Finally

Yes, finally! I have submitted my dissertation last month. This hard work of mine took almost 6 months to complete, thanks to my hectic job. Fingers crossed, I will pass this and probably by the end of the year, I will finally call myself an MBA graduate. I am really hoping that I would not fail and have to resubmit, else I would be crushed!

Okay, okay… I shouldn’t be thinking negative thoughts now. The popularity of  ‘The Secret’ and ‘Law of Attraction’ state that I have to think positive to attract good vibes, etc. Since there are so many great testimonials out there, there should be some truth in them, ain’t it?

So from now on, let me visualise that I am going to pass this with flying colours. Yes, flying colours! Aim higher and even if you fall, you fall above your acceptable levels.

Knackered

It’s a long break ahead but why am I not feeling overly excited? Looking at the same document I have been looking at over and over again for the past few hours makes me feel tired. I know this is just the beginning where I don’t know what to write, where to begin and whether I’ll get to finish at all!

Sigh.

Creativity

I have moved on to the electives part in my MBA programme and thinking of taking the road less travelled, opted for a module called ‘Knowledge Management’. Yes, I should have chosen something more familiar like International Marketing but the whole rationale of taking this MBA was for me to learn something different.

So, Knowledge Management (KM) that is.

KM is nothing new to me, although immersing myself in its theories are something different altogether. Yes, it has been widely acknowledged that KM within a company can be harnessed as a source of competitive advantage and it is a huge, huge waste if an employee with tons of knowledge leaves the company.

Like me. Heh.

Anyway, was reading this journal on knowledge within a company and it touches on the role of creativity in organisations. Which I find interesting.

I moved from an open-minded organisation to a very much closed-minded one. Although it is an ‘international’ organisation, unfortunately, we are being led by someone who is rather ‘traditional’.

You would really expect a hive of learning experience within such a big organisation but the sad part is (like what the journal article says) our creativity and learning experience had been hampered by myopic management. The definition of a good manager and a good leader differs apparently but I am not going into this.

We are not encouraged to question or even take our own initiative. Due to pressures from above to perform and meet targets all departments were merely operating on a ‘finish our job ASAP’ basis. No time to think outside the box, no time to sit and brainstorm on ideas. Its work within the budget, line up some activities, advertise and put these in all our reports so they look good. Why are we using money to participate in this event which will not generate much returns? Don’t ask, just go.

I believe that they key to keeping yourself updated is doing a lot of reading on trends. And if you do not do so, you are going to look stupid in front of every one. I dread becoming one such manager myself and hope that I would be a leader instead of a manager.

Creativity, it seems, comes from the intrinsic satisfaction of an employee. No doubt, money is a strong motivator, but if one is not passionate about what he does, creativity wouldn’t kick in naturally. How true. The carrot may be dangling in front of you – a huge, fat bonus at the end of the year – if you achieve your sales target. People will be so consumed with achieving the target and not thinking of how the organisation could do better in the long run by injecting some creative or innovative marketing strategies.

I have always believed in the visions at the top. If those at the top advocates innovation and creativity, the whole organisation would. Otherwise, it is just a matter of going along with the daily grind.

The root of the problem? Me thinks it’s the trend where Senior Management are expected to go on rotation to different countries/regions. There would be less sense of belonging and no concern on what’s long term in an organisation. No?

Ethical, or not?

I have moved on to the subject of Business Ethics in my MBA programme and had been doing a lot of reading and thinking about the subject area. Like I mentioned previously, taking up a postgraduate programme had taught me the importance of looking at issues differently, and being critical on whatever that I come across.

I had initially thought that Business Ethics is a very clear cut issue. What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. Of course, there are the occasional grey areas but that’s about it. However, the more comments you read, the more you agree and the more confused you’ get.

In our text, the fundamentals of Ethics is divided into two broad theories (or views). One: consequentialist and two: non-consequentialist.

In the first one: consequentialist, it is believed that an action is morally right if the action itself results in the greatest good/happiness for the greatest number. That is, murder is morally right if killing one person saves an entire group of people. Perhaps murder is very clear cut and may not be a good example, but you get the picture.

Non-consequentialists believe in the action itself rather than results. It is what people do. So, murder is wrong regardless of how many people you would save and regardless of what situation you are in. Say you murdered because of self defence. You are still guilty because the action is wrong regardless of the outcome.

So, that brings me to the issue that we’ve been debating in the office. Heh.. obviously, I won’t bore you with my course discussions.

Being in marketing means we are constantly pressured to achieve targets. Of course, I don’t see why this should be a big problem when demand is there. Our reputation is also there and people want to be associated with us.

Alas, bureaucracy kills it all. Our inflexibility meant that we had to reject many potential customers and it is also us who need to handle the disappointment and frustration.

Why? Why could our competitors do it and not us? Why be so strict and inflexible?

I had worked in a foreign organisation  and as much as I understand how cultures differ, we need to have some flexibility in doing things in this country called Malaysia. Well, not only flexibility, but ‘ways’ when it comes to dealing with certain authorities.

We were just debating this fact in the office – why can’t we get things sorted out for our customers as quick and simple as competitors? Why do we have to comply so strictly with deadlines while others operate on a even tighter deadline?

