Monday, June 30, 2008

Bill Gates after Microsoft

I started to have been great fond of Bill Gates, since I was in college time. However, at that time , I only knew he was the instrumental in creating Windows 95 and nothing else. Lot's of people told me he has been very "mean" in the way he ran his business. However, all I'm interested is due to his passion and innovation that brought the Windows product what it's today. Not many companies that produced successful operating system in comparison to Microsoft. The OS/2 that one time the proud product from IBM dies off and out-compete by Windows. Apple produces MAC and has been spending most of the time in engineering the masterpiece before releasing to the market suffered little market share gain then.

I remembered I joined Microsoft back 7 years ago. I still recalled the joy in joining "Uncle Bill" family. I was very persistent in offering my skills and experience to them. Thinking back, I must have been nuts in doing that. I did not understand why I would like to do that. That persistent, patient and eagerness was my strongest weapons that successfully on boarded me into Microsoft. Anyway, it was a long history one.

Bill was one of my most favorite icon not only because he created Windows and other stuffs, but it was because the ability of his thought in generating unlimited wealth for himself. In addition, he was a drop-out from Harvard. I sometimes think he must be insane to drop out from Harvard such a prestigious institution in United States. On the second thought, if he were just work on his law degree, we will not be having Bill Gates as we know of today. He seized the opportunity that could create a massive change in generating wealth, revolution and culture. His vision of course most has been materialized " To have Windows and PC on each table in the office and home"

I could not be possible to imagine back those days in 80's, somebody could have that vision. I believed 99% of all people will be mentioned, it is an insane vision, or it could take a rocket-science thing to realize. I guess Uncle Bill proof his vision right to most people today. Most people dislike him because he use all sort of ways to get the product in the path of monopolizing. From a business point of view, I see nothing wrong with it, in fact, there is no right or wrong. On the personal level, he could be brutal in the way the company that ruled by him.
Well, what I want to mention in this post would be learning to reflect on Uncle Bill. What could we learn from him where I summarized:

• Focus: Bill Gates has demonstrated over nearly thirty years the importance of clarity of thought and execution. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not move away from the domain he understood better than anything else – software. He has pursued the objective of dominance in software in general and operating systems in particular that has few parallels. Venturing into unfamiliar territory may be fashionable but carries a high degree of risk. Focus also means the ability to pursue one’s goals whatever the obstacles may be. Such a degree of perseverance is hard to come by.

• Thinking big: Along with focus, the ability to dream big and pursue that with single-minded determination sets Gates apart from other entrepreneurs. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs from emerging economies like India where an ultra-conservative attitude has stifled growth. Entrepreneurs need to develop confidence in themselves and their team that they can take on the world and come out winners.

• Passion: Simply put, if anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well. From a simple thank you note to a complex proposal, it is critical to place the stamp of excellence on whatever one undertakes. Equally important is the need to constantly innovate. Change is the only constant and the more agile and adaptive we are to change, the more successful we can be.

• Learning as a life-long process: Though dropping out of college to his dreams, Bill Gates has probably read and written more than most of us ever will. In the process, he has shown the limits of formal education. Important as formal education is, perhaps it is more important to realize that learning is a life-long process. Knowledge is infinite. Even if we keep assimilating it without a break throughout a lifetime, we would not have scratched the surface. Knowledge should lead to humility and wisdom – not arrogance and one-upmanship.

• Giving back to society: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided a new dimension to philanthropy by addressing issues that are global in nature – malaria, cancer, AIDS. Feeling good by doing good may appear old-fashioned but this may yet be the best way forward in combating diseases that kill or maim millions of people every year. With friend and legendary investor Warren Buffet also joining hands, a formidable combination has been forged. Bill Gates has shown a remarkable degree of consistency both in his business goals and in his goals in philanthropy.

I'm not sure you would share my view as mentioned on few key items, but I guess it is something we could learn from an entrepreneur, manager, leader, developer and now he set his path to become the next greatest philanthropist. As last Friday was his last day of full-time in Microsoft, although a mixed-feeling that Microsoft without Bill anymore, I wish him a great future endeavor on his new role in Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. May the force be with you SteveB!

20 Ways to reduce IT project failure: Part 1

I believed learning the lesson from project failure is absolute necessary as part of the continuous improvement process. It is also part of the parcels in maintaining high quality to be achieved and maintained throughout organization. Whilst the 20 ways could be discussed in a lengthy workshop method but in achieving some take away tips, I summarized it into key points to be awared of. Hopefully, from my observations and some research will enable more projects to be delivered successfully.

Lesson 1: Manage user expectations

It is vital that the project stakeholders are clear from the outset what is being delivered and what is not. Involvement from key users will be vital in order to ensure that their requirements are captured and that business ownership is established as early as early as possible within the project.

For example, many Year 2000 compliance projects suffered a backslash from their respective user communities when the users of the "new" systems realized they would still be constrained by many of the problems they had experienced with the previous systems. The scope of millenium projects was limited to meeting the requirements of regulatory anda safety bodies, there would be no additional business functionality. Unfortunately, this was not always communicated throughout the organization. It was inevitable then that the expectations of many users, especially those who were aware of the costs of remediating these systems, were shattered at a time when user involvement was critical.

Lesson 2: The project specification must take into account the needs of the business and the requirements of the users.

There are 2 concepts to be understood here. First, projects are conceived and grow from identifiable and measurable business needs. Clear objectives identified at the beginning of an IT project can soon become blurred as the project progresses, a characteristic of projects that have excessively long time scales for delivery. End-users must be identified before the project commences so that their needs are taken into account fully during the design and development of IT projects. It is important that the users understand very early on in the project that they have responsibilities and actions to help the project succeeded. Their needs form a vital part of the analysis and design stages of the project, and a close partnership needs to be established with them if the project is to succeed.

Once requirements have been captured, they should be baselined, introduced into a configuration management system and placed under change control. If requirements are changed or added, impact analysis against the project must be performed and the project plan amended accordingly.
For organizations that develop software incrementally and iteratively, requirements for each software release should be frozen and a mechanism established to allow a new high-priority requirement to be added to the development baseline.

