Goodbye Motorola! How Chicago’s greatest tech company fell to earth?


Under the Galvin family, Motorola had soaring achievements. This was the
company, remember, that invented the cellphone. Those days are over.
What went wrong?  
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Doing good well – there’s greater impact in helping through informed giving


Doing good wellTWO weeks ago, I was on a flight back from Singapore. One of the newspapers had a poignant picture of a young boy in tears. I could practically feel him staring at me.

He had been rescued from a saree embroidery factory in Kathmandu. Child labour in the Kathmandu Valley is extensive and there are up to 80 such factories which employ more than 500 children, mostly below the age of 14, to make those sarees. And the sad part of the story is that many do not want to be rescued.

The Kathmandu operation was timed to coincide with World Against Child Labour Day which was on June 12. According to the International Labour Organisation, hundreds of millions of girls and boys throughout the world are involved in work that deprives them from receiving adequate education, health, leisure and basic freedoms.

More than half of these children are exposed to abuse because they work in hazardous environments where slavery, forced labour, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, and armed conflict are common.

The plight of these children weighed heavy on my mind on this short flight back.

The following week, I was on the road listening to the radio and I learnt that World Refugees Day was on June 20. It is estimated that more than 45 million people worldwide have fled their homes due to conflict, persecution and other abuses.

In Malaysia, there are over 100,000 registered refugees in Kuala Lumpur alone, and one can imagine the actual figures nationwide, especially those not registered.

In looking at the two big issues here, we may wonder what we can do to make a difference in the lives of so many people.

Certainly there are many communities who will benefit from our giving and volunteer efforts – the aged, homeless, abused children and women, addicts, the poor,disabled, orphans, victims of human trafficking, etc to name a few. Then there are the sporadic needs in times of natural disasters.

And this is where the work of NGOs is significant. Many NGOs come about in response to a specific need and are small and limited in their operations. But there are an estimated 20,000 NGOs that operate globally because the causes they fight for transcend national borders.

And for the work they do, they need support. Some of these NGOs have a strong global presence and are able to draw funds and resources from many sources.

An executive from a large company once asked me what worthwhile organisation or group his company can contribute to.

I pointed them to a community in need of help for social change. They are children in estates who need assistance to enable them to stay in school. I told him that it would be better for him to visit the community in a somewhat remote area and understand their situation and needs.

The legwork proved to be a deterrent and so the company chose a children’s home in the Klang Valley instead. It was easier to arrange and provided ample photo opportunities for the company’s magazine.

There are many us who are willing to give and contribute. However, our giving can go further when it is done right.

For a start, we should go beyond being compassionate and generous, and instead be prepared to do due diligence to determine the deserving causes. This is called “informed giving” and it requires us to hold the organisation accountable so that the funds given are effectively used. It is not just giving, but following up for accountability and performance.

Sometimes it might be better to channel the funds raised to a reputable foundation to be administered instead of making the contributions direct. When I made this suggestion at a recent fundraising discussion, it was met with some laughter. Why would you give money to another organisation which already has so much money?

I know of trustees in a charitable foundation who diligently visit the communities they support. They want to see for themselves how the money is spent, whether the classroom has been built, and how the children who received financial aid were doing.

Just as the executive could not find the time to check out the community I recommended, many of us also do not have the time to do follow-up and accountability.

So we should consider those organisations which take the work of giving seriously. They are the ones that are managed professionally, with full transparency and accountability.

Companies and individuals can partner with such organisations which are more efficient and have a proven track record in helping others.

This is the reason why Warren Buffett gives such generous amounts to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pass on to the right people. Buffet knows that he should just continue to do what he does best, which is to make a lot of money, rather than rolling up his sleeves to manage the giving directly.

There are many practices in companies which can be applied to social work to transform lives.

Like businesses, charitable organisations need the best leaders and people to execute the programmes.

Many of the issues faced are complex. We need to understand the issues and provide insights on the right solutions to address the root causes of the problems.

