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 

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

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

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 

Think Different

If you remember it well, this was Apple’s tagline back in 1980s. Back then when I saw Apple’s product – such as earlier version of Macintosh, I don’t quite understand what Think Different. I also don’t really see a need to think differently. I thought we should always think the way it is. Yeah, the way as your parents, teachers and preachers taught you. There shouldn’t be any other way right?

I still remember the day when Steve Jobs of Apple was fired and ousted from his company. It was either shown on TV or in the newspaper because it is still ringing in my ears that my father told me about him. My father said, “You see this guy is crazy. He started a company then it grows so big and he got fired from his own company. How that could be possible? He started the company of course he should stayed on.

” My father was furious – he was a technician with a government-owned company. He added this line that stuck with me for umpteen years, “So don’t bother about starting a company or do business because it will be a disaster if you become like this guy. He is out of job now!”

While Steve Jobs ousted from Apple walking away with millions (that time I didn’t know he had stocks) and as for me that line stayed on imprinted in my subconscious for many years to come. I was 10 years in 1990. That was how powerful parents words because it can shape thoughts. The undoing it took long, painful losses yet adventurous (when looked back!). So my goal when I grow up was to score well in studies and work for an organisation, preferably a government-owned if not a government agency.

However life has its own way of nudging me to different directions. I was given many opportunities in my late teens to open up the different side of me that I had surpassed for long time. The journey begins and now here I am.

This post came about when I bumped into a young engineer in a company that I conducted training. This technician was paying a lot of attention the class and getting involved as well. So during lunch time I complimented him and he said he is very interested the subject, Design Thinking. He said he learned some of it during his university days.

He then continued telling me that he was selected as the only student in a student project sponsored by Dyson – yes the vacuum, bladeless fan and some other awesome appliances. He said during his Dyson stint, he had been pushed to think very differently, yes very different so much so his engineering him had to give away. He was so scared and shocked that why this successful company like Dyson wanted think to be so different? He couldn’t get it, yet he persisted. He worked on hand-dryer project at that time.

He then told me that he was offered a job interview after that, yeah just the interview first. During the session he was asked to think very differently for example how could a ball be different? How could a battery be different? Instead of thinking different, he tried to give the facts that he knew. He didn’t survived the first interview. Poor this technician. Interestingly, according to him, those that survived the interviews and finally landed jobs there were those who think very different. He knew these people were very different because he worked with them during the project. This story was relayed to me 2 months ago. I got this guy to tell the rest of his colleagues, and they were all surprised hearing it first time because this technician has been working there for the last 5 years. 🙂

Think different is highly prized these days. If you are students, teens, young executives and junior managers, senior managers and CEOs, it pays to invest in yourself how to think different. It pays to think different because the “mismatched” world is considered as creative and innovative these days.

Get a book or two about how different can you be. Hangout in conferences or people that are different from you. Take risk a little bit, throw yourself plunge a little bit and embrace uncomfortable feelings a little bit. The rewards? Think different.

My parting words, “If you think you are different, stay different, someday someone somewhere might find you valuable.”

Think different.

Any brickbat please send to 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

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 

10 Symptoms of “DTO”

Heard this phrase before? “Practice make permanent?”. My team and I been working and practicing DT back to back with some clients, so much so we forget how much “DT” is embedded to our brain – almost permanently. We think we are experiencing symptoms of DTO. Are you? Here the 10 symptoms of DTO – design thinking overdrive:

img_2669

  1. When you see someone carrying brown carton boxes, you think it is a prototype.
  2. You run to a group of people in a mall holding paper folders because you thought they are looking for Testers.
  3. You seriously believe that crazy & wild ideas are ideas worth exploring…
  4. You have Sharpie pens inside your jeans, leather bag, laptop bag, handbag, satchel, wristlet and stucked on your t-shirt!

  5. Joking around is considered brainstorming to you (except everyone else!)
  6. You doodle more and speak less, to deepen the “conversation”.
  7. Every question starts with How Might…..
  8. Sitting down makes you feel strapped to the chair, you stand up to listen.
  9. Everything you can get your hands on can be a prototype – instantaneously!
  10. You sleep on your ideas and think about it meditatively! The next day, viola!

