January 2009

Today when I was out for lunch, I remember an old children story that I have read. I found an English translation here.  This story is written by a famous Danish Poet Hans Christian Andersen 

Plot Summary

There was a king who spends all his life getting new clothes, that he either cared about soldiers and did not like to watch plays. His only interest is to parade himself with his new clothes where he goes.

Then comes a pair of swindlers came to the town where this king ruled, they convinced everyone that they are weavers, and declared they could manufacture the finest cloth to be imagined. Their colours and patterns, they said, were not only exceptionally beautiful, but the clothes made of their material possessed the wonderful quality of being invisible to any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid.

The King was delighted about this, and wanted this mystical clothes. Because he feel that it is nice to have it, and he gave the weavers a large sum of money and told them to begin work. They set up 2 looms, and asked for the most expensive silk and the most precious gold cloth. They got rid of the cloths and silk, and proceeded to work with the empty looms. All night long the loom sound could be heard

The King decided to check on the swindlers, and since the clothes can only be seen by wise and intelligent people, therefore he sent his most honest and wisest minister to visit the weavers. The minister cannot see the cloth, but however, the swindlers insisted that there is something in the loom, and the minister, fearing that the reason why he cannot see the cloth, is because he is not intelligent enough for his office, pretended that he is able to see the cloth.

He came back and tell the king how remarkable it looks. As well as the swindlers request for more silk and gold cloth. After that the king send another honest courtier to see, and like the previous, he was unable to see the cloth, yet he commented that it look nice

Later on the King visited the swindlers with the 2 minister, and they both commented how beautiful the cloth is, and now the king, unable to see the cloth started to get worried. “Is this a sign that I am not intelligent enough for my office?”. The king decided to pretend that he sees it, and commented that the cloths is very beautiful, and he even appointed the swindlers “Imperial Weavers”.

Then the swindlers continue with their work, cutting and snipping the air, pretending that there are cloths, until the clothes is finally completed. They presented the clothes to the king. And the tried to put it on for the king. Therefore the king undressed, and put on this invisible clothes. Everyone around the king commented that the clothes is very beautiful. The king wanted to go on a procession, and his Chamberlains immediately move forward, pretending to hold on to the tail of his garment.

Now the king begin his procession, and all the crowd commented, how beautiful the garment was, that this new suit is incomparable, there is nothing like it. Nobody wish to let each other know that they were all seeing nothing. Never in history was the Emperor so admired for this new clothes.

Finally, a little child whispered to his father, “But he has nothing on at all”.  the Father decided to whispered to the one beside him, until everyone in the street is aware of the problem. When the king heard this, he had a feeling that they are right, but he thought to himself that he must bear it up to the end, so his chamberlains and him walked with greater dignity. With all the chamberlains walking behind him carrying a train of clothes that doesn’t exist.

How does this story relate to the business world?

Before I begin drawing lessons from this, lets now picture the characters of the story, into the actual work environment
1. The King represents the most important Chair person of a company
2. The Honest and Wise ministers are the next level CEO, CIO etc
3. The Swindlers are the business owners reporting to the high management
4. The general populace are the typical workers in your organisation
5. The child are the people who are brave enough to admit the situation within the organisation.

Many a times, because of many reasons, the top management of the company now does not pay attention to where the profits really are. Hence they fill up many positions using the Sukhomlinov effect. they hire base on incorrect measure, and fill up important positions with people with qualifications but no battle experience.  They surrounded themselves with such management, that are usually afraid to be looked stupid (Remember the honest courtier and the minister). 

These whole group then decided to look for people to lead their businesses, claiming to have 40 years experience and 30 years experience, without remembering this simple truth.

“It is possible for one to work for 40 years, doing the same thing and which usually amounted to 1 year experience. Vice Versa, it is possible to find a guy who work a role of 40 people for 1 years (Which is resulted from many cost cutting measures) . which in turn gives you 40 years of experience. ”

Therefore, the wrong people are selected to work on the business. Some business owners  tries to send their honest courtiers (affectionately known as top management) to check on the business. The top management, fearing to look stupid before the general populace, tried very hard to make sense of the swindlers work, which resulted to the creation of the magical dress.

While the company is parading herself naked before the public, how many of the workers who dared to speak out ended up persecuted in the end? So what happened to the real people whom should be trusted?

