Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Simply, is the act of the Corporate to embed, plough back or return to the Society, for the betterment and positive impact of the Society in which it operates, through its activities on the environment, employees, consumers and communities.

CSR should be consciously and deliberately integrated into the Corporate's structure and supported with clear defined policy, adequate financing and guidelines. It functions as an independent unit where it could regulate, monitor and ensure the compliance within the legal frameworks as well as sensitising, initiating, developing and enhancing good social programmes within and beyond the interests of the Corporate.

To many, CSR meant having to have activities outside the Corporate. In fact CSR embraces the internal and external environments and customers.

Thus an internal CSR could be "setting up of baby crèche within the Corporate for mothers" or "providing scholarships and tuitions for employees' children", "reducing carbon footprints for its offices and manufacturing plants", "implementing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the Corporate"  just to name a few.

For external programmes, the theme should be on sustainability of the environment and community. Any CSR programme, I believe, should not be a "one-off" or "ad-hoc" basis eg  philanthropic "one-off" monetary donations or a visit to an orphanage without specific objectives to build up skills, knowledge, independence and sustainability. CSR social programmes should be planned with the intent and desires of endurance and sustainability in the ability to uplift the livelihood, safety, well being and continuity of the community for mid to long term gain.

Thus, in order for a Corporate to deliver positive impact and sustainability, CSR activities should not be organised without the full understanding of the needs of the community and environment. The Corporate should have positive values in integrity, commitment, attitude, love, passions and patience.

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The Power of Reports

I was appalled when a CEO told me yesterday that "it costs me more money if I upgrade my IT. I cannot spend the money" in answering to my query whether he could analyse his sales data by segmenting into the various sales channels, which to my mind is the very basic a Company should have in understanding where "his sales go".

He was happy to have the sales reported as one (1) wholesome figure without the benefit of sales breakdown. How can he identify and understand his success or failure? How can he drive the sales if he does not know where the gaps are - which channel, which product etc contributed to the Company's success or failure. How can his Managers design marketing plans? He will be in total darkness without any guiding light! There are numerous "how can ..." to answer with the relevant data and reports available.

The CEO concerned is definitely having a very basic computer system in his Company. He is no wiser in understanding that a good analytical report would enable him to increase his sales revenue and therefore better returns if such a report is available notwithstanding the other analytics that he may have. It would pay back, and even increase his bottom line, when the revenues come in.

Data collected is a rich pool of information. It is like a gold mine. It should be leveraged to enhance performance and returns. Good reports are effective management tools as they sharpened management analytical reports. It would be prayers answered for many senior and operational Managers ... and many successful CEOs!

Thus, a CEO cannot be ignorant on the power of data mining. The CEO has to invest in a good and relevant IT system and support ... many IT Vendors can be sources of info and solutions to help start his requirements in a "gradual" and "step up" manner.

Indeed I was taken aback and emphatised with the CEO concerned for the lack of "wisdom and desire" in wanting to have the wonders and powers of IT in redefining and shaping the art and skill of analysis in financials, sales matters etc. Intelligently used, the reports will give great tractions to the Company's market and financial performances. Obviously there is a need to have the right IT architecture, systems, processes, resources ... which obviously needs financing ... but the CEO has to start somewhere ... he must initiate the process of reviewing, upgrading or switching to a more relevant computer system ... he should prioritise and take the first step  ...

Food for thought for the CEO and others who may have similar views like him!

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Price, the Only consideration?

I remember when I was studying for my marketing examination, many years ago, I learnt that there are 4-Ps in marketing ie Product, Price, Promotion and Place (location/placement) otherwise also known as the "Marketing mix". I would add an additional, P for "People".

This "4+1 Ps" is relevant whether it is for a corporate marketing programme or for "in-store" retailing. I was quite astounded from a meeting which I attended when an individual vehemently believed that price was the only major consideration in a retail outlet! How myopic this view can be.

Focussing on the retail outlet, it is important that merchandising of the product in the retail store is important. Merchandising involves the location and height of display of the product, the width and depth of the display, the product hygiene etc. The next consideration is the quality service level delivered by the Manger or the professional or floor personnel which include product knowledge, counselling and advisory skill. The ambience of the environment of the store must be pleasant, personnel well attired and friendly. Product shelves must be orderly arranged with good flow for shopping convenience ...