Second the project specification must be focused on business requirements and not technical solutions. A business requirement that identifies, for example, the need for system interfaces and packaged software solutions is a clear indication that the project is IT -led and not business-led. It is vital, therefore to focus on business relevance when obtaining approval for the project, even if, technically, the solution may already be clear.

Lesson 3: "Keep a grip on reality"

It is an unfortunate consequence of the power and capability of technology that it makes organizations believe that what was once impossible is now not only possible. In the early stages of the project, this is often manifested by wild claims being made over the project's potential benefits, combined with a massive scope and an overly-optimistic but dangerously simplistic project plan.

Before you rush off and engage suppliers, users and stakeholders in the project, make sure the project is itself achievable via:

- the proposed timetable for the project is realistic.

- the business case for the project is sound.
- the solution is technically feasible.

The scale and complexity of IT projects will be a determining factor in project success. Both introduce major risks into the project, and steps must, therefore, be taken to minimize these risks as much as possible. Primarily, the level of technical uncertainty or technical innovation within an IT project, combined with the scope of the project, must be assessed prior to the release of funds.

Lesson 4: IT projects cannot be introduced in isolation from wider changes to the organization.

Introducing technology into the organization will not, on its own, solve a business problem. Even so, there is still an expectation within many organizations that the introduction of a new IT system will result in precisely manner. If the necessary changes within the organization are not made prior to project delivery, it is more likely that the introduction of IT systems into the organization will fail to deliver any benefits whatsoever.

The deployment of IT is not an end in itself. It is vital that training costs and schedules are included within the project plan to ensure that staff know how to use and maintain the system. Without proper training, it is unlikely that the full benefits potential of the IT investment will ever be realized, more importantly, a lack of training may introduce commercial and operational risks into the project which may ultimately threaten its long-term viability.
The implementation of new IT systems must be accompanied by the provision of training commensurate with the level of business change and technological advancement. Effective training may take some time and managers must ensure that they understand the impact the introduction of new systems will have on operational procedures.

Lesson 5: A Clear and visible project management structure is fundamental to the project.

All projects must be established around an effective and visible project management structure. Within that structure must exist clearly defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. Formal reporting structures and lines of communication to senior management must be established at the start of the project and continue up to project closedown.

Lesson 6: Take care of people first.

Never forget that it is the people who are the single most important factor in achievement project success. Personal development programs must work alongside the project management framework within organizations to provide the mechanisms for training, performance appraisals, assignments and career development. High-motivated and skilled staff are an organization's most valuable asset and the key to successful IT projects.

Lesson 7: Accept Risk, but manage and mitigate it closely.

Successful implementation of IT systems calls for creative thinking supported by effective risk management. Risks are inherent in IT projects, and whilst it is true that success often comes to those who are prepared to take risks, it is equally true that failures lies in wait for those who do not manage risks effectively.

Risk-taking and innovation are valuable strengths in achieving competitive advantage but are very much dependant on an organizational culture where such activities are encouraged and supported. Above all, it is vital to ensure that any business risks taken must be closely linked to the achievement of objectives.

To Be Continue.....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Execution With Success Stories

I have mentioned about Execution word few times at least 2 of my previous postings. It is one of the hottest topic about organizational challenges today. In this post I will share about real life case studies or success stories of organization that utilized full use of Execution. Execution is so vital that would be the key of a successful company in implementing activities or projects that delivered results. Results always matter to most leaders, that involved expanding their market share, increase customer loyalty, improve branding awareness, increase profits overall and many others.

Ram Charan used to mention that, it is pointless to spend all the beautiful pictures of strategies and vision without executing it. It often drained most of the resources in an organization tremendously. He put it " Today, the greatest difference between a company and its competitors is its ability to execute. He often got many Fortune 100 companies manager who says, "We have 10 strategic goals" does not know what he is talking about. This manager does not even know which goal is more important. Ram advise that we should have few clear and realistic objectives and priorities. Former IBM Chief, Louis V. Gerstner being interviewed by media on a question " How did IBM achieve and turn around the company performance, What is your secret?" He simply answered, "There is no secret, what we did is to out-execute our competitors during my time" What an amazing answer from Louis!!

Hence, execution plays a very critical component in making whatever dreams realised. There are few examples of real case organization we could learn from;

Mission Federal Credit Union (MFCU), founded in 1961 as a member owned business, is a financial institution that is dedicated to the Educational Community but serves all of San Diego County. It consists of 450 employees who serve 130,000 members in the San Diego Community. In 1995, when Ron Martin became the new CEO, he spent the following year observing the organization and conducting member and employee surveys to find challenges and opportunities for growth. He discovered that the company was in good standing in the community and showed good financial performance, but had a culture which lacked trust and leadership. Departments operated independently, employees did not trust managers, empowerment was low and professional development was non-existent.

“When I first got here people were very apprehensive about sharing their ideas with others, and not very enthusiastic about the company as a whole,” Clouse said. “After implementing the training, managers and employees are more supportive of the company as a whole, the things we do and the direction in which we are moving. Communication has increased and the culture has shifted from one of independence to interdependence.”

Mission Federal Credit Union’s training curriculum has evolved from a single teller training course in 1995 to their current offering of 50 stand-up courses, 65 online modules, self guided studies, and succession planning at various levels throughout the organization. To keep a continual focus on applying the training, Mission Federal Credit Union recognizes a “7 Habits” and a “Leadership” award winner at their annual business meeting. Each of these awards recognizes an individual who has applied the principles and values from the training into their job responsibilities. Their overall xQ score, which measures organization-wide execution capabilities on a scale of 1 to 100, has moved from 63 to 69 since 2002, trust ratings have increased from 50% to 70% and organizational alignment has improved
significantly. They have also integrated the xQ Survey into their strategic plan as one of six measures they use to track progress toward key goals.

Clouse said, “Over time, we have done some great things. We still struggle in some areas, but we are constantly improving and as we continue on this path, I believe we will become a phenomenal and dynamic organization.”