I remember the words of one of my CTO, “I am allergic to the word NO”, “Why are you all so negative? We will have results” , how they praise people who did not dare to warn the business of the coming risk, and how they fired people who took the initiative to warn the owners while in the process keep more and more swindlers beside themselves, then lamenting that they are unable to survive the crisis.

It is hope that businesses stop behaving like the king in this story, who choose to parade himself naked, rather then taking swift and effective steps to rectify the problem. Perhaps by doing so, you can save your businesses and the jobs of others

I was looking at a friends blog and found this old old post, you can see his post here. Actually I kinda like this song because it always reminds me that its not easy being a person.

Nonetheless, here are the lyrics

Superman By Five For Fighting

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird
I’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd,
but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed,
but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It’s not easy to be me

Up, up and away
Away from me
It’s all right, you can all sleep sound tonight
I’m not crazy, or anything

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
Men weren’t meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
Inside of me
Yeah, inside me

I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
I’m only a man
Looking for a dream

I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
And it’s not easy…

Its not easy to be me

Hmm, it is the the eve of the Chinese new year, and I think by the time I finish this article, it would be the Lunar new year already, hence I am taking the chance to wish all my friends and reader a happy new year… May God continue to guide everyone all the way

I was sharing with my friends this particular illustration I read from a book. There was once a lighthouse, that is set up to guide  ships to land safety and to warn the ship about the fact that they are close to the rocks. Beside the lighthouse, there was a group of volunteers who started a life savers house near the it. The original purpose of the life saver house is to provide a place for the life savers to house their boats and for the volunteers to be present at the house and be ready to perform life saving duties when needed.

Intially,  the life savers was very vigilant in their duties, but slowly, as time erodes the life savers started to be lax in their duties, slowly, people started to bring sun tanning chairs into the life savers house.. and started to take a sun tan while watching the sea for ships. Slowly, new additions are added, a beautiful marina dock, many little yatches are parked there, a pub was built, more and more little entertainments were put in. Slowly, the life savers started to create a life savers committee to constantly make improvement to the life saving house.

The life savers were having a discussion and a dinner party, when suddenly, there was a passenger ferry that was ran aground near the rocks of the life saving house. The ship was slowly sinking, and there is no one to save the passenger… However, the life savers were too busy in their discussions, and did not look up to the sea. By the time someone notice, the life savers scrambled to get their life saving hoops and tried to get their life boats out, but the boats are deep inside the marina. Later on they tried to use one of the yatch that is closest to the exit to go save the passenger, unfortunately, they were too late and many passenger perished.

This stories tells us how dangerous it can be if we were to lose the objectives and purpose. Alot of times, while we are busy with chasing after our prize, have we already forgotten why we are serving the various ministry of the church?

Over here I am reiterating the simple truth, what is the church?

What is a church and why is the church important?
The word church is translated from the Greek word “Ecclessia”. Ecclessia simply means, “Called-Out Assembly”. Sometimes we may wonder, then what is so interesting about this particular called out Assembly?

Christians are the people belonging in this assembly, and they are people whom God purchase with his very own blood(Acts 20:27-29). 

Since the beginning of time, God has always maintain a called out assembly of the people of God, who loved God, and a people who (although imperfect) to try to follow Gods standards and teaching. In the ancient of days, he chose the lineage of Seth (Gen 3), Lineage of Noah (Gen 7), Abraham and until the present day, everyone of us. In every of this choosing, there have been a purpose of God to be fulfilled.

What makes the church so important is because of it significance, as the body of Christ and the spirit of Christ fills it all (Eph 1:22-23).  The head of the church is not the resident pastor / preacher but is none other then Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23). To persecute the church is to persecute Christ (Acts 9:1-5).

Christ has given the church authority to retain sins and to forgive sin, which makes the church more then just a mere group of believers (Jn 20:22-23 , Matt 18:15-19)

What is the link between the church and the salvation of God?
From what you can see earlier, there are many links between salvation and the church,  the church is meant to be a avenue for God to show his will to the rest of the world, as well as a place for his name to be glorified (Eph 1:23, 3:10 ,21)

The church is non other then the house of house of the living God, and to enter the church is to enter God’s house ( 1 Tim 3:15).

