Thursday, January 15, 2009

Learning Experience Indonesia 2 - 3

19 September 2008

Finally it is time to go home and so must finished the soap opera....

The Indonesian First Born has come to accept the following assumptions

Assumption No. 1.
Your Boss will never change, meaning the father/uncle will always be his Boss, even if someone is put in between the two of them. The First Born will always be accountable to them.

Assumption No.2.
Their advice and counsel given by the Boss is well intended, they do not have bad intention or harm to you. They DO know what is happening and always concern about your progress and welfare.

Assumption No.3.
Respect has to be earned from the people on top of you as well as the people below. Your position as the First Born does not carry much weight. You are there because of who you are and not what you are able to contribute.

Assumption No 4.
Learn to listen to the Boss, they sometime do know what they are talking about after all they have the comfort of years of experience to learn from their own mistakes.

Assumption 5.
The First Born will never succeed as long as the Boss is in existence.

By the teenage years, the First Born will face the issue of succession. There is no rule on when and how succession will take place.

In my experience, the First Born will never succeed as long as the Boss is always there. (I know some of you may not agree. It is purely my opinion)...... The First Born can be working in the business for years and yet in the eyes of the Boss is never ready and even if they are better than their Boss in delivering higher profit, better turnover and greater expansion of the business - these First Born is still not good enough......... :)

In closing this experience I like to share with those First Born out there, the "B" law of the First Born. (Will detail the B's law at another time)

Be true to yourself
Be humble
Be willing to learn
Be patient
Be happy :)

Will this circle end, YES and NO. YES - It ends theoretical when the ownership of their business ends and NO when the First Born replaces the Boss and take on the role of the Boss .....

Hope you have enjoyed the learning experience

We have a long chat between the Indonesian First Born and the Boss....... It was a painful experience for both parties. The continuous fighting and shouting hurts their relationship. There was a compromise at the end....

Time to catch the flight...........

PS with every point I made above, there is a short story attached to the comment.
- Like the Indian transport company First Born, who decided that the only way to stop the Father from always complaining about his work attitude; he decided to have a desk next to his Father and so that his Father can see how hard he worked to please him.
- Like the Singapore spice company First Born who on his first day at work, the Father passed him the bank account and the entire company and went on holiday for one month. Purpose of the action is to make the son understand the nature of the business from day one. By the way daily trading of the spice can be in US$ millions per transaction. The son from that day onward learn to appreciate the Father better.
- Like the Malaysian hardware company First Born who can never benefited from the family business because she is a girl. Her younger brother will be the beneficiary. She felt disadvantaged even though she is the main driving force of the family business
and many more.......

Learning Experience Indonesia 2 - 2

17 September 2008

Had a long chat with my Indonesian First Born today.......

From a young age these First Born are expected to succeed their family business. The expectation will depend the nature of the business like a product based business vs. a service oriented business. The state of the business whether it is in a growing or declining industry, whether the business is making money or losing money. Finally the people that currently manage the business, did they do the startup or they inherited the business and succeed the business in due course.

As the baby goes through the childhood stage, the entire life revolves around the business. The business will creep into the childhood lifestyle like during mealtime the topic is about the business, going away on family holiday sometimes centers around a business trips. During school vacation, some First Born has to help out in the factory or the office. It's about the business, business and business.

About these First Born, some lived a privileged lifestyle. Some of them have handphones, driving around in a nice car, oversea education etc as they grow up. Yes. before you start replying to this email... :) Not all are that privileged. Some have to help out in the family business in between all the school homework and housework. A girl First born and a boy First Born also have different connotation and implication. In some more traditionally minded business ...... the business is better left to a boy First Born then a girl First Born.... afterall the girl is going to be married out and do not hold on to the family surname :(

Coming back to our Indonesian First Born... He cannot resign. The question is when do he succeed the family business.......or when does a First Born succeed the family business

For those who are reading this learning experience.... and consider yourself a First Born..... this is a critical questions. When do they succeed the business and call the shot.... make the decision.... manage or spent the the BOSS.

To be continued....

Learning Experience Indonesia 2 - 1

16 September 2008

I want to share with you a special group of babies. I called them the FIRST BORN. The babies can be boys or girls. From the day they were born there is already certain expectations. Specific expectation. Not family expectation but business expectation, you see these children are born to a business. Whether they like it or not, it is a birth right and they do not have a choice.

I just arrived in Jakarta again and will be here for a few days.

I am here to meet with a young man who is an Indonesian First Born which I befriend and also a client for many years. The First Born can be Indian, Chinese , Singaporean First Born for that matter. I have come to understand that for what the First Born faces in their growing up, are the same and are regardless of race, sex and nationality. The Indian First Born will faces the same Issues as the Indonesian First Born - only the context and environment is different.

He has a problem - a problem of confidence.

