Saturday, May 12, 2007

Management Development Programme: Phase 5 - Management Game

The final phase of the MDP programme was not a module per se but rather a game. Yes, a management game to be exact. The location for the finale of the MDP was held at the Residence Hotel for 1.5 day with 0.5 day briefing on the May 7th and actual game on May 8th 2007. The course instructor for this module was Mr Lau X X. Actually, Mr. Lau was so eager to start the briefing on day 1 that he actually forgot to properly introduce himself to the class. Until today I am in the dark of detail background of Mr. Lau to put them in this blog and I hope someone from my group will furmish me with this info later. Mr. Lau was assisted by Ms Fam Li Ling of MIM and her role was to help process the inputs for the game and also to distribute the results when they were available.

The game was a business simulation game of which the participants were asked to form four different groups and manage four different companies to compete against each other. The objective is to see which group will have the largest profit at the end of period five of the game allocated time. The summary of the company profile given to us all of us as following.

Company Description

Palmtastic is a company that produces and sells personal digital assistants (PDA). A PDA is a small mobile handheld device that provides computing and information storage, retrieval capabilities for personal or business use, often handy for keeping schedules, calendars and addresses. It is known by different names such as handheld computer, pocket PC, handspring and palm top.

Palmtastic is a comparative new company. The owners are more interested in developing new products than running a company. They have hired you to give the professional management to the company. Their demand to you is that you make significant profits so as to enable them to develop profitable and technologically advanced products.

Palmtastic has two products: Product A is an entry level PDA and Product D has more features and functions. The differences between the two are in terms of its screen resolution (mono and color), Storage (2 & 8 MB) and Battery type.

Competition is very keen with more companies entering the market. Marketing is a major parameter in determining demand.

A discussion with the Board of Directors has shown a certain, but restrained, desire to inject new share capital, if necessary. The maximum available is up to 3 million per year. Application for increase in share capital is usually at the first half of the year (odd periods). That is, however, dependant upon a preference dividend of 5.9% per annum, of any share capital expansion granted.

A meeting with the banker has also had a positive but restrained reception. The bank has agreed to consider increasing the maximum loan ceiling at the second half of each year (even periods). However, they are unlikely to approve more than 50% of the quantum applied for.

The length of a period is 5 months and all costs etc. are based upon this period length.

Winning Criteria:

The winner will be the team with the highest accumulated Profit & Loss account at the end of Period 6.

We were also briefed in detail about the game rules and regulation on day 1. The starting condition for every group is similar in the beginning and each group has got to plan and strategise to reap maximum profit. As of in the actual bisness climate, there are several decisions that need to be made on each round. The decision include number of products and type to be manufactured, pricing structure, cash flow control and also loan to be paid or made. These decisions were later translated into the inputs for the simulation on every round. The inputs from each group were then remotely processed by the simulation software located at the MIM office.

In the beginning our group did quite reasonably and able to make some profits. However, beginning with period 3, our cyber company suffered some losses and the overall profit carried from the previous periods was slightly reduced.Only after period four that we realised we have made a mistake and also misunderstood several key inputs. By that time, it was already too late to correct the mistake and as a result, our profit from period one to period five was cut into more than half and our company was the least profit making company among the four !

Although the management game was just a game, it taught us many things about business. One thing for sure, one must be brave to take a lot of risk in business and to understand economic climate and other surrounding factors. This is quite new to me being salary man all my life and I hope courses like this can help me to understand the market and business better to be a good manager in the future..

The assignmnet for this module is due on June 20th. We are asked to write a report on the game we played and explain the reason behind the decisions made. I hope I will be able to complete this assigment on time so that I can focuss on the PROGEM module in Kuantan starting on 21st May...insha'allah...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Management Development Programme: Phase 4 - Process Improvement

This posting is actually the second posting of the same topic as for some reason it did not save well in the blospot server when I first wrote it last week. There goes my 1 hour work on this blog but be as it may, I feel compelled to complete the MDP series in by blog for my future reference and as also as a serving reminder of how I enjoyed this programme.