What is the requirements of the church?
1. It must have the spirit of God  (Rom 8:9,  1 Cor 12:13; 1 jn 3:24)
2. The church must have signs, miracles and wonders (Mk 16:16-20)
          a. But do remember that in the last days, the devils can even make fire come down from heaven (Rev 13:12-14)
3. The church must follow the teachings of God in the bible (Gal 1:6-9, Eph 2:19-20, 1 Cor 4:6)

What is the mission of the church?
Lets now take a look at the great commission given to us by Jesus as well as a verse from Isaiah the Prophet

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[b] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk 16:15-18 )

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isa 2:2-3)

In simple words, Jesus wants the church to do the following things
1. Preach the gospel of salvation to the ends of the world, and tell
     the people about how they can be saved, leading them to God and 
    saving their souls 
2. Teaching the people to obey Gods commandments and follow Gods
3. Demonstrate the love of God, by taking care of the weaker members 
     in the church, taking care of the little ones, learn to live together as  
     fellows heirs in this kingdom of God (Jn 21:15-17)
4. Provide an avenue for people who are seeking God, to find out about the
     truth. To teach them the ways of God

All work in the church stems from this 4 basic principles, so, the next time we are serving in God, remember this commission and ask yourself, are we like the life savers in the story above? Have we lost our direction in why we serve God?

May God help us, Amen.

Hmm, I guess all of you may have guessed, I do not watch drama serials very often, and this is no exception

But it seems to be that the Singapore radio stations are playing this song again and again, and I started to be curious with what Olivia is singing there..

After looking at the Lyrics, I think my translation is very bad, because the lyrics sound so classical and the words use are harder to understand, but nonetheless, I tried to interpret it too…. so please do not laugh at it.. I think this is tougher then the lyrics of 菊花台 which I have written long time ago.

Feel free to give comments, and lets review this, especially for readers whose command of chinese language is much better then mine.

Over here I would like to express my thanks to Ariel (I believe I did not get your name wrongly) for providing some pointers on how to edit.. But  I must first admit, I was never a very good chinese student 😉

如燕 (Like a swallow)
詞曲: 陳佳明
編曲: Terence Teo
演唱: Olivia Ong

愿意合上眼才能美梦无边    yuàn yì hé shàng yǎn cái néng měi mèng wú biān
别让悔熏乌了从前                 bié ràng huǐ xūn wū le cóng qián

也许碎片才能让回忆展颜    yě xǔ suì piàn cái néng ràng huí yì zhǎn yán
何妨瓷花拼凑明天                 hé fáng cí huā pīn còu míng tiān

谁带我寻获幸福的模           shéi dài wǒ xún huò xìng fú de mó
却自己谜中困锁                    què zì jǐ mí zhōng kǔn suǒ

谁为我留下缱绻的天涯      shéi wéi wǒ liú xià qiǎn quǎn de tiān yá
信物是抹晚霞                       xìn wù shì mǒ wǎn xiá

思念如燕它飞舞舌尖          sī niàn rú yān tā fēi wǔ shé jiān
若是真爱配尝几分苦甜      ruò shì zhēn ài pèi cháng jī fēn kǔ tián

意念婆娑时间里推磨          yì niàn pó suō shí jiān lǐ tuī mó
追随到何处才结果              zhuī suí dào hé chǔ cái jié guǒ

燕如针线在青空缝编          yān rú zhēn xiàn zài qīng kōng féng biān
几幅女红将以泪缀点           jī fú nǚ hóng jiāng yǐ lèi cui diǎn

誓言斑驳情雾只是经过      shì yán bān bó qíng wù zhǐ shì jīng guò
风雨中且让我盈步婀娜      fēng yǔ zhōng qiě ràng wǒ yíng bù ē nuó
(Repeat once, then end with chorus)

Only if one is willing to close his eyes, will he have beautiful dreams
Do not allow regret to cloud the past

Perhaps memories can only be kept through the broken pieces of life
Only then can the future be pieced together

Who would lead me to find happiness, yet
allowing himself to be trapped in the process

Who left for me such deep attachment?
Using the bypassing sunset glow as a token of pledge.

My Yearning are liken to the swallow as it dance at the tip of the tongue
Only true love is worthy of such a bittersweet taste

My thoughts are dancing, within the grinding of time
How long before a result appears?

The Swallow is sewing through the clear sky like a needle
After its completed, it will be decorated with tears of the lady

Your pledge is blurred while the fog is only passing
Allow me to pass through gracefully in the midst of this storm.

