Enews September 2018

SMR Learn & Perform E-news – September 2018

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Dear Learn & Perform subscriber:

Greetings.  Let us cover in the September, 2018 E news:

  • Joan Magretta’s book on Porter’s idea on Strategy
  • From the Movies: Koobsurat, NOTA, Crazy Rich Asians and The Post
  • Becoming a Medical Doctor: opportunities at Asia Metropolitan University
  • Asia HRD Congress and Asia HRD Awards
  • Group News: CUCMS New Campus

Joan Magretta’s book on Porter’s idea on Strategy

Michael Porter is always the synonym for Strategy.  Persuasive, articulate and charismatic, he delivers his ideas succinctly. I had the opportunity of listening to him at Harvard.  A new book by Joan Magretta synthesises his work.  In an interview with Joan Magretta, he highlights the importance of strategy in delivering competitive advantage. I highlight some of the salient points from the interview. Joan asks three questions

  1. What are the most common strategy mistakes you see?
  2. Why do so few companies have really great strategies?
  3. What are the biggest obstacles to good strategy?

Porters answers are simply straight forward. He says:  ‘The granddaddy of all mistakes is competing to be the best, going down the same path as everybody else and thinking that somehow you can achieve better results. Operational effectiveness is not to be confused with strategy. There must be a realisation that marketing is not strategy. While it is natural for strategy to arise from a focus on customers and their needs and notice that strategy is built around the value proposition, which is the demand side of the equation, a robust strategy requires a tailored value chain—it’s about the supply side as well, the unique configuration of activities that delivers value. Strategy links choices on the demand side with the unique choices about the value chain (the supply side). You can’t have competitive advantage without both’.

Another key thing is to avoid an inward-looking bias. A real strength for strategy purposes has to be something the company can do better than any of its rivals. And "better" because you are performing different activities than they perform, because you’ve chosen a different configuration than they have. Again, he says, you must get the definition of business right.  He adds: ‘reflecting on my experience, however, I’d have to say that the worst mistake—and the most common one—is not having a strategy at all. Most executives think they have a strategy when they really don’t, at least not a strategy that meets any kind of rigorous, economically grounded definition’.

He adds that while he used to think that that most strategy problems arose from limited or faulty data, or poor analysis of the industry and competitors. Now he says he appreciates the more subtle and more pervasive obstacles to clear strategic thinking and how challenging it is for companies to maintain their strategies over time. To him, ‘most significant barriers come from the many hidden biases embedded in internal systems, organizational structures, and decision-making processes. It’s often hard, for example, to get the kind of cost information you need to think strategically. Or the company’s incentive system rewards the wrong things. Or human nature makes it really hard to make trade-offs, or to stick with them. The need for trade-offs is a huge barrier. Most managers hate to make trade-offs; they hate to accept limits. They’d almost always rather try to serve more customers, offer more features. They can’t resist believing that this will lead to more growth and more profit.  I believe that many companies undermine their own strategies. Nobody does it to them. They do it themselves. Their strategies fail from within’. He urges companies to consider the many strategy killers in the external environment.  He concludes ‘these are just some of the obstacles. Cumulatively, they add up. Having a strategy in the first place is hard. Maintaining a strategy is even harder’.To read the full article: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-most-common-strategy-mistakes?cid=spmailing-21999411-WK%20Newsletter%2009-19-2018%20(1)-September%2019,%202018

From the Movies: Koobsurat, NOTA, Crazy Rich Asians and The Post

Reading, exercising, eating right and on time, and bonding with family and friends regularly is a given minimum. I struggle with but still manage it despite all time pressures. This month I did some reading (Marshall Goldsmith’s Triggers, Robert Kuok’s autobiography) and exercising twice a week and I managed four movies with the family and friends. Koobsurat was a lovely Hindi movie from North India. I don’t understand the language but of course followed the sub titles. Khoobsurat is a quirky, modern and beautiful romantic comedy about what happens when a vibrant, hopelessly romantic physiotherapist meets handsome young Rajput prince who is the complete opposite of her and is engaged to someone else. To me it is all about Creating Your Own Rainbow. NOTA on the other hand is about the world of politics from South India, made both in Tamil and Telegu, it is all about social change. I like movies that focus on social change. The screenplay dwells on the intrigue of family politics and the ambitious desire of a young man to change an unfair world. To me, it was all about having no such word as impossible in your vocabulary. Crazy Rich Asians received tremendous publicity but again a poor girl rich boy love story steeped in the world of Asian cultures, specifically Chinese. The lesson is for the need for culture to be dynamic and not static. Last but not the least, The Post. I watched this one on a long flight. Beautifully acted by Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, the movie highlights the need to put the public first before personal interests. Honestly, never before have I seen four movies in a month. Each of the movies was a transformational experience.

Look forward to being in touch with the October e news next month.

With Best wishes



Becoming a Medical Doctor: opportunities at Asia Metropolitan University

Asia Metropolitan University has a few more places for the Bachelors Degree programme in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS). With applications closing very soon, those of whom are interested may email Kalaiarasu Malayandi arasu@cybermed.edu.my



The Asia HRD Congress and Awards

This year Asia HRDCongress and Asia HRD Awards is scheduled to be held in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. The programme scheduled for Oct 11 & 12 will be run with the Happiness at Work summit. The awards will be presented alongside the Congress.

For more details please email fazyanie@smrhrgroup.com



Group News: CUCMS New Campus

CUCMS ( Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences) moved into our brand new purpose built campus. We look forward to welcoming you to the opening of our new campus.


Our mailing address is:

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63000 Cyberjaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Phone No. : (603) 2770 9199
Fax No. : (603) 2770 9099

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