Baylor Health Care System is one of the premier health care systems in North Texas employing approximately 16,000 people who serve more than 110,000 patients annually in 12 hospitals and 85 clinics in North Texas. For 103 years Baylor has not only provided quality healthcare, but has been a major contributor in the community through a variety of programs including, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, The United Way, The American Heart Association, and Habitat for Humanity.

In 2003, the company launched a new initiative in their human resources strategy with a specific focus on improving relationships between employees and managers in an effort to improve employee retention and make Baylor Health Care System a workplace of choice. In order to do this, the human resource team knew that they needed to revamp their leadership training curriculum. They conducted a needs assessment among the key leaders and contributors within the organization to determine the skills and behaviors which needed to be addressed in the new curriculum.


The end result was a curriculum that focuses on increasing such leadership capabilities as problemsolving, conflict resolution and communication. The curriculum also includes a three partevaluation system which provides feedback from participants to determine the effectiveness of thetraining. Part one is a satisfaction survey that attendees complete immediately following the course.Part two measures what attendees have learned using pre and post tests and part three asksattendees to identify how they have applied the training in their own job at Baylor.Over the past 18 months, the Training and Organizational Development Department at Baylor hasadministered over 100 leadership classes with satisfaction and retention score averages of more than90%. Additionally 100% of respondents said they have made behavioral changes as a result of the training.

“By partnering with FranklinCovey to customize our leadership curriculum, we have been able to ensure that everything in the course will directly assist with an individual’s job responsibilities atBaylor,” said Kathy Jones, Training Manager. “It ensures focused use of the time leaders haveavailable for development and training.”

In 1999, A.B. Combs Elementary School was the lowest performing school in their district. They were issued a challenge of mammoth proportion: to invent a learning model in just one week that was different than that of any other school in the nation and would use no additional budget or staff.

While the task was great, Muriel Summers, principal of A.B. Combs Elementary, said of the challenge, “We faced many barriers in order to make this model happen, but we looked at the challenge as an opportunity for change.”
Drawing on her past studies and knowledge of the 7 Habits, Principal Summers suggested a dynamic leadership development model based on the 7 Habits. After researching the idea and finding that no other school in the nation focused on leadership development in children, the school administration presented this model to the school board and proceeded to remake A.B. Combs into the first elementary leadership school in the nation.

“As a result of the program, A.B. Combs Elementary has increased the percentage of students who perform at or above grade level from 67% to 97% in six years,” says Principal Summers. These test scores speak to the success of the leadership development model despite the challenges they continue to face with one of the most culturally and economically diverse student bodies in the world. They currently have the largest number of students in the district for whom English is a second language with students from 58 countries who speak 27 different languages. They are
also a Title 1 school where 45% of the student body receives federal aid for school lunches. Because of their success, AB Combs is respected and revered as a model for other elementary schools who desire similar results. AB Combs receives countless requests for site visits, training and advice on how to replicate their leadership program not only from the education sector but also from businesses and government entities.

“What we have here should be in every school in the world, because this is what an excellent education is all about!” says Principal Summers. “It is so much more than ABC’s, it is teaching children to be successful, good, caring, and compassionate human beings.” By daily living their vision “to become a model learning community of academic excellence and personal leadership,” A.B. Combs Elementary has successfully transformed their school into the first magnet leadership school in the nation and has received numerous awards, including international recognition as the founder and forerunner of elementary school leadership programs, The National Magnet School of Excellence and is one of two finalists as the #1 Magnet School in America.

Sonitel, S.A. was created in Panama City, Panama in 1957. In the year 2000 Sonitel, S.A. became Grupo Sonitel and today employs more than 200 people in three countries and has four commercial companies. Sonitel, S.A. provides information technology to the information worker of the corporations in Central America. It specializes in networking, datacenter, infoware and access solutions. Sonitel, S.A.’s team is a group of 50 professionals whose passion is providing complex IT solutions that deliver a tangible benefit to the customer. Sonitel, S.A. has more than 30% of the networks market, more than 20% of the datacenter market and more than 60% of the infoware market.

In 2001, SONITEL Panama faced three significant challenges: 1) re-defining the company strategy due to drastic context changes that affected core business; 2) dramatically changing the downward trend of their results to an upward trend; 3) changing the habits, mindset, and competency set of teams within the company. Due to drastic changes in the industry they had to move the hardware vendor mentality of the past 45 years to a solution and services culture. If they were not to make this change the company would have gone out of business in less than two years.

There is now an increased awareness and implementation of a principle centered leadership philosophy throughout all levels in the organization. SONITEL Panama has reduced their customer base from 2500 clients, with very little value added to them, to 80 recurring clients, which then share the solutions that are strategic to their business with new potential customers. The company is serving the corporate market and has specialized in high end information technology and communications solutions, leading to a definite upward trend in bottom line results. Their recurrent revenue has grown from $100,000 in 2001 to $1.8 Million in 2005. Productivity has grown from $100,000 per team member to $350,000 per team member. Their customer satisfaction has increased from 4.0 to 4.5.

Teams are motivated and growing professionally and personally. Employees are balancing more personal activities with professional assignments. Managers and employees have a better understanding of their corporate mission;
they have started exercising their self-leadership and recognize the company direction and the importance of implementing their corporate mission throughout the organization.Their plan is now to take the whole organization through FranklinCovey’s FOCUS track as a process rather than a workshop. “We are working with our sales team in an eight month program on ‘Helping Customers Succeed’ and ‘Customer Centric Selling’”. We are also going
to be using the xQ tool every six months. We are going to be using the 4 Disciplines of Execution as a yearly exercise.”

The Company
World Kitchen, LLC is headquartered in Reston, Virginia, U.S.A. Until 1998 it was a subsidiary of Corning Inc. Today, as an independent company, it has offices in Australia, Canada, China, Japan,
Korea, Latin America, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States. It also has a decorating plant and
distribution centre in Malaysia, and the Malaysian operation is the subject of this report. World Kitchen
manufactures, markets, and distributes glassceramic and metal cookware, bakeware, tabletop products, and cutlery. World Kitchen (and Corning) products have led the housewares industry for over 100 years since the introduction of EKCO® baking pans in 1888. The products are sold under well-known and trusted brand names including CorningWare®, Pyrex®, Corelle®, Revere®, EKCO®, Baker’s Secret®, Magnalite®, Chicago Cutlery®,
and OLFA®. Products are sold through multiple channels, including mass merchants, departmentstores, specialty retailers, retail food stores, catalog showrooms, and Kitchen World’s own network of CorningWare®/Corelle®/Revere® Factory Stores located in outlet centres across North America and the world.

