Sunday, September 30, 2007

The week that has been...of astronauts and astronomers...heheh

The nation continues to grapple with new technologies, freedom of speech and online real-time scribes, bashings from opposition parties, public outcry etcetera etcetera...heheh...just an observation...not a political statement ok? If I may summarize what has happened over the week, like elsewhere in the world, there are good cops and there are bad cops just as there are genuine altruistic politicians (are there still many around?) and there are crooked politicians..well...not really crooked in that sense...hmmm you know what i mean....the death or rather murder of that little girl, and the excitement or was it the agitated few who has been debating whether our 2 doctors are astronauts or cosmonauts or just space tourists? which reminds me of the joke sometime US they call astronaut, in Russia the say cosmonaut...but in Malaysia...they call what aah?....hmmm.... sure-or-naut or can-or-naut...hahahaha...ok lor...don't get angry meh? so howbaurit? hihi.,,,which reminds me of what Profesor Grant the world renowned Paleantologist (in that movie-lah!) said in the 3rd sequel of the movie: Jurrassic Park....he said: basically there are only 2 kinds of boys...those who want to be astronauts and those who wanna be astronomers. Both love exploring the infinitesimal space out there...The astronauts are those boys who want to be out there with the real action to touch and feel the adventure, while the other type..the astronomers...they know practically everything one needs to know about asteroids, distant planets, stars and galaxies...but they'd rather be closer home to mommy and not take unnecessary risks heheh. So, fellas...which one are you? even in the leadership and management context....are you an astronaut or an astronomer?
and...oh ya..just when you thought that its ok to go back into the water..somebody shouted JAWS!...well...we just got over the row with Indonesia on the alleged bashing of their karate instructor today's NST prime news page 2...reads "Indonesian swallows SIM card" and that indonesian is a maid! I wonder what the mainstream media in indonesia would react to us this time around. I hope with the approaching Idulfitr and in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan...nothing unpleasant would arise.

some recent and not so recent speaking engagements...heehee

In November 2006, I was asked to present a paper at the first International OIC Human Capital Management Conference at Sutera Harbour Kota Kinabalu Sabah. I spoke on the same session with Dr Peter Shepard, Ramli Razali and Datuk KY Mustapha the then Sabah State Secretary and also chairman of UMSLink Holdings Sdn Bhd. My paper was entitled: 'Islamic Human Capitalism'. A very humble attempt but I was pleasantly surprised when the ambassadors from Pakistan and Afghanistan came up to me to appreciate my paper. The Pakistan ambassador was particularly amazed at the 'tipping point' examples of mobile telefon penetration rates in Pakistan that I quoted. Prior to that, in July 2006 I was invited to give a public lecture on Human Competencies & Corporate Governance to the teaching staff of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) at Zamboanga City, Mindanao, The Philippines. In 2001, I was invited to speak at A Frost & Sullivan Conference in Singapore on 'Online Research: Ethics at Play'.

a little nostalgia...part 2...heheh

Noriswadi, the HeiTech chevening scholar, will be receiving his LLM scroll from the university of stratclyde, glasgow, scotland very soon...somewhere early november i think (correct me wadi..hihi). I can imagine the excitement, exuberance and all things nice. I remember when my father's name was called out during my MBA graduation at middleton hall, hull university, england on december 8, 1994. i brought back the video of that graduation ceremony but cannot find where i had kept it...hahaha. i found this picture i took with Professor Terry King, then pro-vice chancellor and dean of the east asian studies at hull at the time, I knew him sometime earlier as he was our author when i was with oxford university press east asia.

Then I found this picture with Datuk Dr Hassan Ahmad, the former Director-General of the LIterary Agency (Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka) who was then the ambassador and permanent delegate to UNESCO in Paris. It was autumn of 1988 and we were walking to have lunch with Wan Capouthier and her scientist husband Prof Capouthier at a posh oyster restaurant downtown Paris. I arrived the night before from London (flew on a latesavers ticket hihi) and was his guest at his apartment (which i was told,,belonged to Brigitte Bardot who now lives in Bordeaux, South of France...don't worry...those who were born after 1980...most likey wouldn't know her anyway...hahaha). The crowd behind the foto were actually medical staff picketing..hahaha. Picketing and strikes were a common weekly affair in Paris at the time...they still do it...on strike i mean...on and off...heheh. I was a young man of 34 at the time and was general manager of the university of malaya cooperative.

