Saturday, October 31, 2009

What is Strategy?

Previously, I have shared why student representative councils lack strategic thinking skills. Hope you didn't feel offended but please thoroughly consider my points. Anyway, today I want to share about strategy and its context in student organizations.

When you guys see a football match or a chess game you would see some people take the defensive game plan, and others would be very aggressive in trying to score goals and etc. That is strategy.
Strategy concerns more with 'why'. It concerns with making the smaller action steps come together to help you achieve with your ultimate goal. For example, a football team would take an aggressive strategy when the opponents defences seems tired or weakened.

Strategy differs from tactics, tactics is action steps. It concerns with how and what you do. A football team with an aggressive attacking strategy would change their positions with more players becoming strikers and etc.

"a strategy is the pattern or plan that integrates an organization's major goals, policies, and action sequences into a cohesive whole." As James Brian Quinn indicated in The Strategy Process: Concepts and Contexts,

If you don't have a strategy, you will waste your resources on things that don't really help you on achieving your ultimate goal.

If your strategy does not help you in:
  • planning effectively
  • helps you allocate resources (man power) wisely

...then that strategy of yours is useless.

Strategy is long term. When I say long term I mean 3 to 5 Years. That's why I have problem believing the competency of the MPP when they have a new vision and mission every year. That's why they have no progress. They change their goal, when their supposed to be building on the foundation of their seniors.

For other student leaders, strategy at its best details 3 - 5years of the club's future direction. Any less than that is just normal planning which doesn't make you special. I even doubt the ability of student councils to plan a year ahead. I know of many student councils that use funds to go holiday at a resort to think of a 'strategy'. Yeah, right...

Thinking long term is an important factor in becoming a leader. Imagine what would happen if our previous Prime Ministers didn't think of investing in the citizen's education, setting up long term policies, creating business through GLCs and etc. What would Malaysia be without PETRONAS, Proton, and FELDA? You might complain stuff, but without them how would Malaysia's economy be like? Leaders for tomorrow have a big responsibility. We are those leaders.

Be.You.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seeds of Success: Why what people want is not what they REALLY want?

A lot of people say they know what they want, but actually they do not. Only way a drastic event would lead them to make a drastic realization that life is too precious to spend on trivial things. Below are why they get it wrong.


Strong Consumerism Sentiments

Have you heard of the term 'retail therapy'? Have you seen MLM commercial with a guy posing next to a Mercedes? Today, society puts so much pressure on us to have branded clothes, expensive cars and fancy hangout places (star bucks). All of these are things we don't need. But they have shaped our lifestyle. These are all done through advertising to convince you that you 'need' these products. But is that important to you? Is there nothing more important?

Peer Pressure

When you buy a new fancy phone, what would you do afterwards? A lot of you show it to your friends. Once you finish showing off to all your friends, you get bored with it. And then your friend goes buy a better hand phone, and shows off too. So, what is the point of all this.

"Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about."-anon


What you REALLY want is not what others want, and because of that the journey would be different. If your friend's life involves showing off his new hand phone, does that mean you have to do the same?

They don’t know why they want and never stop to know it

I explained this in an earlier article here. But basically it's just that these people never really take the initiative to invest some time to think about what they really want in their life. If they do not do so, then, their life would control them, and not they themselves who are controlling life.


Above is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This is taught in basic management lectures, but almost all do not understand its significance. Let me put all the three points into the Maslow’s hierarchy context.

Peer Pressure: Belonging And Love Needs - You want to be accepted by your group of friends. Don't worry, real friends won't care what hand phone you have.

Consumerism: Esteem Needs - Buying a Gucci bag does not make you a better person. You're image or reputation is not necessarily better nor do people really care. If you really achieved something, it speaks for itself.

Observe the top most section of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Self-actualization: Personal Growth and Fulfillment. That is the answer. We just need to focus our time and efforts in developing ourselves. Don’t care about having no friends. I’m sure you will find great people as your friends, on your journey on self-improvement. You don’t need to care about recognition, getting ‘apex university’ title or a ‘datukship’, just focus on growing.

