Saturday 24 November 2007

What Happened to the Teotihuacán?

I had the opportunity to visit Mexico recently to attend the International Federation of Accountants Council meeting. It was held in Mexico City, a city with around 20 million population. Besides spending my time in meetings and seminars (I shared Malaysian Institute of Accountants experience in having a mutual recognition agreement with the Ikatan Akuntan Indonesia), I went to visit one of the most visited site outside Mexico City on the last day of my stay, the Teotihuacán pyramids.

Like many of the archaeological sites in Mexico, Teotihuacán guards secrets we have yet to unravel. The origins of Teotihuacán are uncertain, although it is thought some of the inhabitants arrived from the Valley of Mexico to the south, refugees from an eruption of the Xitle volcano, which caused major devastation and forced the survivors in the region to seek a new place to settle. Construction of the city probably started in the first two centuries BC, and the civilization reached its high point between 350 and 650 AD.

One of the greatest mysteries of Teotihuacán is that no one knows where the huge population that lived here eventually ended up. It is as if they vanished without a trace. What happened? Building pyramids was never easy. So I supposed they should be a group of people with high intelligence and at least, with superb design and project management capabilities. Reflecting this on business, I am sure you could recall brands or companies that were dominant in the past but are no longer in existence. This is meant to suggest that no matter how successful you are now, the future depends on how you seek opportunities from the dynamic business environment and how successful you are in managing the ever changing risks. You simply cannot be in a standstill position!
Many people in business tend to be complacent upon reaching certain level of success. However, as what I always preach, what worked yesterday may not be so tomorrow. It's all about looking forward, undertanding trends, identifying and capturing opportunities and ensuring your business remain competitive against major competitors, which could also change in nature and number. Competing as a contender is definately different than competing as a defender.
So, if you feel that your business is quite successful, please remember of what happened to the Teotihuacans!

Monday 5 November 2007

Management Lessons From Golf

I just came back from Kota Kinabalu attending some official functions. Somehow, I managed to have a golf game at the Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club with few friends. One may wonder what is the relationship between golf and management matters? Baharuddin, my buggy mate really assisted me to improve my game that day, in fact I played my best game ever on the second nine! Did I changed my swing to drive longer? No! I played my normal game but with a slight twist, I managed my game.
Having seen how badly I performed on the first few holes, Baharuddin started to coach me, in the most diplomatic way. He started by encouraging me to accept that a golf game is not about me competing with other players but its about me competing against myself and the golf course. "Just play within your capabilities" he told me.
Next was about course management. "You don't have to overdrive your playing mates, just place the ball where it is easy for you to hit your next shot" he added. When I started to play to my capabilities, my game totally changed. The ball started to remain on the fairways instead of going into the roughs, as what would normally happen during my previous games. It took me less shorts to reach the green.
"Don't overestimate your self and underestimate the course" was his next advice. I was using higher clubs as I thought that I could make the distance. My using lower clubs, my ball started to be closer to the targets, instead of falling short as what I usually manage. As my game improved, so was my confident. In fact I managed to score three pars in a row.
After the game, I felt very pleased and did not feel the normal pain that I used to experience as I was fairly relaxed during the game. Reflecting what had transpired on the golf course, there are a few lessons that I learned which could also be used in managing business.
First is about knowing yourself, your capabilities and weaknesses. This is important so that as managers of business, we do not venture into areas where we are not capable. If we fail to acknowledge where we are week, we may expose our business to unnecessary risks.

Second in about planning and executing your plan well. "Failing to plan is planning to fail" is a saying that we are often reminded of. However, we have to execute the plan, based on the capabilities that we have. We cannot compete with a competitor on the same ground if our capabilities and strengths are different. Fine our niche and play our strength.

Off course, sometimes we have to change plan. In golf, if the ball falls away from our target, we have to change direction to reach the pin. This principle is also the same in business, except in business we are not that sure where "our business pin is" if we do not have a plan.
Finally, not necessarily exhaustive, is about being coached by somebody that is sincere in wanting you to be successful. Every manager or entrepreneur may have areas that require improvements and with somebody who have the skills to guide, the future could be better for those who are willing to be coached.

I suppose its time for me to head towards my next game of golf!