I would like to summary what is the Sukhomlinov Effect and what is the butterfly effect

Sukhomlinov Effect in simple words means, in times of war, the army with fanciful uniforms always lose. This is not because of the uniform, but it is because of the mentality of the soldiers and the how war effective are its officers and commanders. During peacetime, the armies will choose their officers base on the look and feel, not their war ability, war ability can only be demonstrate during war time. That is the reason why good generals are usually… pretty ugly (Ulysses S. Grant ,Curtis LeMay, Napoleon Bonarparte)

Butterfly Effect is The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly’s wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different. While the butterfly does not cause the tornado, the flap of its wings is an essential part of the initial conditions resulting in a tornado.

I often use the quote from Benjamin Franklin to remember this “A little neglect may breed mischief: For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost, for want of a rider the battle was lost, for want of a battle a kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horse”

Today in a my friend called me telling me today in his meeting, there following information is shared “The senior management wants to see a cut in operations manpower due to the following reason
1. They have did a 2 years projection and felt that the revenue would drop
2. They also did a 2 years projection and feel that the operations cost will not decrease.
Therefore, there is a need to cut the working hours of the workers. ”

As I was hearing this i was wondering, the main revenue of the business came from the Ops staff, and the ops staff are already hourly paid workers who do not follow a strict 8-5 routine. Since we are already operating in such a way, isnt it true that manpower cost will decrease automatically if the work volume is low? I wonder. does the people even know that the set up of the ops is like this?

So.. I started to realise that actually these people based all these on a projection, which, in my opinon takes alot of effort, yet it doesnt really show you the true picture, as my own companies business volume is tied to many factors that are outside the control of the company, or even our client company.  Then these people spent 1-2 days looking at the ops report and try to pin out a picture which really may or may not be true.

So I wonder, if these people do not know the business, how can this be possible that they can lead the organisation out of the crisis?  I remember, once I suggested a simple cost saving suggestion, which takes 3-4 months and not done, although the cost savings have been siginificant, and the main reason is because the organisation are unable to purchase anything unless they contact the purchasing department.. then the purchasing department do not like so many work orders, they will make noise and not cooperate…. therefore, it takes million of years before any change can be implemented…

All these are results of funny business processes that are labour intensive and political, which makes simple decisions to be decided ages later… usually when the fire have finish burning up the place.. Yet someone else was blamed for the mistake, through fault finding meetings (AKA Review meeting)

How are these processes born? it is created by business department managers that are employed during peacetime and thus are a by-product of the sukhomlinov effect.

Now I want all of you to imagine this, there was a company with very lousy processes, and the business is losing capital slowly. They fired off the programme manager, and promoted their only project manager to the programme manager, and this guy had no ability to lead. And keep hiding away from his responsiblities and forcing other people to take the blame and leave.

Slowly, the company died of a natural death over 2 years, and the programme manager now puts in his resume, that he worked as a programme manager for 2 years. (While the capable ones all gave up and left). Then another company willingly hire, as reference check will not reveal what he has done and what he hasnt.  And he was hired by another company thinking that they have found a worker that is loyal, can take pressure and willing to work. and this guy now starts to make incorrect decision based on his “experince”.  The slowly, because of the butterfly effect.. the company slowly dies again… before he moved on to the next as a plague or locust

And such is the method how Sukhomlinov effect effects businesses, and the reason why business decisions takes a long time to be made… if the company wants to survive, they should look into how they work.. and hopfully before their capital are burnt out..

Another lesson learnt is that, business should not just base their selections of people by how the resume look and how the candidate perform in the interview, as these can be faked without any issue. Rather, they should focus on the specific work they want these people to do, and what are the decisions he can make.

Company should look for leaner ways to work out their internal process, and hunt down the wrong business leaders.. unfortunately, not everyone understands..

Therefore, 80% of the work is done by 20% of the workforce, and unfortunately, the remaining 80% of the workforce are busy thinking which ones should be retrenched….

King David is also a king of Israel. His life is mainly recorded in the book of 1-2 Samuel, and the Chronicles. Our bible called this man “A Man after God’s heart”

The two test I will be sharing on came to King David when he was still a fugitive and not the king yet.

