Reasons Why You Should Start Corporate Innovation Program

You probably have heard about Innovation and you want to do something about it for your organization. It is like a puzzle that needs solving, but the think is which one you should start first? Here could be the reasons compiled why you want a piece of the action on Innovation:

  1. There are so many new technology arounds but you have no clue how to take advantage of all these for your organization eg Industry Revolution, 4IR, Digital etc..What’s all these tech stuffs?
  2. Around 40% or more of your workforce are 40 years old and below. This is consider fairly young workforce. Most organizations in Malaysia for example has around 50-70% workforce of 40 years old and below. How to tap this huge energy reserves?
  3. There’s so much ideas being presented to you and your management teams, but it is who is looking after them? What is the outcomes or results? Why there seems to be nothing implemented? Who is doing the monitoring?
  4. You and your management team would like to find out new opportunities for business growth. Maybe there’s something?
  5. The internal processes seem overwhelmed with tapes after tapes and you wanted it change for so long, but why the problem still persisted?
  6. People morale is getting lower by the day with all other concerns about the economy, jobs security and personal finances. How to rejuvenate and recharge?
  7. You have some budget (approved by the Board) to work on innovation programs, where to start? (Innovation program budget starts from $50k-$100k)
  8. The training done by the human resource seems to have very little impact because they said the organizational change should be addressed at the same time.
  9. Your management team (kitchen cabinet) is becoming more picky, testy and struggle to communicate cohesively and you don’t know who is the dark horse anymore. Put your foot down?
  10. The entire workforce especially the operations, middle managers and customers facing staffs said, “Our customers complaints has increased and they have switched to our competitors.” Shall you wait any longer?

The above listings are popular reasons I personally have observed and listened during my engagements with our clients. What’s yours? I’d love to compile several more to provide greater awareness that innovation program is a strategic decision.

Check out my next 2 parts article “How Start a Corporate Innovation Program?”

Brickbats please email to donkhairul@gmail.com

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Case Study: Co-creation in Developing Innovation Culture

“Tough”. That was my reply to a client.

It is common in many organizations to have multi-generational challenge. Today’s speed of change force everyone to move out from their comfort zones. Here I wish to share a short case study from an organization uses co-creation as a facilitative tool in building Innovation Culture.

PROBLEM

The senior managers felt the younger executives didn’t put enough effort to get things done more effectively. There was a perception that the younger executives lack innovation and creativity skills during execution with the clients. Because of that there has been delays in clients delivery and the Board has recommended action to be taken to remedy this situation. The clients impacted is seeking explanation and it may cause financial compensation if it is not resolved.

The Human Resource Division (HRD) has been tasked to come up with action plan and fix this amicably and in lightning speed.

DIRECTION

The HRD hatched a plan that the younger executives need training on innovation and creative problem solving. After all it has been years they did not have any development on these skills.

After our discussion, we think training programs will not be effective, yet. We helped devise three key strategies to approach the Problem. There are:

  1. Both parties need to have a mutual session to air grievances.
  2. Generate ideas to make it work, no escape.
  3. Use the company shared values as our guiding principles. Nothing else.

We convinced our client to run ideation labs to together with the senior managers and young executives to build scaffolding to achieve those objectives. To our surprise, the labs generated hundreds of ideas and close to 50% ideas generated are something they could do together. They are still bonded when we brought in the shared values discussion. Great!

FIVE IDEAS TO BE IMPLEMENTED

  1. The champions of culture are anyone from the organization. From non-executive to senior leaders. It used to be the champions were only Heads and senior leaders.
  2. The champions role are rotated and on 6 months role appointment. As the attendance requirement as champion is at least 80%, the role shouldn’t be a burden to anyone. Rotation allows others to participate and be inspired.
  3. Recognition of ANY contribution is direct from CEO. Recognition is in certificate of contribution signed by the CEO and little get together quarterly.
  4. Internal managers conference where best practices in the company are shared. What works in other company might not work in your company. Sharing them build trust and stronger cadreship.
  5. Open innovation program for everyone to contribute ideas from all levels. Trending internal ideas will be discussed together with strategic business focus.

Brickbats please email to donkhairul@gmail.com

Design Thinking Philosophy

You probably heard of design thinking and you wanted to know gist of it without having to go into “details”. I’d suggest you to pick up the philosophy of design thinking.

My team has put some extra effort to make it beautiful and downloadable. Enjoy!

Co-creator As Future Skills & Sub-skills to Become Good At It

Based on LinkedIn research of the future jobs, here’s the top 5 skills needed in 2019.

Here’s from World Economic Forum (WEF) research as reported in WEF Future of Jobs Report 2018 regarding expected reskilling across companies. You can download the full report here.

One of the skills that will useful to teach, demonstrate and acquire by future employees and professionals are co-creation skills. From LinkedIn above you could see it being the third important skills. So, what is co-creation skills? What is a co-creator? What are sub-skills needed to be good at it?

Co-creation in today’s business context is about working by collaborating with others. We define co-creation as the collaborative development of new value (concepts, solutions, products and services) together with experts and/or stakeholders (such as customers, suppliers etc.). Co-creation is a form of collaborative innovation: ideas are shared and improved together, rather than kept to oneself.

We use to think co-creation and collaboration is only being done internally with our office collagues and co-workers. However, co-creation now is being done including with the customers. Companies should understand their customers’ desired experience and use that knowledge to work backwards to define company processes and culture including use of technology to improve customers’ experience.

“Co-creation is joint creation of value by the company and the customer; allowing the customer to co-construct the service experience to suit their context.”

Prahalad and Rawaswamy 2004, “Co‐creating unique value with customers”

“Co-creation is a purposeful action of partnering with strategic customers, partners or employees to ideate, problem solve, improve performance, or create a new product, service or business.”

Christine Crandell

Here are some examples of customers co-creation products and services:

  1. Self check out service – it used to be checking out from hotel you stay will take long time. Some hotels found that experience is dreading the guests and impacting their future stay in the hotel. After listening and empathizing with the guests, they offered self check out service. You could see this happening at our the bank with ATMs – you no longer have to go the counter.
  2. Counselling sessions for long term patients – healthcare is a tricky business. The patient is on constant pain especially after surgery and no likes to be in pain for a long period. For long stay patient the hospitals found out the patients become bored, hence they need someone to talk to or they become emotionally disturbed. Some hospitals offered counselling sessions based on this insights.

The question is, how could co-creation skills become an individual skills development? Looking at lightning speed of change happening around us today, there’s a dire need for the future employees and executives including entrepreneurs to acquire co-creation skills in order to ensure new value can be created out of the deep interaction with multi-stakeholders.

Here are some of the sub-skills that are useful and helpful for you to become competent and skillful at being a co-creator in your next project:

  1. Project Manager – project managers understand “start-end” will bring value. They are also good at breaking down the tasks and building the right team to achieve goals.
  2. Understand creative process – the person can lea brainstorming and ideation sessions to milk creative juice from team members and challenge them to achieve greater height.
  3. Politically sensitive – decision making involves power play with the stakeholders. Knowing how to unite all these differences among them will unleash untapped value to the project. It is useless to think “Me, myself and I”. The world is a big playing field.
  4. Know about concept development – a good concept usually easy to communicate, clear and succintly understood by general public. If you can’t explain it in simple language, chances are the concept is still vague.
  5. Understand the need of research – it is impossible to know everything by heart. One must do research and able to compile enough context to build business case on the concept or project.
  6. Networker – it is know what you know, it is who you know and whether the people of you target group knows you or not. Sometimes you have to be in the public for a while to get acquainted. Be enthusiastic with networking or get someone to do it for you .
  7. Does not give up easily – it could be tiring and exhaustive coordination sometimes, hence you are someone that are able to envision something greater than what it seems. Always get in touch with your team and find out ways to inspire them as well.
  8. Tech savvy – knowing simple productivity tech tools will save a lot of time and make you more efficient. Use of mobile tools, video editors and blogging/social media could help you become better co-creator.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

How to Use Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality to Improve Healthcare Experiences?

The technology is ready – however the technology alone is not enough to increase adoption and pervasive usage. What to do about it? Keep finding new problems – try to solve them and embed the tech to enable / solve that problem.

In healthcare this is possible and only imagination could help innovate the patients experience. At some hospitals in Europe and USA, they hired Chief Patient Experience Officer to look into this. From my research, I will share some of the pain points, problems and challenges that could be used by technology like virtual reality and augmented reality in improving patients experiences.

Healthcare equipments and tools have gone through massive innovation in terms of size, shape and sanity. Including operating procedures now focusing on non-invasive types of surgery to minimize post surgery recover and speed up the healing. However, if you are going for surgery or under the knife, regardless whatever the doctor going to tell you, what is your feeling like? To me, I still have sheer amount of nervousness and the negativity in my mind starts playing like movie Insidious!

Other than tele-medicine, using powerful 5G internet and distant, I am sharing how VR and AR change the landscape and patients experiences in healthcare space.

Virtual reality diagnostics. Virtual reality is often used as a diagnostic tool in that it enables doctors to arrive at a diagnosis in conjunction with other methods such as MRI scans. This removes the need for invasive procedures or surgery.

Virtual robotic surgery. A popular use of this technology is in robotic surgery. This is where surgery is performed by means of a robotic device – controlled by a human surgeon, which reduces time and risk of complications. Virtual reality has been also been used for training purposes and, in the field of remote telesurgery in which surgery is performed by the surgeon at a separate location to the patient.

Virtual reality for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The affected person wears a pair of virtual reality glasses or head mounted display (HMD). This contains two tiny monitors which display images of the source of their disorder, e.g. a battlefield. The rationale behind this is that exposing someone to the source of their condition combined with relaxation skills will enable them cope and adapt. As they are exposed to this over time the level of threat is removed which then decreases their anxiety levels and feelings of anxiety.

Surgery simulation. This is another branch of medicine where virtual reality is used to great effect. This technology is used to train surgeons in a range of surgical procedures, e.g. knee arthroscopy but without any risks. The trainee surgeon can be taught new and potentially dangerous techniques in an environment where they are able to make mistakes and learn from these.

Here I am sharing some videos of Augmented Reality, I try to write it, I think the video sends better message! 😉

Here’s another video on Augmented Reality done in Bern, Switzerland. FYI, Bern is the home of Albert Einstein “Einsteinhaus”! 😉

Hope you enjoy this post! Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Management – Performance Now

“The management boom is over; the time for management performance has come.”

                                                                       Peter F. Drucker; Management: Tasks, Responsibilities and Practices, 1985

Today’s management is all about performance and results. Management can be found in big corporation to government to non-governmental organization to military and self. Management is an organ that sits inside a body and cannot exist on its own.

Although much has been theorize on management, many institutions including self faced with inability to harness the results from management. To be an effective executive (or manager), it is important to have knowledge, be discipline and focus on action. Those are elements of management. Above all successful executive is determined by its ability to use management as vehicle to achieve its goals – via purpose and mission.

A great business must have clear and definitive idea on how the business should be run. The same goes with executives and managers. They need to crystallize what is their purpose and mission at work place. These later needs to be aligned with the company they work with. However, most executives come to workplace hoping to be told what their purpose and mission are. They thought the organization goals are their goals. While executive must make company goals their goals, it is unlikely they are solely responsible for the business goals of total company. Instead they need to have own plan what contribution they can make. It is with regret the reason why so many executives unable to perform, because they have no goals to work on at first place.  The reality disturbs me greatly. Often when asked what is your plan for the day, many executives have no clear ideas what to do. Some responded referring to work or job they are currently doing. But work and plan is different. Work is a subset of plan. Plan should also include other facets of the executive such as reading, networking, getting fit and so on.

Through management, purpose and mission will be broken down into work and processes. The central to this is customer. Without customer the business (or executive) has no reason to exist; at all. Management needs to ask four main questions. What is our business, who is our customer, what value is to the customer and what will our business be. The rest of the work and process revolves around these questions. It cuts across strategy, financial, talent, logistic, administration, marketing, innovation and so on. Only then the management become useful and productive. In other words, when management has answered all these questions, the rest of the departments must throw its weight to this goal.

The development of managers must take into consideration all these. Only then the manager will be able to acquire today’s skills for him to be effective tomorrow. “What brought you here won’t get you there.” , said Marshall Goldsmith. Effective managers must learn how to become execution specialist. Because only results count, not efforts. Manager development is the responsibility of the individual, though company and superior have an important part to play.

The aim of it is excellence. The development of a manager is to enable him or her develop abilities and strengths to the fullest extent so the goals can be attained. Ultimately the manager himself must be able to control his own performance by understanding his strengths and weaknesses. Many times when i interview executives and managers, they stunned by “what are your weaknesses” question.

Majority said no one has ever asked them, of course they grumbled and took some time to answer. People that answered “what is your strengths” on the other hand got the answer wrong. They usually say, “my strengths are i am a good communicator, honest, punctual and hardworking”. My reply is, “that’s my basic needs”. they startled by that respond. Organization really need to deal with this urgently, otherwise people come to work with all those qualities that are not strengths but basic needs.

Organization can use this as a good start to develop managers to become more effective, but more importantly becoming execution specialist. By getting more things done, organization will become productive and growth is imminent. Consequently it will be able to take more risk to go to new markets in search for business expansion beyond boundaries. New jobs can be created as well as customers and innovations. Ultimately through management the organization will have itself sustainable business strategy and all prepared for future succession.

p/s: Management is going to be the tool to boost organization productivity. We don’t talk about management as in cost cutting, downsizing, penalizing people and other negative connotations; but management is a good model to get more things done.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Pain Points in Healthcare Patients Experience

When was the last time you visited a hospital? Now, was it easy to get a parking spot? Did you walk far to get to the main entrance? Did you find the way to the entrance? Ok, I don’t want to be picky here. In most hospitals, those are the pain points – well it is understood hospitals are big building and it is a life saving space; hence the focus is on the people that need quick responses and medical attention. 

Say you are the patient. You survived the emergency responses and now you are in the ward. Life is pretty easy over there. Did you sometimes feel, it is “nice” to be at the hospital? You sort of forget and accepted the fact that not much you can do. Your mind started to feel free, light body and you tend to smile a lot more. That’s a different experience altogether as soon as you get home. 

I remember some years ago, I had a major tonsillitis infection. I couldn’t talk and it was very painful. I had to hospitalized. The doctor and nurses were very kind. They look after me day and night, making sure I had enough antibiotics to quickly kill those bacterias and remedy the infection. Slowly the pain subsided and I become “normal again” – after 7 days. 

The first 2-3 days were “nice” – I was like a little baby, I sleep and sleep. Doctor or nurses came to had me antibiotics and did some check up – off they went. The next few days after that, I started feeling bored so I wanted to walk around. Talk to some people or walk down to have some air. Here’s when I realised the hospital is not meant for warded people. It gets very annoying after a while. 

Some of my pain points were:

  1. When is the doctor coming to check me up? The doctor will only visit each patient under his care once a day – usually. The problem is you do not know where is he going to come. If I go down and then he come, he won’t come back again. 
  2. What’s my recovery status? The things they wrote on that board were barely readable. The nurses wouldn’t share much and the doctor will only said, “Everything ok”. I want to know details. Next reply I get is, “Don’t worry.”
  3. The doctors and nurses shift updates among them is unclear. The new shift tend to ask me (and other patients) the same information. Wouldn’t the EMR (Electronic Medical Record) got that? Why wouldn’t they update the information there? Is it difficult to use?
  4. I walk over to some wards where I observed some patients that were difficult to move around, I pity those nurses having to gather 4-5 of them to lift or carry this patient to sanitary. Shouldn’t the hospital find ways to improve this experience?
  5. Another was the urine bag – big 2 litres bag were a stinky hassle for the nurses during draining out the urine. They had to use plastic jugs and walk them to the toilet and flush it. Don;t the hospital have some kind of collector machine or other means to make the experience better?
  6. I received some X-ray images and they ask me to take home. What do I do with it? I was told those images could be harmful – why do you let me take it back? Wouldn’t it be better to save it in the hospital in digital copy and dispose (recyle) it somewhere?
  7. Another that pissed me off when I got sick – is different doctor on routine will tell you different diagnosis, interpretation and recommendation. So which one should I follow? Some nurses had their own “judgement” and over ride the doctors prescription. How to tell the nurses overstepped the border? What if those patients were senior citizen and without any medical background or someone close to spot that gap?

Did you know that most doctors will not recommend their own close family members the hospitals that they provide services? That’s very telling. The healthcare system and experiences could be so much better and improved upon. 