  11. It seems no one can stop you from doing something about any problem. Who’s stopping you anyway?

img_2695

It turns out there are 11 symptoms of DTO! It’s really driving us “mutts”!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

or visit us at www.designthinking.com.my 

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

 

 

Just Don’t Be Leaders

Leadership is a very popular topic. Try to Google it, you’ll get millions of pages from all around the world. Leadership is one of many critical skills for modern workforce. Leadership has become the raison d etre of every level of employees particularly Executives and above. Leadership is a must have for every Top Management and C-suites. It is an important subject that companies around the world spent money on to develop their talents. There is one my favorite author and Master Coach wrote a book “Leading Without Title” – by Robin Sharma. It is a good book and easy to understand content. I’d reccommend you to have a copy and read. However leadership isn’t enough these days.

Please let me explain the 5 Why.

1. Too Many Leaders, Already

Robin Sharma says, “Leaders choose which mountain to climb, Managers will work on how to climb that mountain efficiently.” We have far too many “leaders” in organization these days. Don’t you think? Telling us they want this and that but have little notion and understanding on what it takes to get there. These leaders unapologetically make unrealistic demands that they themselves care little about.
2. Leaders Don’t Practice

Leaders sometimes are wishful thinkers. They have lots in their heads, but they share too little. They let their comrades and others to second guess their thoughts all the time. These leaders said we should share but they don’t practice what they preach. These leaders compare themselves a lot with their staffs. These leaders cunningly said, “I can think that’s why I am your leader (read boss).” Because of that when the staffs unable to deliver their wishes, they are called “poor performers”.

3. Leader Isn’t A Title

Guess what? Before modern organizations exist, leaders are made of those who get things done and make things happen – without a name card bearing their name with titles such as “Vice President, Managing Director, CEO, Head Finance, Operations Director etc…” Leaders of the olden days decide which mountain to climb and rally people around them and show them how to scale it efficiently. These leaders backgrounds are not based on creed or education level, they are measured based on the outcomes and impact to the world around them. They are very passionate individuals convinced others to follow their journey.

 

problems
4. Leaders Failed Executors

Because leaders are seen as higher management, they tend to over rule decision making at their on whimps and fancies. Although their comrades have presented the facts and figures to climb the mountain efficiently, these leaders intervene in the name of “bigger picture”. When things go wrong or sideways, these leaders let the executors face the music  alone, in the name of accountability. Leaders abandoned their crews.

5. Leaders Avoided Path Less Travelled

Leaders have bigger offices, salary, parking space and benefits. These comfort perks are highly prized by leaders. They sometimes think it is belong to them because they deserved it. What if one day these perks taken away from me? Therefore these leaders minimize their risks of making mistakes. They chose the common path therefore no mistake, as a result nothing new can be learned. They avoid mistakes in experiments that could go wrong. They are not willing to spend money on new venture because their perks will be taken away, if they make mistake.

Just don’t be leaders. These leaders.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

The Innovation Sandwich

“We have plenty of great ideas. We went to many conferences, pitch to variety people and talk to potential customers. But in the end we know we got to eat the innovation sandwich. Out innovative ideas was just the meat right in the middle – leaves it much to be desired.”

This one comment of many feedbacks from managers and talents that I received from the people that I work with in workshops. Several times I had heart to heart discussion with some of them on how we could take corporate innovation further, all they say “the bosses should be willing listen to us sincerely.

The situation they are in can be paraphrased in the words of Ed Catmull of Pixar, “Give great idea to mediocre team,they will screw it up. Give mediocre idea to great team, they will either fix it or come up with something better.”

Listen to this bosses, when the team is made of great people, all bosses need to do is to encourage and give confidence. Although some ideas aren’t similar,bosses got to play long in corporate innovation game. When your team is encouraged and motivated, they would want more, this is when you drive them.

There are situations when the team said “Bosses always push in their ideas and they pursued it to respect bosses wishes.” This is when the innovation team becomes the Innovation Sandwich – victim of the situation. Their energy drained, unfocus and worst they burned out. Energy wasted.
Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Wrap Up Year 2015, Welcome 2016!