The Challenge
For several years, executives at World Kitchen Malaysia believed that the company needed its employees to be more focused on company objectives. They believed it was management’s responsibility to develop the skills in their employees that would allow them to execute their assignments in a more structured manner. In November 2003, World Kitchen Malaysia was introduced to Franklin-Covey’s execution process (now called The 4 Disciplines
of Execution).

This process was implemented throughout all levels of the organization to build a new and better company culture. Twenty–six staff members attended the execution training course, starting with the general manager and including key management personnel representing all departments (Finance, Administration, Human Resources, Information Technology, Production, Planning, Warehouse, Quality, and Engineering and Distribution). The company set yearly goals using the standard execution-process tools: the Importance Screen, Measurement Builder, and Work Compass. They maintained commitment to company goals through weekly team engagement and accountability meetings.

Since 2004, World Kitchen employees have met with their direct supervisors at the beginning of each week to discuss their Work Compasses and schedule their Outlook® planner. These Work Compass sessions focus on the quarter’s three Wildly Important Goals (WIGs), the current week’s progress toward the goals, and the plans for the following week. The weekly engagement sessions have become a leading indicator of potential problems in achieving the WIGs, and they allow action to be taken prior to the objectives’ deadline at the end of the month. Scoreboards are used regularly to track progress.

The Results
The company’s primary concerns are quality, service, cost, and productivity. The impact of ingraining these concepts deep within the organizational culture has been shown in comparing year-to-date 2004 results with 2003, prior to the training. Outgoing quality, measured in parts per million, has improved 69 percent. Service levels have been maintained above 98 percent as compared to the previous average of 70 percent. Cost, as measured
by manufacturing cost per piece, has been reduced by 5 percent. Productivity, measured by pieces per labor dollar, has remained constant despite the increasing salary increments. Executives at World Kitchen Malaysia believe that
integrating the execution principles and tools into the leadership process has contributed significantly to the company’s increasing international success and has helped maintain their competitiveness in a tough environment.

The City and County of San Francisco, founded in 1847, employs 26,000 people who serve 744,230 residents. In 1997, a survey of 12,000 city and county employees identified a significant need for improvement in management and leadership. Consequently, Robert Sanchelli, Director of Training for the City and County of San Francisco, and his team started shopping for a training program to improve leadership and management citywide. After reviewing various training programs, Sanchelli and his team selected FranklinCovey and implemented The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People workshop in various departments at all levels of the city organization.

“This unbeatable combination of FranklinCovey Solutions, is building the capacity of the San Francisco public workforce to meet the 21st century challenges of this 10-year, multi-billion dollar program,” said Sanchelli, “and to achieve our responsibilities of environmental stewardship and sustainable resources.”

In his nine years partnering with FranklinCovey in different training capacities for the City and County of San Francisco, Sanchelli has personally trained more than 2,000 city managers, supervisors and citizens with FranklinCovey Solutions. He and his teams have arranged and hosted five FranklinCovey certification programs for 75 city, federal and private sector employees in an effort to bring FranklinCovey training solutions to managers and employees in 60 city departments. “I have only been doing, these nine years, that which I enjoy most,” said Sanchelli. “I’ve been helping people in San Francisco explore, come to know in their hearts, live and teach the timeless principles that Stephen Covey, Hyrum Smith and FranklinCovey have shared with the world.”

Most success stories above were utilizing partnership with FranklinCovey Consulting Team to design a solution that will create an Execution cultural and tools within the company. If noticed, I did not elaborate on the actual solution as it involved lengthy details which might send some of us back into bed again. On the other hand, indirectly I'm promoting some of the great solutions from FranklinCovey Team. It was not my original draft in this blog.

I hope after reading some great stories elaborated above from few companies around the globe, would you want to work for such a company? or would you want to create your own execution culture? or perhaps treat it as a learning experience that may benefit yourself as well as your client. It may stir up your adrenaline now, and I suggest you start to kick some butt and make it happened immediately.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Great Leaders, Great Teams and Great Results

This is one of my favorite topic to talk about after the earlier post of Leadership. I treat it as the sequel of a movie. Not really but I'm just passionate about this topic and that's all. I may want to use the topic above to write a book or thesis as a research paper for my post graduate study. In fact I am working on it for my future career. After some thought, I rather write a book. My wife challenge me to brush up my english-writing before pursuing such goal, which she could be right after all. Writing a book required more effort comparing pen down my thought via a blog.

I discovered this subject as the ultimate solution for today most chronic problem in every organization irregardless cultural, religion, ethnic, continent, country and skin color. In a global knowledge economy, the source of highest value is the creative engagement fo whole person; body, mind, heart and spirit. The unfortunate that happened today, most organization practices industrial age model where people treated as thing. Even we have the greatest value, skills and experiences that waiting to be tap on and subsequently unleash the potential, we are still trapped with the practice of industrial age.

Great Leaders carrying out 4 major imperatives and it is build upon another sequentially. They are also simultaneously progress which a leader need to pay very close attention to all 4 in order to sustain superior performance in an organization. They are classified as Inspire Trust, Clarify Purpose, Align Systems and Unleash Talent.

Inspire Trust: Trust is the core imperative of a great leaders as it impacted their ability to do everything else. A mediocre leaders viewtheir position of formal authority as the source of their power to get results. The mind-set of the great leader is to get things done through personal influence and credibility. Great Leaders use informal or moral authority. Trust is a function of personal credibility and behaviors that build trust. Credibility of trustworthiness is a function of a leader character and competence. It is demonstrated through specific behaviors that either create or destroy trust. When trust is high, speed goes up and cost go down, think about it like receiving dividend at the end of it. No one wastes time covering up, creating unnecessary forms and procedures, or altering information to meet someone's agenda. On the other hand, if you invest 100% of your effort on something, only half may actually be brought to bear on your goals because of all the 2nd guessing , bureaucratic, protective behaviors people engage in to protect their interests.