Better experiences, better healing and the care could be given focusing on the critical patients instead of feeling overwhelmed by huge amount of patients. More time for themselves too! I will share more how to make some impactful and significant improvement in some areas of the services in other posts.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com


Leadership Code

The last 15 years the center of the economy has been shifting towards Asia. This trend will continue. In fact it is eminent that the standard of Asia will become the de facto standard of the world. These exciting opportunities pose a big challenge for Asian because we will need to have global business skills to be able to serve both domestic and international markets. We need unique and high quality leaders to make better choices to respond more rapidly to change. We need effective leaders.

Leadership theories are around us. When you Google “leader” you will get 571 million hits in 0.11 seconds. Effective leaders must be able to renew and reinvent themselves together with the organization they lead. What succeeded in the past decades may not work in the following decade. Leaders must also be able to draw learning from their past experiences; successes and failures. Leaders that never fail cannot be trusted, because it means they are always in the comfort zone. They will fail the entire organization without realizing it. So, how to create leaders that are adaptive to change, push the boundaries and yet has net success rate?

In a recent leadership study conducted by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman titled Leadership Code found that effective leaders shared around 50-85 percent of the same characteristics. This study later concluded that there are five rules of leadership that embody leadership DNA.

Rule 1: Strategist (Shape the future)

This rule suggests that effective leader answers the question “Where are we going?” and make sure that those around them understand the direction as well. They envision as well as create the future for the organization.

Rule 2: Executor (Make things happen)

This rule suggests that effective leader knows exactly how to ensure things get done. They translate strategy into action. They know how to make change happy, to assign accountability, to know which decisions to take and which to delegate and to make sure that teams work well together.

Rule 3: Talent Manager (Engage today’s talent)

This rule suggests effective leader optimizes business by drawing talent to their organizations, engage them, communicate extensively and ensure talents turn in their best efforts. They generate intense personal, professional and organizational loyalty. They also help talents to commit and find meaning at their work.

Rule 4: Human capital developer (Build the next generation)

This rule suggests effective leader builds a workforce plan focused on the future talent and know how to help them see their future careers. They prepare talents for future challenges and manage succession so they readier to lead when the time comes.

Rule 5: Personal proficiency (Invest in yourself)

This rule suggests effective leader learns from success, failure, assignments, books, classes, people and life itself. They are passionate about beliefs and interests, they expend an enormous personal energy and attention to whatever matters to them. Proficient leaders have strong moral code that connects values to actions.

At the end of the day, effective leaders need to have balance when performing all the five rules. Since rules are just rules, the inaction of a leader will violate the entire leadership code and other leadership theories. Leader who can’t walk the talk is not effective leader. Talk is cheap way to show you know a lot (but do too little). Therefore he or she must be able to self-manage and self-lead to be successful effective leader.

This article is based on the my view on leadership and Leadership Code by Dave Ulrich and team, which he found refreshing and easily connected with. By no means, this article a representation of Leadership Code itself. For more on Leadership Code book, please click here.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

How Marketing Department Lost It’s Gusto?

There’s little we hear today about Marketing Department (or Division) these days? Don’t we? What we hear about Marketing today is about launching events after events. The department role has become launching organizers. They are very good at dealing with event coordinators, medias and gifts companies. Is that what Marketing department supposed to do?

Well, at least that’s one of it, we called it marketing communication. Ideally, what is marketing? What is the main function of marketing department? How should we measure marketing success? Why marketing matters? Let me.

“What Is Marketing? “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. (Approved July 2013 by American Marketing Association – AMA)”

Source: https://www.ama.org/the-definition-of-marketing/

According to Peter Drucker, “The two basic functions of a business enterprise are Marketing & Innovation. All the rest are costs. Marketing & Innovation produce results. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Source: Peter Drucker, What Is A Business?

If the purpose of business is to create customer through innovation (Drucker), the purpose of marketing is to help the organization sees the satisfaction desired by the customers in terms of values and needs. This is where, in my opinion, the beginning of marketing department downfall, lately.

The marketing department as we know it, no longer help the organization sees the customers values and needs, neither, make effort to understand the customers values and needs. Yes, the customers are changing, fickleminded and indecisive. We know these customers behaviours for very long already, nothing new.

Marketing Activities

There are at least four main marketing activities. The 4Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) . The marketing department through its marketing activities, need to drive the decisions in these areas.

In Product – marketing department through its customers research, it will generate new products (or services) ideas and solutions. They will also look at the existing products, are they making profit? Or they are just product line up that is making losses year after year? The marketing team should have enough data on this. Do they have this data? The marketing department can only see what is in the pipeline but can they create new? Does the marketing team knows USP – unique selling proposition of the products (and services)?

In Price – marketing department will help set the pricing policies looking at the varying customer segments in their midst. They will know how much margin or mark up or profit or volume they need to generate for the business to grow. Are they making the decisions today? Or is it done by the finance group? How does marketing team influence this decision?

In Place – marketing department look at the distribution channel of the products. In today’s business, there are online and offline distribution channels. Does the marketing department has the people to do online marketing? Do they know the customers experiences in these two areas are different? How does the marketing team use the data collected? How does the marketing team work with the offline retailers, distributors and wholesellers? Do they have these strategies? Or is currently these being done by customer experience department? Or big data unit that is reporting to IT department?

In Promotion – marketing department set the promotional strategies including sales team deployment. Setting sales strategies, incentives and ammunitions. Is the marketing department still doing this? Or has this been delegated to sales department? Ohh yeah, this is also where marketing runs events to promote and advertise the “solutions” valued and needed by the customers. They do it through communication with the medias and PR companies. In promotion, marketing department also continually asssessing the brand value as seen by the customers.

After looking at all above, it turns out the marketing function as it was, has been broken down to myriad other units that are more specifics, more objective and relatable to the customers worldview as needed by the organization. Because of that, the marketing department is it was, without breaking it into many other units, will become too big, too slow and bureaucratic. That’s how marketing lost it’s gusto.

Wither Marketing Budget?

As a result, marketing department budget now filled with events budget and it become less strategic. In my humble opinon, marketing department too, has to be blamed. The people inside marketing team already out of touch with the customers realities. They department relies too too too heavily from the agencies, vendors and suppliers to give them reams of reports about the customers.

Marketing department rarely goes down to the “market” to talk to the customers. They refused to listen to the customers feedbacks and listen to their stories. Marketing department people prefer to man events at big and posh hotels while drinking coffee and smoke cigars – to them, the hotel is the prestige defined as “great branding” and “credibility” by the customers.

Marketing department create products in their office. They look at the quantitative data without an iota believe that they need qualitative data too – customers insights and pain points stories. Marketing department people do not go down to meet the engineers at the manufacturing plant to see the product development themselves. All they ask for are photos to make brochures and marketing kits. That too, the marketing department ask the agencies to go and get them.

Direction-less Heads

The marketing department also busy attending high flying and international conferences in the name of “benchmarking”, “new strategies” and “power networking”. Funnily, the one that usually get to go to these kind of pampered and full board events are the bosses of marketing department and above.

They go and come back – then nothing happened. The bosses snap loads of pictures of the slides and whatsapp them to the team. Instructing the team to do this and that – ASAP. The next year, the same bosses go again and again and again. It became the viscisous cycle that everybody knew – except the bosses. That’s how marketing department lost it’s gusto. With all the happenings in the marketing deparment, the top management should follow the advise of David Packard (Hewlett Packard), “Marketing is too important to be left to the Marketing Department.”

The marketing department also detest any other department that take away their budget in the next financial year. Now the next upcoming department that, if not careful, will fall just like the marketing department, it is the IT department.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

The Go Green Dilemma

In Malaysia, there’s so much talk about going green and use of renewable energy (RE) more to meet our electricity and power needs – be it for households, business offices and factories. The most common RE is solar. Other popular RE are wind, biogas, biomass and thermal, hydro – mostly used in large scale operations like plantation and factories.

Source: http://www.seda.gov.my/about-seda/re-programmes/

Here I’d like to discuss some about solar as it covers residential – the people. Further search on Google, there are actually a lot of solar companies available in Malaysia – more than 20! I listed some down here:

  • ERS
  • Pekat Teknologi
  • Plus Solar
  • Solar Vest
  • Ditrolic Solar
  • Sols Energy
  • Ray Go Solar
  • Solar System Malaysia
  • MAQO Group
  • Simpli Solar

Some of these companies listed above provide only for business buildings and factories, some cover residential as well. There has been slow take up rate from the residential customers, although many claims that the solar photovoltaic (PV) panel is getting cheaper.

“Solar technology has matured and costs have become more competitive. Solar PV panel prices has fell 80% since 2009,” she said, adding that this is also one reason quota for solar is no longer offered under the fit-in-tariff (FiT) mechanism.

– YB Yeo Bee Yin, Minister MESTECC, Malaysia

Upon checking, on average the price of outright purchase of the PV panel is around RM 25,000 (USD 1 = RM 4.3) for residential houses. For factories it is more because the Kw (kilowatt) will be higher.

There’s also some incentives under the RE incentives provided by the government. However the incentives will be claimed by the solar providers because they will help the customers with FREE roof suitability and installation if suitable (roof angle and access issues).

There are companies offer solar leasing package, therefore customers do not need ot pay any single cent throughout period (depend on the providers). This package is a standard leased agreement called SARE (Supply Agreement for Renewable Energy). Typically the lease will be for 10-20 years. The best part in this period, customers do not need to pay any money, downpayment or installment to enjoy the benefits. This include maintenance and warranty of the system altogether.

Source: http://clipart-library.com/download-solar-panel-gif.html

Will this reduce your electricity bill? According to most solar providers, your electricity will go lower by 5-25% on your consumption before solar. In other words, this lower bill isn’t on monthly basis once you used solar. You get to save the planet along the way! Some providers claim you can save RM 200/month for 21 years (that will add up to RM 48,000). Again, I think this kind of sales-pitch needs clear evidence or stated in the contract; because once you signed, ehem it will be very difficult to get out; perhaps? 😉

Additionally, let say, you have great roof for sun radiation and you generated more solar than you need or use, you can trade (sell) this extra power back to the provider and earn some income. This package is called Net Energy Metering (NEM) scheme. In NEM scheme as explained by the Minister of MESTECC, YB Yeo, there’ll be no price difference in buy and purchase of solar tariffs.

Source: https://www.simplisolar.com/site/resources/what-is-net-energy-metering-nem/

However, as a customer I still have concerns with the design of the contract. Especially it is about getting into contract for 10-20 years, it is actually very long. As it is, car hire purchase is long enough (7-9 years). My challenge is I couldn’t find the exact figure of the fine details to these questions:

  1. What if the solar installed didn’t bring much value in savings for me? Can I change back to normal power supply?
  2. How much supply coming from solar do I need as residential customer? Is it 100% or 80%? How much do I need to pay for the additional cost difference for normal power supply?
  3. What if the solar provider close down? What is my risk?
  4. What if I wanted to sell the house? Will my solar agreement stuck there to new tenant? Or I can take it with me to my new house?
  5. Since the leasing is with Third Part Operator (TPO), what is the cost of change of tenancy (COT)?
  6. How much do I need to pay to get out of the contract?
  7. Does this package have insurance covering the system?
  8. Is there any fee to become NEM provider? Because supply and sell back the power is two different component, am I right to think this way?
  9. What if the person who sign the contract passed away? And I have to sell the property and get out of the solar contract, how do I do this?
  10. Over 10-20 years in the contract, the PV panel price is going down lower and becoming more efficient, would the customer get upgrade included in the package or stuck with the old technology?

“Consumers want to go green, but above all we want to save money.”

– Consumers

When Costs Kiss Goodbye!

Image credit: Kraft Heinz loses a lot of cheese as earnings send stock plunging to …

Interesting article about an investment company (private equity firm) that acquire food businesses (Heinz & Kraft Foods) back in 2013 and 2015 respectively. The firm believed these two companies could unlock more values by using ruthless focus on efficiency. They quickly employed radical cost cutting programs.

They fired thousands of workers, shutdown factories, used zero-based budgeting model (justify cost without regard of previous year spending), remove refrigerators (pantry) in the HQ known for stocking cheese sticks, set default settings of office printers (double sided with black toner) and limit meals spending during travel to $50 a day. Guess what happened next?

These initiatives and cost program led to industry-leading profit margins in less than 2 years! The stock price went up to more than $90 in 2017! See below.

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.55.51 AM

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.55.21 AM

But, unfortunately, it went to nose dive after all the radical cost programs deployed. From my research, Kraft Heinz overlooked the marketing bit, product innovations for their changing customers segments and valuable employees feedback that know how to run your operations especially in different market segments and countries.

Sometimes, big brands and companies make tactical mistakes like this. No doubt long history companies tend to have opportunities to go leaner that it was; things usually get complacent after awhile.

One of the videos, check it out.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/22/kraft-heinz-backers-face-reality-brutal-cost-cutting-isnt-enough.html

Lessons that we could take from here are:

  1. Look at at products and services innovations as growth strategy: There are probably a host of products that could be making money or probably there’d discover that most of the products are obsolete to modern customers. For the record, Kraft Heinz launched new products such as organic version of Capri Sun and expanded its condiment businesses. They tried, probably not enough time to see it through, perhaps these new lineups will grow later.
  1. People are not measured by their salary or price tag, rather by their value brings to the business: I tried looking for some human capital development strategies when the equity firm bought Kraft & Heinz, but I couldn’t find any. Although I may not a fan of “total spoon-feed your talent because you care”, I do believe the management should consider taking longer time to lay offs to ensure the tacit knowledge is transferred to the business. You should pay high for someone that could do more and pay less for someone who can only do routine work.
  1. There’s only so much you can do with cost efficiencies: Key for growth is innovation. I’d expect big brands and companies, should invest in ruthless innovation focus in three areas. First, new products and services that reflect current and future customers needs and wants. Second, leaner processes and automation to bringdown redundancies in capital & assets deployed and reduce wastages. Third, to find market creations opportunities that will need to be invested and R&D. You can read more about this from Clayton Christensen book titled, “The Prosperity Paradox”.

Innovations are for growth. Companies need to spend and invest together with their workforce to improve capability and capacity to innovate. I do hope to see Kraft Heinz able to come out from this plunge and see this only temporarily.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

What If You Can Trap CO2?

I was waiting  for my laptop to boot, somehow it takes longer today than any other day. I then turn and flip some magazines  – found a company called Climeworks. They were listed as one of the innovators in climate action business. Pretty cool! Actually their climate solution is focusing on decarbon the air. They call it “Active Air Capture”.

Basically the solution works by blowing air through reusable filters that chemically trap CO2 (Carbon Dioxide). Then heating the saturated filters to release the gas then inject it underground to bind with basaltic rock, which can hold it indefinitely. Wohauu!!

I headed on to their website and found this. Climeworks work with three main sectors namely Food & Beverage, Greenhouses and Energy, Fuels & Materials. What I found interesting was in Food & Beverage – where CO2 is needed to make carbonated drinks, here they want CO2! See below – from Climeworks website

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.17.50 AM

Source: http://www.climeworks.com/our-customers/food-beverage/

Apparently in F&B business, they need CO2 to do this activities such as packing fresh meat & vegetables, gas for draft beers and softdrinks and dry ice for freezing & chilling food.

It is interesting because of the cyclical model of CO2. As it explains in the picture above. The CO2 release will be captured back and used back in carbonating the drinks! Violaa!

As for farmers in greenhouses, raising CO2 level could increase yield as much as 20%! The best part this CO2 is renewable. Check out their table below:

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 12.22.21 AM

Source: http://www.climeworks.com/our-customers/greenhouses/

Personally I feel this technology works best in certain environment, as Climeworks based  in Iceland. I am not sure whether this method works in other place. The model looks convincing, nonetheless.

Some other considerations is the capacity of capturing the CO2 and release it back as renewable energy into sectors that use CO2. Wondering whether there’s such a thing called CO2 trading online using blockchain technology.

You can get more information here www.climeworks.com

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Why Corporates Need Corporate Innovation?

I will go straight to the point this time, no BS here. 😉

Here are the FIVE Observations that make corporates need Corporate Innovation, within this year:

  1. The corporation no longer effective in capital allocation. It only spend on what it has been doing over the years since its founding days. The growth is stagnant? Right? There have been talks about why the auto market is stagnant, utilities market is stagnant, banking market is stagnant and education market is stagnant? Is it really? Think again. The corporate hiring is all time low, even if they do it is only incremental. How big can you hire anyway? How much capex do you want every year?