The year 2015 has been an aweshemm year for some and trying year for another. As for me, it has been a mix of both. Towards the end, my team and I at DT LEADERSHIP,  finally concluded (today!) that it was an aweshemm year indeed. 🙂

Three things that attracted our interest has always been design thinking, leadership and top talent development. We engaged few hundreds people this year in the three domains above. It feels aweshemm and enlightening! Thanks so much.

I wish to highlight three highlights that captured my personal attention. The designs may be great, good or oopss; but they did catch my attention.

1. Miss Universe 2015 & Steve Harvey

Unexpectedly, I believed, Mr Harvey (the host and winner announcer), wrongly announced the winner. You could see the full video here – Miss Universe 2015 Announcement. He did the right thing, albeit the mistake, admitted that he wrongly announced it and quickly announced the right winner (Miss Philippines the right winner). The mistake later attributed (besides Harvey mistake) was the announcement card was poorly designed therefore confusing (see below). It was chaotic for a while but sorted, well done!

miss_universe_card_zoom
Was this card designed to fail?

2. OXO Measuring Cup

I recently watched GEL Conference 2015 held at New York City – video Alex Lee @ GEL Conference. President of OXO kitchenwares, Mr Alex Lee, talked about OXO’s measuring cup. It was really nice (see below). It solved our human-problem to keep looking whether the liquid reach the right level yet or not. Usually we will stoop to keep checking, with OXO new measuring cup, you don’t have to do that! Brilliant design! Interestingly during their initial research, none of the users mentioned the action of “keep looking up and down” was a problem. However, OXO design team has keen eyes for users behaviours, so they spot it. Now this measuring cup selling by millions around the world.

Humanized-design. Take a closer look!
Humanized-design. Take a closer look!

 

3. Pop Corn Royale @TGV Cinema

I brought my family recently to TGV Cinema to watch a movie –  “The Good Dinosaur”. We havent been out for a get together for some time. We decided to enjoy our time a little bit more. The kids loved the Pop Corn Royale Caramel (see below). However, when we arrived we found out that the Caramel has been replaced by a new flava – the Cool Mint. I hesitated to buy (while queueing) because pop corn and mint – hmmmm…My turn came and I asked “Is the Cool Mint nice?” “What happen to the Caramel?”. I was amazed by the response I received from the guy who was at the counter – “You should try, let me take some of it.” He smiled and offered us to try without any hesitation. We tried and we loved it!

It looks to me, the service design as simple as “offer trial or offer sampling on the fly” helps customer to feel safe and build trust. I could tell that this guy is aweshemm because while his supervisor wasn’t that appreciative of what he tried to do – “make me feel safe to try the new flava.” The experience was fantastic, I recommended the Cool Mint for you as well! 😉 Well done TGV!

The Caramel and Cool Mint, which one do you like?
The Caramel and Cool Mint, which one do you like?

There you go, as we wrapped 2015 those are the things that captured my attention. So what’s next for 2016? Because our interest are in design thinking, leadership and top talent, we asked ourselves four questions for us to dig deeper in the coming 2016. Here are the questions:

 

  1. How might we retain our top talent in cross countries and global projects that rely in virtual teams set up?
  2. How might we create a safe environment for senior operational leaders help the top talents grow exponentially in their career?
  3. How might we rapidly develop new products and services that customers love in our verticals?
  4. How might we improve our service design (people, process, tech and planet) to increase our bottomline / profits?

That’s all for now. We look forward to see you in 2016!

Happy New Year 2016! May the year brings us abundance, happiness and love.
Happy New Year 2016! May the year brings us abundance, happiness and love.

How to Take Advantage of Mentoring in Organizational Development (OD) and Leaders Development

In the last few years OD has become very popular framework to redesign holistic people & leaders development for large organizations. In this “renewed” war on talent, where it is no longer about quantity of talent that matters rather it is more about quality or right talent that is in dire need for most organizations. Although we hear several companies in manufacturing, banking and IT are making layoffs, the way I see it these companies are retaining and keeping their best talents braving the perfect storm coming their way.

One common theme in OD is mentoring and coaching. I have worked with several clients to design part of OD components (few get implemented), but often OD becomes a long list of training programs after training programs with various consultants and trainers (internal and external). There is little thought in optimizing the OD outcomes to the organization. I think we shortchanged ourselves by not taking advantage of mentoring. The mentoring portion often not implemented because “too much resources needed” to roll out.