Today's consumers are well educated and sophisticated. They too shop around for the best deal in town, for "cheap and good deals". In the same breath, undeniably, the same consumers are also willing to buy if they perceive good value for the product, though the price of the product is higher than the shop next door, if they experience good connectivity between the retailer and themselves. The comfortable, clean, practical retail layout and displays coupled with friendly ambience would definitely helped to lower resistance in the "buy-sell transaction".

Thus the "1 extra P" in addition to the classical 4Ps is important as it is this P (ie people) that will understand the simplicity of retailing by using and combining the other 4Ps in the retail outlet. People drives business. People creates and innovates. People must learn to understand branding and differentiation. People connects with people. People delivers quality service. People will decide and  buy on perception and perceived value of the products in a total wholesome shopping experience.

In summary, price is not the only major factor that determines success or failure. It is the "4+1Ps". There is a need to "harmonise and prioritise "the 4+1Ps" in any sales and promotional programmes otherwise "low pricing" always take centre stage and the other "Ps" lose focus and become irrelevant which would be disaster unless "low pricing" is the key objective of the sales and  promotional campaigns or businesses.

Wake up, start focussing and move forward!

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Woodcutter's story ...

Some of you may have heard of this story, some may have not. Anyway, I am going to share this story with my own version of the competition...

There was a contest between 2 friends to "see" who can "fell" the most number of trees within a certain period of time. The contestants were each given a standard lumberjack axe, a sharpening stone, a bottle of water ...

The 2 contestants were to start "felling the trees" upon the blow of the whistle and to stop when the whistle blows the second time.

Contestant 1 was seen "chopping" the trees in a continuous manner, without even stopping for a rest. He would stop for a short while, if he needed to, before starting again. Contestant 2 was seen "chopping" the trees in a disciplined manner. He would "chop" the tree, stopped for an occasional rest and to "sharpen" his axe. And then he would proceed to chop the trees and repeated this routine.

The whistle blew, when the agreed time was up. The judge counted the number of trees that were "felled" by each Contestant. Lo and behold, everyone expected Contestant 1 to fell the most number of trees because he was seen "non-stop" chopping the trees whilst Contestant 2 was seen taking occasional rest which seemed to be non-productive.

When the result was announced, everyone could not believe that Contestant 2 won the competition in having more trees "felled" then Contestant 1. Why?

Contestant 2 "felled"  more trees because he took an occasional break to re-energise himself and to sharpen his axe. His axe was sharper, he was refreshed, and thus "felled" the most trees. Contestant 1 was using all his strength and was working very hard BUT his axe was blunt. He was tired, used more energy but the number of trees "felled" did not commensurate with his effort due to his blunt axe!

What is the morale of the story? If you aspire to be productive and successful, you need to work hard and smart. Take time off to re-energise, recuperate, re-organise and re-strategise occasionally. Do not always say "very busy" and have no time to have reflection on your on-going activities and to ensure that the tools used are still relevant and sharp.

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Upward Mobility

I have seen many managers, within the Company, failed to reach the top rung of the Corporate ladder though their respective performances was excellent. Many, if they stayed long enough in the Company, only managed to reach senior operation level and not higher though their expertise, skills and knowledge are not lacking. And many, sadly, have to make exit to another Company before attaining the position so desired.

Everything being similar, I observe that the failure was due to the lack of skill and knowledge in "managing upward" within the same Organisation. Many are good in managing their respective "jobs", subordinates and peers. Many overlooked the fact that their respective bosses also need to be managed professionally by them in order to have hope in upward mobility in career advancements.

Many training courses that are available in the market today, stressed on result oriented day-to-day operation and there is little emphasis or lack of training on "how to manage upwards". In other words the learning of "soft skills in managing upward" is a gap that needs to be filled.

Many newly promoted managers had to learn "on the job" and through "trials and errors" learned about their bosses, their management styles, their idiosyncratic behaviour etc ... many failed and very few succeeded. Many do not know how to manage their bosses ...

