

I believe HICT is on the threshold of something really big and exciting – dare we take the bull (pun intended) by the horns, and address this challenge? In the end, it’s all about change, really.

Football is also a bleak subject. Yes, Celtic won their match, but both Arsenal and Liverpool did not exactly shine. I am delighted that Celtic scalped Hibernian 3-1, thereby maintaining their No. 1 position in the SPL table; Celtic’s goals came from McDonald (3, 76), and McManus (9). In the meantime, in the FA Cup fourth rounds, Arsenal produced a scoreless draw against Cardiff, and Liverpool managed a lame 1-1 draw against Everton. As I have said, Liverpool must win, but they did not – although it can be said that Liverpool’s FA Cup hopes are still alive; they are perilously holding on by a tenuous thread, at best! To say, I am unhappy, is to put it very mildly – the point is that “Liverpool had enjoyed huge supremacy in both possession and territory” but yet, they didn’t find the net, they couldn’t score – except for that timely Gerrard strike (54) that was badly needed to cancel out Everton’s Lescott goal in the 27th minute. We often forget it is results that count – not the efforts, nor the attempts. In this respect, Liverpool has failed.

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