Most readers who are familiar with the bible will know that King David had many test, but over hear I would share on two of his test only

Davids test are
1. In the strong hold of En Gedi (1 Sam 24)
2. In the Sauls camp (1 Sam 26)

Some background to understand
1. King Saul was the king of Israel then in these story. He knew that God has abandoned him, and was jealous of King David. Especially after Kings David’s victory over Goliath the Giant from the land of Philistines

2. Many occasion, because of this, Saul tried to kill David. But Saul’s son Jonathan helped David to escape… that is how King David manage to flee to En Gedi.

1. In the strong hold of En Gedi (1 Sam 24)
After David escaped from the hand of King Saul, there was someone who came to Saul, telling him that David was hiding in the wilderness of En Gedi.

Knowing this, King Saul gathered 3000 from his army, and went on to pursue David. They reach a place called the Rocks of the wild Goat. Saul needed to relieve himself, and went into one of the caves that David and his men were hiding.

In this test, God has delivered the enemy of David right before him. Most of the David’s men urged him to kill Saul on the stop, then his problems will go away. However,  David decided to cut a corner of Sauls garment with his knife, and replied to his men

“The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.” (1 Sam 24:6)

So over here, God tests David how he would treat his enemy, we all remember Gods standard that was spoken of by Jesus ” You shall love your enemies and pray for those who persecuted you” (Matt 5:43-44)

Therefore, David passed the test, although he did not kill Saul here, but his actions help him to convince Saul not to persue him further. David cutting of Sauls garment is to tell him the following facts
1. While he is relieving himself, David was in the cave
2. He is armed (Because he can cut his garment)
3. But he choose not to, because Saul was God’s anionted too.

But again, I believe some skeptics may think, David did this because, if he were to kill Saul in the cave, they will not be able to get out of this alive. (Well… unless they are like the Generals in the Dynasty warrior games, which can kill 2000 soldiers one single battle)

But later on in his life, God gave David a even harder test.

2. In the Sauls camp (1 Sam 26)
After the incident at En Gedi, Saul went back with his army for a short while. Later on there were Ziphites who reported to Saul that David was hiding in the hill of Hachilah.

This time Saul came down to the Wilderness of Ziph, with an army of 3000 soldiers. David sent scouts to check out the area and decided to sneak into the camp of King Saul together with Abishai one of his mighty men.

So this time, God intervene, and allowed the entire camp to be unguarded, deep sleep fell among all the guards (1 Sam 26:12).

Abishai was trying to convince David that this was the best time to extract revenge and to get away unharmed. They were looking at King Saul sleeping, with his spear beside him. Normal human logic will prove that, if David were to use Sauls spear, and thrust it through his head, this would be the end of Davids life as a fugitive.

However, this round David choose not to kill KIng Saul again, stating the same reason as his first test, (1 Sam 26:9). But Davids rationale later really warn my respect (1 Sam 26:10). He felt that, if God wanted to punish Saul, he will allow King Saul to fall in battle (which if you read the story on, it is indeed true) and he felt that the judgement should come from God, and not from him.you can see how well he understood the intention of God, which really tells you that DAvid is indeed a man after the heart of God

 Therefore, he choose the similar solution.
1. Take the jug of water by the head of King Saul
2. Take his spear (This is to prove that he can choose to kill him)
3. Walk a distance from the camp, and call out to King Saul.

From the 4 stories we had shared, we can draw the following facts about God trials for every christian

1. The purpose of God trial is to allow us to understand what is in our heart and mind better
2. Depending on our result, God will modify his test accordingly,
            a. When King Saul showed sign of weakness in face of pressure, God allow him a second test, this time with complete victory
             b. Since David passed his first test, God increased the difficulty, and now makes it even more enticing for David to kill King Saul

God’s test and trials for us are always fair, and he knows how much we can bear, God test are not made in such a way that we would always fail, this is similar to what Apostle Paul shared in 1 Cor 10:13

Now, for us who are constantly being test by God, I hope that this sharing will benefit all of us, and May God continue to guide all of us in our journey back to God.

At this particular time, I was thinking, since I was talking about Sustainable business, so what is the main factors or attitude we should have in order to achieve it. So after pondering about this A lot of times, most businesses are made up of many staff, countless of reporting mechanism where no one really bothers to look at the report, or interprete what it means. In good times, such inefficiently is alright, as the company is gaining a lot of profit already. Hence when the management looks at the cash flow, and it shows a positive figure, everyone is happy and no one loses the job… However, inefficiency is long rampant in the organisation

When a business first started, it has the simplest business processes, everyone is busy working on revenue generating work hence the business was sustainable.. However, as the business grows, this profit making work gets lesser and lesser

The company choices of workers turn from people who can really perform revenue generating work, to massive hiring of students with MBA, or masters… This effect is similar to the Sukhomlinov Effect.