  2. The employees in that corporations have been out of touch from the customers worldview and realities – things they go through in every day life. The employees think that if you are an executive or business people, you will need a bank account so you will go to the bank freely without the bank having to promote to you any service. So they hesitantly “provide service” with the hope you will get out the branch quickly. The employees only know their job (think they know?) and only worry (pay attention) to their yearly increment. The employee has never thought how important you are because he is not in the marketing department!
  3. The people in the corporations no longer recognize each others strengths and passion anymore. They know each other by searching the names in the company database by their work title and department. They only care about numbers, bottomlines, KPIs, processes, SOPs and their own bosses. They forget the empathy in their colleagues and the motivation they come to work for.
  4. The corporations are a lot less helping the nation progress and becoming productive. Profiting RM100 million a year isn’t the same as elevating 1,000 people out of electrical poverty or lack internet access. The corporations care-less about the environment they operate and the shared prosperity – they only care about batches of production they need to make, the stuffs they have to deliver. They polluted the areas and take away the prosperous-ness in the areas.
  5. The suppliers and vendors of the corporations are non other than the same big boys instead of local business and startups with creative and innovative products and services with energetic and entreprneurial founders. The corporations with all their busy-ness tending to the bottom line didn’t get out of the building to look for what’s new, what’s better and what’s ahead. They are confined confidently in the comfort of large, air conditioned and well equipped office.

In the Corporate Innovation program, corporations will unbox, rediscover the untapped opportunities within the layers they have and assets they kept are abound; right on their backyard, under their nose and in their neighbourhood.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

#corporateinnovation #innovation

Corporate Innovation Not A Department

Corporate innovation is an important feature in large organizations. I wouldn’t suggest it to be a corporate function or division or department as it will create another layer or compartment; bureaucratic and adds extra cost to the company.

I think corporate innovation should be an embedded strategic program cut across divisions. Who should lead? I’ve seen HR doing it, IT doing it and CEO office doing it. Easy way out is CEO office, but I’ve seen CEO has 25 direct reports, how could he adds another? My best bet, corporate innovation mandate should come from the Board as strategic program (with start end period) max 3 years and review every 3-6 months.

Each year is a different “focus” leading towards the objectives and outcomes. Why Board? Because Board changes is a lot less than top management. Besides, Board has greater cohesion between them that can drive management team zand its workforce.

Now, the problem with Board? They lack customers voice and seemingly out of touch of the business realities on the ground. The Board can use corporate innovation to get this mended instantly. Greater customers voices should be heard directly at the Board with wider attention. Let’s get on board. corporateinnovation business relationships #innovation

Brickbats? Please write to donkhairul@gmail.com

Corporate Innovation Champion Is….

In the most innovative and valuable companies in the world, the CIO is the CEO. For innovation to happen, top down & mandated approach has better chance of success. In the meantime, the executive management also marshall the bottom up innovation approach by getting people excited about giving ideas, tweak some process and embrace feedback culture.

When these two strategies in alignment (top down mandate + bottom up excitement), it will eventually creates its own equilibirium and a meeting point. Once a meeting point reached, good to have another round of “workout – GE way” and ask “Where should we go now?”. I can almost guarantee this question when asked sincerely and with gratitude will bring you and your team to next level performance.

Amidst all the BAUs priorities, if at all you want to do it, let’s do it well. innovation #business relationships improvement corporateinnovation success corporatemodel

Corporate Innovation Pain Points

*First appeard on LinkedIn in April 2019

Corporate Innovation Program is the buzz word these days for very good reason. The awareness and action of many companies responding to change is getting better because “innovation” a must have agenda for top management and high level discussion including nations alike. The focus of innovation is “awakened” in the last few years so much so the word leadership has become low-key. I for one advocate leaders with big title if they couldn’t innovate their days are numbered or they should be shown the door. Run!

Innovation for it’s best intention solving pain points of the organizations, also carry it’s own inherited pain points. Well, pain points may sound negative. However negative it may sound, it is almost impossible to resolve it indefinitely before any launch of corporate innovation projects. The pain points highlighted are meant to be aware of, taken into consideration and minimized its negativity impact when possible. Let the goals of the corporate innovation be our guiding light, not the pain points. After all, no pain no gain.

Here are the Five Pain Points:

1.Departmental / Divisional Fiefdom

Fiefdom is there not for a good reason, definitely to be tear down in corporate innovation. The fiefdom stems from who owns the corporate innovation project. It could be the IT, Sales, Human Resource or CEO’s office. This way the budget can be better spent and realized, it is just the project impact is risked. Fiefdom mindset drags collaboration on its feet so much so other department rather sees the project fail than doing well. Fiefdom limits the upside potentials of any corporate innovation project.

Steve Ballmer, formerly CEO of Microsoft once said, “After all the things we want to do is aligned, the final piece of the puzzle is how we work together.” The differences of views and opinions are critical to growth, yet, there are also the stumbling block of productivity when not handled well or fully understood.

2. “Seen All Done All Nothing New” Top Management

It is common these days to include diverse at the top management line up. Diversity is key and we all know that diversity has to be worked on and build. It wouldn’t come by itself. There’s a lot of trust building, empathic engagement and sheer intolerance of incompetent senior management. Their backgrounds while may be helpful on their CV, when put to work they find themselves unable to take differentiated point of views and lack of willingness to change. They like the glory days of their past from other workplaces and using force (and bootlicks) to have it their way. New ideas shunned, opposing views silenced and change is too big to address because they have “seen all done all nothing new” mindset. They block any attempt to change by hoarding resources, veto decisions and play the upper hand with the Board or shareholders.

Top management that deter collaboration shouldn’t be in the line up at the first place. As we grow into leadership role at higher level, it is very much less about us, it is about them; our customers and our team members.

3. Only Pedigree Can Give Ideas

In this kind of organization, ideas are treated sacred. Only certain people deemed can give “great” ideas and only selected alumnus from certain universities can voice their opinions. The pedigree culture blocks other people from participating in what matters to the organizations. To make matters worst, pedigrees get rewarded handsomely that further reinforced unhealthy behaviours among peers and employees alike.

Developmental talent programs such as top talent sometimes create this unwanted differences in the day to day operations. The waiting culture seep in where without the pedigree there’ll be no decision of moving forward. No one is willing to make mistake because of huge career setbacks might affected their standing in the company and future development. The behaviours also could be manifested in negative ways such as bullying, narcissism and abuse of authortity.

4. Customer Voices Not Heard

With all the good business strategies and goals for the customers, there’s huge hesitation to talk to the customers to get feedbacks, opinions and suggestions. By the way who supposed to do it? Some say marketing, some say IT or procurement, maybe human resource? Everyone should do it. Sometimes the organization pressuring those “little” staffs at the counters with huge responsibilities to get feedbacks from the customers. Challenge is those little staffs are receptionists or call centre agents that have little means to understand the complexities of interactions happening with the products and services from across the organizations.

Besides, they also have limited authority to do customers recovery or beyond to directly attend to customers needs and wants. The survey provided with checklist won’t be able to extract feelings and emotions of difficulties of getting the services done.

Additionally, there is tendency to lead the customers to tick surveys quickly with long winded survey because customers are always in a hurry. Not knowing their pain points, struggles or hear their stories could lead to organization that is myopic of the challenges faced by their customers. This also applies to internal customers that are using our processes to get things done.

In some organizations, the quality policy used is different to meet certain standards, such as an independent Procurement department, whereby only the Procurement is certified with ISO 14001 and the rest do not. It is a mess!

5. Tools Before Strategy

It used to be Porter’s Five Diamonds, then Organizational Development, then Agile, then Lean, the Six Sigma, then Blue Ocean Strategies, then Design Thinking, then Heart Thinking and so on. These are tools. Someone said, “A tool and a fool seldom differ.”

Organization should put their business strategies above anything else. What do we want to achieve? How do we get there? What is our value? Who should be our target customers? What capabilities that differentiate us to deliver our value proposition? These are strategic questions called Strategic Five by strategy+business knowledge portal – let’s get down to basics.

Our answers (or no answer!) to these questions will help determine the “mix” of tools you might need. No one tool fits all strategic needs of any organization in today’s environment. One thing for sure, our people and workforce needs to learn more than one tool to make them nimble, agile and empowered in decision making when interfacing with the customers. Always remember, “structure follows strategy”.

Brickbats? Please email to donkhairul@gmail.com Thanks!

Top 10 Great Ideas in 2018 from the Field-Walk

Hey, I am back after long hiatus (exactly 1 year!). Been super busy, I will make more commitment this year. One article at least per month. Let’s work it out. 🙂

This post is about Ideas that I have personally observed that were generated by participant of our Design Thinking Innovation workshops in 2018. I started compiling these ideas and take note how popular these ideas among the participants. I also have super great news that some ideas in 2017 became reality and being implemented (some at national level!), it was thrilling feeling to see this happening.

Now let me share 10 Great Ideas in 2018:

  1. Thrash for Wifi access. This idea came from Sabahan because internet cost for mobile is quite expensive to Sabahan graduates and average household. Therefore they rely (especially youth) on public wifi. The youth willing to collect thrash around the cities and in return they get wifi access (via coupons or digital link)
  2. Smoking ban in public place. This idea came from several groups during early 2018. It was laughed at and ridiculed by mostly smokers because of the wide scope of the implementation. Interestingly, now at the time of writing, smoking is now completely banned in public eateries nationwide and progressing to wider coverage by 2019 end.
  3. Open banking, share all banking data in one app or one source. This interesing fintech ideas came from several banks and customers. It used to be each bank collect their own customer data and they shouldn’t (and couldn’t) share it with other bank. For example if you are a user of credit card from Bank A, if you are applying another credit card for Bank B, they wouldn’t know. This became a problem especially if the customer is a bad paymaster of credit card Bank A. The problem later might spill to Bank B. On the other hand, if you are a great paymaster, your credit ratings improved, your data is shared with other banks, you become a highly sought customers from various banks. That’s the advantage.
  4. Trap rubbish at the river or drainage using mesh. This idea came from people in flood-prone areas. The flash flood usually happened in rainy season and caused major traffic problem. One of the problems are clogged drainages and rising water from the rivers because of thrash! While it is understandable we shouldn’t throw rubbish, I personally found the thrash sometimes from factories because of the quantities are massive. So to effectively and efficiently clean up the river, using wire or nylon mesh to trap the river would be quick.
  5. Auditors and HR staffs are from business departments and branch operations. This fabulous ideas came from multiple banks. The audit and HR departments found out 2 major problems. First, these two departments are not well liked by the staffs because of poor misperception. Second, most staffs joined these two departments are juniors hence little operations and business experiences. Consequently, most of their work deemed lack substance and lack empathy. An insight surfaced, those with experiences that joined audit and HR department tend to be more matured and heightened empathy. They also managed to convince their former colleagues to be more receptive and cooperative in bringing the business to the next level!
  6. Video conference for long distance meeting. This idea came from government officials that live far from the headquarters. Some had to travel 8-10 hours for an hour meeting. To cut time, cost of travel and health bills, the use of video conferencing could effectively and efficiently for both parties. Let’s use meeting for key decision making. Hopefully the next phase of national broadband plan in 2019 will be spearheaded faster than expected. Faster connection will definitely help!
  7. Tax break for donations by the public to schools and universities. It is true and evident the government funds to schools are getting lesser by the year due to various reasons. It is also true and evident, most parents would want to donate (and willing) to donate for schools where their kids studies. Tax is a very good tool for the government to use to invite this “money on the table” by giving tax breaks (double if possible).
  8. HR to drive innovation capabilities development. This idea came repetitively from banks and MNCs pointing that many HR “waits” for business departments request for innovation program. HR in their views still see “innovation” as technical know-how, technology-based and only for selected people. HR as the people builder needs to step up quickly grasp the big gap of innovation capabilities by launching innovation training programs and workshops because innovation today and beyond is everybody’s business.
  9. Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered & gravity dumb-bell. It turns out a lot of people want to get fit by using dumb bell (including me). The insight we found that a lot of people don’t know what kind and how much weight they should do that will effectively help them meet their goals. Using AI & gravity, user only need to buy one dumb bell of this kind and start getting fit progressively, without having to own a whole rack of those bells!
  10. Launch fintech fast to collect data. Fintech is pervasive these days, many local banks turn confused what they should do actually. They found many banks took very long time to think “analytically and holistically” so much so go to market become painstakingly long. The idea is about fast launch of basic fintech products & services for example CASA account, children account or loan application with primary purpose to collect data and learn from it before even considering the full blown product. This could make sense because by the day there are many more technology players in this area, therefore investing in sophisticated technology may not pay off in the long run. Think about it.

 

Hope you enjoy this piece. Any brickbats please email to donkhairul@gmail.com 

Happy New Year 2019!

ca4f1c85-d93f-41d9-90e7-fd7759588457

The One Word That Make People Hate Innovation

I stumbled on my current research by accident. By observing people’s reaction. Let me explain.

Every time in my design thinking workshop I asked my audience, whether they love innovation in products and services they used, of course they loved it to bits!

They spoke about how the food delivery service such as #FoodPanda, #Ubereats and #GoFresh (among others) helped them deal with life when they need food.

Some Muslim ladies also spoke about their hijab, tudung and scarf that make them look gorgeous , beautiful and of course more confident when they work and socialize professionally and personally.

Many men also expressed their love for e-commerce sites such as Lazada where a number electrical hobbyists and car enthusiast including aspiring botanist found their haven for things they love doing.

Most of the people I met during my workshop claimed their live getting much easier these days because of all these innovative products and services integrated into their lifestyle. Of course, smartphones and apps are the most popularly quoted as innovative products and services.

When we discuss deeper, what constitutes successful innovation, there is one word that put the world a stop for a moment. This word makes everyone reconsider what they said earlier about innovation and their love of great products and services.

The word is CHANGE. Everybody hates change – especially when the change go against your will. This include my 4 months old baby when I wanted to change his diaper, come on! I am helping you getting clean lols

When we run design thinking innovation workshop for senior management (or any innovation workshop for that matter), the discussion on change is very crucial. How tolerant is the management towards CHANGE? How committed they are? What are they willing to give up? Why do they want change? Who needs change first? When do we should give up those baggages?

I found discussion on change in very key in successfully getting the buy in prior any innovation or transformation work. The senior leadership themselves must be in unison when it comes to commitment to change. Be the change you want to see, as Gandhi famously said.

In some scenario, the current situation is already bad (or it could be too comfortable perhaps?) therefore change is “easier” to instill. Oh booy, change is difficult and change is hard. Change takes effort, effort and effort. We usually got stuck in either one of these change levers, our capacity to change, our capability to change or our ability to change. Which one do you stuck the most? Which does your organization stuck the most?

Source: Who-Wants-Change-Crowd-Change-Management-Blue | Free to use … | Flickr

For those who are leading innovation in their organization, let me share good points from this book from Noel Tichy, “The Cycle of Leadership”. I love this book so much, get a copy if you will.

He said this interesting view of leadership, they are autocrats (who forcefully lead change without taking any feedbacks) and they are abdicrats (who take all the feedback without taking any decision or stand to move out). These two extremes create leadership vacuum and ultimately power failures. This need change.

Better your best!

Wait for my follow up article on this topic soon!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Top Five Great Ideas in 2017 From “The Field”

In 2017, my team and I met more than 1,000 people from multiple workshops throughout the year when we ran our flagship training,  Design Thinking Innovation workshop. The significance of design thinking workshop is in the fieldwork, which I’d like to call as ‘The Field”. During the fieldwork, the trainees last year interviewed between 2,000-3,000 people last year.

From those multiple workshops we had, they generated lots and lots of ideas. The following were the Top Five Great Ideas in 2017:

 

1.Student loan (PTPTN) becomes the employer’s benefits for employees. 

Most employees, young executives particularly carry substantial student loan – around RM 30,000 – RM 45,000 (locally known as PTPTN). Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 8.58.49 PM.png

*Source: iMoney

These loans were part of their commitment when they study in local universities. Part of the deal with PTPTN, once the students graduated they need to repay back to PTPTN. Somehow this didn’t happen as effective as both parties wished, PTPTN overall repayment rate is very poor, only 3% .

What if the PTPTN loan is taken over by the employers as part of employees benefits? It could be carve out from the insurance provision or medical benefits. Someone from Compensation & Benefits (ComBen) in HR department could advise this better. Or maybe if you have thousands of staffs with PTPTN loan, it certainly could amount to few millions RM, how about having a company to manage this loans? Well, something to think through.