From now on, I will choose some old fotos, upload them on this blog and describe a little bit...what its all about..hehe... i will call it a little nostalgia..part 3, 4, 5 and so on...hihihi...

Monday, September 24, 2007

a little nostalgia...

I was springkleening my study at home..trying to get rid of old documents over the weekend. Have always wanted to do it. Throw away all those materials accumulating. Old newspapers, magazines, conference papers and what have you. But as soon as you go through say aah...this I haven't read...this ummm... I may need it when I write my next paper or you end up putting them nicely aside again...hahaha when in fact you should just tear them, shred them or just really...just chuck them way. Sounds familiar right? ya many have shared with me the very same experience...hahaha. Anyway, I came across this two photographs which I think deserves to be included in tonight's bloggycraft ...(or is it crafty blog?...hihi) of mine.
The group photo appeared in the jan-mar 1998 issue of Berita Permodalan (The National Equity Corporation, PNB) where it showed us just after the management-buyout (MBO) exercise. PNBiT was a wholly owned subsidiary of PNB and after the MBO the name was changed to HeiTech. Not many people know that I was the one who gave that name. There were about 300 names suggested...when I walked into Dato's room and scribbled the name 'HEITECH' and showed him...he seemed to like after 10 years we are still HEITECH PADU BERHAD but I shall not bore you with the truly transformational rebranding exercise that is going on right now.
The other photo is one of those rare relaxed moments with my mentor Tan Sri Arshad Ayub after a black tie do of the British Graduates Association (BGAM) Annual Gala Dinner at Nikko Hotel, Kuala Lumpur...heheh. Its already 2 am in the morning...another hour or so it should be ok to have a small bite (sahur).....
Aahh musn't be too nostalgic, people come and go, the new leadership is expected to practice good management that would confront the systemic weaknesses (if any) in our services, and economic planning. Hopefully the transformational exercise I touched earlier will transform our productivity and material well being as the issues now are different - sustainability, globalisation and relationship. Our need is for leadership - those with the purpose, people and passion to set an agenda that will address the long term. Learning from the past but not living in it. This, is also a reminder to me...not to be too nostalgic...hihi....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

breaking fast the malaysian way...

Yesterday's off-site breaking fast session (which usually should be at one's own home with the family..heheh) was at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, hosted by Datuk Azizan, director-general of LOFSA (Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority) and his team comprising of old friends danial mah deputy DG, directors safaruddin, sany et al. Seen at the do too, were some familiar faces & other colleagues in the financial services sector and old friends. Deputy Central Bank governor Datuk Zamani, Tan Sri Zaharuddin MAxis chairman n ex-shell charman, my board member Mohamad Abdullah who was until sept 3, also Malaysian Re chairman, Datuk Nakhaie who used to be my religious lecturer in my undergraduate days..heheh,were there. As usual, others from HeiTech (Padusoft) that attended were Che Ngah former Padusoft CEO and his boys, Faudzli et al. My good friend Wan Asmadi ED of Mayban Securties whom I featured with his wife ( see weddings oh weddings!...) was also there. Too many to list down but in this update and I shall not show you the spread (heheh) but will give a special tribute to my friends from MAICSA who were at my table (hihi). See picture: Janet (MAICSA VP), Kulwant(MAICSA technical director who will be leaving soon for a new assignment...we wish her well in her new endevour and shall not grudge her of her better prospects, MAICSA CEO who is a fellow Hull alumnus, and beside him MAICSA librarian) and another good ol' fren Dr Kamal Khir CEO of Institut Bank Bank Malaysia (IBBM) and Mohd Salleh Azwa Matrade's West Asia/Africa section, International Network & Trade Promotion division, on his left...enjoying the juadah....hahaha..