Which is why simply doing good is not enough. We need to move to “doing good well”.

TAKE ON CHANGE By JOAN HOI

Joan is inspired and influenced by the book, Doing Good Well. What does (and does not) make sense in the non-profit world by Willie Cheng.

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 About Doing Good Well 

 The way we see the world can change the world. In this book, Willie Cheng frames and explains the nonprofit world while providing fresh insights as to where and why it works – or not.
He covers a spectrum of nonprofit paradigms including:
The structure of the marketplace – challenging whether a “marketplace” truly exists.
Concepts of nonprofit management – disputing why charities must follow corporate mantras of growth and reserves accumulation.
Philanthropy and volunteerism – questioning the motivations of givers.
New social models of social enterprises, social entrepreneurship and venture philanthropy – seeking to explain why these may not have worked as intended.
Nonprofit quirks – showing how the rules can result in the extension of the rich/poor divide into the charity world and make fundraising inefficient through an efficiency ratio.
In describing his ideas through an easy writing style and hearty anecdotes, Cheng engages and provokes the reader with a strategic review of the status quo as well as the enormous potential in the nonprofit world. After all, as Cheng describes it, charity is no longer simply about “Just Doing Good” but “Doing Good Well.”

Enterprise SEO Strategies for 2013


Can you believe it’s almost 2013 already?  That means looking at the future of your marketing plan and the new elements at play.  In the world of Online Search, the impact is real and immediate.  A well planned SEO strategy and digital marketing campaign can make sure your organization remains viable against competitors and increases business margins. Investing in advertising with no distinguishable ROI is a thing of the past for most brands.

The problem with Enterprise SEO Strategy is that it can sometimes overwhelm marketing executives. Executives wear multiple hats and don’t have the time or energy to delve into the nuances of technical implementation or stay on the cutting edge of Search Engine algorithm updates and results enhancements.

In order to help large brands and marketing executives make educated decisions in prioritizing search, we have provided a list of the top 3 strategies enterprise SEO campaigns need.

  1. Business Unit & Organizational Alignment – Is your marketing team setting one KPI after another?  Do they live in silos that don’t cross promote sales opportunities? Do you have a clear understanding of where you want to send visitors for particular keywords? Stop the madness!  It’s time to take a step back and really start to integrate across your own teams (whether they be internal, agencies, or both).  Set up a keyword governance strategy so that each business unit understands what their targeted keywords are, why they are targeting them, and how those differ from other business units.  The very nature of this priority alignment and the communication of KPIs allows for strategies that will drive visitors to the appropriate web pages and other digital assets. This also allows business groups to promote each other instead of diluting focus by competing for similar or identical goals.
  2. Technology Changes & Implementation – For those of you operating internationally, do you struggle to manage site content across multiple country code top-level domains?  Do you know if your Content Management System is creating parameters that are causing duplicate content or auto-generating pages in an attempt to provide scalable development? You must have an understanding of how your enterprise technology systems are going to play into your SEO strategy. SEO implementation has to be prioritized in the enterprise marketing plan.  IT departments are notoriously resistant to change, an increase in workload, and being assigned tasks where they can’t see the direct value. The Search Engines change rapidly and developers need to be willing and able to adapt.  SEOs also need to do a better job at explaining why the work is important and what the outcome of the work will be to improve buy-in.  When considering your enterprise search strategy, ask yourself these questions: (1) Do you have a large e-commerce system that generates dynamic URLs that vary based on the entry path? (2) Do you have a translation management system that translates all of your content to all regions? (3) Have you updated your translation glossaries to reflect your localized keyword priorities? If you haven’t thought of these questions yet, you probably need to revisit your global search strategy.
  3. Understanding The Changing Search Landscape – Search changes fast. There were over 20 major updates in 2012 and many minor adjustments. According to Google’s Matt Cutts at SES San Francisco 2012, their engineers are continually working on new updates. Google algorithm updates, like the Panda & Penguin updates, have real search engine impact and have negatively affected the bottom line revenue for many businesses due to lost rankings.  It’s not enough to mitigate risk; brands need to be forward thinking and stretch their boundaries so they aren’t outpaced by competitors.

