WTF! WHO GRAB MY BUDU
Disclaimers: This is absolutely fictitious. If you believe it is true, you must be insane. But if you think it is relevant, please like and share :-)
Yeh, borrowing from the phrase who stole my cheese, but being Malaysian we preferred our Budu more then cheese. Yet, coming from the mouth piece of the architect, it is rather strange? Why am I saying this? Well, architect is in fact a very obscure profession that some may even misunderstood as synonymous to being the oldest profession on earth, yeh I quote Phillip Johnson the patriarch of American Modernist Architect,
"what's wrong if I am a whore?"
Strangely, have you ever reckoned such holistic profession has its own guild? Well, call it professionals. Well, WTF is this?
Being professionals mean you must undergo a lengthy duration of training and must be acknowledged by your peers to have at least gain sufficient skills in discharging your services to the public in return for a descent fee only to be paid by your client and nobody else. Here is the irony, as most corporate client assumed that architect does not need to pay its bill because idea is only value upon the ink and paper it is drawn. So, the most noble thing the professional guild has done is to pass an act in parliament to protect such fee and they proudly proclaimed it as the scale of minimum fee. Ironically, today as it stands, it is the maximum fee. I had the experience of client suing me for charging him beyond the minimum fee rule!
Okay, if that looks normal, the guild made it a point to drill upon young architect wannabe, how important it is to uphold the sanctity of the fee and you break the cardinal rule if you try to undercut your fee to gain commission. Ironically, it is the "oldies" and the "big boys" are doing the same in all forms and manners that is legally allowed. Yeh, I will tell you how that can be done but it is not the subject of this article. Some good souls who believed in this system, made their living better of not being an architect. Even in the market, was told the past president of the guild actually committing the sins when he swapped his T Square for the developer's hat. That is reality!
The guild realized such a problem but non has the "ball" to correct the situation as the office bearers are much keen on their very own status quo such as traveling business class in the expanse of the member's funds short of saying the opportunity to lobby for ex-gratia illegitimate sponsorships from suppliers and contractors a liked. See how many of these office bearer having their very own name-card being printed with who's who in the guild's line up? Perhaps it is also an express means to receive your very own Datukship, who knows?
The beauty of such doesn't really stop there. Our more advanced neighbor Singapore has always been the preferred location for international firm to set up their regional office. Even the the Singapore Big 5 has already landed on our shore not as illegitimate Design Firms but legitimate architectural practices spearheaded by the local architects. The guild is not very happy about it but what the F they can do beside dishing it out as an examination question for architect wannabe for a solution? Obviously, the big boys also marketed themselves as local counterpart for these international firms to lobby big project. Wallas! One fine day they also found themselves to be in oblivion when these international firms preferred "in-house" as compared to "out-sourcing" and the government is encouraging it through open competition!
Now the guild's "ball" is really being squeezed hard, almost explode! Yet the office bearer of such guild continues with their merry making and yet has the F face to ask a solution from its member? Especially so it's younger members of what their aspirations are with the onslaught of foreign architect on our land? WTF is the guild is thinking? They can't even resolve our Budu being taken away by another allied profession called town planner. They also cannot do away with the profession being the agent of GST for nothing in return. We can't even collect our mediocre fee in full and yet we are collecting GST on behaves of the government! Irony, irony....
Such forum, as far as a personal opinion is concerned remained another "wayang" or show to at least say, they have done something for the profession. The reason is simple, nobody is going to be heroic enough to guarantee a solution. The office bearer comes and go, there will still be continuous merry making and jet setting with knighthood and commission exchanges, it really doesn't matter if the even larger then reality "big boys" are already here. Wake up gentlemen! You cannot change them, joint them, eh?
The entire model of production of 1MDB is deeply rooted in the American model of “spending beyond your mean” and the Hollywood movie, “The Wolf of Wall Streets” truly embodied the essence of such, where if you need money, just print more “I owe you” bonds. After all, through the instrument of government’s guarantee, it is the public and the future generation of Malaysian that is going to pay for the sins of their “forefathers”. May God has mercy on us.
KLRCA (Kuala Lumpur Regional Center of Arbitration) is one of the government agency overlooking the matter of Arbitration that was less known for what they stood for until quite recently. With the newly minted Director who acted as the CEO, for the first phase, he wiped out completely any residues of its former regime from the staff to its Logo, upgrading the premises from a run-down 1970s office to its corporate look with top of the art conference and meeting facilities, brand new tagline with brand new vision and mission. Not forgetting with larger budget at his disposal from the Cabinet. The jet-setter Director is on his way to market KLRCA as the top regional center for Arbitration potentially overtaking Singapore. With such a high profile, he requires minions to work with him, if it is not - for him.
For the second phase, he brought in external talents to champion a cause. It has been for more than a decade, within the building industry, to adopt a highly controversial approach in law that state – Pay First, Argue Later! In fact this has been a new tagline for KLRCA, where with the new enforced CIPAA 2012 (Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act 2012) since 15 April 2014, anyone within the construction industries including suppliers and consultants have had the avenue for mandatory Adjudication to claim for outstanding payment for work completed, within a relatively short period of 100 days. The outcome of such law has brought KLRCA to a whole new chapters and never in its history has KLRCA achieved such prominent role. With such high power lobbying, he was eventually decorated by the Supreme Ruler of the country.