 

2. Children bank account package just like we used to have 30 years ago.

Wither children bank accounts in our local bank? You probably noticed that many banks these days do not really have an attractive children bank account like we used to have aeons ago such as Yippee, Bank Bumiputra and Tabung Haji (where you get a replica of Tabung Haji building as your coin box). I opened bank account for my kids recently and few years ago, then I received a link via SMS from the bank – excited then I clicked the link – the I was upset – because it was a bad link (automated from their system but poorly maintained either by the marketing department or webmaster – yes let’s start the blame game!)

From “The Field”, we found a lot of respondents wondering why the bank no longer offer beautifully designed children bank account. Actually later I found the answer from some senior bank managers who said, “deposits are outdated, banks prefer offering financing these days.” I was rather upset because the answers we “soooo like bankers”. LOLS. Haven’t they heard Fintech? LOLS

What if the local bank could revive and rejuvenate children bank accounts once again? Make investment and saving as part of everyday lingo in the family. These days, saving and investment is missing in children’s vocab, all they know is buying this and that. I know some local banks offer children bank acccount, most of it dull. Make it fun and exciting please!

 

3. Investment account that’s accessible by “normal and average Joe”

Normal and average Joe has only saving account. Many roll up their eyes when we talk about investment products from banks. They either just haven’t heard about it from the bank or they just said the bankers tell them these investment products are only for the HNWI (high net worth individuals).

Again, I was rather upset because the answers we “soooo like bankers”. LOLS. Haven’t they heard Fintech in Wealth Management? LOLS

What if the bank could give access to their simple product that usually require RM 100k deposits from one HNWI to “100 normal people and average Joe that have RM 1k for investment and wealth creation?”

product-discoverability4

Source: Centric Digital

 

4. Make Top Management (Senior Vice Presidents and C-suites) teaching in the company

The knowledge gap in the company (especially tacit and implicit) is growing wider. The gap is widely seen between the Top Management and Middle Management to Entry level Executives could only be fixed not with hiring external consultants or run training programs after training programs or coordinate leadership development programs after programs, ratther companies have to start to look for the solution internally.

The challenge is often, the management is asking the wrong question and always in a hurry to look for the right answer. The question they usually asked is “why our knowledge gap is getting wider?” which is looking for the right answer. Instead the appropriate question should be, “how to accelerate the spread of knowledge between the management faster?” which is to explore possibilities. One of the popular ideas generated in our workshop is to “teach the top management how to teach their managers”.

What if we could teach leaders how to teach their strengths and transfer their skills? Further research would validate this idea that General Electric (GE) have done this many years ago via Crotonville University.

Things+Leaders+Do+GE_s+Jeff+Immelt+on+the+10+keys+to+great+leadership.

Source: Slideplayer

5. “Dress down” day to Productivity

In Malaysia, the proliferation of new generations as the workforce is already between 50-70% at the executives and junior managers level. Some companies that have thousands of employees, could save money from providing uniforms for white collar executives and junior managers. In some companies, the top management still frowned upon the concept of “Dress down” day. The concept allows the employees to dress with anything they like within the formality guidelines, although some companies have little guidelines, having something to rely on will do more good than harm.

The new generation prefer freedom of expression and they do have nice collection of wardrobe simply because fashion these days are cheaper and with so many options. Therefore allowing them to “dress down” in most of the days, it will give them the “extra benefits” to stay in the company and would boost their morale and consequently productivity while working in the organization. In other words, when you allow them to wear jeans, slip on shoes, hoodies etc, they will work harder.

In our interviews with the millenials respondents, that was the feedback and the great idea was “Dress down day”. Check out this analysis from NY Post on “Dress down and productivity”.

What if “Dress down day” could boost productivity and increased morale of the employees, would that save the company in medical bills and unproductive work habits? Of course, save of the uniform tailoring too!

dress-down-day-or-no

Well, those are the Top Five Great Ideas in 2017. I will be sharing more stuffs and great ideas from “The Field” from my LinkedIn-Khairul Anwar. See you there!

Brickbats? Email me at donkhairul@gmail.com 

Change Attitude to Fortitude

It’s clear to me now, that attitude is over rated. Attitude is a mental state or posture or perspective about something. I drag myself waking up every morning when I hear my 2 weeks baby cries, I had to wake up anyway because he needs feeding. He is hungry and I know very well that after I feed him I feel I have achieved something awesome for that moment. I will not regret.

Now picture this. My son has grown up and I still have to wake up every morning and drag myself to do 50 push-ups, 2 minutes plank and 2 minutes lower abs exercise. After that I will cycle for 30 minutes. I have to do this 4-5 times a week. Every time after I do these routines, I will feel great and awesome! I took on the day like a champ. However if I casually skip because my attitude towards it, I will find myself in a rut after 1 month. I wouldn’t be able to do even 10 reps push up, not 10 secs plank and I quickly drown spirally into that lethargic feeling. I become the person I don’t want to be.

The two stories to illustrate that attitude is not enough. We need fortitude. We need bravery to do things that are difficult and not fun. We need courage to do things that we don’t necessarily like. We need to take that bold action that we know if we do it we will gain. That’s changing attitude to fortitude.

To change the world and ourselves, we need more fortitude.

Attitude alone is not enough. In hard times, when you hit rock bottom, attitude matters less. You need fortitude. You need to get out and hit the road to run or walk or jog. All of us need fortitude. If you find yourself still struggling, that’s because you may have positive attitude yet your fortitude isn’t forthcoming enough yet.

Fortitude is the answer. #innovation #excellence

What Are Personas?

“Personas” is a creative tool you can use to distinctively segment your ideal customers. They are usually fictional that resembles groups and clusters of actual people. Here some definition to help you understand:

“A persona is a representation of a user, typically based off user research and incorporating user goals, needs, and interests.” – www.uxbooth.com

“The purpose of personas is to create reliable and realistic representations of your key audience segments for reference. These representations should be based on qualitative and some quantitative data.” – www.usability.gov

“Personas represent people that are related to a concept, but are generic so they cover a large number of real people. They also have all of their details specified (e.g., where they’re from, their values and motivations, their job) to help designers empathize with their needs.” – www.openIDEO.com

Here are some samples of “Personas” to get you familiarize with it:

  1. Personas of Users for An Online Video Tool

personas

  1. Personas of Digital Shoppers

Online Personas Infographics 4g

  1. Personas of Facebook Users

Facebook-users-Final2

We can create “Personas” for every business and across industries.

So what are your “Personas”? Try it yourself.

From Khairul’s experiences running Design Thinking workshops and coaching, he found his clients become more imaginative as soon as the “Personas” have been identified.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Design Thinking Workshop & Coaching

 

 

Megatrends 2020 and Beyond, Quick Summary

I have been wanting to write this Megatrends post for some time, its just I couldn’t. I was going through multiple reports on Megatrends from the net and they are very exciting. I also read some books to dig deeper into the subject and trying to find out what is it all about.

Here are the Quick Summary from various sources, which I will provide you the links at the bottom of this post.

  1. DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE – In all megatrends report, demographic change becomes the central theme that’s driving all the other elements. I still remember Drucker’s word in one of his chapters titled “Sources of Innovation”. He said, “when there’s huge demographic change we should expect huge change in other variables.” Demographic change includes ageing population, drop in birth rates, people live longer, greater access to basic needs, access to education and urbanization.
  2. ENVIRONMENT SUCCESSION – Many called it crisis, I prefer the word “Succession”. Dr Thomas Friedman in his book “Thank You For Being Late”, called it “Mother Nature”. We need to make sure we are able to successfully cater to few more billions people in the next 2-3 decades. This include access to food, water, energy and air. When we have more people, we need more space. When we need more space, we clear the environment to make way to housing etc. All of us need to be creative in consuming. As it is our consumption habits may not be sustainable in the long run. Hence I prefer the sharing economy.
  3. MACHINES & TECHNOLOGY – The “rapid feeling of change” that we feel today started around 2006 & 2007 (Tom Friedman). It is the time in between when Facebook & Apple technology hit the market. Fast forward 10 years later, all the technology converged and “gave birth” to Industry 4.0. Now, you can feel the word “disruption” and it is not going to stop. There’s a lot of development in internet, telecommunication, smart factories, artificial intelligence, robotics, data analytics, automation, virtual reality, IoT and digital solutions. You will probably gain more insights by reading Moore’s Law on how technology double itself in almost every year these days.
  4. MONEY MODELS – Whilst not many Megatrends cover this specifically, I intend to add on and highlight this as an important trend. The freenomics is an interesting money model. The rise of social enterprise also a trend that corporations need to consider integrating in their overall business strategy. The sharing economy is creatively emerged as the way forward for us to adapt to new pattern of consumption. As the number of connected population increases, innovative money models certainly more sustainable for any organizations.
  5. PERSONAL EXPRESSION – This trend is covered in one of the reports which I found important to point out. Most people have more choices now. Thanks to wealth created from various economic entry points. Consequently, corporations are struggling to meet everyone’s need (although it is impossible, similarly impossible vice versa!). This includes the way people want to work, what they want to wear & use (brands & functional), how they think, when they want to be with their families, who they want to be their boss and so on. This will demand more flexible, adaptable and much less command & control organization. I remember reading PwC report back in early 2000, about the future of work, it says something like this, “in the future there’ll be a few large organizations and these organizations are served by SME, micro enterprises and independent experts.”
  6. GEOPOLITICS – Several of the reports covered this topic. I could agree that geopolitics is also important. Our economies are more integrated than ever before. When some nations in crisis, some other nations are in growth mode. Some countries have more money and on shopping spree around the world. This posed a new dynamics in terms of culture and national income. The big trading nations such as China, USA, Russia, Brazil, UK (?), Euro (?), Middle East (?), Asean countries (?) and thriving ground for new market. Then there’s war going on in some parts of the world, war-mongering attitudes around neighbouring countries and strained international relations.

 

Khairul in the opinion that in the coming years and beyond 2020, human values becoming very central and core to nation, organization and personal development. Be nice to others, because we can!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

www.designthinking.com.my

Sources:

  1. http://www.ey.com/gl/en/issues/business-environment/ey-megatrends
  2. https://www.pwc.co.uk/issues/megatrends.html
  3. http://www.haygroup.com/leadership2030/about-the-megatrends.aspx
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/books/review/thomas-friedman-thank-you-for-being-late.html?_r=0
  5. Top 20 Global Mega Trends and Their Impact on … – Frost & Sullivan

It Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely At The Top, Tips from HP Founder – Dave Packard

In the past 3-4 weeks, I met some top management executives and 2 CEOs. We were discussing about innovation, culture, mindset and some latest technology stuffs. In one company they wanted to increase innovation competency, in the other they are looking for young genuine leaders to drive new digital initiatives and the next company is looking to hire innovation managers to administer their innovation projects.

What I found in common from these leaders & business managers, they have shared vision that sounds like this “I am looking for some talents that are different from me but almost all of them becoming just like me.” I responded by saying that is a good reflection and they are in the power that are able to change it.

Interestingly, they replied to me, “Khairul, it is very lonely at the top.” I drove back to my office several times in recent weeks getting the same replies (can you imagine that??), “It is very lonely at the top.”

Guess what, it doesn’t have to be. The modern organization is active, progressive and forward looking. How is it possible to be lonely? Leaders will only feel lonely when they isolate themselves in higher office, corner rooms and closed doors. It is very disturbing to me when leaders say “it is very lonely at the top” because it doesn’t have to be! Period.

And these leaders are managing multi-million dollars business, where thousands of people working for them, yet they feel “lonely”? Something isn’t right. Most of the time I found these “lonely” leaders create those disadvantages themselves.

Here some advice to get back on track.  The timeless piece from Dave Packard, the founder of HP shared his 11 Simple Rules. It was delivered by Dave in 1958, 20 years after HP’s founding which was in 1938.

notable-business-quotes-10-638

 

  1. Think first of the other fellow >> This is akin to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try looking from his / her perspective. Try to put yourself in their situation.
  2. Reinforce the other person’s feeling of importance >> Everybody loves to feel important. If you are already a leader, it is your job to make your team’s needs more important than your own need.
  3. Respect the other person’s personality right >> We were born different. Our personality doesn’t justify our intelligence. As leaders, we need to be open and appreciate someone’s individuality.
  4. Give sincere recognition & appreciation >> I found this lacking among top leaders. They don’t sweet talk anymore once they hold the big office. Give pat on the back even to the lowest staff rank. You will go miles.
  5. Eliminate anything negative >> Put it this way, negative sucks energy in no time. Positivity gives energy after some time. Train your mind to offer more positive thoughts.
  6. Avoid to openly change or told-off people >> No one likes the idea of being changed or told-off. As leaders, you should help the person to set goals and offer guidance. Let the team runs it. Of course they will take time initially, eventually they will succeed.
  7. Try to understand the other person >> Consider viewpoints of others around you. Particularly those whom report to you directly. Avoid making hasty decisions and overly-exercised your executive power.
  8. Check your first impressions >> Yes, first impression counts and it should be kept in check all the time. This is a useful reminder if you don’t like certain things emotionally although you can pin-point what is it actually. It may been related to your first impression that lasted years!
  9. Small details? Take care of it >> The details are the one that make the difference. Leaders need to appreciate finesse in their tone of voice, the way they walk, their smile, choice of words etc..It is simple because as leaders you are a role  model and people are looking at you; all the time.
  10. Be sincerely interested in people >> If you think you are not good at it, go take some classes. You can fake it temporarily, and it will eat you inside. Hence it is best for you to learn to authentically be interested in people. Leaders, open your heart, head and hands.
  11. Practice practice practice >> I like the advise from Dr John Medina, he says ‘Repeat to remember’ and ‘Remember to repeat’. This is the path to mastery.

If you as Leaders, sincerely practice all these and sincerely its values; it is very unlikely you become lonely at the top. I personally know several senior leaders who live and breathe these 11 rules, and they are loved by their comrades and colleagues.

It shouldn’t be lonely at the top. It doesn’t have to be.

Khairul believes that getting along with people is super important these days for modern leaders. Yet, it is the hardest thing to do especially once leaders occupied the big office.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

Beyond Quanti, Factor In Quali

In light of global economic uncertainties in recent years (and still ongoing), I observed many organizations set up Transformation Office, Special Task Force and Delivery Office. These “new offices” are created to ensure the companies are able to be resilient enough to weather the uncertainties. Usually these “new offices” report directly to the Chief of the company.

When I sat down with the leaders in charge of these “new offices” they shared with me their plans. Information shared are from revenues, costs of operating, cycle time, capital expenditure, new business areas, business strategy moving forward, human capital planning, product planning, media, customer services and many others. One thing in common from this discussion, there are all hard data. Almost all (if not all) of them are derived from facts, figures, dollars and cents.

The leaders in charge showed me graphs, charts, prognosis, research papers, BI reports and news and statistics in multiple streams and various thickness level (they are very thick!). In some companies they also show me the Employee Opinion Survey (EOS) which was done by the HR department. Almost all this data above is quantitative data.

I also seek customer datapoint beyond the usual survey, checklist and market reports, and surprisingly not many companies have them. The “new offices” pointed me to the customer service department, but when I asked them for qualitative customer data they don’t have it too. What is qualitative data?

Qualitative data includes customers interviews, pictures of actual customer interactions with services and products, customers complaints list, videos of customer journeys, customers profiles & personas, social media insights, demographics & psychographics information and customers testimonials.

The reason I brought up this topic because both data ie. hard data (quantitative) and heart data (qualitative) are equally important. I also observed that most quantitative data isn’t accessible by most staffs, whilst most qualitative data isn’t reachable by the top management.

Do you now see the datapoints gap? (Image below) That’s probably the reason why, the top leaders have little understanding of customer orientation (for large companies this is common), and the frontline staffs wondering why no new ideas implemented to win (or win back) the customers.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 11.21.34 AM

I also observed a lot of data has been filtered when going up and going down by middle managers, supervisors and team leaders who are in between top leaders and frontline staffs. We need to start accepting that heart data (qualitative) is equally important to our businesses.

In our design thinking workshop, we focus on drilling into the qualitative (heart) data points. What customers feel, what are the insights, how the staffs feel, where does usually the tension happen, why people buy, with whom the customers like to buy from, why customers prefer that branch compared to this branch and so many others!

Heart data can help you find new business opportunities, obvious profitable ideas and improve customers satisfaction.

Beyond quanti, factor in quali!

Khairul observes when leaders are open to multiple data points, they become likeable!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

 

So Graduates, Job Secured, What Next?