“You can never avoid people thinking that SEO is an effort to game the system or Google. Many tricks worked in the past, but as Google tries to continuously improve the quality of search results, many tricks do not work anymore. Being successful in SEO these days involves thinking along the lines of great customer service, offering great products and services, being a thought leader, and building brand advocacy online. Eventually this all helps out in building rankings as you gain more natural links that would not be affected by the Panda and Penguin updates.”  – Benj Arriola

Businesses have an opportunity to expand their organic search footprint by getting up to speed with the new enhancements.  Consider the following areas:

  • A renewed focus on thought leadership, content marketing, and social media
  • Managing your Google+ brand page and Google+ Places pages for multiple locations
  • Determine how your organization will use Authorship tags
  • Determine how your audience can engage with your brand on a Google Hangout

If you haven’t at least begun to investigate these strategies, you’re falling behind the curve.  Start to embrace the Google+ world. It’s not going anywhere and users are beginning to adopt it.  Even more importantly your search visibility can be enhanced by rolling out a strategy that makes sense for your brand and locations.

Search will continue to drive traffic for enterprise organizations.  How much traffic really depends on the organization’s alignment, grasp of technology, and flexibility to adapt to the changing environment. 2013 is sure to be exciting, are you ready?

Brent GleesonBrent Gleeson, Forbes Contributor

I write about entrepreneurship, leadership, and digital marketing.

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World’s Simplest Management Secret


Forget what you learned in those management books. There’s really only one way to ensure that everyone on your team excels.

Management books have it all wrong. They all try to tell you how to manage “people.”

It’s impossible to manage “people”; it’s only possible to manage individuals. And because individuals differ from one another, what works with one individual may not work with somebody else.

Some individuals thrive on public praise; others feel uncomfortable when singled out.

Some individuals are all about the money; others thrive on challenging assignments.

Some individuals need mentoring; others find advice to be grating.

The trick is to manage individuals the way that THEY want to be managed, rather than the way that YOU’d prefer to be managed.

The only way to do this is to ASK.

In your first (or next) meeting with each direct report ask:

  • How do you prefer to be managed?
  • What can I do to help you excel?
  • What types of management annoy you?

Listen (really listen) to the response and then, as far as you are able, adapt your coaching, motivation, compensation, and so forth to match that individual’s needs.

BTW, a savvy employee won’t wait for you to ask; he or she will tell you outright what works. When this happens, you’re crazy not to take that employee’s advice!

Unfortunately, most individuals aren’t that bold, which is why it’s up to you to find out how to get the best out of them.

And you’ll never get that out of a management book.

There is no one-size-fits-all in a world where everyone is unique.

Fluttering around for company


Social relationships may glitter like diamonds, but not all will last forever. And we need to accept that relationships that promise high benefits will also carry high costs.

IN our brief lives, we always look out for good company. Like butterflies, we constantly flutter in the air, gazing at flowers, and sometimes landing on a petal which gives us a good feeling like we’ve never had before.

Although rarely do we linger for long, deep inside we all secretly hope to find that perfect petal to rest upon forever till the end of our brief lives.

Sometimes, people want much more than a social contract.

They yearn for a closer social relationship, with greater social commitments.

They are willing to invest all their efforts and emotions on a single relationship.

It can revolve around family, friendship, work or even a political, religious or social organisation. Wel- come to the Social Company.

Finding the right petal is very much like starting the right business company. A company is formed by business people of similar business interests.

They become shareholders and partners, and they have rights and responsibilities against each other. Whilst a contract is used for a one-off transaction, a company is used to get down to serious business for the long haul.

When a company is riding the high tide of success, its members have every reason to grow in confidence of greater things to come.