Anyway, I’m sure you get titles and recognition along the way (My father's friend threw it away because he says it makes him feel old, do we really need it?). This is the noblest cause. This is what I mean as ‘Doing Things for right reasons’ not money, not status, not shallow friends but the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.

Be.You.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Firdaus Agenda


Everybody wants to change the world. Everybody always criticize other people. Everybody blames somebody. Most of the time, it would be the government. But by blaming only, nothing happens. A lot of people complain but not many are willing to help to solve.

I also want things to be better in life. But I put less hope in politicians. At best, I believe when the politicians and people's interest are aligned, then, something would happen. I guess that's how the world is. There's no free lunch. Either way, what can we do? The Small People.

Let me explain, point by point:

You Can Create Change Without Politics: A lot of people I know would sigh, "sigh...politics, what can I do? I don't have power...". Wrong! We all have power. Even without elections we have power to make changes. Think like an entrepreneur, innovate and solve problems. Do you think Tony Fernandes gave up when AirAsia was a subsidiary of MAS which was a GLC? He went to Mahathir himself to clear the issues. Your weak mentalities are at fault when bad politicians take advantage of the system.

You Need To Be Competent, Competence: Attitude + Knowledge + Skills: When you have the managerial skill & experience, then, you can make a change. Do you see all the NGOs? How can they survive and still promote their cause? They're not doing it to get profit, ok?

Politics Focuses On The Problem And Not The Solution:Sometimes they need to focus on the problem. Ever feel like the politicians purposely fan racial issues?

Malaysians Don’t Have The Right Attitude: Remember I said about you having the weak "I don't have power" mentality. Read more here.


Learning Just For The Sake Of Learning: You just want to get cert, then grad, then get job, then work like robot. If you think your job as a way to contribute to society or country or as something that is noble, then you would like your job more. How can you create change if you're not passionate in doing what you do for a living?

It's not what you do, but how you do it: Doing a club activity, does not make your club a good one, it's how good you do the club activities. The intention to do PPSMI is not enough, it's HOW you implement that determines it's success.

The Right People Are Not At The Right Places:There are many capable intelligent people don't get to hold important posts merely because their opinions differ from the boss. WHO is saying is much more important than WHAT is being said (points of the debate)... All because of petty office politics and etc. We must eliminate these unproductive cultures.

Malaysia Have No Leaders, Only Politician:Leaders Are Different Than Politicians...Politicians can be leaders, only if they can contribute to positive change.

Solve Problems By Being Competent:If it doesn't get better than you're not doing it right. No BS is needed.

Do Things For The Right Reasons:Be sincere la.

More explanations coming. Not in the near future though.

Be.You.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

17 Questions You Must Ask Your Team before You Start

For the past few posts I have discussed the extensively of team dynamics and what are the potential problems that can happen. To avoid them, you can do an expectation setting session. In my version, you need to ask your team 17 questions and discuss with the team what is the expected performance of the team. What are these 17 questions?

Find out in my latest e-book!



Hope it helps in making your team synergy better.

Be you.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why Do You Need Teamwork and Leadership skills?

“If it's technical challenge, you can always resort to the formulas, but if it's human, there is no formulation to predict them. Managing people is the toughest” - Anonymous


The quote above illustrates the difficulties in dealing with other human beings. But it is something you cannot avoid. When your work in the real world, your boss will be people too, you colleagues will be people too, who have emotions and feelings. Your clients, suppliers, competitors are humans just like you with their own motivations and problems.

You are just one person with only 24 hours to use each day. With that limit, you cannot do much. If you want to achieve more in life, you must work together with other people. There are only two greatest limitations in life: Time and Knowledge. Everyone will face a deadline, that’s why we look for other people to help us. Sometimes we don’t have the skill or knowledge so we have to find someone who does have the knowledge. But then you still have to communicate the idea or plan to that person. You cannot copy paste your ideas or feelings like copy pasting your university assignments.

Everyone will have responsibilities at least at one point in life. At least as a parent. And as a parent you still would have to lead your family. You would still need to be a leader…

In conclusion, learn teamwork & leadership skills, and learn it now while you’re still young and still can afford to make mistakes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

3 Causes of Conflict In a Team

You want to know the causes of conflict in a team? Actually we discussed all of it in my previous articles.