Ok enough for that, the last topic for MDP Phase four was conducted by Mr. Mah Kong Howe on the topic of Process Improvement. Mr. Mah did not reveal his age to us but I guess he is probably about my age or younger judging from his facial appearance. Maybe Li Ling from the MIM, if you are reading this, you could enlighten me with the actual age of Mr. Mah for the benefit of all participants !. Mr. Mah is a certified professional trainer with the MIM and has a lot of experience in management training locally and also in the ASEAN region. He is indeed an excellent scholar on management training and he has won several awards from the MIM, RMIT and Maaastricht School of Management for his scholarly work and contribution on management trainings.

Mr. Mah module focusses on understanding the basic principles underpinning the systems, process and value concept. In the class we were asked to relate specific technique to the organisation's needs and also to interpret the principles via class exercises and discussions. He also stressed the important of quality culture. One unique thing about his class was that everytime we resume after tea or lunch break, he would ask two volunteers to give quality slogan such as "Kualiti Teras Kejayaan" and and later he deliberated on the importance of this slogan.

Modern perspective on organization is that every organization is essentially a SERVICE, the only difference being that traditional manufacturers have more tangibles relative to the traditional services. Universal responsibility of managers include to develop synergistic relationships and to manage them continually.

One of the process improvement methodology and tools he taught in class was the CPM or critical path method. This is a very efficient method in determining ways to improve overall process duration and obviously I could see everyone in class grasped this concept quite easily. Another technique is process improvement taught to us in class was the PERT or Project Evaluation & Review Technique. PERT is similar to the CPM method except that a better idea of the duration of a particular process is obtained through building in the consideration of three scenarios, viz., optimistic, most likely and pessimistic estimates of each activity's duration.

Mr. Mah module is a good module in understanding processes and how we can improve them. The assignment given for us is to describe a process in the department which can be improve using the methods already learnt in class. I hope to complete this assignment as soon as possible as I have another 2 assignments from the previous modules yet to be completed. On top of that, from 21 to 31 May, I will be attending the General Manager's Programme at Hyatt Kuantan organised by the company under the Talent Pool programme. I already skipped the one in PD two weeks ago in favour of the MNC-CIGRE colloqouium and this time I must go or risk losing the oppurtunity to be part of this programme once and for all....

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Glorious Day for Photography..

Off late, the weather has been kinda gloomy and overcast if not raining. However, on Sunday afternoon, the weather suddenly turned into a glorious day with blue sky and high thin cloud covering most part of Shah Alam. I took this oppurtunity to snap several photos of BJ and the area surrounding the Shah Alam State mosque. This time, I decided to use my 10-22mm lens to capture the moments as widely as possible. Mind you, this lens has a slight fish-eye characteristics and you will find images at the edges will be slightly distorted. Many people like this characteristics as it can give a new look or perspective of the thing we normally see with the naked eyes. Please take a look at the following photos and I would appreciate comments on the pictures so that I can improve in my next available oppurtunity...

I know the Shah Alam state mosque is probably one of the views most amature photographers like myself, would love to take pictures of. To some extend, the mosque beautiful dome and minaret views have become so common and banal. Thus, I tried to capture this scenic views of the mosque from different angles and thanks to the good backlighting of the late evening sun.

I also took the oppurtunity to capture the MBSA building and the Bluewave Hotel from the other side of the pond, adjacent to the mosque parking area. Again, the late evening sun almost sunset in fact, helped in lighting up the images...

As I was walking towards my car for home when I managed to capture one last image of the sunset behind some trees...I thought this worth sharing with others...

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Images from CIGRE SC6 2007 Colloquium Langkawi - Finale

The following are few candid moments I managed to capture during the colloquium. I fully utilised my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L for the pictures and I never had to use my flash unit with this fast lens. In addition, most of this photos were taken from a distance and those facial expressions you see were genuine...

