Editor’s Note: More Than Just A Number

May 22, 2015 1 Min Read


Earlier this week, I had a serendipitous meeting with Prof Charles Fine of the MIT Sloan School of Management, a professor who has not only conducted research in operations management, supply chain strategy and value chain road-mapping, but also applied that research and consulted with many large organisations over the years.

Serendipitous, because this week, we chose to revisit the notion of cost-cutting exercises or its euphemism “right-sizing” – initiatives which may strike fear in the hearts of our people if not managed well. Notwithstanding the fact that innovation and change allows greater efficiency and improved outcomes, we all know that the people factor can have far-reaching effects.

I observed for example, how people left a company by the hundreds (entire teams decimated) mainly because senior leaders had announced impending changes, however took months to clarify the impact throughout the organisation. Inevitably, the implosion spilled over to affect external relationships.

Roshan Thiran stresses the point that even when our teams accept that change is necessary – whether for cost-optimisation or in response to an external crisis – effective leaders take into account the “heart” part of the equation when leading their people through change.

And because we recognise that early exposure to skills and the right tools can help grow young leaders, we look at the leadership trait of endurance – instilling this in schools, universities and corporations. Chong Keat Lim focuses on imparting skills to youth, while Andrew Lau and Elisa Dass zero in on university students and corporations respectively.

There are times when “right-sizing” really does have the reduction of cost and size of labour in the crosshairs – and Dr John Sullivan shares a checklist of cost-cutting strategies. To complement this, Fabio Malagisi walks us through six effective steps for cutting costs.

Just earlier today, a few of us were chatting about how a recent addition to Leaderonomics, a mechanical engineer, can easily draw parallels between a smooth running machine or device and a well-functioning organisation. John Walter Baybay is more inclined to see organisations as living organisms (yes!) and rather than focus on cost-cutting, suggests that leaders focus on cost alignment – where one might consider investing in processes that have a positive impact on cost rather than performing “amputations”.

In Starting Young, Divya Chandy reminds us how old the inventors of life-changing innovations like Braille, the mechanical calculator and the telephone were (hint: they were teenagers!). Highlighting some young inventors of our time, Divya also shares the five key traits that young investors have in common… just in case you moms and dads out there wanted to set up your own incubators!

Onward, upward!


First appeared on Leaderonomics.com. Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 23 May 2015

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Karen has rather bizarrely maintained a childlike side to herself – always keen to see, learn and do new things. Yet she has remained grounded on finding the best way to help people – especially those who have the skills and heart to do incredible things.

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