  • Goals
  • Decision Making
  • Work Division
These 3 core issues contribute to conflicts in a team. As a leader you must learn how to organize the operation of these issues and deal with it objectively.

But no matter how good you plan or organize, conflicts would still happen. It's human nature. Some people have no sense of consideration towards other, and keep being selfish. When this happens, the 4th issue of a team will step in. Conflict Resolution. Resolving conflict in a manner that makes sure everybody reaches a mutually beneficial agreement. That means all parties get something, not all but somewhere in the middle where both parties agrees.

There are many methods to resolve conflicts. The easiest yet effective method for student leaders is to do an expectation setting. I'll discuss it in my next article.

Be.You.

4 Malaysian Culture That Prevents Effective Conflict Resolution

Conflict and arguments are a fact of life. Sooner or later you are going to face it, especially if you are in a team or a leader. The only way you can avoid conflict is to isolate yourself from the world. Do you want that? You will face more problems as you strive to achieve more in life. But understand that conflicts are not an enemy or a monster. It is a challenge to be overcome. It is the world's way of determining who is worthy to be successful in life. Where others stop when they see the 'wall', you climb over it. Like I said, one aspect of 'the right attitude' depends on how people react to challenges, conflict and adversity.

So, you should all learn how to handle conflicts well. Remember, the outcome of a conflict resolution is so that a mutually beneficial outcome is reached. You don't want that only you win the argument, but both of you must 'win'. If you keep winning, even if you shouldn't, do you think everyone would continue to support you? There are many reasons people do not handle conflict properly. But today I want the to share the 4 most damaging culture in Malaysians that disrupts effective conflict resolution.
  • It's WHO is saying is much more important than WHAT is being said...
  • You avoid DIRECT confrontation but complain and criticize INDIRECTLY
  • Everything is a personal attack
  • Blame Game
WHO is saying is much more important than WHAT is being said...

Do you see politicians fight? Do you see people fight because of office politics? Do you see people trying to get close to high ranking officials so that they can influence their decisions. Do you see people totally closing their minds to a person's debate just because he is from another political affiliation. The truth does not depend on who is saying it, facts never change but their interpretations of it does. You must base your judgment on objectivity in resolving conflicts. Don't let position/rank or emotions cloud your decision.


You avoid DIRECT confrontation but complain and criticize INDIRECTLY

This always happen in every student club. In meetings you keep keep quite. The student leader gives work, you nod and accept. But then behind the person's back you badmouth him/her. If you don't tell your boss up front, how do you expect him/her to know? Malaysians always try to be harmonious and try to avoid conflicts. But in actuality, you are only postponing the problem. Imagine this. You are unhappy that your boss always gives hints that he isn't satisfied with your work. You don't want to create trouble and try to improve your work, but still not good enough. One day, things blew up and a fight ensues. Only then, you knew that your boss wanted something different then what you thought. If you had earlier chose to confront him immediately and clarify things in the beginning, this would not have happened. When I say confront, that doesn't mean to aggressively foght with him. I'll share how in the next articles.

Everything is a personal attack

In Malaysia, leaders are so sensitive and egoistic. Just because your opinion is different than theirs, it's as if we want to overthrow them. Then, we are branded as the 'evil opponents'. So many high potential individuals are neglected because of this. Separate the person from the issue. We don't care about you, we just want to make things better by giving a fresh opinion. Heh, You say that Malaysian don't have creativity.We do. Just that too many of it is restrained by seniority mentality and office politics by Malaysian leaders. To them, it becomes a matter of ego and pride which they must uphold. In worst cases, the use unethical methods to silence opposition.

In student clubs it is also similar. I have a story from an ex-MPP, he made a mistake of scolding a subordinate in front of her friends. That subordinate would then have her revenge by spreading bad rumors about him and engineer his isolation from his team. This has no positive effect on the boss, the subordinate or the team. Just the pure emotion of revenge. Don't take everything personally and don't take it to heart easily. Be professional. Separate work and emotion. Aware of the emotional pressures in the team. Be forgiving.