About an hour ago I got an email from my longtime friend and colleague from Manila. She is a regular contributor to the Manila Times. She used to be President of The Philippine Society for Training & Development when I was also in the executive board of the Malaysian Society for training & Development (MSTD) in the mid 90s, and had at one time served with the Philippines Airlines. I append below her latest article. Enjoy the read and have a great weekend folks!

Business Times p.B1
Saturday, September 22, 2007

Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Excellent people deliver excellent business results

As I am finalizing my presentation to the 2007 Summit on Globalization of HR in Taipei, Taiwan, September 28 to 29, I came across some interesting materials I got from 2007 ASTD Conference & Exposition in June in Atlanta, Georgia.

ASTD President Tony Bing-ham asserts that there’s never been a better time to be in learning. The knowledge, skills and abilities of organization’s talents are top of the mind for senior executives today. No longer are systems and processes the differentiator for organizations; there are becoming commodities. Today people are the differential advantage for organization. This is one case where senior executives universally agree. And workplace learning and performance professionals have a huge impact on the learning, and thus the success, of those people.

Tony asks, “so how can we improve the learning function in our organizations? One way to look is at examples of best practices from ASTD’s BEST Award winners.” The award program started in 2003 to recognize organizations that understand and demonstrate the critical connection between employee learning and achieving business results. Since 2003, ASTD has recognized 80 organizations in eight countries with a BEST award. There is no awardee from the Philippines yet.

Tony continues, “Four of ASTD’s 2006 BEST awardees—Computer Sciences Corp., Equity Residential, QUALCOMM, and Wipro—shared some insights with ASTD about these key messages and how learning impacts results in their organizations. These winners:

• Demonstrate the connection between learning and organizational strategy.
• Can articulate the value of learning and its impact on the bottom line. They understand the value of learning and protect the investment, even when times are tough.
• Ensure that the company’s leaders are heavily involved in learning, and model leaders as teachers.
• Are, in most cases, focused on global development.
• Share a sense of urgency around developing a competitive workforce and having enough talent in the pipeline.
• Understand learning’s role to lead talent management—especially in recruitment, development, and retention.

One of the hottest topics in the profession today is talent management. Tamar Elkeles, vice-president of learning and organization development for QUALCOMM, a two-time BEST Award winner, notes that it’s important for companies to create a learning brand—something that no one else has—to attract and retain talent in an organization. She notes that providing great training and development is top reason employees join organizations.

Azim Premji, Wipro Limited Chair, a three-time BEST Award winner, explains that learning is an integral part of the company’s strategic direction. He notes that because Wipro is in the hi-tech industry, their people need to be refreshed and challenged all of the time to participate and contribute to customers’ requirements in determining and applying solutions, which is the heart of their business.

The ability to recruit, develop, and retain talent is and will continue to be one of the biggest and most important challenges in the learning field.

Almost every CEO talks about the importance of leadership development. They understand that developing more effective leaders means a more effective staff. Highly effective leaders and staff result in happy customers who want to do business with their companies.

Another aspect of talent management is the skills gap. Some of the BEST Award winners are focused on creating career paths and developing emerging skill sets in new technologies. Premji notes that it is important to thoroughly select the right work-force and constantly teach that workforce. Wipro’s multi-month learning programs connect closely to the company’s career growth paths and competency training systems.

Demonstrating value for learning is how they link learning to organizational results. Tony Pusateri, Equity Residential SVP, one of only three organizations to have won a BEST Award every year since the program’s inception in 2003, notes that because of Equity’s dedication to training, the company has realized results, including happier customers and more financial success. Elkeles asserts that companies must understand that people are the largest asset they have, and investing in and developing people—even during tough times—is critically important.

Learning must be aligned to business results to be considered relevant and successful. There’s never been a better time to be in the learning profession. People are the competitive advantage for organizations throughout the world, and, senior management knows it. And, people development is the core competency of learning professionals. With the attention of senior management, now is the time to clearly demonstrate that your work is aligned with your organizations’ initiatives and helping to drive organizational success. No other business function can better impact its people than learning!”