With this new Act, lawyers were said to have great funs in court, arguing on its merits and demerits until the cow goes home at the expanse of the industrial players. With more jobs for the lawyers and arbitrators as adjudicators going all round, the retinue of minions grew in leaps and folds. KLRCA even took a bolder stance to increase the Adjudicator Fee, feeling that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. It is time to see what has been installed for the third phase before he retires and move on to a higher pedestal.
On CIPAA, it will be great to note that in regardless of the contract one has entered into, the avenue to collect the unpaid fee, contract sum or due payment for work done through adjudication has been provided for by KLRCA within 100 days for lower fee compared to arbitration or litigation. Any awards issued by the adjudicator is enforceable in law. It placed the concept of “pay when paid” principle into oblivion and sub-contractors can now seek payment directly from the principal.
Phase 01 – When he took over the helm of Selangor, together with his “political minions” he expose plenty of corrupt practices that leads to the massacre of the former Selangor MB on corruptions, the “cow-gate” scandals and water concessionaire lopsided privatization schemes and the sort. Wide exposure from all media. He practically squeeze the juice out of non-performing contracts one being well known as the Talam Scandal. He continues to do so for every possible means his hand can lay upon that also include diligently going after accrued payments from quit rents to property assessment tax. The most remembered of all was his attempt to make Syabas to their knees for providing free supply to a ratio agreed in the agreement. It follows corporate maneuvering of tightening outflow.
Phase 02 – Where normal CEO will start disposing assets to get liquidity and pay off debts, his stingy approach in governing results in the increase of the Selangor coffer par excellent! Everyone is happy including the stakeholders – the people of Selangor. Such is deemed unconventional norm. Most MB will dispose state lands in favor of cash and increased taxes. State lands are assets. They will start making deals – you scratch my back and I scratch yours, it makes people from his party happy and the leftovers are distributed among the less fortunate as he continues to rob from the middle income via increase prices and no freebies. Unfortunately he is too late to do that and make his boss in the party very angry. States unlike company is supposed to be Non-profitable and charitable, Khalid makes it a profitable venture. Because of Khalid’s failure to do what is expected out of him from his own party, in the pretext of Kajang Move to allow his party’s boss to have a locus-standi in the State assembly, the following steps are the clear sign the he is no longer welcome not by the people but by his party.
Phase 03 – He moves hyper speed into last phase of reaping the State apart for his own political salvation. Among others are the water restructuring agreement, approving the construction of the highways and most notoriously, awarding state projects to the developer of his choice. Under the pretext of potentially CBT, his party moves in to destroy him once and for all. The most interesting point is he manages to get the support of the Sultan who is the pillar of the people – stakeholders. We are exactly at this juncture now.
Truly he was a corporate figure and his strategic maneuvering is par excellent and compared to Anwar Ibrahim who repeatedly dishing out empty promises proves one thing – Rafizi is very much a novice!
The unfortunate event of MAS Airline Company with the missing MH307 and the mishap of MH17 has made the company broken beyond repair. It is already making huge losses prior to these 2 unfortunate events. Like most of the GLC companies, unlike our neighboring SIA and our homegrown AirAsia are reaping huge profits, such heavy losses occurred under the purview of the largest shareholder – the sovereign fund of Khazanah. The question is what make 100% ownership by Khazanah would make any different? Well, they may probably rope in a new CEO and this is what he may do taking reference to what a situation may have been in private entity.
The Observation phase (the 1st Four months) – He will give a throughout analysis of the situation and establish himself as the knight on silver armor. Salvage whatever salvageable. Identifying what are the assets and liabilities. Rock the establishment to the core shaking up status quo, placing the previous management on the chopping block under CBT. He will suddenly stop payment to all non-productive supplies that the earlier management has entered upon. Renovate his new office and bought himself a new car under company expanses. Recruit his panel of Yes-man and he will continue to strive the value of its share further downward so that it reaches the ocean floor. On top of such, he will buy these shares in an under value state with bank facilities and he sits in his make-shift office, usually a 5 stars hotel lobby and start dishing out statements of how he is going to make a comeback to the media. Follow-up by luncheons and dinners with bankers, lobbyist, political agents and proxies, striking deals after deals to strategize short and midterms plan to dissect the valuable leftovers, pawn the liabilities, camouflage its commitments and so forth. The immediate goal is to make the company off from the red.
The Execution phase (the 2nd Four months) – He will disposes some and if not all the valuable assets the company has to 3rd party (could also be his benefactors) and reported to the shareholders as debt management. He will also enter into rearrangement with bankers with these potential sales for more bridging facilities that can bring him through over his tenure as the CEO. Such deal makings may and may not materialize in kick-backs and so forth. He may also renegotiate terms with the existing suppliers, who are by such time may have to resort to legal recourse, with a win-win situation including bringing in his preferred suppliers, swapping contracts. He will undoubtedly recruit new talents, motivate existing work force, draw up a new plans that cover every aspect of the company as his mission and vision statement. Continue to be the media darlings so that his effort not only being implemented but seen to be implemented with new ventures steam rolling out from the company. Such selling of assets is rated the most effective means to bring the company back to the blue and the question is how many assets can one disposed?