Why fear for the future? When the party is rocking, everybody’s singing and dancing, and nobody cares too much about who’s cleaning up the pool and picking up the broken shards later on.

But sometimes it’s good to turn on the lights, and check that everything’s alright. When the party’s over, and it will be over, there’s a heavy hangover waiting the morning after.

Likewise, when a company collapses, and no company is too big to fail, its shareholders, creditors and employees are bound to suffer heavy losses. Think of Enron, Lehman Brothers and Kodak.

That’s the difference between a mere social contract, and a social company. In a breach of contract, only the parties involved will be busy squabbling with each other.

However, in a breakdown of a company, there’s collateral damage to various third parties.

Thus, as much as it’s important and cool to live the moment, it’s also important (though less cool) to occasionally stop to think, have a sobering reality check, and account for what’s been said and done.

Under the law, it is mandatory for a company to perform annual audits on their financial affairs.

Likewise, people should constantly review their deep social relationships, to make sure that their company doesn’t turn from good to bad.

A simple example of a social company is marriage. It’s about two people exchanging vows to stick together through good times and bad times.

Sadly, nowadays, many people fail to follow through such vows. Divorces may be hard on the innocent spouse, but it’s definitely devastating to the innocent children.

They are robbed from enjoying a normal childhood filled with love and affection, and sometimes, deprived from sufficient maintenance and educational support.

So before entering into a marriage, think hard about the serious commitments that come with it, and the catastrophic consequences that follow if the marriage falls apart.

Think about your future children. Think about your relatives who will be forced to take sides, and spilt into irreconcilable clans.

Problems may also arise during the courtship stage, prior to marriage. Many of us are guilty of being consumed by love, or at least what we perceive as love.

After all, two’s a company, three’s a crowd. It’s easy to manage a company of two, whilst letting the rest of our family and friends fall by the wayside.

We ignore their calls and advice. We tell them to mind their own business and get the hell out of our lives.
But the easy thing to do is not always the best. Someday, you will long for their company.

Being married to our career can also be taxing on our social lives.

We burn all our days and nights for the sake of levelling up our corporate status.

We console ourselves that it’s only momentarily, until comes harvest time when we can reap the fruits of our labour.

But there is truly no end to the cycle. By the time we eventually find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, chances are we are too old, too weak and too late to share our riches with our loved ones.

These are mere examples of the larger problem, which is putting one’s entire mind, heart and soul into a single social company.

The key is to be aware that every deep social relationship takes a toll on our other relationships.

Social relationships may glitter like diamonds, but not all will last forever.

And we need to accept that relationships that promise high benefits will also carry high costs.

Hence, we need to think deeply before we leap into any social company. If we cannot bear the high cost, then don’t.

But if we do, we need to be bold enough to back out from a social company once the cost spirals beyond what we can bear.

In our brief lives, someday our wings will turn brittle and our favourite flowers will wilt away.

Until that day comes, we should cherish the freedom of the skies.

Sometimes, we may flutter too closely to a pretty petal in a thicket of thorns, and get our wings clipped.

But even then, we should never fear to flutter away. For there will always be a bed of flowers below to catch our fall.

Putik Lada By Raphael Kok

> The writer is a young lawyer. Putik Lada, or pepper buds in Malay, captures the spirit and intention of this column – a platform for young lawyers to articulate their views and aspirations about the law, justice and a civil society. For more information about the young lawyers, visit http://www.malaysianbar.org.my

Team building is a balancing act in an organization


It is important to remember that there are no bad competencies or bad profiles

BUILDING teams in an organisation is becoming an increasingly complex and challenging task.

Many organisations are employing the use of assessment tools to give another perspective of the individuals being considered for the purpose of recruitment or even succession planning, which is often an integral part of building a cohesive team. As an executive search consultant and coach, I have found such tools to be very insightful in many instances. One of the biggest lessons for me as a result of using such assessment tools is that bringing together diverse groups of competencies often result in stronger teams.