Clarify Purpose: Great Leaders create clear and compelling purpose for their team, people will volunteer their best efforts. A clear team purpose are able to answer questions related to;

Job To Be Done - What is the specific job your customers are hiring you to do or deliver?

Strategy Link - How does your team connect with the organization's mission and strategy?

Money Making Model - How does your team contribute to the economic model of the organization?

Great Leaders when developing a purpose balance rigorous thought and analysis with appropriate team feedback and involvement. Together they work and create a shared and compelling vision around the purpose.

Align Systems: Great Leaders align systems and results and institutionalize them to endure over time. Great Leaders will say " Enduring Success is in the systems". These leaders work to build success into the systems that it becomes independant of any person, creating a lasting legacy for those who follow. A great system is aligned to achieve your highest priorities, enables people to give their best, operates independantly of the leader and endures beyond the leader. There are four systems that are essential to your success. They are;

Execution - This is the system meant to be focusing on achieving your most important goals of all.

Talent - This is the system that designed to attract, position, develop and reward the people. It is about getting the right people in the right position to create successful results building their capability overtime.

Core Work Processes- This is the system for organizing our most critical work as a team or an organization. They define their core work processes and are constantly working to improve them.

Customer Feedback - This is the system for gathering consistent feedback on how well you are meeting the needs of your customer and making an ongoing improvements based on the data.

Unleash Talent: Great Leaders create culture that unleashes the highest talents and contributions of people. A great leader will release the talent and passion of each team towards our highest priorities. Everytime a great leader speaks it automatically create a culture and they constantly looking for opportunities to turn a normal conversation into leadership conversation. There are 3 elements that deliver the most impactful leadership conversation.

Voice- To affirm the worth and potential of each person in the team.

Performance - To clarify expectations and accountability.

Clearing the path - To be a single source of assistance in enabling people to succeed in their job.

These conversations will become more credible and powerful when there is high trust, clear purpose and aligned systems that support the execution of the team's most important goals. As a result, they focus each imperative interdependant approach in giving all equal priorities to untap the greatest potential and talent of the people.

In conclusion, the key to the big is the small. Great Leaders recognize that large things are accomplished by consistently doing the right smaller things over time. Just as small trim tab on the rudder of a large ship determines the direction of the ship, small things done consistently over time can have the tremendous impact we could ever imagine.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our Education System

As our nation is so busy of our political scenarios update, but as for me otherwise. I looked at most critical factor in our country in producing more and best knowledge age worker. Why is Knowledge Age worker so important in moving one nation? The answer is simple. It is the knowledge that they have. Why knowledge is so important actually? I thought we have all the necessary knowledge as we are experiencing Knowledge age economy. I would believe that is not so true. Well, you may ask, what does it got to do with Our Education System? Of course there is a reason....

Quoting a book of Mobilizing Minds by Lowell L.L Bryan and Claudia L.I Joyce, will tell us more the effect of having the right intellectual minds as an individual will yield benefits unlimited. The authors believe that the great majority of businesses are under performing precisely because their most important intangible assets – the ideas and creativity of their knowledge workers – are unwittingly suppressed by the way in which these businesses are set up to operate.

“Trying to run a company in the 21st century with an organising model designed for the 20th century places limits on how well a company performs,” they write. “The plagues of the modern company are hard-to-manage workforce structures, thick silo walls, confusing matrix structures, e-mail overload and ‘undoable jobs’.”
Having studied the performance of the most successful businesses, Bryan and Joyce conclude that “thinking-intensive” companies do best when they unleash talent rather than constrain it.

And looking at a new measure, profitability per employee, is a useful discipline towards raising overall levels of performance. “Profit per employee is a good proxy for earnings on intangibles,” the authors say.
It should become the most important measure of success, ahead even of returns on capital. That should be looked at “just to ensure that they are sufficient to cover the costs of capital,” Bryan and Joyce say.

The numbers involved are not trivial. “If a company with 300,000 employees can add $13,333 of “rents” per employee (that is, earnings requiring no additional employment of capital or labour), by reducing unproductive complexity, it can add $4bn in additional earnings,” the authors argue. They estimate that this could add as much as $40bn in market capitalisation. I concur it is an awesome numbers for an organization that understood and tapping this great money-making opportunity.

We then come back to reflect our current education system in promoting great intellectual individual. I was one of the products of the nation education system. However, I did not feel proud nor hate the way I was educated. Partly, because the system in such a place put too much tuition as the "drug" to power up our academic performance in school. This phenomena spread over from Singapore actually. Whilst they have this tuition phenomena, the Lion City still recognized worldwide as having a full-proof education system. Putting too much relying on tuition can be very devastating. School teachers will no longer have any passion in teaching the right things to the students. Infact, my younger cousin sister told me that, it was pointless to attend class in school, as it was being advice by the teacher itself to learn more during your tuition. How pathetic our school teachers behave nowadays.....?

During early 80's tuition was never a hot topic compared today. We adopted 3M technique (READ-WRITE-CALCULATE). It used to be a very efficient way in learning. It ensured we have good grasp in ability to write and read as well as able to do our math. Sometime later the concept of learning change into another model that claimed promotes effectiveness of learning. I could not recall what model was it, and of course it ended one model that I understand, MEMORIZING. Most Malaysia students have great capability in memorizing facts. As the matter of fact any subjects will mostly use memorizing.

Memorizing is a great method as it trained and teaches our brain to perform work-out consistently. It enabled us to utilize more oxygen into our brain to perform the crucial job. All these activities will be done during for one reason, for examination purpose. I too utilized this great god creation ability most of the time for exam. I did a pretty good job when I make full use of my brain to do memorizing. As time goes by, the effectiveness of our brain to memorize all kinds of stuff degraded slowly. Is it because I lack of nutrition of Gingko Biloba? Obviously not, it is because of the technique of learning has changed now.