The Evaluation phase (the 3rd Four months) – It is time to reap his benefits. As the value of shares rose up from the abyss, he is in the position to demand more and he will pocket a chunk of huge bonuses from the shareholders. He and his merry men are ready to “rape” the company so that by the time he is no longer needed, everything will fall back to where he begins with. He will release his shares at market price progressively. All the sudden deals are cut short or rather didn’t materialize, assets are bought back at exorbitant price and the outflows such as debt repayment start to escalate. That is a good portrayal of what is happening in most distress companies run by professional CEOs.
The same can be applied anywhere else from running an architectural practice to running a country (with a longer period of 5 years). Such paradigm is not new and it is reflected in Chinese Metaphysics for century, a topic I shall discuss some other times.
Strategizing Your Firm is an uphill battle for an architect. Your architectural education does not provide you with the essential knowhow to survive the Red Ocean. That is one good reason why a Business degree is always the preferred choice before you do a post Grad in Architecture. At the very least, you will not be a pauper.
So what did the Business Guru has to say about strategizing? A “Farm House” matrix is a model of production to gauge the current situation of your organization against what you ought to be in the next level. Likewise, Architecture is a failed business model from the first principle and this matrix will tell you so.
Relative Market Share (RMS) is a yardstick to measure the popularity of a product, in this case your services as an Architect. The higher the demands means your services are highly sought after and the reverse is true for the lower RMS.
Market Growth Rate (MGR) is a yardstick to measure the ability of the organization to grow. Growth is in terms of acquiring RMS. The faster it is the better and it is very dependable on Marketing, Product Acceptance, Advertising, Lobbying and BRANDING… It eats up into your operation cost but together it is essential to push up your revenues.
Errorneous (E) is the measurement of regressive of an organization of moving forward. It is a measurement of Self-Denial, Self-doubt and most importantly Self-Destruction (A Topic we shall discuss later).
Go back to the business of architecture, you need to ask what your business model is? Production, Service or Design oriented? Then you dwell into the matter of Doing the Business, Branding and so forth…
The greater E factors you have with regard to low MGR and RMS, you are considered a DOG. Someone that can easily forgotten and disposed of. There is very little value in the organization.
If you woke up someday with lower E factors, will reorganize yourself. Re brand your establishment engage new talents. Have a good business plan. You will rise above being a DOG into something UNKNOWN. This is most start-up wannabe. The firm has the potential to grow ie. High MGR. It is a very good indicator for Investor to fund. Technical know who is essential to make higher RMS by disclosing new ventures and projects so that the masses believing into the trend. This is where a good CEO is needed.
With the right opportunity your firm will be a STAR or GOD-like with high MGR and RMS. This is where the Firm is going to be RAPE by its shareholder and subsequently a downward path begins.
With the decline of MGR, your firm is going on a plateau hopefully, as a CASH COW that continuously milked by its shareholders until a time where it becomes from GOD to DOG. That is the entire life cycle of your Firm.
Strategize with this matrix in mind, you will know what action to take for being relevance and not forgotten into oblivion.
We often come across the term – The Angry Boss. How often do we ask, why the Boss is angry? Well hypothetically he is angry because he is not able to complete a task perfectly and he aspect you to complete it perfectly. Because you are, in fact, imperfect and how is it possible for you to carry out a task perfectly? That is why he is angry and his anger will also make you angry and you throw your anger to your subordinate and everyone in the organization is angry.
To mitigate such do a One Minute Management, daily: -
1 – MINUTE OBJECTIVE. For whatever we do contemplate for 1 minute what is our purpose and objective of doing such thing and write it clearly. For example, my objective is that by 3pm everyone should have a tea break. Can the HR look into these?
1 – MINUTE PRAISE. People say, praise must be cast in stone, insult should be written in sands. Praise your fellow mate for helping you even as small as picking up the phone for you. Trust me, it will make your day.
1 – MINUTE REPRIMAND. Your fellow mate is your mirror to oneself. It is good to reprimand someone who you think had done wrong – but that is only for 1 minute and no longer. For example, hey! Why the HR only brief us on the spot without issuing the guidelines much earlier?
1 – MINUTE APOLOGY. Be brave and if you had identify your shortcomings just ADMIT and apologies. Live moves on. For example, Aiya! My mistake… I should have given you more time to vet the document…
It is PERFECT to be IMPERFECT. Drill oneself of these 4 mantras and everybody’s life will be better. Give it a try!
I stand dwarf among the Giants of Practicing Architects liked Lilian Tay, Suzanne, Sonny Chan and the rest but I find the similarity of concerns that the programmes are too generic and not much gravity was given to addressing issues and how one use Architecture as a mean to address such issues. There are plenty of efforts on technical skills but as compared to other institutions, credit is given to the use of model, computer rendering and sketches as tools for design.