Thursday, June 24, 2010

Good To Great

“Built to Last” and “Good to Great” are the two-bestselling corporate titles written by Jim Collins. Both books are interrelated, centered on how great-companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into DNA of an enterprise.
I couldn’t agree more on most of the contents of the books and indeed, those are the ideals that I uphold at all times to run this company.

Jim Collins emphasizes on fundamental concept a lot, he said, “The world changes – and continues to change at an accelerated pace – but that does not mean that we should abandon the quest for fundamental concepts that stand the rest of the time. On the contrary, we need them more than ever!”

“The biggest problems facing organizations today stem not from a dearth of new management ideas (we’re inundated with them), but primarily from a lack of understanding the basic fundamentals and, most problematic, a failure to consistently apply those fundamentals. Most executives would contribute far more to their organizations by going back to basics rather than flirting off on yet another short lived love affair with the next attractive, well-packaged management skill.”

“Visionary companies distinguish their timeless core values and enduring purpose (which should never change) from the operating practices and business strategies (which should be changing constantly in response to a changing world.”

“They first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage “People are your most important asset” turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are. ”

But irrespective of how great a book is, inevitably it still would have some blind spots.

Jim Collins did not appraise celebrity leaders, and said most of the good-to-great leaders are self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy – these leaders are paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. I agree on his points, but not completely, because it doesn’t apply to technology companies. For the great technology companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, FaceBook, and etc., their leaders are automatically made celebrities, no matter how they want to stay away from the media, or keep a very low profile life. Or frankly speaking, these great technology companies won’t exist without the invention of these celebrity leaders.

And his definition of good-to-great company is narrow-mindedly based on utilitarian hypothesis, the ratio of Cumulative Stock Returns to General Market, which means the assessment of a company solely relies on the ability to generate maximum profit to the shareholders. This is the biggest flaw of the book.

Because a casino or a tobacco company can easily score high according to Collins’s definition, even when they do more harm than good to society. And I don’t see any great loss to the civilization of mankind if some great companies like Coca Cola did not exist. And shouldn’t we consider the not-so-successful company built by the great inventor and scientist, Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) should be greater than those who are given high ROI (Return On Investment) but with products that provide very little value “built-to-last” companies?

Due to the fact that he keeps ignoring social responsibility, when his third bestseller, “How The Mighty Fall” was introduced during the economic crisis in 2009, I lost the appetite to own a copy.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Monday, June 7, 2010

Knowledge-based Company

Foxconn: workers committed suicide at workplace

In speeches during annual dinners, most bosses by default would thank their staffs for their contributions over the years. The sincerity of the gratitude might not extend equally to the entire staffs. I’m convinced that the gratitude is given more to the knowledge workers, rather than the entire labor force.

“Without your collective efforts, the company would not achieve the new height in the past year”, I almost can imagine the rhetoric of Terry Guo, the boss of Foxconn as the largest contract manufacturer in the world, when addressing his employees during the auspicious night, with the hinted underlying false sense that was overtly too loud.

Because, 11 Foxconn’s workers took their own lives by jumping off their workplace in Shenzhen in the past four months is the satire to his Thanksgiving, and 25 year-old Sun Danyong, committed suicide after the lost of an iPhone 4G prototype during transportation to Apple last July.

General investigation exposed Foxconn employees to have constantly living in dire working environment, under the pressure of stringent competing in the firm. If to compare Foxconn’s workplace with Google’s that is full of amenities and freedom, we could conclude the two extreme treatments are due to the former belongs to the labor-intensive industry, and the latter represents the knowledge-based company.

Bring your pet to work

Indeed we have to accept the fact that any bosses who own factories, would not hesitate to axe labors to a minimum, and boost automation to a maximum. Labors to them are merely the trivial bolts and nuts, tightening any loose ends to complete machinery cycle. The reason is apparent because unlike laborers, besides regular maintenance and mortgage repayments, machine neither utters any complaint nor launching a strike, let alone demands for higher wages or better welfare.

Just like exploitation that is more susceptible at the labor level, I believe labor-intensive industry is easier to be replaced in this competitive world.

Workplace at FingerTec

I am against treating human beings like bolts and nuts; hence I have to ensure more knowledge is required to produce FingerTec products. Our factory is mainly involved in assembly works, quality control, customization and activities that elevate the value chain. And I believe more value added to a product would require more human brains, eventually would create a better working place.

When we claim We Make Things Easy, we actually have a lot of hard thinking process at the back.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