My friend was sharing about the vanity of the work place, and how companies nowadays kind of, through the administration of performance and appraisal, reward the people who are not doing work and yet fire and persecutes the people that are dutifully doing their duties.

Many a times in life, bosses do not remember the 1000 good things you have done, but yet they remember than 10 things that you have made mistakes for. Once a friend of mine showed me his appraisal, which is made up of many accusations of the things he hasn’t done.

Actually, my friend wanted very much to quit from the company, but yet, despite the low “Performance rating” given by his superior, they refuse to discharge him of his duties although he had written for a transfer many times.

His predicament reminded me of this little parable spoken by King Solomon
There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.” – Solomon (Eccl 9:14-15)

No wonder King Solomon called life as vanities of vanities, and all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind. (Eccl 1:14)

For that Parable, the Solomons conclusion is found in the next few verses
“Wisdom is better than strength.
Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised,
And his words are not heard.
Words of the wise, spoken quietly, should be heard
Rather than the shout of a ruler of fools.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war;
But one sinner destroys much good.” – Solomon (Eccl 9:16-18)

I really wondered, with all the funny things that are going on in our corporate culture, are we progressing or just “making a living”? We have to remind ourselves that we live in a world where 80% of work is done by 20% of the people.. while the remaining 80% of the people spends time criticising and downsizing the 20% all in the name of “Better Efficiency” and “Lowering Cost”.

It is hope that one day the management will reward the right people, encourage the right culture. But i guess with the advent of the Sukhomlinov Business Managers and the Report Hungry Generation, that will be an ideal that can never be reach. But again… I still believe in Solomon’s conclusion of the matter ūüėČ . Let us read it aloud together

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil. ” – Solomon (Eccl 12:13-14)

Meanwhiles, for both of my friends, let us take comfort that although our work is not appreciated, we are still deemed as wise man (At least in Solomon’s eyes). Let us learn to lift our heads high as the poor wise man, and wait on the Lord for his justice.

Hahahaha This clip reminded me alot my work as an IT Engineer. Sometimes I think in the past, when new inventions such as books replaced scrolls, we do not need a help desk to teach them how to use it.

Is this a problem of over complication in usage or a bad user design? haha enjoy

I remember once when I was teaching a lesson, there was a student who shared with me this very unusual case. She spotted this particular classmates cheating in the exams, and she reported that to her teacher. I think to myself, this should be commendable, but then she raised a question to me. “Well, I really reported my classmate because I do not like him, so is this a good thing?”

Her questions reminded me of another friend of mine who wanted to report a person who was giving him alot of problems in office to the corporate ethics department. He managed to gather alot of information about the person and found many proof of his illicit dealing. But in his mind he was purely revenge. He was talking to me about this intense feeling of revenge that motivated his action.

This lead to me to think, what is God’s view over the matter? Is it really something such as Right Actions but Wrong Intention? From the 2 examples given above, the right actions are namely
reporting the evil deeds such as cheating and illicit dealings. But the wrong intention here is hatred and revenge. So we can be sure that there are things like Right actions and wrong intention.

In fact, we all know that our God is a God of justice and hate treacherous dealings. We can read it from the following verses in the bible,

“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight.” Prov 11:1

“And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien- Because they do not fear Me,” Says the LORD of hosts. (Mal 3:5)

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you. But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Mic 6:8)

However, as we are doing the right thing, we must also remember that God also delights in mercy and forgiveness. God also revealed that although we may be doing the right thing, God is still the God that looks at the heart of man (1 Sam 16:7). As much as God likes Christians to do the right thing and report injustice and wrong doing. But God ultimately discern the hearts of the man to check for the motivation behind our actions. We can see this in the famous sermon of the mount where Jesus was talking about committing adultery in the heart (Matt 5:27-30), as well as killing a brother in the heart (Matt 5:21-26).

If we suffer wrong and is seeking revenge, always remember that it is God who would dispense justice and take vengeance (Deut 32:35)

God would want us to do justice, at the same time to love mercy. Hence, we all must be careful of what is the motivation behind our acts of justice.

Once I remember when i just step out to work, there was many types of companies that interviewed me. In Singapore, there were companies for various sizes, there are companies as big as 400-500 staff, and there are some as small as 6 staff. The like to give themselves many types of abbreviation. Commonly in Singapore, you can hear the following term

MNC : Multinational Company
SME: Small and Medium Enterprise
Listed Company
Local Company with a Global Presence

What does these term really mean to an average worker? Sometimes I remember during the interviews sometimes I asked.. “So, what is the main reason why I should join you?” and the interviewer may say something like “Ohhh,,, You will now have a chance to work in a MNC… (Or Listed Companies). Once in my project, there was this client who always like to brag about her days as a CEO of some MNC.. (From what I know, sells toilet papers only).