In conclusion, being good in your work and achieving great results are no guarantee for higher promotion or to reach the top. Every ambitious employee needs to know how to manage his superiors and be equipped with relevant soft skills.

The superiors may know your work and success but he may not know you personally. This, I believe, contributed, in no small measure, to your failure in moving upward!

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Just for Laughs!

Read the following and reproduced herewith to tickle the brain ... just for laughs!
There was a robbery in a bank, the robber shouted to everyone: "All don't move, money belongs to the state, life belongs to you".

Everyone in the bank laid down quietly.

This is called "Mind Changing Concept --> Changing the conventional way of thinking".
One lady lay on the table provocatively, the robber shouted at her "Please be civilised! This is a robbery and not a rape!"

This is called "Being Professional --> Focus only on what you are trained to do!"
When the robbers got back to their hideout, the younger robber (MBA trained) told the older robber (who is only primary school educated), "Big bro, let's count how much we got", the older robber rebutted and said, "You very stupid, so much money, how to count, tonight TV will tell us how much we robbed from the bank!"

This is called "Experience --> nowadays experience is more important than paper qualifications!"
After the robbers left, the bank manager told the bank supervisor to call the police quickly. The supervisor says "Wait, wait wait, let's put the 5 million RMB we embezzled into the amount the robbers robbed".

This is called "Swim with the tide --> converting an unfavorable situation to your advantage!"
The supervisor says "It will be good if there is a robbery every month".

This is called "Killing Boredom --> Happiness is most important."
The next day, TV news reported that 100 million RMB was taken from the bank. The robbers counted and counted and counted, but they could only count 20 million RMB. The robbers were very angry and complained "We risked our lives and only took 20 million RMB, the bank manager took 80 million RMB with a snap of his fingers. It looks like it is better to be educated to be a thief!"

This is called "Knowledge is worth as much as gold!"
The bank manager was smiling and happy because his loss in the CINOPEC shares are now covered by this robbery.

This is called "Seizing the opportunity --> daring to take risks!"
Ha ... ha ... ha ... Have a good day!

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Laxity - Paradigm shift Needed

In an organisation, whether it is a registered Company or an NGO, it is crucial that key positions in the organisation must have Job Scope and Description for each employee.

Briefly, a Job Scope provides details about who the position reports to. It spells out the authority, accountability and responsibility of the person and the type of decisions a person can make and the kinds of decisions could be made in relation to co-workers. It is the big picture of the position and how it relates to the other positions in the organisation and to the community.

A Job Description however spells out the expectations and details of the job and how it is to be done. It outlines the job and provides information about procedures and processes he should use to perform the job.

A written Job Scope and Description should be given to each employee as it would define his roles, responsibility and accountability. Minimise any job duplication between the various employees. It would also enhance performance, team work, efficiency and productivity. It will avoid job misunderstanding and politicking.

Lately, I was invited to assess the performance of an Executive in an NGO who was suspected of tabling fraudulent account to its Management. In the midst of discussion, my assessment was that this Executive could not be held totally responsible for suspected fraud as there was no Job Scope and Description given to the Executive neither was there any rules or guidelines for the Executive to work within his responsibility in his day-to-day running of the organisation. There is thus a weakness identified here.

The job he was managing could have out-grown him and he was just doing with all that he could, to the best of his ability, but fell short of requirements and standards which was deemed "ok" when the organisation was small.

Laxity in management is possible when the organisation is "small" and manned by a few staff. However with organisation growth various challenges set in. Complexities arise ranging from staff's complacency, skill and knowledge gaps, outdated processes and systems. Organisation structure and support have not grown in tandem with growth.

Laissez-faire leadership will therefore have to be replaced with strong and efficient leadership style befitting the growth. Management must embrace job scope and description for each employee for reasons of responsibility and accountability. Clear Control Processes & Guidelines, relevant skills, knowledge, processes and systems must also be in place.

To be a High Performance Organisation it  must also empower staff in order to perform. Leaders must also be visionary, confident, passionate and lead by example.

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... Strong Outside, Soft Inside ...

I met a friend, a day ago, who is doing very well in his business, judging by the activities and sales growth. He has increased his A&P promotional spending, increased headcounts ...  and was filled with enthusiasm and energy as he shared with me his flag-ship product, the market response and acceptance by KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) ...