As PMAP VP Ric Abadesco puts it: If you are in the business of making profits, you are in the people business. You build people who bring in the profits. (;

Thursday, September 20, 2007

of birthdays and management gurus...heheh

There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life; for let the form of an object be what it may, light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful. - John Constable 1776-1837. The above photo is taken from Japan-The Four Seasons a book by Johnny Hymas who dedicated it to the poetry of nature, for without her never ending verse man cannot survive, published in 1990 by Shufunotomo Co. Ltd, 2-9, Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101, Japan. It shows leafless silver birches standing as windbreakers on the pastoral hills of Biei, Furano, Hokkaido. On an autumn eve, there is joy too, in man's loneliness - Buson

Five days ago (september 15th) i turned 53. When you don't get presents anymore or few people remember your birthday...less than 10 text messages wishing you happy know you're getting old. Thanks Wadi and those of u (whose identity I cannot reveal hihi) who remembered and wished me...hihi. I hope I am not turning into a grumpy old man (by malaysian standards heheh)....or turning friends into foes or making people who used to love me, hate me. The only consolation the fact that you share your birthdate with eminent people like the late Tun Ismail Mohd Ali, former Governor of the Central Bank and Chairman of the PNB, Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji, former chief secretary to the government & current chairman of PNB...heheh...closer to the office..Tajul Razi hihi,,,and of course the just-resigned PM of Japan - Shinjo Abe. X-premier Abe is of the same generation as me...he just turned 53 as well. What a pity...he couldn't take the bashings (only the trappings hihi) of being a prime minister...having to celebrate his birthday at the hospital. But then again, by Japanese are qualified for the DIET only upon reaching the age of 70. Abe, therefore, still has a chance of making a political comeback...heheh if he wants to (i think).

Some of the management gurus that have left indelible marks on my thinking and worldview are people like Tom Peters , Charles Handy and Henry Mintzberg. A little of Peter Drucker too I guess. I thought this brief blog that I am crafting tonight, will pay some tribute to these gurus who have in so many ways shaped my intellectual pursuits...

Friday, September 14, 2007

'tis a time to reflect and to detox...

'"At the time of our independence in 1957, Stanford psychologist Leon Festinger came out with his famous theory of cognitive dissonance, which describes the unease experienced when actions are not aligned with beliefs. For example, if people consistently fail to do what they know is right or keep doing what they know is wrong, they would experience cognitive dissonance. But in most cases, they cannot accept the feeling. Instead of correcting the behaviour, they would repress or deny the feelings, rationalise them, justify their actions or start believing that the problem does not exist."
I just read that awhile ago from another online media. Well put. I couldn't agree more with the above statement. This would be a great time to reflect on our practises, actions and beliefs. More importantly, aligning them. But...I have been observing that of late...there is this obsession with catchy terms like redefining, aligning and what have you.... It seems that many of the stuff my generation were educated with....have gone away with Humphrey Bogart..gone with the to speak. At a recent national integrity institute conference...the chief secretary to the government was heard saying that during his young days it would be very embarassing to not know what integrity is all about. You are expected to uphold, above all else, your integrity. When you describe someone of know what kind of a person he or she is. Well, something to that effect...but today we need to have a national conference to tell the masses about integrity. It should be something natural...coming from the home and re-enforced by school education and social behaviour. Hmmmm ..sounds more like a friday morning sermon. Well I leave that for your interpretation and imagination...heheh. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Golongan Orang Lemah Fikiran (Golof...heheh) as they say in Indonesia

Wadi complained that the golf fotos I uploaded was too small. Here you are, the enlarged ones. Satisfied? I was actually trying to hide my tummy...heehee. The green shirt guy on my right is Zainudin, CEO of CIMB-Aviva Takaful Malaysia. On my left is Hisham and next to him is Zul of Bank Muamalat.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Games Managers Play....