Blame Game

When people cannot answer a question in a n argument, they will make excuses. When they can't, they start to blame each other when a problem appears. The problem might not be the person. But it's always easier to blame and push the responsibility to someone else. And the blame game continues, just like Malaysian politics. Then, the problems never gets resolved.
Stop Blaming. Control emotions. Keep it objective. Find Solutions.

There are many cultures that I see in today's politicians that I see are happening to university students. The Blame Game. Unintelligent debates. Empty propaganda mongering. Biased Arguments and etc. You are going to face the same thing in real life, why don't start practicing now. If we can have have the right attitude in solving our conflicts. Then, Malaysia would be a better place.

Be.You

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Qualities Women Despise In A Man

These are the qualities women are thought to despise, according to some survey I found:

1. He has no opinion, is just carried along by others.
2. He always has someone to blame.
3. He can never be decisive at the moment of truth.
4. He’s always giving up (never puts in the work).
5. He’s always relying on his parents somehow.
6. He keeps quiet on the train even when he’s bunched up against some weirdo.
7. Though he’s timid around other people, he only acts firm in front of me.
8. He flip-flops around with what foods he likes and dislikes.
9. He splits the cost of meals (with me) exactly, even in increments of RM0.10.
10. He asks to be treated.
11. He always whines about his work.
12. His mails are too long.
13. He does nothing but complain.
14. He checks his appearance in front of the mirror too much.
15. He uses hygiene products too much.
16. His body is frail and weak.

See that guys? You have to be opinionated, a strong mind. Small2 stuff like choosing where to eat for dinner, no need to be so strict la. But it's important that you can stand your ground in the face of conflict and disputes. Many of you avoid conflict or become too aggressive and emotional in a conflict. This is because:

You don't know your 'limit', Don't say you know it, because if you did you would handle ALL conflicts well. Read this to know why.

And also, don't give up easily, just keep trying. Don't stop. Just do it. Doubting yourselves doesn't bring you anywhere.

Don't whine and complain. Grow up. Be accountable for the choices you make. Have a positive outlook of life.

What separates successful Men (and women) is in the way they react towards:
  • Their life goals
  • Their problems and challenges in life
  • Knowledge, Education and Wisdom.
Click here for a better explanation.

Be a Man. Do the right thing!

...and...

Be.You.

Monday, October 12, 2009

How To Tell Someone You Love Them



Another random post this time. I remember posting a video titled, "How To Be The Perfect Boyfriend". but before you can become the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend you need to have one, right? But you got to express your feelings to your target right? Here's how! Just click on the pic above...

Sorry that havent updated much this week, been busy. A shift is happening in my life. Haha. Anyway...

Be.You.
and show me some love...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Solutions To Effective Decision Working

In the previous article I shared about the limitations in effective decision making. Which are:

• Time
• Resources
• Type of Decision
• Environment


So referring to these limitations I am going to share the tools you can use to do effective decision making.

Time & Resources

Planning. Yes, planning. A good planning would give you an idea of the tine constraint that you would face. Then, you could plan things ahead and not when you are under pressure because of lack of time. Also planning in advance would help you identify the limited resources you have and the type of decisions you would have to do in advanced, so you can make the decisions now. You won't make a good decision under pressure, right? I know I have said planning as a solution many times, but this shows how important is planning. You can download a copy of my planning guide here.

Type of Decision

Like I said in my previous article, time and resources is a big limitation. So for now, I will discuss a method that decides a decision making that is suitable to the decision making in context of differences in importance and urgency in making the decision.

Decision Making Matrix

I have modified this matrix from the time management matrix to suit the context of decision making.

Important - If you don't do, then the project/work you are doing won't be complete
Urgent - If you don't do it now, you won't finish before deadline. (Some people don't want to make their own deadline, that's why their time management sucks) Or other parts of the project cannot or other people cannot finish before their deadline until you have done your part of the project/work.


Autocratic - You don't have much time. Don't be a wuss and make a decision now!
Democratic - You have time. Gather as much as accurate information as you can. Get a team consensus. There are many methods to do this. Try Google decision making or visit this website I found, here.
Delegate - You've got to trust your team. You can't do everything alone.
Forget It - Do I need to explain this?