Sometimes when she was leading her SME, she is still unaware that there is a huge difference between her ex MNC and her current SME.. she keep making noise over the slightest matter saying “You know… when I was working in the MNC.. I will never accept this type of quality” and over a very trivial matter she made everyone slog for hours and giving excellent productivity.

In fact.. so what is the main difference about being in MNC, listed company SME? To an worker who draws a monthly salary, so how does all these things apply to them?

A MNC merely means that this company has facilities and other assets other than their home country. They have a global management, very big and diverse businesses. Note that some MNC are merely combination of many small and medium companies which may or many not coordinate their efforts in profit making.

Such companies had an advantage of a huge capital, and the ability to buy up many small companies… leveraging on them to provide service at a much lower cost compared to other smaller companies.. However, their disadvantage is a lack of the overall view of all their businesses, only relying on numbers to make their decision.

One of the major characteristic of the MNC is that they have the highest number of Sukhomlinov business leaders and and fakes.. In good times this is alright because the company has massive capital, and since the management looks at numbers only. The Sukhomlinov leaders and managers can make good looking report (AKA Magical Dress in the Emperors New Clothes) to fool the management. And since the management only has time to look at numbers.. this is usually suffice.

Usually such organizations is full of corporate inefficiency and are slow in making decision. Due to the size and the number of people.. Simple decision can take thousand of years… and the Sukhomlinov leaders created alot of complicated business processes.. slowing down everything.

A MNC is somewhat like a huge monster who needs huge resources in order to maintain its business operations. This is the reason why it needs huge ERP and other softwares, however, with the abundance of Sukhomlinov leaders, they creates tons and tons of paperwork and administrative duties depriving the company of the ability to make quick business decision which is necessary for the current business climate.

For SME employing staff from an MNC, be careful of the creation of many MNC like corporate structure and inheriting the business politics and the start of corporate inefficiency. It would be disastrous to think that the small and miserable enterprise can have the capital of a MNC to maintain such corporate inefficiency.

I never realized I wrote so much, so I better divided up the discussion into 3 post.

I was reading the news headline and there was a lot of interesting news headline, especially in the business section on the Channel news Asia

DBS says crisis could cost Singapore 99,000 jobs
“Credit Suisse predicted that some 300,000 jobs could be lost in Singapore this year and the next.”
India’s economy slows to 5.3% in Q3, lags forecasts
Economists lower Singapore’s economic growth forecasts

Sometimes I really wonder how are all these numbers arrived at? Did they consult some high priestess in the oracle or did they visit the gypsies?

I have an old buddy who once shared with me after he started to run operations, the manage engaged in the game of “Future Prediction”. So curious I asked him how it works. The processes are as follows

1. Compare the trends of the business volume for the past few month, and try to guess this months work volume.
2. Key them into an excel submit it to his boss for record
3. On the mid-Month, make a new guess. Whenever you change the number, you will be sent for a long meeting to explain why the number is increased or lowered
4. Finally at the month end, when the actual figures occurs, then the real fun begins
a. If your predicted figure is too low then actual, go into a long meeting to explain why its too low. And get a scolding for not being accurate
b. If the Figure is too high than the actual, go into a long meeting to explain why you failed to hit the target. and get a scolding for not being accurate
c. If the predicted figure is 100-200 dollars difference, then everyone is satisfied, no meeting is required.

As the steps move from 1-C, you will be constantly asked about a old figure that you have gave, then you are force to check your data all the way to years ago. When you first made an initial forecast. All the steps require extensive beautiful looking reports that will be admired for hours in the meeting room, and of course its my friend who needs to prepare this,

As I heard my friend talking about it, I was thinking how he made a prediction that is more accurate, so I asked him, “Is there any patterns or trends you can follow?” “What is the dependencies that can affect the volume?” the answer from him is simply “No” His customers are also unable to predict how much work they can generate.

Sometimes I wonder whether this is the process how the above estimates are being done, and I really question whether this data are actually useful to the business or not. If the business is purely dependent on work generated that is not within its control. so whats the big picture in this?

Sometimes I feel we are all living in a report hungry era. Where everyone wants reports for every little thing. And the moment they receive 1 report, they can spend hours trying to make sense of the data. Which is the reason why many sukhomlinov business leaders succeeds. they make very beautiful reports, which mainly doesn’t show anything.

Reading this on will most likely reminded you of the story I shared about the Emperor’s New Clothes.

So.. businesses, stop behaving like the silly king, who because of “Face Issue” rather choose to parade himself naked before the general public. So instead of spending precious man hours in predicting a future that cannot be predicted, as well as spending hours to churn out reports after reports. Let us all move forward and make money instead.