Like I said earlier, playing golf 3 or 4 times a heheh. Datuk Ismail Shahudin, Bank Muamalat chairman was there but could not play with us as had strings of invitations to attend to especially during these last few days prior to Ramadan. Had a good chat with him on various global issues as well as some very local closer to home and sensitive ones as well but as I said ealier too that my blog shall remain apolitical...heheh. He gave away prizes and gifts to the orphanage. The rest of the news you probably had read them in todays business section of the mainstream medias. One of the things that put alot of people off because of the time. Too long. The whole sunday gone actually. I left the house at 1030am reached Sungei Buloh exactly 11 am. About 1115 am ceremony begins, and ended with lunch. The actual tournament , the tee-off , using golf terminology, is at exactly 2pm. The 18 holes under the sweltering sungei buloh heat...four and a half hours! I should give up golf completely actually andgo back to my first love, tennis. I think I enjoy tennis much better...I used to play in the inter-varsity games during my undergraduate days...heheh. We will see how it goes...only problem is...there is a joke about games different level of management play: lower management if you notice, play games like football and volleyball, middle management plays hockey or tennis while top management plays golf...moral of story? the higher you are in management...the smaller the ball gets! hehehe.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A New Old Idea....I like the title (hihi)

Blogs like mainstream media, are double-edged swords. Even global mainstream medias have online publications and have their own blogs as well. Its the use of technology for communication...can be used for good of society and can be for evil to contaminate society as well. So, when I came across comments in the media that blogs are only for intellectuals...I am not sure if I should feel elated or otherwise. I suppose that was meant for political blogs. My blog will remain to be apolitical. Let other blogs discuss politics. Partisan or Global whatever...but I choose to remain eclectic in my choices of articles to reproduce or link. Mostly it would first appeal to me, something new and interesting, something scientific but mostly it would be something I would be passionate about like management & leadership Gurus, something strange that catches my attention besides the usual rantings and musings and my own silly comments ...well...what would you expect? This is, by the way...sort of my online virtual diary....heheh. Do enjoy the article below...oh well if you can spare the time why not go directly to then? cheerio and go enjoy the rest of the weekend. I have a charity golf session with Bank Muamalat tomorrow at Rahman Putra Golf Club, Sungei Buloh...will try to upload some 'you're on candid camera' shots or rather much like 'you're on caddy camera' shots...tomorrow night...hahaha. I am very much a social golfer these days...playing golf about 3 or 4 times a year doesn't really qualify you as a golfer you know! hahaha. For tomorrow, the motivating factor is actually playing on the first, VIP flight together with the Chairman of Bank Muamalat...that's the real attraction...heheh..doesn't matter if I am going to lose plenty of golf balls in the otherwise lake-full course...hihi. So long as my shots stay on the fairway...just a few metres away from the single-handicappers (heheh), no unnecessary OBs and by the third drive I am on the green...I reckon I should be OK....The pressure of the game will be on those competitive fellows...not me, I will just play my usual 'pensioner' style tee-offs!! hahahahahahaha

A new old idea
Sep 6th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Telecommunications: The idea of sending information through the air in the form of flashes of light is being given a high-tech makeover

WHEN most people switch on a desk lamp, they usually want a little extra illumination. But not John Goodey, an engineering student at Oxford University. When he flicks the switch and turns on his lamp, a sensor on his desk downloads music tracks digitally encoded within tiny flickers in the lamp's light. The music is then relayed through a pair of nearby speakers. This unusual set-up offers a glimpse of a future in which light, rather than radio waves, is used to send information. The concept, known as optical wireless or free-space optics (FSO), promises better security and higher data-transfer rates (up to 10 gigabits per second) than existing radio-based communications technologies, says Dominic O'Brien, a leading engineer in the field and Mr Goodey's research supervisor at Oxford.