Your tenacity paid off, your attention to your resume works wonders, your responses to the interviewers seem plausible, the way you carry yourself during the interview were convincing, your voice modulation saying that you are confident and voila! You secured a job that you wanted (at least at that moment). You jumped so high that you could touch your house ceiling! Congratulations graduates! I still remember my own moments when I secured a job, it felt so grown up and excited. I told my mum and dad that I can now pay my own petrol and transport. #grin So what next?

How to stay on the job? What to do to get to the next level? When is the right time to showcase your skills? Why your degree has little meaning to workplace? Why it is not important to “be yourself” when starting out? Do you want to be at the next level, faster?

I wish to offer 5 things for you to consider “be” that may guarantee your next promotion in the next 4-5 years after you secured your first job professionally:

  1. Be Hardworking

At the beginning of anyone’s career, you should consider looking for great experience over great salary. Great work experience will make you do multi things (yes you become multi-tasker). You prepare report, make sales calls, go networking events, lead company’s family day and write report again. Sound busy? Yes you should be. Although you may not see the relevance (yet), you will gain because people started to know you and you start to notice varieties of characters and people around you as well. This is important.

Shohoku

Volunteer to do all these activities around your workplace if you can physically and be positively motivated when doing it. Being motivated is the only difference between being hardworking compared to being overworked. Your bosses will start to notice your face is almost everywhere. You get what we called “attention”.

For those of you that usually skip the university’s events and persatuans, you missed out these moments at that time. Therefore you should take the advantage to pick up again these “getting attention” skills at the beginning of your career.

 

  1. Be Trustworthy

Okay, so you are hardworking and volunteer in a lot of things around your company therefore you are about to walk on thin ice. So you made some mistakes in some of the things you do? The tips is to be honest about your shortfalls and how would you make it differently next time. It is ok to look vulnerable or “weak” because you apologize.

The good news is you project trustworthiness in you to the people around. You will be seen as more open to ideas and feedbacks, this deepen your relationship with co-workers and managers. Remember, trust takes time to develop, you have to invest in it.

For female graduates, don’t beat yourself up so much. Don’t over exaggerate the situation if you make mistakes. It’s enough to just say sorry and “it will not happen again in the future.” For male graduates, learn to say sorry too and please don’t blame others for your own mistakes.

 

  1. Be Resilient

True, there are times things just get so difficult. Not to mention, you received harassment from some dungus, that’s normal. Life’s like that and by knowing this you need to endure it. What is resilient? From Wiki it means, “Able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.” So after all the gruelling, you still stand tall and chin up. Like what Michelle Obama said, “When people make you feel so low, you don’t stoop to their level. You go high!”

In the course of your 4-5 years during your initial working career, resilient is key for the top management to observe your endurance. Some corporate projects can take 3-4 years to complete therefore the top management is keen with someone that can take things through thick and thin of situation. Corporate projects are such as opening new branch in new country, implementing new system or lead new business area or products. In the absence of knowledge and experience, resilient is your currency for exchange.

200116804-001
Coach talking to pee wee football team

If you are a leading a team, try to motivate your team to be as resilient as you, more is better. Have conversation with them if you find them lagging behind or dragging their feet to work. It is not ok to be seen as one-man-show whilst you actually have a team with you. Bring them along with you.

 

  1. Be Resourceful

Whenever, whenever you feel you don’t know things your boss asking you to do, you either ask him directly for clarification or google it. Say after you asked, and you still don’t quite get it, you can google it too. Find information online and ask smart questions – specific and to the point.

presentation_pitching

I remember one time when I had to organize company’s event and I was asked to find media contacts, I said yes to my boss. I googled and found few contacts online, but it wasn’t enough because we targeted 10 media companies to cover our event in their publication. I presented to my boss and said I only managed to get three. You know what? He said, “Good job! I could see you tried hard. Now here’s the whole list!” Yayyy!!

Although you are a project manager, you must know that decision making of the project still has to be discussed with you supervisor, superior, manager or boss. This little known tips could help you build lasting relationship with your upline. Some younglings excitedly make all the decisions without enough consultation, they are in for the trouble. Therefore, being resourceful means that your tentacles reach out to information fast enough and your problem solving ability is above average. Yet, when it comes to decision making, make sure it is a consensus with the team (including your upline).

 

  1. Be Knowledgeable

This is where power reading comes in. Not reading Facebook comments, I mean reading thick book (150 pages above), cover to cover. Some magazines considered reading as well such as Fast Company, The Economist, Bloomberg, MIT Sloan and so on. Reading help you imagine the future you never experienced. For graduates, choose your materials widely.

Read magazines, real books (on management, creativity, science, fiction and so on) and please make yourself available to training programs. I found reading autobiography enjoyable – bios I’ve read are Arnold Schwazenegger, Sidney Poitier, Kuan Yew, Alex Ferguson, Tun Mahathir, Mydin, Boon Siew, Jay Z Gandhi, Jack Welch, Prophet Muhammad, Hamka and many more.

weheartreading

It is ok to sound smart when you converse with your boss or colleagues. It helps your maturity and boost your confidence level when talking to someone when you know you are knowledgeable. Nonetheless, it is not okay if you pretend to be smart. Trying to goreng things you don’t know have its own limit – worse off when people can catch it. Being knowledgeable sometimes will make people around you feel threatened, do it anyway. Simply because when you become a big fish in a small pond, time to make that jump to bigger pond or go to the ocean instead.

Wrap Up

I believe many of seniors and professionals would agree with me the 5 tips above. There are many more of course, I found the above suffice for you to do and practice in the next 1-3 years of your initial career. If you still get stuck you can write me an email, we can take it offline. Maybe you need different help.

I found male and female graduates are wired differently (of course!). One thing in common I wish to emphasis is to not get overly obsessed to “be yourself”. You can be yourself when you are in private settings or in family environment where people can tolerate “yourself” over and over again. However, in public place or social setting, people are impatient and have very high expectation of each other (although each other know their own insecurities).

Therefore as someone that’s climbing the work ladder, open up yourself to be more accepting others’ and adjust yourself necessarily. Being overly yourself is akin to break the coconut too early to enjoy the coconut juice. Give yourself time to learn about others and pay attention on how you respond and react to those moments – soon you will learn more about yourself, really.

I wish you beshh of luck. Any brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

 

 

3 Teachable Things and 5 Unteachable Things That Every Leader Should Know

Leadership development is very key in today’s business environment. The leaders are getting younger, leadership cycle is getting shorter and the cost to retain good leaders is getting higher. If you desire to become great leaders, consider this suggestion.

Here are the 3 teachable things on goal setting and behavioural change that highly successful leaders can use to get better at their game (General Goal – Behaviour Desired – If Then Action)

General Goal Behaviour Desired If-Then Action
1. Build better relationships with the sales team to improve sales numbers. Commit one hour per week for lunch with sales team members to get to know them and understand how to motivate and dealing with them. If I am reviewing my weekly schedule on Monday morning, then I will call a sales team member to schedule for a lunch meeting.
2. Become more personally connected to my subordinates. Participate with subordinate one time per week in informal activities to learn more about their personal lives. If I am invited to join the team lunch or birthday celebration, then I will find a way to make time and say yes.
3. Demonstrate strategic thinking. Offer my support or be assertive to critique of proposed strategy and the reasoning behind my position. If a discussion about strategy occurs during executive team meeting, then I will offer my opinion concerning the proposed strategy along with my rationale.

While there are many things we could teach leaders, there are 5 Unteachable things that we can’t. Here are the 5 things, according to my friend, Mr Ridzuan Buasan (Senior Vice President, Talent Management and Organizational Development at Prasarana Malaysia Berhad)

5UnteachableThingsLeaders

  1. Will – defined as the “ability to control your thoughts and actions in order to achieve what you want to do.”
  2. Drive – defined as the “strong desire or need in people.”
  3. Agility – defined as the “ability to move quickly and easily.”
  4. Sincerity – defined as the “act of showing feelings or beliefs of what you really feel or think.”
  5. Passion – defined as the “very strong feeling of love, hatred, anger or enthusiasm.”

Leaders, start teaching while you can because it is the hallmark of super great leaders. Great leaders? Teach!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Three Factors Contributing to Professional Growth and Development

Some months ago I ran a short survey on Professional Growth and Development. It was a “lazy” survey where I just published it without much promotion. I wish to only have respondents that are interested to answer the survey. I gave small token in discount vouchers but the desire and “giving back mindset” by the respondents were amazing. They answered because they wanted to share their thoughts. Big hand to them. Running for 1 month, the survey gathered 130 respondents.

The main objective of the survey is to find out factors that contributing to successful Professional Growth and Development for executives and managers. I have yet to published this survey with more details. I only decided to give you some highlights that captured my lazy mind.

Here are some insights on the factors contributing to Professional Growth and Development:

1. Tertiary Education Works

Almost 70% of the respondents confessed that their tertiary education – basic degree help them to gain entry level position. You see, all we need is to enter somewhere first. That’s the goal for a start. This applies to top bracket university graduates as well, if you fail to secure entry level position in the next 6-18 months after graduation, you are going to meet some difficulties (not the end of the world though, just some difficulties).

I recently met several graduates in a workshop that have graduated from 8-26 months from local university. They took science courses such as biomedical, engineering and chemistry. They said they found the job offering mismatched their tertiary education experience hence they ignored those offers. I gave them some advise and asked each of them to write me an essay of any topic they like and together with their CV. I gave them a week and only one reminder, that was before we part ways. One week later, only 1 graduate came back and her essay was solid. She was a graduate with chemistry background.

I told her that while her degree is in science, she could easily adapt to other roles – to gain entry level position. She said, she wasn’t aware that we can “switch”, but that I don’t really want to discuss here. So now she is ready to take up entry level position – to gain experience.

2. Mentors and Coaches? Go Find Them Now!

Next, around 80% of the respondents said that they owed their professional growth and development to mentors and coaches. These people include their managers, bosses, supervisors, leaders, colleagues, nemesis, trainers and friends. These “helpers” come internally and externally on need basis. In other words, these professionals get helped. Somebody took interest of them and shape them to become successful. I believe this is true. I am personally a product of mentors and coaches. I wish to share someone’s else story here.

Have you heard of Asafa Powell? He is a Jamaican sprinter – colleague to Usain Bolt. Asafa broke the Olympic record of 100 metre in Athens Olympic in 2005. He clocked in 9.77 at Olympic stadium. The more interesting story, 3 years before that Asafa was just another Jamaican teenager trying to find a place to train himself. He has been training by himself, unlike Usain Bolt that already in sports school since young. Asafa was lucky, a guy named Stephen Francis found him and gave him the opportunity to train and be coached in his camp. Three years later, Asafa was an Olympic champ.

asafapowell

The above stories resonated well to many successful people. This is also true with Sir Jony Ive, the Chief Designer of Apple Corp. While Ive was already an accomplished designer from young, it was Jobs that gave Ive the opportunity to flourish further and harness his creative giants inside him. Ive thrived and build many great products including iPod, iPhone, iPad and so on. You may refer to Ive’s biography – Jony Ive, The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Product by Leander Kahney.

jonathan-ive-quote

Some respondents also highlighted that parents too helped them in manoeuvring successfully in their professional journey. However, the percentage is rather small, 10-15%.

3. Hard Work and Persistence, This Goes Without Saying

As many as 95% of my proud achievers respondents said they work really hard to get to where they are now. They gave examples such as having to take up professional certification, stretched assignments, late night meetings and hectic schedule. However, their persistence paid off handsomely because they are now have become professional and live a great life.

While going through this, they also admitted experiencing some breakdowns and frustrations. Taking it positive, go slower at times and having strong support from loved ones boosted their morale to go further.

The drive home the point, from this insights it is clear to all of us that while most of us may have the innate ability and super resources to work hard, we shouldn’t discount the other 2 factors i.e. tertiary education and mentors and coaches.

Firstly, get good grades if you can. If you can’t or you are not qualified into tertiary education it is ok. Now you need to find mentors and coaches to learn about the workings of life. You need to learn about the trade. Yes you may be strong, why not waste your energy for something else? Go find mentors and coaches.

Coaches

It is ok to ask for help because no one knows everything. Right? For young executives and graduates, my advise is to always be mindful of people that could become your guidance. Be willing to have interest in people and talk to them. For the seniors, reach out to the young because they actually are curious whether your seriousness is towards them or to someone else! 🙂

Someday I wish to read your story and when I looked back I thanked you for allowing me to be part of it. “The thing is, it’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.” – Jony Ive

Behavioural Change Using Design Thinking

Innovation is a tricky business. It is tricky because you are NOT going to get it right the first time. Yes, it upsets a lot of people in the quality and production departments. It boils the blood of the financial controllers and accountants. Innovation also going to frustrate your marketing department because of the changing consumers mind. Typical change management framework and processes might have to change, as well.

DSC_0002

On the flip side, innovation has hues of greatstuffs. It enlarges the possibilities that you initially thought a constraint. It motivates your sales people to try something out of the box. It triggers your vice president’s thinking to reimagine the service you provide to new customers segment. Innovation celebrates fail early and fail often (of new things) because persistence will always take us to greener path. Innovation generates new revenue streams and give you the confidence that things are not so bad after all.It gives breath of fresh air to get unstuck in mind-numbing headquarters strategy presentation that has become so out of touch from the customers. Innovation unleashes the creative potential within us all. Innovation offers window for behavioral change in all organization around the world.

There are many ways that we can innovate – from the very basic and chaos creativity skill such as “randomness – just think of something great” or “just throw stuffs there and see what happen” to the most complex and quantifiable research on creativity. One technique that I wish to share is using design thinking method. There are several versions of the method, the one I have competence and experience is from the d.school Stanford University and Hasso-Platner Institute (click here to know more). I have been a practitioner and great fan of innovation and creativity tools, but design thinking transcended all other tools.

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Design thinking helps uncover something that was unknown. What you are doing is rediscovering what you already have. It enlarges our capacity to imagine, be creative and build upon big ideas. Creative energy is one of our most precious resources – said Tom Kelley in his book, PDF – Creative Confidence. Using design thinking, we can address a wide variety of business, personal, customer, social and complex challenges in creative new ways, said David Kelley (Tom’s brother) of IDEO.

The CEO of ideacouture, Idris Mootee in his book, Design Thinking for Strategic Innovation said that design thinking is “disruptive and provocative by nature because it promotes new ways of looking at problems”. I find this very true. I had one client who attended my workshop on design thinking said she never thought that it is possible to look at the problem in this new way before this.

Jessica runs an insurance company and the “customers” that they always have in mind is the new subscriber of their insurance. However, in the course of the design thinking workshop she jumped out and said I have been focusing on my customer all wrong. My actual customers are the claimants. That’s where the “pain points” stuff happen. No wonder she said, that sales have been dwindling because in the market their actual customers have been very unhappy about her company.

Another example I came across is from entrepreneur development centre. They have been running programs after programs to build entrepreneurs. As part of the program, the entrepreneurs were later can offer services to the centre. So its a great deal and worth going through the program. However, after some time there are less people attending and the entrepreneurs somewhat hesitant to offer their services. This is unusual. They dig deeper using design thinking method during the workshop. Apparently the issue stemmed from the account department. The entrepreneurs were paid very late (more than 6 months) and when they get paid using cheques, there are always errors and misprints. As an entrepreneur myself, cash flow is king. They “fired” the entrepreneur development centre as their customers.

In a book, Stories of What Works – Solving Problems Using Design Thinking published by Columbia Business School, there was one story from Dublin that captured my attention. A story about public old folks centre. This centre provide shelter and subsidized food for senior citizens. While most of the senior citizens enjoyed meeting new friends with enlarged social circle, the food served there wasn’t to their liking. Same old same old. Fortunately, after some time the centre decided to do something innovative and brought in a team of design thinkers. The project is called the The Good Kitchen. (video below)

One anecdotes that stand out to me was the design thinking team found out that all the “cooks” were “chefs”. These are real chefs that had superb experience working on cruises, 5-star hotels and can cook really well. However, when the management decided to be “overly efficient” with the ingredients they buy and “strategically plan” the menu for months ahead, the chefs said “not much we can do”. Besides, the chefs can no longer do food styling, seasoning and other details hence the bland and boring food. After rounds of workshops with the stakeholders – municipality, mayor, senior citizens and so on, they decided to make small change with big impact. They changed title “cooks” to “chefs” to reflect the actual experiences and skills. This boosted morale and dignity of the senior citizens. They dressed the chefs well and they started to redesign the menu offerings. In short, they re-imagined the kind of food service that is more apt and caring to the senior citizens.