Some background on this First Born. He came into the business after graduating from aboard. His Dad felt that he needs to get a few years of hands on experience outside before joining the firm. The company went through a crisis during financial crisis in the late 1990's and he was asked (sorry not asked but told) to come into the family business. He is a first boy child of the family and he was expected to take over the business. After ten years of working in the family business. He has done a lot for the company - sorting out incompetent "family bums" in the family business, convincing the Dad the need for proper accounting to improving the general welfare of his low level staff.

With all that he is always told that "he has no experience". After hearing this remark for the passed ten years, he had enough and tendered his resignation. "When will I be experienced?" He said.

Unfortunately resignation is not an option for the First Born.......

Hence I am in Jakarta on request of the Dad.

to be continued........

Learning Exp[erience Indonesia 1 - 3

15 August 2008

Indonesia has a population of 230m people, It is rich in resources and large pool of young people to help the country to grow. There are many plus points for you to develop business in this country..

For you to go there you will have to appreciate some of the issues

1. Issue of Corruption
I have explain this to you earlier. This is a common practice and you have to play the game.

2. Issue of language
Majority of the business people speaks English but if you were to go down to operation level, you will find that Bahasa Indonesia is the norm. You will have to overcome this. Learning Bahasa is not difficult and I have several Indian bankers who have pick up the language fairly quickly.

3. Issue of work environment
In Indonesia, you feel a sense of insecurity. There are many riots over the years and some of them are racially motivated. Though Indonesian of Chinese descent is a small portion of the population, these Chinese entrepreneurs dominates a substanial portion of the GDP of Indonesia. Many a time these Chinese are the target of the riot. For Indian this is not an issue :)

I hope the brief overview of Indonesia will interest you to find out more about Indonesia.

Learning Experience Indonesia 1 - 2

13 August 2008

Had my first meeting with an old friend, someone I knew from way back. We talk about the changes and the no-changes in Indonesia. Then our discussion went on to the key business issues facing Indonesia ....... CORRUPTION.

Personally I felt this is one of the no-changes in Indonesia. there are still corruption in many sector of the society.

I guess for learning experience for you, I will need to share this subject matter... it will be incomplete for you to understand entrepreneurship if we do not talk about corruption.

Corruption exists everywhere and I mean everywhere..... you talk about India and you are not alone, for many first world countries do faces this issue. You have to define what is corruption in your context, only then will you said if corruption exists I am not talking about your traffic offence in Mumbai but when there is business dealings.

Corruption = an abuse of power ?

Sometime in your career you will be doing some business development and there may come a situation where in order to get the job or the successful tender you need to add the extra incentives...... The "extra" can be cash or can be even favors ( in kind ). Then there will be three questions you have to ask yourself.

How much to pay?
Who to pay?
How to pay?

There is no rule on this, for every situation is different. You also must remember .... YOU also have a price to pay as well? Legally !

There is also a moral issue, if you were to play the "game"....are you encouraging Corruption?

Personally if all the people stop "paying" and if strong implementation of the legislature is in place to discourage corruption, then I believe Corruption will be reduced. Corruption cannot be eradicated entirely. Corruption will never be good for the society as a whole. My friend had to pay US$10,000 just so that his son can get into a good primary school. This is a sad situation.... but it exist.

My solution for you is to ask yourself... "Will you sleep well at night?" :)

to be continued....

Learning Experience Indonesia 1 - 1

12 August 2008

I am at the airport again. This time to Jakarta, Indonesia....... hence the Learning Experience Indonesia :)

For those who are not familiar with Jakarta, it is the capital of Indonesia with a population of about 9 -10 million. For Jakarta - imagine New Delhi with more high rise buildings, cleaner and more traffic jam (like Mumbai) this is Jakarta. Instead of Indian you will find Indonesian, instead of Hindu religion you will find Islam and mosques everywhere. Generally the country is very religious and majority of Indonesian are muslims. There is a disparity between the rich and the poor, which you will find slum (slightly better than Dharavi) around the capital of Jakarta. Indonesia comprises of a series of islands.... not hundreds, not thousands but over 17000 islands so you can image the diversity of the country in terms of people, culture and business....

In general business is not much different from the Indians... very relationship based and corruption do exist........ Your may recollect in my class where I was explaining bad business practice well .... according to the Transparency International, Indonesia is in the top ten ranking :)

Generally the country has been through a lot since the financial crisis in 1997, they have been through four Presidents in the last ten over years (Harbibi, Wahid, Megawati and now Yudoyodhno) but it is a country which is very resilient in term of their people and they are also resource rich. I read somewhere that the number of children completing 12 years of education is about 90% compare to India about 70%. So they too have a strong pool of young people. Personally this is one country that is over look because tof their Islamic fundamentalism.

In this short trip, I have an assignment to do strategic planning workshop for two days at a tomato ketchup......

Have to board the plane now.... to be continued.