FSO is already used in a few niches: to connect networks in nearby offices without having to string cables between them, for example. But plans are afoot to extend the idea into a number of new areas. For example, the subtle flickering of car headlights and tail-lights could be used to transmit speed and braking information to other vehicles, to help prevent collisions. Traffic lights could alert cars when they are about to change, or broadcast the latest congestion update to waiting vehicles. In the home, FSO could be used together with interior lighting to provide extremely fast internet downloads. Since light does not travel through walls, there would be no need to worry about neighbours snooping on your e-mail, or piggybacking on your broadband connection.

Futuristic though this sounds, FSO is by no means a new idea. Soldiers in ancient Greece used polished shields to send battle orders to each other over vast distances in the form of flashes of sunlight. More recently, so-called “heliographs” have been used to relay military signals in a similar way. And it is only in the past ten years that the British navy has phased out its use of Aldis lamps to convey Morse code signals from ship to ship. Yet just as this old analogue technology was being retired, its new digital counterpart was making its debut. In the past few years a small number of companies, such as Terabeam, LightPointe and Cablefree Solutions, began offering businesses point-to-point optical systems that could send data between buildings.

These early optical systems were capable of sending information at a rate of hundreds of megabits per second (Mbps), but customers usually wanted only about 10Mbps, says Stephen Patrick of Cablefree. Back then the attraction was not speed but convenience, he says. Advocates of FSO like to say it has the speed of a fibre-optic link, and the convenience of a wireless link. It is easy to set up: simply hook up infra-red laser transceivers on top of two buildings and then align them. “The cost to install is very low,” says Mr Patrick.

There is no messing about with radio-spectrum licences or digging up roads, and FSO can also bypass prohibitive planning restrictions. In places where transmitters are not allowed on roofs, for example, indoor FSO transceivers can simply send and receive data through closed windows. FSO is also secure: the only way to intercept the signal is physically to intercept the beam.

As a result, hundreds of businesses, hospitals and universities are already using FSO. City skylines are not criss-crossed with grids of laser beams because it is all done using invisible infra-red light, says Mr O'Brien. Today's technology can transmit data up to 4km (2.5 miles) at speeds of 1-3 gigabits per second (Gbps).

Telecoms operators are starting to take an interest in the technology as an alternative to the microwave-radio “backhaul” links that are used to link mobile-phone base-stations to operators' core networks. FSO's main drawback is that bad weather, such as rain or fog, can interrupt the signal. But Mr Patrick notes that microwave links are also prone to atmospheric interference. Provided FSO is set up over relatively short distances—say several hundred metres—it is a reliable technology, he says.

There is no need to worry about bad weather when using FSO indoors, of course. But maintaining a line of sight can be a problem for a laptop that is being carried around within a home or office. One solution is to use a diffuse light source rather than a laser beam, says Mr O'Brien. Using the natural reflectivity of ceilings and walls, a transmitted infra-red signal can be received by any number of receivers within a room. But this approach reduces the pace at which information can be transferred. “Most of the light doesn't go where you want it to,” says Mr O'Brien. Nor is it possible simply to crank up the power of the source beam, because infra-red light at high intensity can cause eye damage.

So Mr O'Brien has been working on a ceiling-based system that tracks where a receiving device is, and then sends it a signal using several laser beams from a directional transmitter. He has built a prototype that runs at 300Mbps, nearly six times faster than today's typical Wi-Fi links and reckons that speeds of up to 10 Gbps are feasible. That is not to say that Wi-Fi is obsolete. Instead, the two technologies may end up being used together: Wi-Fi as the uplink, and FSO for the much faster downlink.

The long-term hope is to transmit data using visible light emitted by indoor lighting. In Japan the Visible Light Communications Consortium, made up of industrial giants such as Sony, Toshiba and NEC, is pursuing just that goal. FSO is not possible with existing indoor lighting because incandescent bulbs cannot switch on and off fast enough. But that is not a problem for white light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are expected to become far more widespread in the coming years, because they use less energy and are more versatile than incandescent bulbs. The combination of LEDs and FSOcould then be used to provide internet coverage throughout a home or office. Could it be lights out for radio networking?

practically irrelevant? (much like...fashionably oxymoronic?) read on..heheh

Business schools and research

Practically irrelevant?
Aug 28th 2007

What is the point of research carried out in business schools?