One final story is from a high school counsellor. His school has been doing a lot (which school doesn’t ?!) to find ways to discipline the students. They have tried many ways including some forms of corporal punishment but somehow it makes things worse. How much more corporal punishment needed? As a counsellor, he knows this won’t work.

During the design thinking workshop, an idea sparked. He prototyped the idea instantly in class and he received outstanding reviews from his colleagues in the workshop. His idea was to ask every student on their wishes of how to make the school better and harmony so everybody is safe with each other. He told me later, at the initial actual implementation he said the students were surprised by the change of “regime” but they contributed anyway. Simple things are being implemented for example, the students wish the teachers could smile more. Next, extend the lights out at 11 pm instead of 10 pm because most of them prefer to do homework at dormitory instead of study room. Another, weekend outing to start earlier at 8 am instead of 10 am so the students can spend more time with their family and friends outside the school. Simple stuffs that worked. The students are happier and less discipline issues occurred, somehow.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

Five Things I Learned About Top Talent Leadership Development

My recent work with top talent was very interesting. They are mid level managers from several organizations. Some were grouped together and another dispersed in their own role while going through the program with me.

These are top talent. They earned their spot through the their experiences on the job while scaffolding their growth. They are very talented and some are opinionated. All of them went through several screening processes before being short-listed into this program.

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The insights I got here worth sharing. Here there are:

1. True Leaders Show Up

Apparently there are a lot of us want to be a leader. We like the attention given to a leader. Some crave for it from distance.

However, not many willing to show up and hustle their way to become one. Most expect someone somewhere “recognize” them as “leader material”, in other words, they are offered to be a “leader”. Please don’t be mistaken, being a leader doesn’t equate of a promotion at work. Yes, for a promotion you need someone to offer you however, there are many leaders become one without a title – said by Robin Sharma. In other words, anyone can be a leader.

This person I call Jim is very interesting. When engaging him in a group he was very quiet and a follower type. He sometimes talk about his idea but yeah all he did was talking. However in our private coaching session, he projected himself as “leader-material-that-yet-to-be-found” by someone in his organization. He reminisced about his past when his colleagues and bosses often talked about his achievements at work. He usually observed others from afar. However when asked why did he not act like one in the group, he said he had his moments so he feels others should have their moments now. That’s the reason why he “stepped aside”. Jim was making excuses. This kind of strategy may backfire if you want to be seen as a leader. True leader shows up.

2. Leader Knows and Expresses Quality

“You know it when you see it”.

This is how sometimes we used to describe quality in a person or a thing. As an adult most of us have seen lots of things. We have experienced several setbacks and winning some battles at the same time. We met so many people with varying characters and qualities. Some we like, some we don’t. In summation, we roughly know in general whether a person is with substance or whether another person is just a BS. The only thing we don’t do sometimes is to show it.

This person call Randy was given a task to evaluate his colleagues assignments. Randy has been in the organization for 15 years and he’d seen a lot. Some of them are his new colleagues and from the rumours these new people are the bosses allies. So Randy gave full marks without considering the quality of the assignments. In the private coaching he was asked why he did that. At first Randy was shocked because he didn’t realized he was observed. He thought people are not watching. Later he confessed he did that because he wanted to please the “future bosses”. Randy substandard mindset actually is a self-sabotage. He is scared to evaluate other people. He wanted to please people that he doesn’t know enough, although he has wide experience in his work and in the company. Leader should express quality.

3. Proper Selfishness Is Okay

The word of Charles Handy, proper selfishness theory means

“That in order to truly be ourselves, we need to serve others.”

A leader must go beyond his own domain and reach out to others. He usually acts even without being asked although it may cost him economically (within his means) and sometimes to the detriment of his personal life (especially his family members would say how come you always do things for others?)

This great man I call Harris is such a guy. In an open team setting, I could see him attempting to show up and offer his wealth of experiences. Although some time he successfully did it, most of the time he ended up hesitant and follow the crowd. There were cases when his team lost in games we play, although they had great chance had Harris jumped in and steer it right.

In the private coaching, he explained that he is worried that people might think of him as trying to show off and to gain merit points. Although he admitted no one has spoken to him directly in that way, he “felt” he knew it from the look “in their eyes”. This is true to most of us where we sometimes overly thinking of what others have to say. Proper selfishness is okay.

4. Some Top Talent Not Leader Material

You see most leaders in many organization these days grow up from top talent pipelines. Typically they excel in their formative education till tertiary. Some come from Ivy League universities or top scorers. Later they are groomed in a well designed top talent development program before being promoted into rotational roles paving path to leadership position. The thing is, we know the big challenge with top talent is the way they carry themselves with people. Often, this top breed find difficulties working with others. In some cases, they loathed having others around them. In the word of Marshall Goldsmith,

by the time we reach teen years our minds are already shaped of how we see the world.

Throughout our youth it get reinforced and become our identity. By the time we reach the workforce we already a “complete” person carrying our own “tainted lenses” around.

This lady call Carly is such a person. She is a product of top local university. She did very well in her academic years. According to her, she was supposed to go to USA for her tertiary education, however due to financial crisis, she only managed to complete year one before called back. She completed the remaining years here in Malaysia. In private coaching with her, you can tell that she is very proud of her achievements as a student and a career woman. After about 30 minutes into our conversation, she looked at me and said actually she hardly had any conversation like this with her colleagues or direct reports. She said she find these people are “not able to match her calibre and intellectual capacity”. She also mentioned that lately her bosses have been favoring other candidate for regional role although she hit her numbers well. There’s a saying, as you grow further in organization or in life, the only significant thing that matter is how you treat other people.

5. Leader Roles Sleeves, Ideas Are Cheap!

I hammered this many times in my program, ideas are cheap! Ideas are cheap! You can’t make money with just ideas, no matter how brilliant it is. Ask any innovators and inventors, they stumbled many times on their initial ideas. Moreover, often the things they commercialized later on is very likely something they never thought before. As a leader, we need to know that we need to milk ideas and then put the ideas to test. Some leaders, because of their position or role, throwing ideas from left right centre. Ideas after ideas and expect others to pick it up. Worst, they have this idea that their direct report should be of the “same wavelength” with them and should know how to fly the idea.

This person call Peter is a direct report to a director. Peter’s boss, is such a person. The boss will come in the office and throw in ideas. Call Peter to his room and try to win Peter with his idea and expect it fly the next day. When Peter failed to do so, his boss get very angry. He said that Peter is unable to think outside the box – even after various training sent.

In a design thinking ideation, we brought his boss to participate and we could see him in action.

However, through our design thinking guidance where we get them to try out some creative tools and active collaboration techniques, we could see that Peter and his boss could work on really well – they become great sparring partner. They work on simple prototype and test it around. It is a real hard work for any idea to win the marketplace. We leaders, lets role our sleeves.

I hope these sharing has been insightful and helpful.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

Great Leaders Teach

Leadership is today’s buzz word akin to management in the 1980’s. You probably have been asked at least once, “Are you a leader or manager?”. Of course the right answer is “leader” because it is incumbent that all of us must be one, at least to be relevant in today’s organization. But how to become great leader?

Robin Sharma once in his book said that a leader decides which mountains to climb and a manager decides how to climb it efficiently. I think that analogy makes it easier to distinguish the function of leader v. manager. I juggle both most of the time and I believe most of us do the same. Right?

I was at a client’s office late afternoon last week. I was waiting for the Chairman long enough to strike a conversation with one of the managers, whom happened to be the Human Resource Manager. She is leading the organization’s academy and we exchanged smiles – and we talk. Replying to her question, I said my coaching is targeted to top talent – making top talents even better and hopefully they stay longer. Besides, my leadership program for managers and leaders is to enable them learn how to teach. She shared her stories of going through a particular coaching program, NLP programs, EQ and so on. She is a very prolific manager and hungry for new knowledge. She is quick to share her coaching experiences with talents around her but except these talents are not internal but external to her organization. According to her it is not possible to share her knowledge internally because no one would appreciate – she hasn’t tried yet. She hasn’t got over the feeling yet to drive the coaching initiative for her organization. She doesn’t know where to start. What a waste.

Large organizations are endowed with this wealth of experienced managers and leaders at all areas. They are groomed from ground up (most of them), defended the organizations through thick and thin and possess deep knowledge of the organization trade secrets. Unfortunately they don’t have the platform to showcase and transfer this latent and tacit knowledge embedded in them for years. So much knowledge sedimented in the same body and brain for years. These are not top leaders and senior management that may come and go – I am referring to prolific managers and leaders that are on the ground; servicing the customers and take the brickbats from their direct reports. We must do something.

One of the ways to scoop out this deep seated knowledge is through making these managers and leaders learn how to teach. This “teaching approach” has been used by General Electric, PepsiCo, Southwest Airline, Home Depot, Cisco, DARPA and many global organizations. Just look at yourself, someone must have taught you well. So it worked! Hence, we need to make our organizations teach and learn from each other. Best if the top management learn how to teach their experiences and the rest will ultimately follow.

You can start by getting the managers and leaders go deep down themselves to truly understand what is it they are very good at. This is call Teachable Point Of View (TPOV). Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) in his own words said, “As a great leader, you need to have teachable point of view.” TPOV helps managers to focus on their ultimate strengths and dissect them into learning curriculum. Say for example a Marketing Manager may be good at product launching. So he will create his TPOV based on product launching. He will gather all his experiences related to product launch (its successes and failures) and organize it to match his organization needs – and the best part he is doing this to teach his engineering department about product launching! This applies to all other managers and leaders from various department.

Coming back to the Human Resource Manager, her eyes lit up when I shared that with her. She now plan to make 2015 as her experimental year from just a manager to becoming a great leader through teaching. Wish her good luck!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Fifty Productivity Strategy Secrets For 2019-2020

This article from 2014, now it has been updated in May 2019.

Let's Make 2015 Our Single Best Year!

Here are some Productivity Strategy Secrets shared by the movers and shakers, entrepreneurs, technocrats, top chefs, brand advisors, CEOs and top people. I believe you will gain miles from applying any of this strategy. Some you have may have heard, whilst some push you to repeat even more because the ultimate secret is about mastery. Here’s for you.

Productivity Strategy Secrets For 2019-2020:

1. Think and write about what you want to achieve in 2019-2020

2. Own productivity, make effort to schedule what matters to you on daily basis.

3. Prepare RTDL – Real To Do List each night before bedtime or early morning. It helps you plan the day effectively and efficiently.

4. If you come very early in the office, don’t check emails or read news online. Rather spend on thinking of your vision or do uninterrupted work that needs your brain.

5. Start your day with positive thoughts. Think of something really positive.

6. Manage your time insanely because you gotta manage your time.

7. Focus while you are doing something. If you are at work, focus. If you are with your kids and spouse, focus.

8. Scrutinize your calendar for the day. Prioritize and compress if you need to.

9. Delegate and follow up the tasks you ask someone to do for you. They could be struggling to execute and it doesn’t help when you abdicate the tasks.

10. Pray or meditate in between your hectic day. It has calming effects to the brain.

11. Use Post-It notes when you remember something out of your main RTDL / schedule. Don’t ignore it or don’t jump into it immediately (unless its extremely urgent).

12. Compile the Post-It notes by the end of the day and schedule them in your calendar and RTDL.

13. Use alarm clock to wake you up. Your biological body needs 66 days to stabilize and register – chances are you may have variations of biological clock in 30 days so use alarm clock.

14. Ditch the alarm clock and wake up fast head to the bathroom.

15. Take a nap in somewhere during lunch of slightly before lunch. 10-15 minutes is enough – use alarm clock to wake you up. Make a sign on your door or close it completely – uninterrupted.

16. Charge your devices. Don’t let the fear of dying batteries take your energy.

17. Avoid unnecessary phone calls or meetings that you can get someone else do for you.

18. Have a drink eg. coffee, tea, water or juices between 2-3 hours in between.

19. Make sure you drink enough water per day – preferably plain water. How much? Mayo Clinic’s advise is 3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women. More is fine.

20. Hunker down when you need to complete very important work. Allocate 90-120 minutes uninterrupted for this.

21. Play some sports during the weekdays or find ways to walk the stairs. It helps you think better and it is good for the body.

22. Make team discussions and meetings interesting by removing the chairs. Get everyone a Sharpie and Post-It notes for further engagement. Boring meetings suck more energy than anything else!

23. Ask everyone participates in the meeting why are they present at the 1st place. If they don’t have the answer you are looking for they shouldn’t be in the meeting.

24. Go to bed with a question that you are working in your head – you might get the answer when you wake up!

25. Go somewhere for short travelling – it helps to clean up your thoughts and reenergize your body.

26. Cave in and have private light moment for yourself away from kids and spouse. Do this very privately. It doesn’t have to be a weekend getaway, sometimes a half day by yourself fortnightly is enough.

27. Don’t delegate your motivation to anyone else including best friends, spouse, children, neighbours, parents or anyone. Your motivation is your’s. Own it.

28. Do some art work eg painting, playing music, gardening, crafts, tinkering or singing. It rejuvenates your body and mind.

29. Make time for the people that matters to you personally. It could be your loved ones, parents and besties!

30. Eat same thing everyday helps to improve productivity. Once awhile, it is ok to change the menu.

31. Use productivity apps on your smart devices. Games are not productivity apps. 🙂

32. Turn off your television in your busy day. Throw if you can afford to live without it.

33. Set a dedicated time to reply emails. You can try LIFO method – Last In First Out to handle emails.

34. Build a network of friends that see you as who you are. Friends that you can laugh at and laugh at you – freely. It’s fun really!

35. Have a walk once awhile, either early in the morning or evenings. It’s a good distress method.

36. Have breakfast – eat something healthy to start the day.

37. During meeting or discussion, if it is not in the agenda don’t bother to talk about it.

38. Capture your random thoughts when you browse social media or roam around the internet. Some people use Evernote, Mashable, Pinterest.

39. When you are tired, pick the most interesting task and that require not much effort.

40. Have the habit to ask people around you these questions: What next? What else? How so? So what? What if?

41. Make time to read heavy stuffs related to your work and career. It helps you progress further and make more money to feed your passion.

42. If you think to job hop – put your economic needs as number one priority. Unfortunately, some passionate thing you do may not generate enough to get you further. Give it some time to develop. Meanwhile, try to love your career and what you do.

43. Keep promises so you don’t have to spend time remembering what you said.

44. Once a while, bend the rules and make big change for creativity and innovation sake. You don’t know your limits until you push them.

45. Keep some really nice, inspiring, motivating, captivating or whatever that will make you light up again during your down time. It could videos, music, letter, photos, mementos, books, lectures, articles etc..

46. Look your best when you are at work. Wear make-ups, spray perfume and dress well. It matters on how other perceives you at work place.

47. Stick to deadlines – earlier is better but don’t screw up your deadlines.

48. Discipline your emotion, nonetheless be direct in your comments.

49. Reframe your lost opportunities and do it at your own time, privately. Seize the right opportunity when you see it. Don’t play the waiting game.

50. Always stay hungry and stay foolish. Keep learning and adopt action bias. Do Think Leap.

Good luck and let’s make 2019-2020 our best years!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Talent Development Program For High Potential Employees

In Malaysia, talent development program for the high potential is on the rise right now. In a forum Talent Development and Succession Planning that I attended recently (April 2014), it was clear that many organizations and companies are now revving up talent program for the high potentials. But why? The obvious reason is to make sure their organizations possess the right people  and at the right place to continue what the present leaders do and take it steps ahead. For business organization it is for growth and for the government for national development.

 

Most organizations (businesses and government) do this program either through retaining the existing talents by providing them developmental “wings” so that they can fly or by attracting external talents to meet the business needs. In general, most organizations use a hybrid of the two methods to ensure steady talent pipelines. Most organizations also noticed the limited information about high potentials program locally. Each organization rely heavily on international external expertise for some ideas. Slowly we generate our own variation of high potentials program to meet our business needs. That’s what I saw recently that the time is ripe for the next trajectory to truly understand what’s best for the talents here and based on what we already know from our past experiences in high potentials programs, what should we do next? We should have a good reference from a comprehensive research of what have been done and implemented, what are their impact, what is the link to the business, how could we do it better and how much did we spend for high potentials program.

High potentials program = Corporate athletes. They need to be identified, nurtured and supported to achieve better performance.