He proudly highlighted  to me, which is justifiable, that his flag-ship product, a medical device, is the No 1 product in at least 3 comparative studies against global leading brands, conducted in Germany and 2 other countries. Naturally, I enquired whether, he has capitalised on this claim in Malaysia. The answer is "Yes'. My next question followed ... "so is it the No 1 in market leadership in Malaysia?" The answer is sadly "No".

His colleague, who happened to share in our conversation, then chipped in "... the market is tough, and my boss had also made joint visits with us to the customers and he understands the challenges. He sympathises with us ..."

Without hesitation and with empathy as well, I turned to my friend and said " ... as a boss, it is good to have empathy and sympathise with your sales force, but only within your heart. As a boss, your role is to challenge them to be creative and find solutions to perform better in order to gain market share. The boss has to play the right role of "asking for more" and to support wherever needed with relevant resources. Your people has to be hungry in order to gain more territory".

What is the wisdom here? There is a real need to understand and have written defined roles and functions within an organisation for each individual and work groups in order that the chain of commands, roles and functions are clearly defined, explained and owned. There must be mutual respect and clear line drawn between friendship, empathy and sympathy in achieving the Company Vision, Mission and Goals measured against agreed KPIs.

A boss wears many hats ... he must be a visionary, leader, manager, motivator, counsellor, coach, hard task master ... He continues to acquire and upgrade his skills, knowledge and technology ... he is bold and ready to venture out of comfort zone, he manages risks ... he leads his people with a strong hand whilst understanding their fear, weakness and needs ...

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Curious and Fearless Baby

Have you seen a baby grow and fearing nothing? The baby will without hesitation embrace a dog, whether big or small, with the adults watching in horror and fearing for the worst! Why?

Because the baby's mind knows no fear, pain nor failure. He is curious. He wants to explore. He has no knowledge of fear or failure. He will keep on falling and will continue to pick himself up when he learns to walk.

An adult would not want to try if he knows that he will keep on falling ... there is fear of pain, failure and embarrassment ... He is trapped within himself and afraid to move out of his comfort and painless zone!

Thus an adult's mind is always consciously and unconsciously filled with fears, failures and embarrassments. His mind will not want to try new ideas nor able or want to think out of the box. He is not creative and courageous enough to experiment or take the uncharted path nor revisit the earlier "failures" to make it a success no matter how good the idea or initial concept was.

The fear baggage is too heavy and fear preoccupies and blanks out most minds. There is no spontaneity nor willingness to work on new initiatives. This is why there are only a few successful and charismatic leaders BUT "tons" of followers!

It is good to remind and challenge ourselves to relive our "baby days" where curiosity exists and fear is unknown and the only desire is to attain what the baby wants. If we forgot our "baby days", do observe and play with the baby if you have the opportunity to do so. You will relearn many valuable lessons and tricks as well.

In closing, we as an adult, can achieve what we want to achieve, without the feeling of fears, failures and embarrassments, if we remember our curious and fearless baby days!

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." says Thomas A Edison.

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Business Opportunities, Malaysia - OTC Products

A leading US Manufacturer is sourcing for partnership with a Malaysian Pharmaceutical Company to represent its products, which have already been registered with the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau, Ministry of Health, Malaysia.

Interested Party, please contact PharmLinked. All enquiries are treated with strictest confidence.

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Humility - Key to Success?

Have you met a guy who seems to "know all" and speaks more than he listens?

Is he really talented and "knows all"? Does he really have all the answers or is he trying to cover his inferiority complex? Or is he being arrogant or "like a frog in a well", thinking that he has all ...? Whatever it is, this guy has a problem and needs help.

What problem? He may lose genuine friends as well as information and knowledge which was intended for him which he had no time to listen. This person will be a failure without him knowing himself.

What is the one good virtue a person must have in order to gain and sustain friendship, knowledge and success. It is simply humility! Humility, in this context, means "let others talk, you patiently listen and learn". It also means showing respect and willingness to listen and learn from others. It also means, if you are wrong, admit it and apologise!

