Sunday, October 16, 2005

Voice of Management: The Malaysian Challenge
Published by the Malaysian Institute of Management

If THERE are some things you need to know about management in the Malaysian scene, this book may be the portal you are looking for. Answers sometimes come from the most inconsipicuous sources. Don't say you didn't receive a helping hand.....

THE multitude of management books that occupy numerous shelves of
bookstores mainly come from the West. It is indeed nice for a change to
come across, now and then, a volume that is home-grown.
On this premise, one can keenly observe from closer quarters what works
and what doesn't in the Malaysian context. It is timely that the Malaysian
Institute of Management has painstakingly sieved through its 180
contributions in the Sunday Star's column `MIM Speaks' (1993 to 1999) and
came up with the fortuitous number of 88 articles for this book.
To make it reader-friendly, this collection comprises four
* Management in action: A question of competence;
* Lessons to Learn: Reflections and insights;
* Raising the Standard: Values and the new paradigm; and
* Managing the Future: A macro perspective.
In any book, a sense of honesty is vital. Any perceived subtle shift
from reality can be misconstrued as a denial syndrome. Fortunately, the
Voice of Management is free from this malaise which plagues some tomes.
The 88 articles are culled from the writings of 14 senior management
executives who at one time or another have held very responsible posts in
multinationals or key government agencies.
Any management student should read this book to understand the Malaysian
perspective. Management problems and processes are widely discussed in
other books involving issues which may be peculiar to their countries of
origin; these issues may not be relevant to our country.
This MIM book opens that window which is crucial to a deeper
understanding of management in the Malaysian situation. For example, in a
chapter entitled `Customers Do Come First,' the writer, S. Hadi Abdullah,
says, `When we buy a toaster, TV, VCR, mini-combo and the like, we are
provided with two-pin plugs. Every Malaysian home is fitted with power
points for a three-pin plug which includes the earthing. Why aren't
companies providing customers with three-pin plugs?' Yes, why not, indeed.
This is just one of the many issues that brings the matter closer to our
hearts and minds.
Another subject which Malaysian job-seekers ought to know more about is
the employers' perception of employees who are on a relentless hunt for a
better job. Dr Tarcisius Chin elucidates: `I have interviewed numerous
candidates for jobs and detect an increasing propensity to job-hop over
shorter intervals, sometimes into jobs that are totally incompatible.
There is a danger in this as it does tell a lot about who you are and the
prospect of your own loyalty to your new employer. At best you are treated
with caution and as someone not to be invested upon; at worst you are
treated as a mercenary, used for what you can now do and dropped in times
of economic crisis.'
Then, there is a series of chapters on famous Asian figures like
Konosuke Matsushita and Akio Morita. The stories of these two Japanese men
and how they stamped the label `Made in Japan' all over the world has an
exhilarating effect on the reader.
Matsushita, who started working at the tender age of nine, became the
youngest inspector of his company at the age of 22. When he died at age
94, Matsushita left behind a global concern with sales reaching five
trillion yen.
Likewise, Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Corporation, was gripped by
an obsession for excellence at a very early age. Born into a family which
produced sake for its people, Morita used to sit through `long and boring
board meetings' with his father.
When he was 25, Morita formed a company with Masaru Ibuka called Tokyo
Tsushi Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha. The firm's name was later shortened to Sony
because it was easier on the tongue. Sony is an amalgam of the Latin word
sonus, for sound, and the English term `sonny boy', which was popular at
the time.
As most people today know, Sony Corporation is synonymous with the
Walkman. By the time Morita died on Oct 3, 1999, at the age of 78, he had
left behind a legacy that Japan as a nation can truly be proud of, for all
the right reasons.
MIM has covered a wide-ranging list of topics which should satisfy any
discerning resident of this country. Even the subject of ISO certification
has been covered - by Lam Hee Thong, a chartered production engineer.
Among the contributors of the articles, special mention should be
accorded to Chin. His thoughts on management issues are clear, insightful
and incisive. Clearly, the Malaysian Institute of Management is in good
hands because Chin is its chief executive officer.
It should be noted that the Voice of Management dwells on a specialised
subject. `Ordinary' people would not find it their cup of tea. For those
who are in the business of management or who aspire to be a manager par
excellence, this book would serve as a useful platform to view matters
crucial to Malaysian management.

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