In a 2013 report by a survey done University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, around 56% organizations now have a formal process to identify high potential employees, whilst almost 40% have no formal process and the rest discontinued their high potential talent development programs. Let me share a little bit more about the findings in this report. Somehow I could related some of it to the forum. In the talent forum where I attended (April 2014), I could see that there are many program of variations on how organizations implement high potentials development program. In most companies, high potential talent makes about 10% of the employees’ populations. The largest employee population is the average (fort holders) around 80% and the remaining 10% is the low performers. Some companies with deeper pocket have luxurious high potentials program, whilst some have rule of thumbs and empower the managers to engage the talents continuously as part of the overall high potentials programs. Each method has its own merit.

 

More about UNC report. The report from UNC highlighted that as many as 83% companies identify the high potentials to meet the increased demand for leaders as well as to retain key talents. Additional reason to identify high potentials are to improve overall organizational performance (76%) and to adapt to changing business conditions (57%). Whilst we could see the strong and valid for organization to find out their high potentials, only 2% of the organizations are extremely satisfied with their current process of talents identification, very satisfied (27%) and moderately satisfied (52%). This is an interesting insight because more than 50% think there is a better way to do it. This is what I mean of sharing best practices among the companies could help all of make better talent decision in the future.

 

Another interesting insight is almost half (47%) of the current talent pool doesn’t meet anticipated future needs of the organization. This is similar to the quote by someone in marketing, “I know that I lose 50% of my budget in marketing, but I don’t know which half.” On the other hand, as many as 84% organization admitted that the demand for high potentials has changed in the past 5 years.

Internal employees should be given opportunity to be identified as high potentials. Some are reluctant leaders for various reasons including access and educational qualification. Strong sense of purpose is key in a thriving organizations for a successful talent development program.

The same report also indicated several key reasons and key drivers of high potentials. They are growth (74%), competitive pressure (61%), dynamic business models (50%), globalization (44%), attrition/turnover (39%) and technological advancement (36%). On the other hand, organizations also conveyed that the primary reasons why the decrease of high potentials programs are lack of attrition/turnover (61%) and lack of business growth (50%). I could infer that whilst organizations agreed that ideally growth, competitive pressures and dynamic business model would inject better needs for them to embark on high potential programs, however, the lack of staffs turnover and slowed growth can’t afford them to go full swing as it involves huge investment.

 

In conclusion, there are several contradiction answers from the organizations participating in this survey but it certainly provide a good baseline information for further understanding of high potential programs. You could see the constraint of organizations, bearish business conditions, highly demanded talents but not enough resources to bring them in as well as challenges of high potentials to be integrated in the current company culture.

 

I would like to offer some suggestions that could help business leaders and their HR leaders to make better decision when it comes to high potentials program. These suggestions are my personal view from what I know and I observe.

 

1. Have a good baseline study through a comprehensive internal data collection on all talent development and leadership initiatives and the impact to the business. They can do this by bringing in good researcher with adequate business experiences that can talk “business sense”. Let the organization and HR do what they do best and work with the researcher by providing data.

 

2. Have a good chat with the business leaders to get a good sense of where the business is heading and what are the challenges they see coming in 3-5 years. With hyper-competition and long tail economy, things are likely to change faster than expected.

 

3. Develop a good and integrated identification program to get internal employees offer themselves as part of high potentials. This provide opportunity for current employees to get full understanding of high potentials program and they would understand better if you need to bring in external talents to be part of the team later.

 

4. For internal employees that become high potentials, you must design and develop a strong program to renovate the way they think and redesign their job roles to fit in the high potentials track. After some time in the previous, they need a strong program to undo certain departmental beliefs and increased expectations.

 

5. Demand performance in all areas for all high potentials and at the same time show sincerity and authenticity to support their personal development. Try to get independent counselor or coach once a while and let them have a private chat. This helps the high potentials to have a different “talks” and get different views on matters that is important to them and the organizations they serve.

Business leaders and HR leaders should be transparent of their future needs and pain points. These leaders must be honest with each other in fair minded discussion with shared interest of the organizations.

I will be sharing more in my next post on types of programs that are currently being done in some organizations and what are the top competencies needed from high potentials. Stay tune.

 

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Design Thinking (DT) As Strategic Tool – Personal Experience

“I may have overused DT tool because I conveniently used it in several occasion, and the latest was during a strategic meeting to evaluate a partnership proposal.” – That was my starting remarks when I shared my personal experience using DT tool at genovasi aka (Malaysian DT House). Let me tell you why.

From my personal experience, “a tool and a fool seldom differ”. Hence learning how to use the tool is paramount and foundational to anyone, and by knowing how to use it to your advantage is a skill and a gift. A tool helps me to put things in perspective and find the relationship of various information. Just like a hammer that helps you to pound nails so you can hang your jacket. But if you decide to “think” like a hammer where you pound on everything, please be reminded that – “a tool and a fool seldom differ”. I have been using A3 report introduced by Toyota to build business case, I used Porter’s Five Forces to analyze market and I used my intuition to give that second opinion about affairs of the heart. 🙂

Now, why Design Thinking (DT) tool? Simply because it is one of the tools that I learned inside out where with the help of the coaches at genovasi; my team and I learn its application and limitation. Briefly, DT is a human-centered tool where the ultimate focus is to humanize the solution for optimum users satisfaction. You can use this problem-solving tool to create new products, services or in my case to evaluate business proposal. It is humanly possible to learn how to use DT tool and it is also almost impossible for your solution to go wrong if you adopt DT as part of your solutioning design. Nevertheless, just like any tool, DT has its own critics, which I wont touch here. Now let me summarize my own DT experience in the 5 steps and how I used them.

Five Steps of DT Problem Solving tool
Five Steps of DT Problem Solving tool

EMPATHISE

At this stage, my team and I discuss the broad view of the Why, What, When, Who, Where and How about this partnership proposal. Since this partner is an international partner, we are very serious in making sure we put all things on the table. I found getting all team members to Check-in help to uncover their emotional state during that discussion.

We exchanged numerous questions, choose certain key words and drill down further and help ourselves with coffee and tea at the same time. 😛  We used post-it notes and flipcharts. The purpose of this is simple, to put things up and let everyone see it. It gets everyone involved and be part of the solution. This step is critical in getting everybody on one-page and clarify matters early. This step is explicitly discussed and practiced in DT process.

We also ask people outside from our circle and get their feedbacks on partnering with international business ventures.

In some occasion we meet to discuss issues surrounding our objectives. Surprisingly, many of the people we met were rich with tacit experience and knowledge in these areas. This is the power of conversation which is hammered on in DT process.

We also shared our vision using a journey map to get their thoughts and learn their reservations, which could help us in the long run.

DEFINE

We got back from all these interactions and unpack our thoughts and share it out.

Of course, as a DT practitioner I don’t really say things like, “Let use DT and unpack”.

I use DT tool and processes without acknowledging it, I just guide our session through and it takes several days.

Unlike in our program @ genovasi where we have to quickly get it done (because of time limitation), but here I really take them through and get them to buy in especially my team because it takes only one believe that “this is not worth our time” to drop everything. Besides, in the process we also are in on-going communication with the international partners to shape this proposal.

In the process, we try to define the Point of View (POV) of our international partners. Navigating the international waters is very challenging with differences in time, culture, communication and perception. I recently learned that a “mediator” in Middle East is understood as “someone that meddle things up”. How about that? So we really need to define the people that we are dealing with and to avoid any prejudice or negative perception. We finally identified several POVs and we agreed to dive further  and move forward.

IDEATE

With clear POVs and after getting feedbacks from various people, we started to Ideate possible scenarios and situations that would help us uncover some information to validate our assessment. We also internally discuss and sometimes argue whether what we choose is acceptable to avoid any the curse of knowledge and setback of incremental judgment. Just like in other DT session, we allow as many ideas, similarly here where we let people throw in any thinking that come cross their mind. I also let people to ask question so they can substantiate and clarify their idea to gain further understanding.

PROTOTYPE

We end up with three scenarios (which remained confidential) and we internally tested them in several engagements. We iterated a few of them and we earned better confident level now. We also build further communication strategy on our prototypes and humanize it further. It is important to always remember that it is not about “us” or/and ‘them”, its always about achieving our mutual goals. This is difficult to do and I have to continuously remind myself, because it is easy to fall trap in either one and forget the goals and objectives. At the end of all this, we need to satisfy both parties hence the goals are sacred to us all.

TEST

Gladly, we ran several testing session and we are very happy with the results. We make some changes in the prototypes as we learn new information, especially in the POVs. The continuous conversation and discussion internally and externally help us to formulate the right solution to achieve our goals.

In conclusion, DT helps me to help my organization making better decision in evaluating this partnership proposal.

It improves my ability to exert creative confidence, provoke my own and team thinking, expand the team’s capability, strengthen trust and build strong determination to shape the right solution. Of course, with more practice I would do better in using this tool because human is unpredictable; and that quality makes DT even more interesting as a human-centered tool. It is fluid yet structured, it is fun yet strenuous and it break rules yet build trusts.

During a presentation with my team @genovasi
During a presentation with my team @genovasi

You can learn DT tool from internet, just Google Design Thinking. There are many courses and article about it right now and its free. You can buy a book on Design Thinking, again just Google or go to bookstores near you. But what truly a big difference in my own DT learning journey was the passion and patience that genovasi coaches have demonstrated throughout 10-weeks of real DT lessons @ Malaysia DT  House in Petaling Jaya. This program was in partnership with Hasso Platner Institute (HPI) and it is also taught at Stanford University. I couldn’t be more thankful to Prime Minister’s Department for initiating this awesome program and to let genovasi team be on the driver’s seat to drive this – they are just the right team and at the right time.

My sincere thank you and big-hearted congratulations go to The Ultimate Genovasi Team; Carol Wong, Mahadzir, Azman, Michelle, Mike, Foong Wai, Firdaus, Suyin, Teck Hin, Jun-Elle, Fazlina, Genie, and not forgetting our Outreach Project Partner (OPP) and also other genovasi team members. Special thanks to all IADP 3D intakes members, you guys rawks!

"DT house" @Malaysia
“DT house” @Malaysia

“Master It, Muster It”

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

15 Rules to Personal Effectiveness – Joker’s Guide

It’s always refreshing sometimes to look back and reminisce of the past. For me, i wrote back a similar title – Personal Effectiveness ; Joker’s Guide back in 2011. You can read it here. From where i started writing about it, i have been practicing and sharing with more people on this thoughts and what i call RULES. The more i talk about it to more people, the more profound the rules become. I get more evidence that the rules work the way it is supposed to work and it validated what i always believe.

For example, Rule 10 is “Learn to Write”. I started writing in 2007 and now i am reaping the benefits of it. My language command is a lot better and my thinking process is more orderly than it was. I learned how to do creative writing and it helps my proposal writing to be more personalized and convincing.

Another is Rule 11 – “Run Your Own Race”. Sometimes i can be easily caught up with other people’s race. Especially when things dont work out the way i want it, i got trapped in the losers mentality. It is hard to live when you feel trapped and in the state of hopelessness. When i practice this Rule 11, i make a point to remind myself that my time will come and i should persevere. It also help me not to be a procrastinator for a long time (short term procrastinate is fine i guess!). With this Rule 11, i also learn about people around me have their own race. Therefore i learn how to communicate better with them. Just because i am their supervisor, i can ask them whatever i want or wherever i want it. On the other hand, it is also applicable to business where it takes time to see any initiative to take shape and let alone to bear fruits of success.

One of my favorite rules is Rule 8 – “Self Leadership, Self Management”. It is easy to ask others to lead, but it is a lot easier to be a bystander in a leadership position. Many leaders do that and they gain credits for things that they dont deserve. While it is without a doubt they earned that leadership position, they should also live up to it for as long as they in that position. For example, leaders should lead from the front – which i call show up leadership. Show up means your face is always around in good and bad times. Leaders make decision and take ownership of that decisions. Some leaders hide behind the veil of “developing the young through delegation” – these are leaders that hide instead of becoming the first line of defense in times of crisis. As leaders, they are responsible to manage themselves professionally. Some leaders misbehave professionally by accusing their organizations and products too openly. They do it in the name of “open communication”. I like to tend to this issue by asking them back openly on their contribution to the problems. Most of them felt embarrassed because they know they just talk about it – but they hardly do anything about it; and they have been “there” for years.

Well, there are 15 Rules to Personal Effectiveness – Joker’s Guide altogether. Some of the rules are things that you are already practicing. Therefore it is good to acknowledge that you are doing the right thing. On the other hand, for rules that are new to you, please consider practicing them slowly and put yourself a challenge to acquire it. One thing you must know, these rules are universal and have been the guiding light for ancient people as well as successful modern citizens in today’s world.

The differentiation this time is about how i deliver these 15 Rules today, it is in a video format – 15 Rules to Personal Effectiveness – Joker’s Guide. Something that i do by chance with some friends. The result was awesome and i want to share it with you. Hope you will enjoy this video and hopefully later you will start considering some of these 15 Rules! 🙂

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Design Thinking – DT Personal Journey

There was a quote by Steve Jobs saying, “Design is how it works.” I think he was right. Recently i met an engineering student with strong right brain, he echoed that quote. He’s an undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering. He said a lot of people equate design with advertisement, art or schematic drawing. It’s wrong he said. I agreed with him; completely.

It was just weeks ago i graduated from a Design Thinking program organized by genovasi in collaboration with Hasso Platner Institute (HPI). The program was a 10-weeks hands on and pants down (i mean i have to do a lot of running around!). The entire program was done in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

The training room set up was brilliant and well thought. Everything were on rollers and wheels (except us). There were fun activities, higher order thinking games and best of all like minded folks; they came from various background but still when it comes to getting this done we only had one source; the Design Thinking (DT) 5 steps and 12 commandments. We literally guided by how to use and apply them in various settings and actual projects.

 

"DT house" @Malaysia
“DT house” @Malaysia

As i travel my DT journey i am beginning to see the world and its problems in new dimension. I got acquainted with design magazine such as Wallpaper and Fast Company (Design issue was released in October 2013). I ventured with enthusiasm what DT capable of doing and now am a DT convert.

There is only one immediate problem i see now; it is a new field that people are still struggling to adopt en-masse. Even when i spoke to my consultant friends, ehemmm! DT is perceived as playful as Mickey Mouse in pin stripped jacket.

Besides, even i personally have to constantly reminding myself on DT whenever i approach new “design challenges”. I sound dogmatic of trying to repackage old rules in new nicely ribboned matte box. Heck, as a convert i should be right? 😉

Look around you will find design plays significant role of a successful products or services. You can see this especially in IT application because technology enablement is a big part of user experience. DT place “human” as central to its approach. Why technology? This is because of our borderless and cross border economic aspiration. For eg. App-based application is used by global citizen and to appeal such a huge majority is a daunting task. But once your app is widely accepted (many examples of this) you are sure to turn them into money machine. This is impossible to do 15-20years ago because of heavy reliant on domestic market. But now with technology, this is not far a distance.

 

Pushed to a corner with a design challenge
Pushed to a corner with a design challenge

While we’ve seen rapid expansion of technology companies, we also observed tech giants that too big too fail; failed. They were unable to cope with this massive power given to global users in the name of UX (user experience). This lies DT approach that see the intersection of User Needs, Technology and Business as Innovation opportunity.

In summary, as a DT convert i only have this to say, “nobody can stop an idea that time has come.” DT is making wave and it is for good cause and for humanity. I know i am in.

Well, thats all for now. I surely get back with more insights as i travel my DT journey.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

New Product Development

Several months ago i was asked to train a group of senior managers on new product development. They came from a large utility company and they have high expectations. Armed with my direct experience in product development and product/portfolio management; my client was happy.

It was tough to convince them that they already have all it takes to do “magic”. Yes the processes that i went through with them were helpful (Ideation, Innovation, Commercialization), but more than half of the problem is within their reach. The best part was they were very supportive and open minded. By the middle of the week they have already overcoming the boundaries.

image

What i try to relate is this article i read in recent HBR, April 2013. The title is Three Rules for Making A Company Truly Great. The research background; they studied 25,453 companies over 44 years and extracted these rules. Rules are meant to be followed and you must follow. 🙂 They are easy to understand:

RULE 1: Better Before Cheaper
RULE 2: Revenue Before Cost
RULE 3: There Are No Other Rules

I have always believe these 3 rules aeons ago and i am sure many of you as well. It is harder to implement though! (I had gone through the hardship as well). However, with these rules, you will observe; to reap the benefits take some time. But wouldnt you want to play for the long haul? Can you hang in there when your competitors throwing price? Can you innovate your products or services when your client demand sophisticated features? It is harder than you thought but certainly worthwhile.