We are living in an information age and "tons" of "happenings and knowledge" are being generated every day. How can we know all? There is time for a person to listen, talk and counsel.

A great and successful leader, whether he is a lay man, Supervisor, Manager or CEO, must be a good listener. He receives information, digests, assimilates and internalises before he opens his mouth or makes a decision. He respects other people's opinion and knowledge and in return others will value his listening ears and counsels. He gains friends and he multiplies his network of contacts, opportunities and successes.

Be filled with humility whoever you are. You will win many genuine friends who will walk the mile with you! And being filled with humility, others are more willing to listen, share, help and trust you. There is mutual respect.

Humility needs to be developed and consciously practised. It is not born. Start today and you will see the fruit of humility bearing profitable fruits.

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Practice Makes Perfect: Expecting different Outcomes?

Doing the same thing which a person had learnt for the past 1 year for the next 10 years is equivalent to having the experience of 1 year though the person had worked for 11 years! He will definitely be very perfect in the said skill but he will never be able to do more than that!

He would have perfected his skills or mistakes as he had repeatedly repeat over and over again for the
10-year time period! Even the skills perfected may not be efficient as new technologies had evolved to deliver better results and with more efficiency!

Further, does the individual expect different results or outcomes, financials or otherwise, if the same skills, knowledge and tools used are repetitively repeated over the years for the same work processes?

By "standing still" to preserve his own space, the person would be left behind in the competitive labour force and market place! Work experience is important but it should not be an entrapment to hold back a person to challenge himself with new skills, knowledge and technology for better performances and outcomes.

Thus a person must desire to be innovative and creative in his work environment. He must be willing to make himself relevant in the knowledge economy. He must be willing to pursue, learn and acquire new skills, knowledge and technology! He must be efficient, productive and marketable!

Thus, an Organisation or Individual needs to understand that the dictum "practice makes perfect" is not always healthy, which is "a poor growth "catalyst, and should be revisited if positive high powered performances and different outcomes are to be expected.

There is nothing less than having the right attitude and behaviour by stepping out of the comfort zone to aggressively pursue new skills, knowledge and technology! We need to learn, un-learn and re-learn ... to catapult and achieve higher, mightier, powerful performances and growths within the defined time frame!

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Healthcare NKEA

Healthcare is one of the 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) identified in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). According to the Annual Report, 2012 the Healthcare NKEA continued to deliver commendable results on top of an outstanding 2012, attracting many private sector participations.

According to the Minister of Health, in his Annual Report, a total of 22 projects covering numerous Entry Point Projects (EPPs) and 1 Business Opportunity (BO) are in place. They are expected to contribute RM4.6 billion to the Gross National Income (GNI) while generating investments totalling RM3.7 billion. The NKEA is also expected to create 18,316 jobs by 2020

In 2012, the Clinical Research Centre of the Ministry of Health was corporatized into Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM). This corporatized body will enable it to efficiently perform independently in its role as a business unit with the pharmaceutical industry.

In the same year, the Medical Devices Act 2012 and the Medical Devices Authority Act 2012 were gazetted. The gazetting of the Acts and their regulations will ensure that the medical devices industry is regulated in Malaysia.

EPP1: Mandating Private Health Insurance for Foreign Workers
EPP2: Creating Supportive Ecosystem to Grow Clinical Research
EPP3: Malaysian Pharmaceuticals: Increasing local Generic Manufacturing for Exports
EPP4: Reinvigorating Healthcare Travel
EPP5: Creating a Diagnostic Services Nexus
EPP6: Developing a Health Metropolis: A World Class Campus for Healthcare and Bioscience
EPP7: Upscale Malaysia's In-Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) Industry
EPP8: Build Malaysian Showcase on Next Generation of Core Single Use Device (SUD) Products
EPP9: Become the Hub for High Value Medical Devices Contract Manufacturing
EPP10: Malaysian Clinical Device Champions
EPP11: Medical Equipment Supply Chain Orchestration
EPP12: Medical Equipment Refurbishment Hub
EPP13:Build Medical Hardware and Furniture Cluster
BO: Delivering Care - Retirement Villages, Mobile Healthcare Services, Institutionalised Aged Care

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