Most people would choose to work with people who are like themselves. It is a common perception that people with similar personality types will likely be on the same wavelength and get along well together. However, I had the opportunity to work closely with a colleague who is very frank and direct in her communication and work style. My personal style of communication is almost a direct opposite of hers whereby I gravitate to being a lot more diplomatic. Both of us work well together because we can bridge the gaps in each other’s work style and cover a lot more ground when collaborating on projects. In most cases when dealing with savvy clients, they want to know the truth but the tactful delivery of facts are also equally important.

As a leader, I am not keen on finding someone exactly like me, as I know I am not perfect and having clones of myself would only magnify my faults. By understanding my own personality profile better, I am able to surround myself with people who are able to bring other competencies to the table and by working together, we would be able to support each other to produce better results and more holistic solutions and better results.

I have noticed that more and more leaders are becoming aware of the need for diversity in their workspace. A decade or two ago my clients often wanted me to look for people who were almost identical to themselves or someone within their organisation. “Just find me someone like John,” or “Don’t you have any candidates like my deputy?”

However, employers and leaders are now becoming savvier when it comes to building teams. They are realising that by building diverse teams they are able to address more of their customers’ needs and reduce their blind spots. Even clients who have not been exposed to any psychometric assessment tools are able to splice together a profile by using terminology that they are familiar with. For example, I spoke with a client who wanted me to find him a chief operating officer who could think strategically like his head of corporate strategy but the individual also needed to be literate with numbers like his finance director and able to deep-dive to fix problems. Whilst this may seem like a tall order, this description was able to provide another perspective and added another dimension to the job description, which in most cases is only a two-dimensional document. Hence, it became a lot easier to understand the client’s requirements from that point onwards.

The results of an assessment project can sometimes be an eye-opener and a driver for change. One such organisation, a multinational company in the manufacturing sector, discovered through an assessment project that the majority of their managers were classified as innovators. Being innovative is a highly desired skill in many organizations, especially in leadership roles. On the other hand, innovators are generally out-of-the-box thinkers and are not very likely to analyse pitfalls well or they may be less detail oriented when it comes to implementation. Faced with the study results, their top management embarked on a development program to build up the other competencies their managers were lacking in. At the same time, they also made a conscious effort to hire more detail-oriented managers who could be more effective on areas of the business that called for more precision. They also created a role for a risk manager to mitigate potential risks that the innovative managers may have missed in their eagerness to try new and different approaches.

I have also come across leaders who have the misconception that their subordinates cannot be better qualified than the leaders themselves. These were usually leaders who enjoyed having their own “kingdoms” and didn’t want to “rock the boat.” They tend to hire “yes” men who would carry out instructions without questioning or offer any kind of resistance. As a result, the organisation is likely to stagnate at some point, as there will usually be a bottleneck when it comes to making decisions. The calibre of the managers hired would be of a lower level, as the leader would not want to have subordinates that may outshine them as leaders. As such most decision-making will have to be directed to the top management, as these managers would not be empowered to make decisions.

Although it is not ideal, the leader preferred this approach and this might even work well until the business grows beyond the tipping point whereby the leader will eventually need to empower some capable managers to take on more of the decision-making tasks. As an employee and team member, it is useful to know what our competencies are as this will pave the way for us to develop ourselves in areas that we may not be as proficient in. We can align ourselves to mentors who may have a profile that complements ours or who can help us develop these competencies. It is also handy to know your colleagues’ profiles where possible so that we can use the right communication style to get our message across.

For instance, some people prefer receiving emails as this gives them time to craft an appropriate response whilst others may want to have a face-to-face discussion so that they can obtain immediate feedback. At times, this information also tells us why we are unable to get along with certain people in our organisations.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that there are no bad competencies or bad profiles. Nobody is perfect. We all possess competencies; some are similar and some different from the people we work with. It is more important to know what our competencies are and to what degree they influence our communication with others. It is not just the truth but knowing the truth that makes the difference, as this is the starting point for building effective teams.

by Talking Hr with Pauline Ng

Pauline Ng is the consulting director and head of BTI Consultants. She believes that we need to understand what makes a person tick so that we can build more effective teams  

ROWE for an honest living ?