Lets explore a little bit especially RULE 1 & RULE 2:

RULE 1: Better Than Cheaper
We must compete on other differentiators than price. Try excellent styling, durability, new functionality, exciting brand, reliability, easy payment, smooth customer service, convenience etc other than price. You can still lower your price but it has relative to value. If customers service is your product, make sure you get vendors that resonate with your differentiators. This helps you achieve performance goals than trying so hard to teach a fish how to fly.

RULE 2: Revenue Before Cost
We should focus and prioritize in increasing the revenue than reducing cost. Some say increase the size of the cake to get more. Dont just create value, it has to bring or turn into profits. Rarely cost leadership drives superior profitability. Therefore to increase revenue we need to create new customers and serve the existing ones well. Provide avenues to have consistent communication with them to build loyalty.

I highly recommend for you to check out this article. I’ll try to find the article online if its publicly available. Meanwhile i suggest you to adopt and follow these surprisingly simple rules to make a company truly great!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Building New Capabilities

It’s a rather late to wish Happy New Year, but i am just going to wish anyway; Happy New Year 2013. What are you up to in the middle of the year?

It took me awhile to digest what’s in store for this year. Fortunately i figured out that to stay ahead of the game i need to build new capabilities; individually and in business. Often people will ask why, how and what are new capabilities? I don’t know much but i can provide some thoughts into the Why and How but not What.

Why- i remember Drucker mentioned a very important observation in his book Innovation & Entrepreneurship. He said when there’s a significant shift in demographic but more importantly meaning to something, there’ll be a big move. I guess because meaning is emotive so it makes people to feel more. Therefore when this happen, we can and need to surf together with that change.

For example, we all know the most talked about multigenerational workforce issue especially with Gen-Y, it’s a significant demographic change in terms of social structure. But more importantly is how Gen-Y has a different meaning about work. This has caused chaos at the beginning and problematic for some people and organization. However after some years, change started to seep in and Gen-Y assimilated or rather accepted in the workforce, the entire organizational perspective changed.

image

In fact now there are many efforts done to make Gen-Y adaptable and many new jobs created. These are new capabilities. Business will thrive when they found new capabilities.

The new business capabilities reside in leveraging the new generation or some called it Gen-Millenium (mixed of X, Y n so forth). But how to do it?

How- this is similar to a time when you already have a driving license and a car but you dont know where to hang out and who to hang out with. With new capabilities you actually can do much more and risk much less.

This is where organization development role come into the picture. The new workforce has huge untapped energies in them that if put to good use can do wonders. While development programs are targeted to new generation, often the seniors and leaders are left out or out of touch with today’s reality of the workforce.

Very few willing to change, and a lot more actually dont know how and what to change. Two worlds developed differently choreographed by the HR. Unless the HR is well informed and be a true business partner to the CEO, this can lead to organization disconnect; talent gaps, expansion limitation, execution challenges and redundancies.

A closer to reality and medium term human capital & OD projection planning can help these new capabilities are fully leveraged. There’ll be no evident of loss, but certainly huge economic losses can be expected when done wrongly.

In conclusion, organization leaders have to embrace and brave enough to open up and at the same time drive change from the top. Energies can only be managed and channelled, but it will never be depleted. It just takes different forms.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Becoming A Leader

When I asked fresh graduates and young workforce what they hope to become in the next 7-10 years of their career; their answer was “to become a manager or leader”. It seems that leadership is synonymous to only at workplace and

“Pride preceeds the fall”

from the title given to you from whomever in the office. I also fall into that trap when I was younger and fortunately managed to get out of that perception. I don’t want to dwell so much on the semantics and definition (although it is important too!) but what I want to write today about one aspect of leadership activities; which is becoming a leader.

Normal employment usually starts from the entry level (young executive) and gradually develops into leadership role. First you’re being managed and lead, then you become so good at what you do as individual and then you are promoted to lead a team. The transition from individual contributor to a leader is what I term as “becoming a leader”. While this gradual development seems simple and negligible, trust me that some people that I know had some makan-makan to celebrate this achievement. I think they should because usually this role comes with additional perks, increment and most importantly power.

However, the main challenge is greater. From a research that I read recently, many new leaders and managers fail greatly at this stage. They are still a great team player but not a team leader. While I can list down some great characteristics of good and bad leader, let me just pick and refer to my own experiences.

My first leadership role was a disaster because I end up only concerning about my own duties and area. I didn’t lend in hand to other area because I was still in the “individual performance” mode. Whatever I do is all about me and my results. While I successfully delivered my things, the team overall performance suffered. I learnt fast enough that a leader in action should see as whole as possible. This is hard when you are new in the organization or in the role. It takes years of practice and making mistakes to develop this aspect of leadership. Learn to see the big picture.

Becoming a leader also requires you to build coalitions. Another survey on leadership highlighted that three critical skills of a modern leader; Critical Thinking, Change Management and Building Coalitions. As businesses becoming more connected, relationship building is key to move things forward. However, from my experience building coalitions is a lot easier with external parties than among colleagues and internal parties. In fact there was one study saying that “coherence premium” is a single most powerful solution organization can make to leap. I can imagine some of you nodding in agreement to this statement. Learn how to build professional relationship internally and externally.

Leadership guru, Robin Sharma, said that a leader is someone who chooses which mountain to climb and a manager someone who comes out with the plan on how to climb the mountain efficiently. It is common for someone who lead a team to play both leader-manager role interchangeably. It is even more important for you to know when to turn on the leader and manager mode at the right time. Soon you will hear from your people (about you) either one of these two leadership styles; micromanage or laissez-faire. The “trick” is not to get carried away with whatever label they give you. As a new leader, it is important that you make mistakes and correct them early. Like I said above that it takes years of practice to become a good leader. Be constantly aware about your two roles as a manager and a leader.

Finally, becoming a leader also a challenge when you are not used to the newly bestowed power that you have. Always remember that you have another boss or leader on top of you. 🙂 While I believe that power that you gained from your work title doesn’t matter much, it is a “big thing” for a new leader. My advice is to always seek understanding from your own boss. You got to learn how to manage your boss while managing your own subs. Depending the type of bosses that you get, if you’re lucky you are going to learn considerable amount of good work habits and skills. If you’re unlucky (and don’t know how to choose!), you can get stuck with all the bad habits and corner-cutting ways of getting ahead without getting things done. A dangerous learning for new leaders and managers. Learn how to be a good human being when you lead, and when you are following learn how to pick up the good things.

Additional note, as a leader you need to learn how to collaborate and foster collaboration. My recent experience is a good example of the latter. This is important for incumbent leaders that have been in the organization for some time. You need to learn how to initiate and promote collaboration. While the new leaders need to learn how to build relationship, we don’t have much time to waste for team performance through synergistic collaboration among the leaders; junior and senior. Often I noticed greater resistance for the senior leaders to take the lead to foster collaboration. This is not good for the overall organization as they are the people the new leaders look up to. I suggest the senior leaders to have more empathy and contribute more to the big picture so the organization can be more effective and move faster than competition.

While leadership is an art, there is also a science to it that is methodical and learnable. There are traits and characteristics that identifiable of what make great leaders. Nonetheless, one thing about leadership that will make you leap is the behavioural part. Action, always speaks louder than words.

“When you manage use your mind, when you lead use your heart” – Anonymous

 

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Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Some said this mantra originated from Steve Jobs, yes the Apple’s. In one of his keynote address to Stanford graduates graduation ceremony in 2005, he reminded the audience about the importance of being ‘hungry and foolish’ as his key success. That was basically it.

What’s more is, I fully subscribed to that mantra and agree unilaterally. Let’s not talk about entrepreneurship although it is a subject that I love to talk and write hence we are not talking about setting up your own business. It is good if you already have a sustaining one or planning to set one. I would like to address the young working class, just like you and me. People that rely on jobs; have bosses, supervisors, customers, colleagues and face daily job challenges.

You know it is very easy to get distracted at work. Sometimes the job that you are currently doing is something you hate the most. That’s why we invented hobbies. Or it may not be the job you thought you wouldn’t do 10 years ago before you join this working class. I have friends who come to me and said, “I don’t know why every time I get a job, it’s always with similar if not the same problems”. Do you feel the same? Let me tell you one thing, even if you are in heaven right now you are likely to complaint. So, it’s normal to be a little bit analytical and critical of own job and its challenges.

Reality of Jobs

Recent surveys in America and Europe about jobs are driving into the same conclusion. The young working class nowadays do not have enough competencies to perform or take over senior people jobs. That’s what the seniors are saying. You can read this post and find out more on this ‘perceptual difference’ between the young executives and seniors. Nonetheless, what I have always believe is that many of today’s jobs are ‘new job’. These jobs are not around 20-30 years ago during the time the seniors climbing their corporate ladder. Therefore the idea of new skills needed to perform today’s job seem foreign to many of them and us. But let’s not discuss too much now, check out some of these facts derived from that survey.

1. A growing number of people are remaining healthy and active well past the traditional retirement age ad want to carry on working, whether for the money or for the fun of it. That create problems for younger workers.

  1. Workers will have to take responsibility for their own future. The pleasure of the having traditional working role were the certainty of a parent-child relationship. You could leave it in the hands of the corporation to make the big decisions about your working life. Now the world is moving towards adult-adult relationship which will require each one of us to take a more thoughtful, determined and energetic approach to exercising the choices available to us.

  2. In some countries, unemployed youth will be given allowances as long as 40 weeks (incentives) for them to cover basic needs which otherwise if not provided can cause social problems such as criminals.

  3. Getting the innovation engine going again is essential to reducing structural rate of unemployment.

  4. The mismatch between the skills demanded by employers and those available in the market is a reflection both of bad choices by students, who have not thought hard enough about what will help them find a good job and of education systems that are too often indifferent of needs of the labour market and too slow to change even if they try.

Yes, I cover a little bit of here and there from more than 10 pages report. What did you get from here?

You Are On You Own

Basically to survive, young executive needs to take charge of his own life. This is not what they use of doing. Having pampered by their nurturing parents, many of them clueless when asked to become agile, resilient, creative, imaginative and working in a team. Although not all of them, but too many of them. It is common today to generalize the young ones to be ‘like that’.

Some of them are very lucky because they have parents who have access to more things thus their outlook are different. Of course not all of them successfully rearing their children, some actually spoiling them because of less time spent at home to look after their boys and girls. Therefore my advise to young executives that they need to start looking for knowledge that they passion about. Something they would want to do for free because it will then become their latent skills.

Say you are in large corporation, you should always raise your hand and push your superiors to give you more jobs and tasks you can develop stronger willpower, depth of skills and be a team player. Because many young executives resist extra jobs, just by doing a little bit more you can become ‘hero’ by your boss. Ask for training and continuous education. Another trick is to learn how to connect yourself with the seniors. These people have strong knowledge and wealth of experiences that take years to accumulate. Tap on this young man!

Get ready to dive into sea of opportunities
Get ready to dive into sea of opportunities

Seek The Experience

I told more people lately, they need to be explorative and be a seeker. You got to chase that experience and make the best out of it. Experience will not come to you, sorry. You need to immerse yourself into it then only you get to see that world. Although many NGOs and associations today are fighting for greater activities, incentives and policies by the government to change education system, introduce entrepreneurs program, provide micro-financing and pass small business laws, you can always do something about it by yourself while waiting.

It is common today to see young executive job hop from one place to the other. Although many of y bosses disagree with this, I think it is not the job hopping causes trouble it’s more the why job hop. If you do it because you want to gain new experience, learn new skills and beef up your network. You are just as hungry for greater things; and joy. Nonetheless, bosses are right too because too many young executives job hop because they don’t like the job, want more pay and benefits and worse unable to perform as expected. They have escapism mentality and run away from responsibilities.

One of the things I tested is to go to another job that will force me to learn critical skills in business. Skills such as project management, sales, strategy formulation and relationship building. What I did was I seek a project manager and consulting job. In 3 years I learn a lot about this trade and accumulated solid experiences in the areas I wanted. But mind you, it is also important for you to identify what are skills needed for you to be where you want to be.

These are the three skills needed for all young executives; selling skill, relationship building skill, and managing skill.

Worri-less

Don’t worry if your boss, parent or colleagues try to talk you out when you want to move to other job.  You must stick to your higher plan and accept the fact these people or employers are your vehicle to get to where you want to be. Even if you make mistake, it has nothing to do with them because they told you so! 🙂

What’s more important is to keep the relationship fresh. I don’t believe in winners take all mentality, and bipolar mindset. Maybe you have experienced working with some narcissistic bosses, be nice to them and just walk out with dignity if you plan to leave the company. Remember to always give your best wherever you are. Give more and share more, you don’t lose anything. You are actually building social capital and goodwill. You are going to need to use it someday.

To drive home the conclusion, it is all about you if you want to be successful or at least survive in working class. Sometimes it pays to keep your jobs long, but in today’s economy the job may not want to keep you that long. Always be alert and able to pick up new skills. Invest in yourself including your intellect. One of my friends say that it is who know, not what you know. I disagree. Knowing what you know make you a leader and always one step ahead; but please don’t be ignorant. It pays to be a little selfish as Charles Handy used in his book, ‘The Hungry Spirit’; proper selfishness.

Stay hungry, stay foolish. 

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

INNOVATE – How to Create Successful Product

INNOVATE

 

Usually at this stage, you have gathered substantial information of how your BASIC product work in the real customer’s setting. You have passed your moment of truth and a critical mass has been achieved. You have a long list of customers and you have stable sales monthly and you have repeat orders. Until you have all these, you shouldn’t INNOVATE your product yet. Unless your product has safety, security or life-threatening problems or severely malfunction, you need to come out with revised BASIC product.

From the information you gathered in your BASIC product, you identify additional features and benefits demanded by your customers. Its time to INNOVATE. Make some charts and graphs. Dig all the feedback forms, data and competing product information. Analyze all this information. Talking about competition, there is about 90% chance your product has been invented by someone else somewhere else in other part of the world. So what to do next? Google it.

One example that proven to be successful the last 10 years was a Malaysian example; did by Perodua Manufacturing. This company is the 2nd national car manufacturer in Malaysia. You see, when they first introduced Kancil, they still haven’t found the perfect sauce. They just came up with the product and sell. It was very traditional way of selling cars. They failed to look at the customers and not sensitive about other car markets around the world. After some years, they launched Kelisa and MyVi. After more than 15 years, now Perodua is the market leader, overtaken Proton the former incumbent and Perodua never look back, Proton is playing catch up now. Perodua keeps launching new product and INNOVATE. Products such as Viva, Alza and a lot more. What Perodua did? INNOVATE.

Kelisa and MyVi comes in multiple, significant and different variants. Different colors, special edition, additional features, sporty bodykit, limited color variants, thematic edition, fan club and also creative advertising. As you can see there is no mention “heavy discount”, “rock bottom price”, “price slash” or “year end sale”. In fact in every edition, the price is increased by few hundreds or thousands. No wonder now MyVi can cost up to RM 50, 000! But surely worth it. 🙂  INNOVATE is key.

When you INNOVATE, not only you innovate product because you can also do it in terms of manufacturing costs, structural design and process improvements. For example in India a guy named David Green has done it differently. This guy involved in a company called Aurolab whereby this company is currently producing 1.5 million intraocular lenses and export it to 109 countries. Intraocular lenses are used to restore eyesight to cataract patients. These lenses used to cost $300 dollars, but by using emerging technology and restructuring manufacturing costs, David Green was able to bring it down to $10 or less! More people definitely benefited from this and especially in India where cataract disease is common. Currently his company captured 8% of the intraocular lenses market and there is still a lot of room to grow.

Only when you INNOVATE the BASIC product or processes you can witness monumental change in your sales or revenues. The reason is because your BASIC product is stable and has reach maturity. That’s why it is very important to keep looking for BASIC product that can achieve minimum customer’s requirement.

Similarly when you run your consulting services. When you already have good testimonials, outcomes to your clients are stunning, repeat business is norm and demand of your BASIC product increases, its time for you to INNOVATE. Some examples of INNOVATE in consulting services is they published related books to core programs, create tools to support your program, provide online consulting services, recruit channel partners to increase reach and hire other consultant to preach your products.

When you are ready with INNOVATE, you are likely to have a series of solid products under your company. Now it’s time to DUPLICATE.

I will explain the remaining 3 steps in my next post.

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