Most parents may agree what I mentioned therefore sending their child for additional lesson in preparing them for future uncertainty. I admired the proactiveness of such parents. We forgot today there are more than additional lesson that able to fulfill the great intellectual individual. Using memorizing technique is not completely wrong, but it is an approach would soon be no longer proven competitive. If you noticed that my earlier paragraph about the book, there is a huge disconnection between the knowledge age economy compare to the type of education that we have gained.

After some observation from each developed country of US, UK, Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore, India and China, the education method they deployed emphasizing on human capital development. In short is about building human intellectual capability. One of the items that most student needed to be excel would be research skill. We only learn research skill in our tertiary education. However, we do not realise research skill are taught at pretty young age elementary school children. They are taught now to find out why such object or an animal behave such a manner. Of course children without fearful explore the reason and find out ways and alternative in hoping to find an answer. Ever notice children are skillful in asking questions. They never stop asking questions as they are curious to find out the underlying answer.

I believed in the end we not only need to learn about research skills, we need to adopt other ways of learning too. Traditional education is overemphasized on intellectual quotient. We now need to teach our children the another approach in emotional intelligence quotient subsequently social intelligence. Social intelligence adopted from the way how we make full use of our IQ from a EQ point of view in expressing out via different type of communications. They need to learn about how to appreciate our environment being formed and created. The needs of being green is absolutely essential as we are facing climate challenge.

Therefore, it is not about scoring A's that matter most. It is about how adopting and making full use of our knowledge learn in producing things that value most besides getting good grades. I could not deny that it is an uphill task to address this matter. Today each graduates required good character, right attitude, excellent in communication skill, good problem solving skill, ability to be think-out-of-the box, great planning and execution skill. If you would ask me, where to acquire those skills. I would answer you need to get it the hard-knock way. You won't get it via traditional education system, even the prestigious top 10 business school in the world will offer little such knowledge.

It is an eye - opener, for whenever I want to share about education systems in our country. How far the gap between our education system and workforce demand skill? In my opinion, still far and wide. It takes many years to address this chronic issue. I do hope the government is looking into it now...merely, a hope.I will write more detail about what kind of education system should be put in place as robust, agile and flexible as possible..

Monday, June 23, 2008

안녕하세요 in Spring 2008

We finally got the chance to visit Korea after planning it for a long time. In fact my wife and I planned it since before my daughter was born. We delayed and postponed it with several reasons. Partly, because of my wife was expecting for the first time. The other main reason would be my mother was diagnosed cancer at terminal stage. It was very emotional and physical exhaustion in accepting and juggling the two most critical moment in my life. I did not ask for such an encounter but god decision for me to go through the moment of new life and death in my family.

My wife and I were very excited as sadly to say this is the first time we travel out of the country for our "replacement" honeymoon. I felt sorry in asking her to delay such an important moment for a woman after married. For those who got married, I suggest, please pursue for honeymoon right away (whether cheap or expensive), do it right away. Do not delay! We begin to shop for our winter clothing and get our right package from reliable travel agency. We went for MATTA fair (an event for all travel agencies provide low & bargaining tour packages). We decided to sign up the travel agency which belongs to a company that my wife work in.

In the end, we did not go for it as the travel agency called up as they do no have the sufficient numbers to start the tour. They advised us to go for an 8 days trip, slightly expensive, but because we planned to leave our baby to a babysitter (we miss our baby by the way). Part of the reason also, my korean friend Joon Choi was not able to make it to catch up. He was scheduled to fly to Tokyo for the business reason.

We signed up Apple Tour to take the risk as we are not familiar with the travel agency. The only good thing this travel agency, they provide all the information via their website including the itinerary, flight and pricing too. The day we leave for Korea, it's a kind of weird feeling, I guess is more like we were overexcited. We took a midnight flight 1st~ 2nd April and arrived Incheon Airport 6 hours later obviously very early morning. In the initial stage, we supposed the temperature would be just nice at about 11~12 degrees. It caught us off guard as the temperature was 4 degrees during that morning.

We were very sure we're here for Spring not a Winter holiday. After some explanation from Danny (the local tour guide in Korea), the last heavy snow ended 3rd week of March, hence the possibility to experience a nice spring weather may take time. We thought we will miss the opportunity to experience " sakura" in Korea. There's another name in Korean which we were not told. I guess the tour guide forgotten to mention. The tour guide is an originated from Hong Kong (a born HK guy). Ten years ago he was here just to study Korean and hoping to find some niche skill to offer, (typical HK guy). Ultimately, the only job, he enjoyed most would be a tour guide.

From the first day until the last day, he speaks very heavy accent of Cantonese which obviously he's from Hong Kong. Other group may misunderstand, we're from Hong Kong. We bump into another group which they over heard we spoke cantonese to each other. They immediately noticed us we're from Malaysia. They reacted it very warm and friendly to us, thinking they are not the only alien in this land. I remembered we were having dinner on the third or fourth day in Seoul with a dish of Sam gae tang. A dish with chicken in the soup with ginseng and rice inside. According to them, that is considered the expensive type of dish.

In comparison to typical chinese food, generally Korean food is very mild and simple to prepare. That concluded most Korean were not fussy with their meal as long they have rice and kimchi in place. Throughout the trip kimchi is almost a must in every meal, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner. On second day, my wife was caught off guard with the weather and perhaps catch a cold virus. Whatever she ate, ended up in toilet vomit ting. I was shocked too as felt very sorry that she needs to go thru the sickness in this trip. All this while, her immune system was better than mine, anyway when you visited foreign place like korea, you have to be extra careful. One of the epidemic they always constantly fighting for would H5N1 (Bird Flu) viruses.

We did not enjoy very much on the trip. The only great place to that we think worth to go again would be Everland. It is a place for kids and the old as well. It is another version of Disneyland in Korea. The theme park is a little smaller than the one Disneyland in Tokyo. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the trip there. The park is full of baby room corner. They even provide stroller and wheelchair to rent. Very elderly and baby friendly. In fact the place was very clean too.They have the safari park which we did not go as the queue was longer than we expected. We took quite a number of pictures in the theme park that symbolize the Spring has begun. Very pleasant and interesting one.

