November 4th, 2003

Microsoft without Bill Gates


At the Asia Open Source Symposium today, a friend asked me: “What do you think will happen to Microsoft if Bill Gate leaves?”

After giving it some thought, I said “Probably nothing”.

I mean, why would it be any difference? While Bill Gates is the icon for Microsoft, the real power of Microsoft, IMHO, are the huge number of talented people in Microsoft who can make things happens, its culture of taking big risk and never give up and its seasoned processes for software development to business operation. Microsoft, in short, is an conscience entity of its own, beyond any single individual, even Bill Gate.
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October 25th, 2003

What’s the manager role?


I’m sitting at my hotel louge drinking coffee waiting for my next appointment and started thinking about something that happened a month ago.

I was having coffee with an old classmate. He has done pretty well too and now manages a team of people like I do. In the hour we sat in the lounge, his handphone rings at least 3 times. “Fire fighting… my team couldnt do without me” he said proudly. I could hear the unspoken hint “so how come your guys don’t need you?” since my handphone remains totally silent.

But I don’t feel bad at all.
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September 16th, 2003

Type A or Type B


There are generally two kind of people in management or leadership: (1) the cool and quiet guy (2) the energetic and charismatic guy. I shall refer the first as Type A and latter as Type B.

Asian (particularly Japanese) believes there is a colloration between their blood type and their character. This is not to say all Type A managers have blood type A etc, but an interesting belief nonetheless.

Over the years, I observed that Type A managers likes to have Type B as their reports. Likewise, Type B managers like to have Type A reports. If both of them are Type A, then the team is too passive. If both of them are Type B, then there would too much conflict.

It is common to find alternating Type A and Type B as you tranverse the management hierarchy: Type A CEO will have Type B CXI who will have Type A VPs who will have Type B Directors etc.

September 9th, 2003

Bureaucracy = do nothing

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During a golf session with a friend over the weekend, we have a brief but interesting discussion about bureaucracy in the government.

Peter Drucker, in his book Managing the Next Society noted that Japanese have encountered 3 economic crisis: 1940s unemployment, 1960 retail inefficiency and 1980s recession. What is interesting is that the government overcome the first two by doing preciesly nothing. Yet, ignoring past wisdom, they poured huge sum of public funds to stimulate economy in 80s which only results in gross failure.
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September 8th, 2003

Leaders & Crisis


In times of great need, outstanding man stood up and take up the challenge. It is during these times that leaders appear among us. It differential those who have courage and those who dont. It differential those who can do from those who can talk.

Crisis, in short, is the polish for great leaders.

September 7th, 2003

The Last Days of Autodesk


I have heard so much about the legendary letter “The Last Days” by John Walker, founder of Autodesk that I decided to check it out today.

Bill Gate once described the article as “brilliantly written and incredible insightful” which inspired him to write his own “Crisis Letter” for Microsoft: “By talking about how a large company slows down, fails to invest enough and loses sight of what is important, and by using Microsoft as an example of how to do some things correctly he manages to touch on a lot of what’s right and wrong with Microsoft today”.

August 20th, 2003

how unfair…


One often hears about how unfair that senior management is highly paid compared to the “folks slaving below”. For those who havent accept the reality of life, let me offer this:

“If you think good management is expensive, then try bad.” – (I forgot who said this…)

August 8th, 2003



Following my posting yesterday about weeding out the bottom, some folks have indicated that this system does not work all the time.

Well, the organization renewal process of weeding out the bottom 10% is actually an evolution system. And like all evolution system, the rules you set will determine what kind of organization you have at the end.

For example, if the selection criteria is based on “the ability to listen commands and follow rules” and you weed out the bottom 10% based on this rule, over time, you will have an Athena organization. e.g. government, military organization.

On the other hand, if the selection criteria is based on “ability to make sales”, you will get an organization which is have mostly sale people. e.g. MLM.

Hence, knowing what is the type of organization and the culture you want is very important before you apply this process.

August 7th, 2003

What I learnt from playing games…


For the last few months, I was trying to complete the RPG game Breath of Fire IV. (Yes, “Months” for a simple game. I dont really have much time for game, you know!)

Anyway, in BoF IV, there is this cute mini faeries game. This game allows you manage a colony of 20 faeries. Each faerie has 3 attributes: endurance, knowledge and style and 4 possible personalities. The faeries game also has a “culture rating” which represent the sum of these attributes of all your faeries. If you have high culture rating, you get better faeries.

So what do I learnt from this game?
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August 5th, 2003

Vision & Strategy


Any good general knows that a plan for a mission is valid until you meet your first enemy.

But this is not to say we don’t do any planning. It is still important to do planning but vision & strategy become critical in an always-changing world.

A good vision is one which is clear and simple. It leaving no room for doubt or interpretion and have buy-in from everyone in the organization. Plans may change but the vision must not.

A good strategy is one that explains the “WHAT” and does not specify the “HOW”. It is not a “howto” guide for someone who is lost. Instead, that person should be able to ask himself “what should I do that is inline with the strategy?” and able to make his own decision (aka “empowerment”).

With a good vision & strategy, what you also need is the best people or a “A player”. Jack Welch defines an A player by 4E: Energy to do work, ability to Energize others, Edge to make critical decision and lastly, ability to Execute.

So really, good management is really as simple as 1,2,3: (1) set a simple vision and articulate the strategy (2) hire the best people and (3) and leave your best people alone to do the job. ^_^