Sukhomlinov Effect as quoted from the website reads
“The Sukhomlinov Effect describes a common pathology of armies. Particularly in peacetime, armies tend to concern themselves more with appearance and style than fighting skill, which cannot, after all, be demonstrated. Men who “look” like generals–tall, rugged, handsome guys with broad shoulders and splendid posture who wear the uniform well–are more likely to be promoted than those with a real talent for war, since the latter may not meet the peacetime criteria. Although lots of outstanding commanders have been short, fat and slovenly (Ulysses S. Grant and Curtis LeMay, for example) they had to wait for a war before they could prove themselves. There is no known way to pick the most able generals in peacetime. As a result, despite a few notable exceptions, the generals who command at the onset of a war are rarely still in charge by its conclusion.”

Hence, after that because of selecting the wrong type of business managers, business are plunge into endless report generating, email writing activities rather then actual revenue generating activity.
These problems will not surface unless an economic crisis… This is when the inefficiency of companies shows… and the business leaders hired during the “Sukhomlinov Effect” period is entrusted to save the business… and mostly because of them being the “report hungry” generation… they started to do anything that can make their reports looks good..
Hence the following measure is often adopted by the our Sukhomlinov Business owners

1. Fire the ops staff… this is the easiest way to show that operating expenses is cut… But Usually, this is a dumb move as they are taking even more staff who are able to provide revenue generating activity to be gone…. While squeezing the daylight out of the remaining staff

2. Keep doing things like “Projected Revenue” and spends quarterly, monthly, weekly, biweekly time to come up with good looking reports that try to show “Operational cost” has decrease, which is usually produced by poor workers who are taken out from their revenue generating activity

3. Blaming all the ops staff for inefficiency when they are too busy to make business decisions. Every decision needs to call for a meeting, discuss with the entire Jedi council. as if there is NO OTHER PROBLEMS that will appear when the Jedi council is discussing one minor operation issue.

4. Keep writing, “its not my fault” email to save their backs, instead of doing real work to generate revenue.

There are many mentality business needs to change, in order to survive the crisis

1. Understand that the best way to save cost is not to fire staff, but rather to deploy them to revenue generating activity

2. Look out for how other expenses like consumables and utilities can be saved

3. Stop being report hungry, only identify the 1 or 2 that is needed, and where to get the information, they should be used to track whether the business is sustainable

4.  If the business is sustainable by itself, avoid cutting any more staff thinking that more revenue will come from them, rather, look for other areas to create a sustainable business.

5. Closes businesses that are not profitable, try to get new ones, and redeploy the guys, do not be too quit to fire off, as they may be pick up by rivals who is trying to create new sustainable business

6. choose a business partner wisely, remember to go for win win situation, a lot of times in my work i saw how different businesses tries to take advantage of each other.. and ended up burning each other in the partnership

7. Be careful when selecting your sales manager or business development manager, one can write “I have generated a revenue of 1 Million dollars” in his resume, when he actually did it by selling 1 million diamonds at $1 each

8. Understand that revenue can never be generated without good ops staff, most ops staff are abused and misused , while company cuts them off to do “cost savings”

9. Never think that by having a huge group of sales manager means you will get a lot of revenue. You only need one good one

10. If the owner cannot understand this.. he better start counting how much assets he has.. and try to find a new job claiming that he is the CEO of some other company before it collapse..

Just in case if any of my readers is curious

1. Why is the hesitant prize fighter writing business related post? Where are the christian post or lyrics?

ANS: My interest for writing christian articles, hymns and songs have not dwindled.. just that lately I am having a lot of reflections. Especially about my past work life. I was trying to link up what is happening and see if I can draw any conclusion from it.

I am having a lot of hymns, and christian articles unfinished, but due to my work, I have been running out of luxury of time to write. Even now I am writing this while waiting for an old friend to meet me.

Well, I think write now all of us cannot deny that we are in the midst of economic crisis, some fothe people feels that this crisis is almost as bad as the great depression in the 1930s. Hence this is creating so much panic in the business world, and left many companies to cut staff in order to cut cost.