We visited other places for shopping. One of the places called Yeoju Premium Outlet. The place looks similar like The Curve in Malaysia with a lot shops that usually sell branded stuffs. Nike, Prada, DKNY, Reebok, Samsonite and many others. Don't expect the price would be cheaper as when it comes back to currency conversion it is about the same price we get it in KL. There are other places we visited around area NamDaeMoon which famous for the historical and ancient statues. The NamDaeMoon is also a shopping destination, but unfortunately we do not have much time to visit. According to tour guide the place was burned down by a local person for self protest reasons.

Of course there is another place, we did go such as DongDaeMoon. It provided 3 buildings adjacent with each other along the street for non-stop shopping. It opened daily 10am and ended up the next morning 4am. So you could imagine that even at midnight, you could see youngster walking around the street. At that time, you could never get a temperature above than 10 degrees, most of the time below than that. We managed to get some stuffs for our baby, and it was so interesting where they could sell non-branded baby items within the whole floor itself.

We visited a palace to complete our trip which located in the city. They arrange it very nicely the way we go in and vice-versa. It is different place where we watched the popular drama Dae Jang Geum, but architecture wise, very close to it. Prior that, our tour guide try his best in getting us a spot for us to enjoy the " sakura" feel. The place which I could not recall near the parliment of Seoul. The nice long stretch of the street where all the " sakura" trees already blossoming. We managed took some photos definitely.

There are few things we bought for souvenir, tit-bits, Korean ginseng and of course for the women, cosmetic was all they were being looked out. I noticed that the cosmetic industry in Korean were very competitive. At one scene in MyeongDong, where the staffs of each cosmetic shop shouted and promoted their brands. They offer a lot of goodies just to lure you in. It seemed to me like Petaling Street fighting for cheap t-shirt or fruits. Talking about women in Korea, most of them in the street generally are pretty. Fair and smooth skin, that's for sure. The only thing we have to remember, not all of them possessed natural beauty. Most of them went through plastic surgery which was widely available in Korea at any street clinic. Tall, fair, pretty and well-dressed this is what I can say about the women there.

The Korean also was known very thrifty people, and they don't encourage people to waste anything even food. They were also self - taught to clean things up voluntarily. If you happened to see some street in Korea without a dustbin, it's normal for them. We Malaysia, should have learned from them more. Their habits and culture have been very little different from the Japanese. As the matter of fact, Japanese invaded them for quite a while. Bottom lines, the Korean did not favor the Japanese very much. They have special rate for the Japanese in terms taxi fare. Knowing the Japanese generous in terms of spending, they did not pursue to argue and bargain as they have higher ego than the Korean.

As the final day approaching, my wife felt much better, and I'm glad she did. Although she did not enjoy much as she felt it ruined her mood completely especially shopping, we agreed there are still places in Korea worth to come back again. Until the next trip in Autumn, an yong haseyo and kamsa hamnida from me.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Being A Father...

My previous posting was more towards informational and to some said very formal. Indeed, part my on reason is to sharpen my ability to pen down right words for my research and post-graduates studies sometime in near future. On the other side, I do have something light to share about myself too. It is about being a father to my daughter. Some people may think, what so good to write about being a Father.

To me being a Father caught me in unprepared situation. I was told being a parent, specifically being a father got to be "hands-on". No former education and books will tell you exactly how to become a father to my child. I refused to admit the truth behind of it. As the matter of fact, I'm very much in state of denial. I took my time search through all the knowledge about being parenthood through book store, Internet and magazines. Magazines sometimes can be interesting as it included a lot of real-world parenting experience.

My daughter was born in the midst beyond my calculation. My wife woke up in a mess where the "water bag" burst on the beautiful Sunday morning. I did not know what went wrong, I mean on the beautiful Sunday morning, you won't want to think of something surprises. I had the intention to spend a lot more quality time with my wife after been away 4 weeks due to chicken pox. Yeah chicken pox at my age, seemed and sounded ridiculous.

It struck my mind that my daughter will be arriving on that day itself. Of course I drove her to the Hospital fortunately around 10 minutes distance. We arrived with mix-feelings and when my wife knows that she has to wait another 10 hours later before laboring, she went nuts. Obviously, she is not a very patient person, I was feeling under the weather that day. Thinking I could be sick on that day. I said to myself, can I just postpone to fall sick, apparently it does not work out.

After more than 12~13 hours of waited, finally my little girl arrive, and I felt like I'm a million bucks man! I was quite overjoyed and began calling everyone that I know. My best friend send text messages at the wrong time asking the status of delivery not knowing that was my wife last push before my little girl appear in this world. When I re looked back I still had a very vivid picture in my mind. At the same time, I begin to feel afraid.

Feeling afraid of not because of my daughter arrived, but afraid on how becoming a good or great father to my little girl. The feeling of need to start "hands-on" becoming a father starts immediately. I tried to settle down myself with a lot of assumptions and began to apply some hypnosis technique to clear away the thoughts of being fear. It works temporarily until I realised it takes greater responsibility, accountability and trust in becoming a father to my daughter.

I look up upon my own Father as an example. As many people may know, those days Fathers are usual strict and no- nonsense style. My Father was no difference compare others. He is a man with great discipline and find ways to resolve an issue. In contrast, I fare a bit low in this area. Nevertheless, I would admit most of the quality on father should be looked upon. However, I start to look at ways in being a father to my daughter . I realised those days techniques applicable as I was born during industrial age time. In today fast pace knowledge era time, kids are generally smarter than my time.

It is due to the exposure we have today in modern technology that sometimes frightened me. Knowing my child sooner or later will have the opportunity to learn all this great things at very tender age. On the other hand, I am concerned about the what today societies behave. Such as white lies, pornography, conspiracy, corruption, violence and many others.

Seemed like a bunch of negative elements blended into our society now. It is my job to stand by my child to provide path clearance what's right and what's not right. Sometimes I feel it is very challenging, especially morally, the belief and religiously. I suppose it should be part of my job as Father anyway. I concluded being a Father is not about pouring my love to my child and at times spoiling her but to be able to equip with multi-skills in managing any possible situation.