LIKE other academic institutions, business schools are judged by the quality of the research carried out by their faculties. At the same time they mean to equip their students for the real world, however that is defined. Whether academic research actually produces anything that is useful to the practice of business, or even whether it is its job to do so, are questions that can provoke vigorous arguments on campus.

The debate, which first flared during the 1950s, was reignited in August, when AACSB International, the most widely recognised global accrediting agency for business schools, announced it would consider changing the way it evaluates research. The news followed rather damning criticism in 2002 from Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford professor, and Christina Fong of Washington University, which questioned whether business education in its current guise was sustainable. The most controversial recommendation in AACSB's draft report (which was sent round to administrators for their comment) is that the schools be required to demonstrate the value of their faculties’ research not simply by listing its citations in journals, but by demonstrating the impact it has in the workaday world.

AACSB justifies its stance by saying that it wants schools and faculty to play to their strengths, whether they be in pedagogy, in the research of practical applications, or in scholarly endeavour. And research of any kind is expensive—AACSB points out that business schools in America alone spend more than $320m a year on it. So it seems legitimate to ask for what purpose it is undertaken.

On one level, the question is simple to answer. Research in business schools, as anywhere else, is about expanding the boundaries of knowledge; it thrives on answering unasked questions. But it is also about cementing schools'—and professors'—reputations. Schools gain kudos from their faculties’ record of publication: which journals publish them, and how often. In some cases, such as with government-funded schools in Britain, it can affect how much money they receive. For professors, the mantra is often “publish or perish”. Their careers depend on being seen in the right journals.

The research is almost universally unread by real-world managersPart of the trouble is that the journals labour under a similar ethos. They publish more than 20,000 articles each year. Most of the research is highly quantitative, hypothesis-driven and esoteric. As a result, it is almost universally unread by real-world managers. Much of the research criticises other published research. A paper in a 2006 issue of Strategy & Leadership commented that “research is not designed with managers' needs in mind, nor is it communicated in the journals they read…For the most part it has become a self-referential closed system [irrelevant to] corporate performance.”

Lost in translation

Most professors argue that it is only right that academic journals be written with other academics in mind. Peer review ensures rigour, after all. However there is a growing belief, both within schools and elsewhere in the sector, that there is a need for research not to be simply rigorous enough to make the journals, but also to be relevant enough to make itself felt in the actual world of business.

The argument most often used by defenders of the traditional approach is that research tends to be “translated” into the business world, either by consultants or by teaching in MBA and non-degree executive programmes. But Kai Peters, the chief executive officer of Ashridge Business School in Britain, believes this argument doesn't stack up. He says that research rarely surfaces in the classroom. Most professors, he says, teach standard practice—from a generic marketing book, for example—while spending their research time on something esoteric. “So how is it filtering into schools' programmes?” he asks. “By osmosis?”

The “translation” argument is questioned further by Patrick Barwise of London Business School. His own investigating of which research is filtering through to the journals managers and consultants might actually read has convinced him that inductive research—study which seeks to proceed without preconceptions, preferring to observe organisational behaviour and then to draw conclusions on what it finds—is much more likely to be applied in the real world than any other kind. But, he says, most of what actually makes academic journals is theory-driven. Inductive research tends to draw sneers from the editors of academic journals.

Inductive research tends to draw sneers from the editors of academic journalsIn this climate, AACSB's proposals to evaluate research in terms of practical relevance are likely to come up against strong opposition at the faculty level. This is partly because the natural tendency of academics is to resist interference in their work. But there is also a psychological barrier to overcome. Business education suffers from what Professor Barwise describes as “physics-envy”. A love affair with theory-driven research can be traced back to the 1950s, when many of today’s leading business schools were first launched. The new institutions were often belittled by other departments, who regarded them as little more than vocational colleges. In efforts to prove themselves to their better-esteemed counterparts, business faculty embraced an unswervingly scientific approach.