Cover of "Why Work Sucks and How to Fix I...
Cover via Amazon

The traditional economy of working long hours no longer works in a global economy that does not recognise time zones and deadlines.

MUCH has been written about the number of holidays and company leave days Malaysians have. What is apparent is the effect on productivity. Thus, begs the question: What is true productivity?

A number of columnists have shared their views. Is it true productivity when employees leave late simply because of the following reasons:

> The boss is working late or there is an unwritten code that until the boss leaves, no one else can; and

> The longer you stay at work, even if you are on Facebook, you are a good worker?

Peer pressure is a factor; another are long meetings with no set agenda and goals.

Perhaps Malaysian companies and business owners would do well to look at the US and Europe. Despite their worsening economies, a movement that addresses work-life balance is gaining ground.

Why Work Sucks and How To Fix It, written by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson (http://www.gorowe.com) is about creating a results-only work environment (ROWE). Hot on the heels of lifestyle gurus such as Tim Ferris of the 4-Hour Workweek, Ressler and Thompson write about and offer solutions to the never-ending circus of meetings, schedules and clock-ins.

The traditional economy of working long hours from Monday to Friday, and also weekends, no longer works in a global economy that does not “understand” time zones and deadlines.

Home life, chores like doing the laundry, missing the children’s school concert — there has to be a better way to make a living.

You may wonder what is the difference between a flexible work arrangement and a ROWE.

Simply put, with flexi hours the employee needs permission and faces limited options. It is management controlled, requires policies, focusses on time-off, and there is high demand and low control.

ROWE offers the worker the following: No permission is needed and the working boundaries are unlimited. The employee manages his or her KPIs, and this requires accountability and clear goals.

If these are not met, out you go. ROWE focusses on tangible business results and it is high demand with high control.

Employers should view ROWE as beneficial to their businesses. They stop paying people for activities (Facebook anyone?) and start paying for outcomes.

They stop paying people for a chunk of time, and start paying them for their work. The employer must set clear terms of references on what needs to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

“Then it is up to the employee, with the coaching and guidance of the management, to meet those goals. If there are problems along the way, it’s the work that comes under scrutiny,” say the authors.

The big question is whether we Asians can adapt to this.

Asian businessmen and conglomerates have a different view of hard work, discipline and meeting profit margins. Despite the available technology, burning the midnight oil at work and networking while juggling a personal life still seem to be the practice.

It is common to see employees carrying two or three mobile phones and hooked onto almost every social media site, all in the name of keeping abreast with business trends. Is it any wonder why we are stressed?

Many will argue that with the wealth we are seeing now, there is little to complain about. People are more educated, healthier and hold down jobs.

However, economic growth and human development do not always coincide (UNDP Human Develop-ment Report 2010), and this is quite evident when one observes the current lifestyles of Malaysians.

Something must be amiss when many Malaysian professionals take up multi-level marketing jobs and other side businesses (i.e. tuition, catering) just to feed the family.

Young parents, seeking a better future for their children, take up consultancy or off-site projects just to be able to afford the tuition and activities their children need.

Holidays see tired families barely able to enjoy themselves. Stress-related illnesses are on the rise. The breakdown of relationships is on a steep increase, and thanks to limited time and resources, friendships are via social media like Facebook. This is not healthy.

More holidays do not mean that one’s life will change for the better when the fundamentals such as low pay (or not being paid what is worth) and archaic management per se are still practised.

With inflation on the rise on basic household goods, the Malaysian worker will have to grind even harder yet probably save little.

There has to be a better way to make a living in Malaysia.

> A WRITER’S LIFE By DINA ZAMAN – The writer is working on religious histories and communities of Malaysia. She can be contacted at editor@thestar.com.my.

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