I feel we got to be good in EQ or SQ in taking on this matter. No longer logically should be this way or that way anymore. I guess we need to begin to tell our kids what make sense what does not too. A little psychology knowledge is very important. Some people say what? Need to study psychology? That just take too much time, forget about it. Well, I don't think we need to become psychologist in handling the matter but a little knowledge about it especially parenting does help.

In Singapore, we heard a lot of great kids does their studies very well. When comes to emotional management, I think most parents give up on that part. Most of the reason mentioned would be the business with work and others.Bringing up a child and educating them take much further than that. I guess I have more things to do in equipping myself with these skills.

In summary, there is no formal or informal education about being a parent. If there is, it would be very fundamental types and having such a policy and process in place can be very expensive in terms of health care. A parent as for me being a dad, I will continue to learn on how to become a great father to my child as long as it is.


I wonder what is Leadership all about after hearing today many failures of leaders in delivering his or her job. I saw many incapable so to speak leaders around and hardly find some great example one. There are so many books around today about Leadership and not to be mentioned about tons of seminars, workshop, mentoring, coaching and training about it.

Traditional education was designed merely for industrial age purpose. The model that used would be the concept of carrot and stick. If you do well, you get a carrot otherwise you get a stick. It works well during industrial age revolution which unfortunately the model does not evolve further. Till today we still carry that practiced while we are facing the knowledge age era.

John Maxwell produces tons of books about Leadership. I quote one his book "Be A People Person" Whether in the office, church, neighborhood, or elsewhere, interpersonal relationships can make or break a leader. That's why it's so important to be a "people person" and develop skills in tapping that most precious of all resources: people. Formerly, GE Chairman and CEO, Jack Welch has been recognized most Fortune 500 companies leaders as one of the best example leaders at that decade.

Most information and practices by Jack Welch shared and preached by many Fortunes 500 companies worldwide today. Jack Welch is fondly known as unorthodox and no-nonsense style of leadership preaches 4E's and 1P. He said before a person in GE need to be energy, energize, edge, execution with full of passion. Failing either one will not be able to share the company vision and subsequently be relegated to bottom 10% in GE, which nobody wants that.

However, not too long ago, Stephen R. Covey came to Malaysia to present a talk about 8th Habit and Great Leaders and he quoted Jack Welch is one of the best leader in the industrial age era. Awkwardly I feel but we are using some of his techniques in this Knowledge age era. Perhaps Stephen should comment what makes an example of Great Leaders in the Knowledge age era.

Ram Charan shared his view that a leader needs to share his vision and the way the organization runs. In a book of "What the CEO wants you to know" talks about the actual money making model that anyone in the organization should understand. He offered 5 building blocks that explained cash, margin, velocity, growth and customer are essential to the organization. Most great leaders apparently master all 5 building blocks and one of the example would be Jeff P. Bezos running the famous business. The entire covered very well all 5 building blocks, and it is still one of the most successful business offering books and other related via online method.

Is leadership only applicable on business only, of course not. One of the examples, would be Eric Weyhenmyer a famous mountain/rock climber. What makes so great about him is not because about how many summits he has reached. But is because of his leadership skills enable him to get the best people assisted him to reach the summit of Everest without seeing anything at all. A blind man as a leader and successfully climb Everest, indeed possible. He empowered everyone in his team during thick and thin of his journey heading above 8000 meters above the sea.

I will share more about what create great leaders in my next post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Passion, Innovation, Execution and Transformation

As a professional trained in the industry of information technology, I have almost moved on to another area of non-technical skills related. This is due partly because I have developed myself from a IQ driven (left-brained) person into more EQ or SQ (right-brained) person.

I was captivated that based on my clear observation and conclusion most rich and successful people in this world are EQ & SQ brained people. It was totally mind-blowing for me when I realised after spending more than 10 years thinking the successful path is to be excellent in left-brain trained. I was totally wrong. I went on and developed myself further as Professional Certified Coach & Traditional Complementary Therapist ( Reiki and Phytotherapy). That provides me a total different paradigm in my approach dealing with issue unresolved via IQ way.

Never came across into my mind what kind of qualities or person should be in order to stay on competitiveness until after some thoughts and attended Franklin Covey Leadership program. The program was quite broad and certainly have many proven techniques that we could model. However, it is the time of reflecting about the whole contents resulted a vision and mission surfaced. I called it Passion, Innovation, Execution and Transformation. It may have seemed or sounded mind-blogging. Let me invite you with my explanations below;

Being passion is absolutely necessary as in a person with body, mind, heart and soul we will voluntarily deliver it. Without passion, we will merely do it as being told to do so. No passion at all will make a person wonders what is the purpose of his life. A person with full of passion says and do things in a highly energetic manner. It is so congruent that we could even feel it as we have reached the goal. A highly passionate person will ultimately energize people surrounding them.

Innovation is vital in today fast pace business environment. Without Innovation a company will stay out in business very soon and will be out-compete by other organizations gearing to change. Innovation is about having creativity in delivering our product, solution and even a simple piece of work. Unleashing this creativity that could stun the whole world be it within the organization and to all people that want to stay in business. Being innovative is the key on sustaining superior performance in today highly competitive business challenges environment.

Execution is a discipline and culture that embedded within the organization. It is also holding each other accountable among the employers and employees. By having execution in mind, we will have a system being "plant-in" our DNA to deliver results on what matter most for the organization. Execution is also about having teamwork to proactively achieve what is called the very important goals of all. Having execution in the system and process ultimately cultivating a habit of problem solving ability among employees.

Is about things we are doing consistently that deliver change for the organization continuously. It is also things that we delivered that has an impact to the customers and society we are responsible for. A transformation is what we need to aim in keeping our business fully agile and flexible at all times. Being a transformation organization always keep our employees on the move. Hence, what we delivered today will leave a legacy in our next generation to come.

Some may find it technical on my explanations but after many times of reading it, I could feel it has inserted into my DNA day to day.I'm not sure you may share with my thoughts but worth for someone to consider to improve themselves in the category of personal development.

I will share more thoughts on each of components with successful sample behind..