Honestly, when customers ask me these questions, I have no answer for them. Although deep inside I know why. And all you customers out there, stop blaming certain companies for sticking with their policies too much. There isn’t anything I could do since no one is willing to do anything.

The answer to these questions is because our competitors know how to work round the system. Know how to ‘take care’ of the authorities concerned. Yes, it is not ‘morally right’. But to me, personally, things that need to be done, need to be done. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, not technically wrong, I am fine.

For example, these ‘immoral actions’ may just include buying a whole bucket of KFC for the authorities for their lunch. Yea, try to visit during lunch time, too. So what? Just put the expenses under entertainment claims. Heck, we are allowed to buy our business partners lunch or dinner as entertainment what. So?

Referring back to the theories: it is not considered morally right since the action results in the greatest happiness? I mean our customers are happy cos we sorted out things for them. The authorities are happy cos they get free lunch and heck, even KFC is happy cos they get to sell one whole bucket of their leftover chicken.

And of course, I am happy too la – no need to deal with angry customers.

And who loses out? No one. Not a single person got hurt. Well, except for our competitors.

Guy Kawasaki on Mission Statement

You just gotta laugh out loud when you hear what he has to say about mission statements. Next time I see a elaborate mission statement plastered somewhere, I’d wonder how much they’ve paid for it and whether Dilbert could come up with a better one.

No regrets…

Halfway though a cramming cum note-taking session last weekend, something hit me. It was a conversation I had with a friend about my decision to take up a postgraduate course. At that time, I was still indecisive on whether to take the plunge or not, and no, she didn’t encourage me to take up this course, but sort of laid her views on why I should not take it.

Well, of course I didn’t really listen to her, but different people have different views, so, whatever…

The point is, if you ask me now if this whole thing is worth it, I would give you a resounding – yes. It isn’t an easy journey, I must say, and many times I do question myself why – Why did I do this?

The reason I have in mind today is still the same as the reason why I’ve finally decided – that this is purely for personal satisfaction. I don’t see myself as a CEO one day, neither a Senior Manager. I don’t mind studying, and with something to aim for now makes life seem more interesting and time move faster than usual. Cliche as it may seem, I now have a purpose and aim in life. Heh.

But personal ambitions aside, I am really reaping some of the benefits already. In my line of work, I will always tell people – yes, yes, education is a good investment, blah, blah, cos that’s what I do and that’s what I must convince people of. But hey, since now I am in it myself, I truly believe what education can give.

Okay, la, if you are not into studying, then fine lor, or if you think like how my friend (the one mentioned earlier) thinks, its still fine by me, cos that’s your opinion.

She mentioned that a piece of paper might not guarantee anything in life (true!) and the thing is, there are many people with qualifications and yet they are in a constant ignorant state (true!), so, what’s important is the ability to do perform (true!) and I might as well save my money and work hard to gain experience (true!) – I couldn’t agree more, actually!

However, after I have registered and started on the course, I discovered things that I never knew before. Things that I learn through books and not through experience. Yes, there are things you can never learn thru books but the reverse is true as well. Many things have changed right now and unless you are a pathetic nerd, you’ll never pick up an academic book and read through just for general knowledge.

I read academic books, journals, papers and engage in discussions now not by choice, but these certainly allowed me to learn a lot. To see things at a different perspective. To understand how things work in the world of business. A bit here and a bit there vowed me. And also to meet people (ie my course mates) around the world, understand what they do, how things work in their world.

Currently, I am completing the Accounting module and rather than just preparing income statements and balance sheets, I get to know that accounting sometimes isn’t what they seem to be. I have learned how to ‘read’ these statements and come to understand that the humungous profits reported by companies can’t be trusted. Neither do share prices tell the whole story.

There are many more, of course, but let’s not make this into a lecture note.

Bottom line is, if you are considering taking up a PG course, do it. It’s certainly worth it.

Missing

It was just a second ago that I left a message on peipei’s blog shoutbox saying that her blog is looking more like Twitter bcos of her short entries. And, as soon as I posted that, I realised that mine was even worse than hers! I didn’t even update a single entry. 

Well, not that it matters too much, I think, since no one really reads this – those who doess will know why I have been MIA.

Anyway, I am now into my second module and assignment is due end of January. That means, if I want to have a joyous Chinese New Year, I need to finish covering that damn thick book and complete the 3500 word assignment ASAP. This time, it’s no joke. This assignment contributes towards the overall credits.

So, what am I supposed to do? 

Analyse the organisationa culture of a company I am familiar with. Looking at the current situation, the company which I am most familiar is BC, so, there goes, I have to analyse BC’s culture. Not describe, mind you. A-N-A-L-Y-S-E

And, I have absolutely no idea at all how to start. HELP!

How am I supposed to come up with a critical analysis of my company’s culture? Honestly, I don’t find anything wrong. In fact, I quite like the culture but if there isn’t anything wrong, it seems too unrealistic right? And, I thought of going to my trusted kakis but for the past 2 (or was it 3?) weeks, I have been having lunch alone. Sob..sob

And soon, Christmas is coming and everyone’s on leave except for me. Sigh. The only good thing is probably I’d be able to do some studying in the office.