Rank outsiders

It is a mindset that will be difficult to undo. Although AACSB says its proposals are meant to make business schools centres of practical research and pedagogy, rather than sanctuaries of discipline-based scholarship, their faculties will fear that adopting them will downgrade their own status. Furthermore, professors' prospects of achieving tenure at their own institutions—or of being headhunted by others—are themselves linked to their publication in journals. On an individual basis, they are left with little incentive to turn away from traditional and esoteric research.

How to proceed from here? If faculty refuse to accept this type of reform, AACSB's proposals are powerless—the accrediting agency is no more than the sum of its parts. But another, more powerful beast is lurking—the MBA rankings. Two of the most important—those published by the Financial Times and Business Week—now score schools on their contribution to both journals they consider purely “academic” and ones they consider “practitioner”—ie, ones managers might read.

Business schools inhabit a highly competitive world; no matter what they may say, they care intensely about their rankings. If they find they can improve their positions by pursuing more practical research programmes, their administrators’ attitudes may yet change. Whatever the defenders of academic purity may wish, there is hope for the real world yet.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

MICPA Business Forum 2007 and Corporate Secretary 2007 (Marcus Evans)

Monday September 3 & 4 was the MICPA Business Forum at the Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. A pix of the panel discussion consisting of Kuwait House CEO, Datuk Ali former Securities Commission Chairman, Datuk Ismail Shahudin chairman of Bank Muamalat and Bakarudin of Bank Negara Malaysia is uploaded above.

Busy day today September 6, 2007. The morning didn't start off too well. My driver was late so my daughter couldn't get to her new workplace (in a factory somewhere near monterey golf club nearer glenmarie I think). She just started her new job this week with twice the salary frm the first job which lasted only a few months simply because the government or the ministry of transport, specifically, decided that ALL vehicle inspections are to be carried out only by PUSPAKOM...if you know what I mean lah. I spoke at Marcus Evans 2007 Corporate Secretary Conference at the Renaissance Hotel today. A little change of plans...I let the speaker after me spoke first. I spoke after tea break then went on to be a member of a 3 person panelist. The other being John Pearse from Australia and Kwong from the Farlim Group. The delegates were from philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia and of course some big names like Maxis, UMW, Scomi were also present. I was given a topic: "The Need for greater efficiency: accomplishing more with less" (whatever that means....hahaha). For the last 2 nights...i didn't have enuf sleep...cracking my brain as to how Ishould approach the subject without putting the delegates to sleep....the feedback got during lunch...ahem...suggests that I had chosen the right strategy...hahaha. I shall not elaborate...cos from all my speaking engagements one thing for certain...there are those who love you...and there are those who hate can't really please everybody you know? Immediately after lunch, I left for UniKL (Malaysia France Insitute) in Bangi to attend the afternoon part of a seminar on 'New Technologies in collision Repair' attended by JPJ, PIAM, insurers and collision repair bodyshops nationwide. On the way back I dropped by at UKM's economics & business faculty to catch up on my good ole friend Prof Dr Mohd Fauzi Jani, the Dean. Had a brief chat, strategised some new initiative and I went off as he had another meeting to chair. Before scribling this blog I went to Robin Sharma's blog...and below is what I read and thought...if someone happens to drop by my least he or she will not be too bored reading my chronicles...hahaha...enjoy sharma:

Be a Giant at Work
Tue September 04, 2007
There are no great jobs. Just ordinary jobs - made great by the people who breathe passion/excellence and a remarkable desire to be world-class into them. An example.Today is the first day of school in my hometown. Drove my daughter to school (I'm far from perfect but I will share I haven't missed driving my kids to school on their first day back in all these years). As we neared the school, I saw The Crossing Guard. This guy is incredible. Watched him all last year. Huge smile on his face. Does his job like it's the most important job in the world. Runs to the kids as they approach the road crossing and whisks them across the street like they're Bill Clinton. I wish you could watch him. We all could learn.Is he the CEO or the VP of Sales or the Principal? Nope. He's a crossing guard. And one who reminds us what Leading Without Title is all about. Being extraordinary amidst the ordinary.