I remember when I was a boy studying for the Cambridge GCE O levels. I remember reading this description on my “History of The Modern Word” By Dr Nicholas Tate about the Macro Polo Bridge Incident. Today I manage to dig up the old textbook and this is the description
” The Japanese accused the Chinese of having fired on one of their night patrols. This provided an excuse for a full scale Japanese attack.”

As a boy I was thinking to myself “How could 1 patrol soldier clause the entire war?” It seems to me that no history books ever recorded which private or corporal is this solder that was suspected to be fired on. But we all know the consequences of this incident. It led to a full scale Sino Japanese war, and following the incident, China lost Tianjin and Beijing to Japan in a matter of weeks.

So I decided to take a look at the Wikipedia, and I found that the incident is actually very well documented. Hence, I would like to take the emotions out of this incident, and just record down what happened

1. Jun 1937: There was a notice from the Japanese army that they would like to carry out an intensive military training maneuver. The Chinese government request that advance notice be given so that the local populace will not be disturbed by it.

2. 7 July 1937: Japanese army proceeded with the maneuver without the notice. Alarming the Chinese troops. which led to the Chinese army firing a few ineffectual shots. The Japanese hearing it, had a brief exchange of fire with the Chinese troops at 23:00 Hrs

3. 7 July 1937: After that, there was a sentry solider who did not return to his post, his company commander (Maj Koyonao Ichiki) thinking that he was captured by the Chinese. Informed His Regimental Commander, which called the Chinese Regimental Commander (Ji Xingwen) demanding permission to enter Wanping (A Chinese controlled area) to search for the missing solder

4. 7 July 1937: This soldier returned safely, but the commanders of both fraction did not know it.

5. 7 July 1937 23:40 Hrs: the Chinese General Qin Dechun, received the same demand from the Japanese military intelligence with the same demand. General Qin said that the Japanese should not have conducted the maneuvers without advance notice. He refused for the Wanping to be searched, but said that he would order his troops to search the town.

6. 8 July 1937 0240: Japanese were not satisfied with the answer, issued a ultimatum to search the town. The Chinese troops are placed on Heighten Alert.

7. 8 July 1937 0300: Japanese reinforcement for 4 Mountain guns, and a company of machine gunners came to Fengtai town.

8. 8 July 1937 04:50: 2 Japanese investigators were allowed to the town of Wanping.

9. 8 July 1937 05:00: The Japanese machine gunners open fire at the Macro Polo Bridge, and backed by Armored vehicles they attacked Macro Polo Bridge

10: 8 July 1937 Afternoon: Japanese partially overrun the Macro Polo Bridge while the defenders, numbering to about 1000 Chinese troop fight to defend the bridge

11: 09 July 1937 6:00 : The Chinese was able to retake the bridge with the help of the mist and rain. At the same time, the Japanese Military Intelligence had reach a verbal agreement with General Qin that Wanping will be left with a civilian constabulary and not his division.

12: 09 July 1937: However the Japanese ground officer (Gen Masakazu Kawabe) did not comply and shelled Wanping for the next 3 hours until he is order to move

13, 09 July 1937 Midnight : Japanese troops started to violate the ceasefire and continue their buildup of reinforcements

14. 12 July 1937: LT Gen Tashiro of the Japanese China Garrison died, at this time, the officers of the North China Area Army are militarisitic in nature. They took advantage of the situation and efforts made to the by the civilian government to avoid war with china failed

15. Wanping is shelled again on 14 July, full scale fighting in Lang Fang on 25 July. Chinese retreated to the Yung Ding River by 28 July, leaving Macro Polo Bridge and Wanping securely in Japanese hand.

16. Few days later, Beijing and Tianjin both fell to Japanese forces.

As we can see in this story, it is more then the night patrol that was attacked that lead to the war. It is not even that one little petty soldier who failed to return post that lead to the war.

We can also see that the Japanese officers did not even know that the “soldier” that they were searching is back, and the did things like issuing ultimatum and firing on the bridge. The change in the high ranking officers also help to speed up the process of the war.

So what can businesses learn from this?
1. Management should learn to gather information about their business by themselves, and usually the news that are sent to their ears are mainly half correct, as no one ever bother to give the real picture.

In this example the generals spend too much time discussing over the problem of one missing soldier without trying to find out whether he is really missing. They spend all the days making demands to each other, and not even understanding whether the problem is resolved or not.

2. The people on the ground are usually clueless about the verbal agreements the management made with the customers or each other. Sometimes orders are deliberately ignored

In this example, the Japanese troops continue to shell Wanping for 3 hours dispite of the verbal agreement of Truce between the 2 armies. On July 9 Midnight, the soldiers began violating the ceasefire often. It is unsure if the problem is because of mis-communications or blindly follow orders.

3. Unnecessary escalation of problems usually helps to butterfly effect the problem and making the problems looks very big. This often leads to lots of email floating around and unnecessary demands made to various parties, that could escalate to full scale war.