Many businesses are busy predicting their revenue, and almost everyone is splashing bad news over the Internet. everywhere is as gloomy as ever. Even among my friends we are talking about retrenchment and many things.

This leads me to ponder over a particular question. Is really making profit so difficult? if not, why is a lot of organisations facing so much problems? I came from a technical background, and I feel that the fact of the matter is, that the business arena is just as mystical to me just like how IT looks like to the rest of the world.

So, I decided to undertake a very crazy task, seems a lot of my peers and I were all people who knows IT, now instead of always wearing comments like “I am not a technical person, I only understand the business aspect of it.” I decided to try venture into the world of money making and business. Hopefully that can demystify the “Business development and sales” part of a organisation.

I got myself involved as a project manager in a non IT Related business which really depends on technology to maintain profitability. And after having countless of meetings with the business aspect and hearing how they explain the terms such as “Business impact”, “Profitability”, “Productivity”, “Revenue Projection”, “Mission and Vision”, “Take ownership of problem” and most of all “Profit”. I came to understand the following facts about businesses

1. Generally, business is made up of Processes, People, Consumables, operations costs and turnover.
2. For a business to remain profitable, take the turnover amount, minus the people, consumables, operation cost. It must have a positive value.
3. Operations, are profit generating processes, and its mainly run by people (Don’t laugh, I can tell you a lot of business managers do not understand this)

Generally, as long as a business can have a positive number, using the formula

Turnover-manpower cost-operation cost-consumables=answer

For a long period of time, will be able to survive as a business, even in the midst of any crisis, can be term as sustainable business.

A huge company with many sustainable business, will be able to make profit without any retrenchment.

Generally, it is easier to have many small sustainable business then having a huge company.

Therefore in order to get buy this crisis. All business have to break themselves up into small sustainable businesses.

If a company is willing to change all the department into small and sustainable business. this could very well just make it through the crisis safely… Look out for some failing businesses.. find a way to make it profitable.. and take it over.

I think, since this is my first post for the year 2009, I decided to wish everyone a HAPPY YEAR 2009. May God continue to guide all of us in whatever we do.

On the last day of 2008, I was spending sometime considering about many of the work I used to do.. and recalling the funny orders ever given to me while I was working.. Here are some of the examples

1. Spend 3 Days comparing Open Office vs MS Office, writing about the Pros and Cons of each software (Although the fact of the matter is, we are on MS Volume licencing scheme, which allow us a huge number of Office to be installed for the next few years, and the company has no interest to switch to open office at all)

2. Wrote a long comparison between Xerox Multifunction Vs Ricoh multifunction (Which actually, the winner is the person who give “Freebies” to my boss)

3. Carried 2 19 Inch LCD Monitor from Tanjong Pagar Area to the Raffles Place area by hand

4. Wrote a Tender Proposal in 3 Days, when the person originally tasked, feign insanity and refuse to write it, although he is given 2 weeks to do it.

5. Told to set up a training environment for a ERP training with practically no Hardware, computers and even projectors

6. Made to fire staffs who are in my project team should they give me problems with NO replacement for the sacked team member

7. Perform Image QC of microfilms because someone needs to clock sales figure into the year end profit and to get profit a higher share of the profit sharing.  (Note that the company has NO Image Viewer for me when this order was given, and its up to me to find the reader or to place the films on the fluorescent tube to view the image)

8. Write a long report of Audit just to prove that documents are being destroyed on time. This is done by reading and tracing emails for 3-4 months, and yet other project issues and discussion and emails need to be sent out on time.

I once recall that, when we are given these funny orders, and you try to clarify how the task should be completed. The Boss will just say “I do not know, just do it”. Then when you are unable to finish it, they will give you a bad appraisal and when you give up working, they will claim that you cannot take pressure.

There are even funnier comments that I have received over the years, should you ever try to ask more about the task.

1. ” You are NOT looking at the big picture” (this is spoken by a sales persons whose Big Picture is obviously how much commission he can get by clocking the sales figure)

2. “I am not a technical person, I just do not care how you are going to do it, I am only responsible for bringing in the deal” (This guy clinched a worldwide AD deployment for 7 countries, at a ridiculous price of 30 K, complete with Hardware Delivery and Set up)

3. “This is a matter of principle” (Well, it doesn’t really seem to be a matter of principle when you are tasked with many days of email searching and reading while neglecting your other duties)

Then I was thinking to myself, alot of times, business owners thinks that the only thing they need to do is to SET THE DIRECTION… and whenever they run out of answers, their favourite answer is “I can see the BIG Picture” … Sometimes if you really were to look at the big picture, you will know that it just voice down to how much commission he is going to get.

