At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Why can't you walk and chew gum at the same time?

It has been some time since I last wrote. Last week I was in Cebu, Philippines to attend a conference hosted by a leading wireless equipment vendor. It is a relatively small ($200Mn in revenue and listed on NASDAQ) company based in Israel. The purpose was to ask the vendor this very question. They had been providers of wireless equipment to our project in Bangladesh. Their equipment performed very well--Bangladesh can be a difficult place for equipment to operate--surging and ueliable electricial power sources, and the rain--when it rains it pours, sometimes distorting the signals. And their equipment was generally acknowledged to be the best. But they seemingly could not provide accurate forecasts to their shipment dates and logistically they have been so mixed up--characteristics that can be hazardous to the health of a young network communications provider. Without equipment, you cannot grow; without growth, you cannot fund in the future; and without funds, you stagnate and wither away. The Company is like a basketball player that could do a 360 degree spin slam dunk, but cannot dribble the basketball.

And their conference was run the same way. Buses did not run on time; cocktail parties started an hour late; and trips that were supposed to take 30 minutes took one and a half hours, resulting in late dinners etc. Your habits show up in big and little ways. How can a company treat customers this way and still survive? One reason may be a product focus vs. a customer focus-- technically brilliant engineers who seemingly do not have a feel for commerce--useful but not long-term players. But there may be another reason: entrepreneurial companies tend to be highly democratic in their processes--everyone has an opinion and each is valued on their own merits (admirable traits). So hierarchy tends to be flat and management processes can become chaotic. The parts "do their own thing" and do not act until they are persuaded to do otherwise. Thus in a global context and organization where people do not know each other, things can get "not done"-- trains don't leave on time, and shipment dates are missed.

All of this means that as you grow a company the people, culture and core values of the company loom in importance. As you bring people from different cultural backgrounds into the organization, tender care must be made with selection and integrating them in tightly to the organization--otherwise the wheels don't move and the concentrated energy that is needed in an entrepreneurial organization is dispersed--frittered away.


Blogger ky choi said...

In project management area, there is called a time management that requires some sort of simulation in mind about a certain activity to make this activity interactive with other related activities in a timely manner. This is regarded as an essential building block for a successful project delivery even this requires the continued corrections as times goes by. I think that this Israeli company will be acquired by other more regulated organisation in the end due to this unbalancing problem in their management for survival.

10:33 PM  

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