Candid photos can be interpreted in so many ways. Sometimes it can also show the state of the mind of a particular individual. In a colloquium like this, one can only guest that the best expression will be people in deep contemplation or sheer exhaustion from listening to an intense intelectual discourse...

Images from CIGRE SC6 2007 Colloquium Langkawi - Part IV

One of the trip organised for the delegate of SC6 Colloquium in Langkawi is the trip to Pantai Chenang town and a stop-by at Pantai Kok to observe the sunset. I took this golden oppurtunity to learn the technique of silhoutte and also to capture the moment when the sky turned to red during sunset.

The following photos were captured during the trip to Pantai Kok, Langkawi together with the colloquium delegates.

I also tried my skill on photographic silhouttes and these are some examples out of my mediocre skill.

Later, I also tried the fill-in flash technique to highlight the main object facing bright light sources. Dr Salleh and one of the colloquium delegates were used as the models of these photos and I deeply sorry for the not-so-great results !!!

We were taken to Pantai Chenang town after the sunset viewing session has completed. The town is not so busy at this time of the year and I did not enjoy taking any photos out of this condition. Nonetheless, one night earlier I managed to capture the main road of Pantai Chenang town and you can just tell how quite the town was...

Images from CIGRE SC6 2007 Colloquium Langkawi - Part III

The idea to organise the colloquium was mooted few years back by the members of the MNC-CIGRE particularly Mr Halim Osman, who is the converner of the MNC-CIGRE SC6.

Before we can secure the privillege to become the host, a lot of effort has been put by members in terms of lobbying and also promotional campaign to get maximum participants from all over the world. In year 2006 CIGRE General Session in Paris, we published a promotional video about the Colloquium to attract participants. Dr. Ridzal and myself even had the luxury to become the executive- directors of the short video programme by shooting the messages from the MNC-CIGRE Chairman and Vice-Chairman. Developing this video alone takes a lot of effort and help from the pros of TNB's Corporate Communication Department and without thier tremendous support, we would not be able to produce a good quality promotional video.

On the first day of the colloquium, a panel session was organised to address the topic of "Rural Electrification and its Role in Socio-Economic Development". Five speakers were invited comprising of both international and regional experts on socio-economic development vis-a-vis rural electrification. Each panel expert deliberated on the following issues as applicable to a country or region.
1. What roles are played by rural electrification in socio-economic development?
2. Which business models and approaches can be applied to rural electrification?
3. Which technologies offer appropriate oppurtunities in both electrification and small scale industries?
4. Environmental impacts/improvements of rural electrifications
5. Rural electrification costs and subsidies.

Apart from the panel session, technical paper presentation sessions were also conducted where delegates presented thier own experiences on this subject matter. On the second day, a representative from UNDP gave a very good presentation on rural development including electrification of Malaysia. He obviously knew what he is talking about as his data on the Malaysian background is quite up to date, at least from my humble point of view.

Dato Sidek Ahmad from TNB also presented a paper on the TNB experience. Obviously he is very knowledgeable technically and a very accomplished orator despite his very high position in the company. Other Malaysian speaker include Mr. Wong Tin Song from KTAK, and Mr. Azhar Abd Rahman from TNBES who papers attracted many for outside discussions.

The two day session was definitely a success judging from the quality of papers and discussions held. Obviously, exchanges of experience like this are not easy to do if all the experts were not housed under one roof. However, I am a bit disappointed by the fact that there were no representatives from the Ministry of Rural Development. To me, they have just missed a golden oppurtunity to learn about the experiences of other countries in rural electrification programme.

Whatever it is, the organising committee really did a good job in getting many oversea participants such as from India, USA, Australia, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Belgium, Germany, UK, Finland and China to the colloquium. Again, kudos to them for such a great event ! Kudos also to TNB for providing tremendous support for MNC-CIGRE in terms of providing IT personnel, photographer and AV staff, and also other logistic supports. Without the help from TNB, it will be difficult to conduct the colloquium successfully !