Lately, when I have a chance to run operations, I realise that many of these business managers will only be interested in a few things
1. The profitablity (Just looking at numbers)
2. Productivity of their hourly contract staff (they never seems to be given any funny task to perform at all)
3. Volume of work done, only when their comissions are tied to it

And most of the time, people on contracts, with No Over Time Pay are made to do ridiculous assignments just because there is no cost involved. If the worker finally is overwork because of too many responsiblities, and quit as the result, he will be viewed as “Unable to take pressure” and “Job hopping”

Such working situation is also the reason why
1. Meetings can go on for hours just to read 1-2 reports

2. Contract workers are made to do report after report, when no one wants to look at it.

3. The smarter workers refuse to do their work, allowing their work to be task to someone else.. just because the business owner wants to see the report, he will force some of the more willing worker to do it for him usually at the expense of their own free time

4. Countless of time is wasted on funny appraisals and goal settings, rather then really doing something profitable.

However as everyone can agree, we are unable to change these following fact

1. Most business development manager are merely sales people who had no idea how much work is needed

2. These people are only interested in numbers, and productivity only when the year end profit sharing or their sales comissions are on the stake

3. usually the workers who tries his best to fullfill the task are viewed as, cannot prioritize (Priority is relative here, depends on who comes to ask the workers for their status report)

4. They love writting outlook task list with percentage completed when there is only 2 percentage to look at, 0% for not done, and 100% for done.

5. Alot of owners just feels that setting the direction means giving vague orders and the technical people will sort it out easily. (Even if the timeline is ridiculous)

Therefore, I am seriously thinking of comming up with a new framework for companies to
1. Reward the staff who really does profit making activity (AKA meaningful work)
2. Make meaningful outcomes from meetings, without bothering to 
compile minutes whom no one actually reads 
3. Identify the business owners who are very good at giving lousy orders and retaining the good workers
4. Idenifying the workers who really loves hiding away from responsiblity and ensuring they are made redundant automatically.
5. Allow easy appraisals and goal settings (Less then a minute)
6. Allow business to identify the people who are really wasting companies resources by forcing good workers to do funny task.

The Basic Idea behind the BIG Picture
1. Abolish the fix salary. The base salary will only need to include the following
       a. Just enough money to ensure
                  a. A worker can travel to the workplace
                  b. Enough to buy a simple meal 
       b. Just have a fix man hour cost for each worker (From managers 
to operators)  

2.  When a worker is hired, besides ensuring that the basic needs are covered, tag his basic responsiblities each with a specific pay amount
        a. For example; If he is a project manager, he will need very specific reports like Project P&L, scope statements, each to be tagged with a pay amount.

         a. EG 2: If he is a business development manager, each of the different reports that the director wants to see, must be define, and tagged with a pay amount.

3. From then on all task issued to the workers must include the following items
          a. The things needs to be done
          b. The deliverable
          c. How much time is needed (discussed between the issuer and the recipient)
          d. Tag each deliverable with a percentage complete
          e. The resources needed for the task, whether it is there or not
          f. The amount of money for this task (the man hours multiply by the hourly rate)

This is good because, the business owner from now on can see how much this business decision actually cost him, then he can set his priorities better.

If the worker willingly take the task, then realise that the time taken is not correct, he can learn how to do it better.. or reject the task the next time

If the worker wanted to run away from that task, he will NOT be paid, hence, he will just be made redundant automatically

4. When the task is complete, the worker only need to rate the following thing
        1. Is the time taken enough?
        2. Whether this order really contribute to the overall profit
        3. Is this task a mere waste of time

5. At the end of the month, near pay day, all the task forms are consolidated and payment is made to the workers

6. From gathering each of the task it is easy to identify
      a. Business development manager who really do not know what he wants to do
      b. Workers who are overtasked.
      c. Workers who really aint doing anything important 
      d. How much money each silly business decision actually cost the business
       e. This framework can also help to give auditors good work to audit many reports

Actually I am still in the midst of thinking…. perhaps some of the readers will like to contribute… I am hoping to make this framework into something more concrete.