Here I wish to share how organizations can take advantage of mentoring in OD. This is simple, practical and implementable at small scale, which later can be scaled up further.

A. Decide 1-2 mentoring goals. Yes, just one or two goals first. I learn from behavioural change model, once we are able to change one or two behaviours, our confident level improves and we start to tackle other challenges next. Example mentoring goals are:

  1. Developing leaders for non-core businesses
  2. Retaining Gen-Y workforce in key positions
  3. Promoting high performance Gen-X for global expansion
  4. Improve customers base for new products and services
  5. Supporting emerging leaders for career direction
  6. Encouraging leaders to learn and develop each other

B. Find and recruit the people and leaders that most attracted to mentoring and people development. Often not all top executives love mentoring idea because they need to make time for it. However, OD chief needs to be able to present a compelling business case for it. Prep sometime with the CEO prior this engagement. Bring along several key talents in the initial meeting to convince the CEO.

C. Present a business case that outlines the following:

  1. Mentoring goals.
  2. Business SWOT – Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat
  3. Skills available and acquired in the company – identify the leaders (potential mentors)
  4. Skills required and needed in the company – identify the content (potential faculties)
  5. Rolling out plan and scheduling (start small – have 2-3 mentors assigned to less than 10-12 talents)
  6. Guidelines, processes and coordination (keep it minimal and spartan)
  7. Measurement of outcomes and duration (6-12 months is enough)
  8. Monitoring plan and expectations
  9. Proposed investment (only include this once the rest has been thoroughly discussed with CEO and CFO)

D. Say if you still find it difficult, here you can do it the stealth way:

    1. Find organizational leaders that love people.
    2. Find talents that show exceptional performance and demonstrate leadership qualities.
    3. Conduct 30-45 minutes behavioural interviews with your colleague or partners.
    4. Find good matching between the leaders (mentors) and talents (protégés)
    5. Speak to friendly direct supervisors of this plan (recruit the direct supervisor to oversee the development)
    6. Prepare some basic guidelines for mentors and protégés.
    7. Roll out under stealth mode.

I personally feel that mentoring has strong and deep developmental advantages other than training programs. Mentoring has talent retaining effect too!

Having a basic level mentoring program would enhance training programs done in the company because the participants will contextualized what they learn and relate it back to the organization when meeting with their mentors.

Besides, the developmental programs can be more targeted and expanded based on feedbacks from the mentors.

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

Identifying Tough Cookie At Work

Tough cookie can be real tough. There is a title of a book by Robert H. Schuller, “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do”. When was the last time you had to deal with these people? Apparently part of journey to become top leaders, a leader must face off with tough cookie.

tough_times
“Sometimes the only thing we did is pray.”

Remember those days when we were kids, we could simply shout, push back and kick those bad guys in the pants – hey how sometimes I wish that might work at work place. But, tough cookie at work place operates differently. Right?

Let’s do the acid test on how to identify tough cookie at work place:

1) WORD-LESS – these people neither give suggestion or feedback. They just shut off and continue their work the way they believe is right. Often, you need to keep going back to correct the same mistakes.

2) SARCASTIC JOKER – humour me can be fun but sarcasm doesn’t work well when its too much. They like to talk about things that don’t work aeons ago and magnify disproportionate risks on new ideas.

3) SEE BUT DISBELIEVE – they prefer to see situations as “no solution” after first few attempts. Saying “no” is their automated response. Instead, we should learn how to see “what’s the real problem is” and have faith in search of excellence.

4) PERSON BEFORE PROBLEM  – “whatever coming out from his mouth is fouled”. Blanket accusation like this is a dysfunctional behavior. Their inability to evaluate and be critical to the problem at hands can jeopardize decision making for the organization.

Dealing with tough cookie is no monkey business. Can be a real pain.
Dealing with tough cookie is no monkey business. Can be a real pain.

Here is the advise from the best. Ram Charan was asked, as leader “What can’t be taught?”. He answered, “Leader needs the mental capability and tenacity to knit their inferences into something meaningful and the imagination to think of new options. Leader needs the courage to go on the offensive based on your subjective judgments. You can’t be a wimp – make the tough calls.”

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com