If the company commander did his best to search for the soldier without escalating it to his regimental commander. Perhaps this issue will not have been blown out of proportion and the remaining story would have change drastically.

It is hope that through this passage, we can all understand the following
1. Importance of simple communication in work
2. The futility of escalating simple problems to the management
3. Orders could be ignored if the people refuse to accept it.

Recent Update In 2017 Feburary

Apparently the name of the infamous soldier was found. He is known as
Private Shimura Kikujiro.

According to this article

I remember when I first got out of army years ago, I was working as a IT engineer. Then I was spending alot of times hearing alot of funny  business talks from my managers, CEOs, and managing director

I remember seeing them staring at blankly at the stock exchange and sometimes I wonder what is on their mind.. what is the big picture that I am missing. And whats so mystical about this funny looking exchange chart that they stare at it for hours and hours.

I remember once I hear my business manager said “This is the reason why they get to where they are now”¬† and started to blab all sorts of funny sentences that I can never understand.

Sometimes along the pantry you can hear many executives talking about companies share prices and how it affects the overall outlook of the company and all the funny things like that…. As a young engineer, I thought that there is something mystical here that I can never understand.

Then, I was thinking, just as the IT world is so mystical to them, the business world is as mystical to me just as well… Until I decided to go breach the gap and¬† see what is going on at the other side of the corporate games.

I remember this management wannabe who did a long comparision of stock prices of our company vs our competitors and started to blurt all sorts of comments that hardly make any sense to me…

So I decided to google (using the IT skills that I have) on the following “How does stocks and shares work” and I came across a tutorial explaining¬†the basic truth about stocks and shares… and I decided to put them here. The reason is because, I felt that we are all deceive by long business presentations of things that do not matter.

I went on to take a look at Investopedia and decided to summarise a few brutal truths about the stock and shares.  

So, what are stock?

Stock are actually a claim of ownership of a company assets and earnings. It can be called Stocks, Shares, Equity. In the past it was a fanciful look piece of paper that is called a stock certificate. Nowadays it can just be an electronic document. The more shares you own, the higher your entitlement to the profit. Your claim for the assets can only be made if the company’s goes bankrupt.

A company only benefit from stocks for when the stock is first offered to public (AKA IPO).

So How Are Stocks Traded?

So stocks are being traded on the stock market, there is a trading place called Trading Floor, which is where you see people frantically shouting and screaming.  There are other type of a exchange where trading is done electronically.

The main purpose of the stock exchange is really a place for traders to meet and decide on the price of stocks. A stock market is nothing more like a farmers market of people buying and selling the stocks.  There are 2 types of market
a. Primary Market : This is where stocks are created (IPO)
b. Secondary Market: This is where most of the trading are done. Most people refer to this as¬† “The Market”

What Clauses The Stock Prices To Raise Or Fall?

Sometimes you read this in the news, sometimes you see executives spends hours and hours digging through the newspaper.. Sometimes you hear it over the pantry talk… But… The truth behind this is, Stock prices are determined by supply and demand. If many people wanted to buy a certain stock, the price will raise and if everyone is busy selling the stock, the price will fall.

Its important to know the following
1. At the most fundamental level, supply and demand in the market determines stock price.
2. Price times the number of shares outstanding (market capitalization) is the value of a company. Comparing just the share price of two companies is meaningless.
3. Theoretically, earnings are what affect investors’ valuation of a company, but there are other indicators that investors use to predict stock price. Remember, it is investors’ sentiments, attitudes and expectations that ultimately affect stock prices.
4. There are many theories that try to explain the way stock prices move the way they do. Unfortunately, there is no one theory that can explain everything.

So Why Is The Company So Interested In Her Stock Price?

These are extracts from Investopedia

1. The shareholders are the directors too: The first and most obvious reason why those in management care about the stock market is that they typically have a monetary interest in the company. It’s not unusual for the founder of a public company to own a significant number the outstanding shares, and it’s also not unusual for the management of a company to have salary incentives or stock options tied to the company’s stock prices. For these two reasons, management acts as stockholders and thus pay attention to their stock price.

2. Finance Reason:  Analysts are constantly scrutinizing companies and reflecting this information onto its traded securities. Because of this, creditors tend to look favorably upon companies whose shares are performing strongly

3. Investors Wrath: There are risk where investors may oust the management in a proxy fight.. But I guess this doesnt happen all the time unless the shareholders owned more then half of the company, which s unlikely in most case

4. Ego: Finally, a company may aim to increase share simply to increase their prestige and exposure to the public. Managers are human too, and like anybody they are always thinking ahead to their next job. The larger the market capitalization of a company, the more analyst coverage the company will receive.

But honestly, I think business should look at other ways to raise capital instead of getting so much pressure over the above mention issue. Try considering adding a new shareholder, or a partner.