Remember that you need ALL your team mates to agree with a decision so all of them will do the work properly. If they don't agree, they don't trust, and ultimately they won't do. However, time is your biggest enemy in getting everyone in your team agreeing to the same decision. So as a leader you must know when to be democratic and when you must be a dictator.

Be.You.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Limitations in Effective Decision Making

Like I said before in a previous article, in life the biggest limitations are time and knowledge. Even in decision making you will see the effects of these two limitations. They will manifest themselves as these limitations in effective decision making.

• Time
• Resources
• Type of Decision
• Environment


So when trying to make a decision in your team please consider these limitations before taking choosing a decision making method.


Time

When deadlines comes closer, the pressure increases. You don't have time to wait to get more information or discuss with the team. I always see leaders postponing important decisions because they are afraid to make the wrong decisions. "Tell me yes, Tell me no...But tell me now!" so that the team can go on and start making preparations.


Resources

Unfortunately, humans cannot clone an infinite number of themselves; there's only one of you in the world. And as such, that's why you have team mates. But still, you have a limited number of them. Depending on the different size of the team would require a different approach to decision making. The bigger the size, the harder it is to take consideration everybody's opinion.


Competency

It is the combination of skills, attitude and knowledge. Unfortunately, not everybody have the same level of competency. Also, you cannot simply 'transfer' competency to another person just like transferring a Microsoft word file through a thumb drive. This difference makes it hard for ideas, suggestion, and opinions hard to get through to other members. This takes time and effort. After all, we are all different in our own special way.


Type of Decisions

Differing degrees of Time, Resources available and competency makes our decision different in terms of importance and urgency. Depending on importance, a more important decision would require a more autocratic decision making by the leader.


Environment

In my previous article, I mentioned about how the work environment can influence the quality of decision making. As a leader, it is in your interest that the decision making method you use would promote work synergy, healthy working environment and etc.

Consider these before choosing a decision making style. I would share some of the methods you can use in me next article.

Be. You.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

3 Problems In Decision Making

Decision making is an important process that everyone will go through, whether in uni or in the working life. So better start learning about it now. When making a decision, it's important to get the right information as also to discuss from as many aspects as possible. This is why all opinions and healthy debate is welcomed. Unfortunately, Malaysians always try to avoid conflict and give no feed back at all. Avoiding conflict will bring a bigger problem later on, trust me. Sometimes, the debate becomes too heated, emotional and personal that it destroys the team’s synergy.

There are 3 things that cause ineffective decision making:
• The Environment
• The People
• The Decision Making Method

Environment

As you may know everything in Malaysia is very politicized. There are so many cases where good & intelligent people are disregarded because having an opposing opinion to their superior. This kind of mentality of environment cannot help in promoting information sharing and healthy debate. Debate is necessary so that we are able to access all possibilities and outcomes. A leader can create the right environment by encouraging open discussions and stressing that making the right decision is more important than saving face.

People

People are the most unpredictable factor. There are people who talk too much but don't give relevant information or solutions, and there are those who say nothing at all. Like I said earlier, you need to know as much as you can before you can make a decision. You need your team mates to help you give information. Get them into the discussion and the debate. People are sometime shy and sometimes lose focus of the debate. There are many methods to overcome this which I will prepare later on.

Decision Making Method

The problem with student leaders these days, is that they lack technical managerial skills. So the result will be they are too dictator-like and harsh on the team and would not accept any other opinion. Or the leader becomes too soft and the team have too many opinions and the leader cannot make a decision because that person is not decisive and a people pleaser.

Environment is the external factor, and the people are the internal factor. There are managerial methods to help you do decision making in the most effective manner. These methods can easily be found on the internet and also learned as easily. Unfortunately, this is not taught to student leaders. Student leaders prefer navigating through the politics of student leadership. I will share these methods in upcoming posts.

By understanding the usual problems that cause ineffective decision making, we know what to avoid when we do our decision making. The next step is to know what to do in making the right decision.

Be.You

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