Saturday, September 25, 2010

Risks in supply chain

"Unforeseen events occur more frequently in the very long global supply chains, as shown by the following examples:
•    In July 2006, 4,700 Mazdas were trapped in a ship listing on its side off Alaska's Aleutian Islands. As a result, inventory stood at 21 days of sales (DOS), versus the target of 65 DOS, creating a severe availability problem. (That's $103 million in cars lost.)
•    In two separate incidents in 1992 and 2002, 113,000 Nike sneakers were lost and are still washing up all over beaches in the Pacific Northwest.
•    Ten thousand containers fall off ships annually. Although this is less than 1 per cent of total container volume, the 1 per cent lost can be enormously disruptive if it's your 'efficient' supply chain.
•    In 2007, there were 275 pirate attacks on commercial shipping, which increased through 2009.
"Because of the huge impact on the corporation, supply chain change management plans have to include thorough risk analysis. Plans must include supply chain risks, probability and impact assessments, and risk-mitigation plans. Executing this process at the beginning of supply chain projects can avoid much pain later."
('The New Supply Chain Agenda: The 5 steps that drive real value,' by Reuben E. Slone, J. Paul Dittmann, and John T. Mentzer, p. 158, Harvard)

Plan B

"Dharwad in Karnataka, which had been considered as a possible site for the Nano plant before Singur happened, came into the picture once again, but the uneven terrain there led to it being ruled out. Other sites, too, were evaluated, but none of these could match what was on offer at Sanand in Gujarat, a two-hour drive from Ahmedabad and separated by a million miles in temperament and political culture from Singur. The biggest advantage with the site at Sanand was that it had about 1,100 acres in a flat stretch under a single land survey number. Progress was swift once the decision on the site had been made. By October 7, a mere 96 hours after that dark day in Kolkata, the deal was sealed."
('Small Wonder: The making of the Nano,' by Philip Chacko, Christabelle Noronha and Sujata Agrawal, p. 85, Westland)

Stress and pressure

"Stress is often confused with pressure. The latter is normal. Deadlines exert pressure, loyalty to others exerts pressure, and pride in your work exerts pressure. These are potentially positive pressures. Sometimes pressure on the information systems project manager will seem a large burden. Yet consider the jobs of air-traffic controller, police-men and –women, emergency hospital staff, and restaurant chefs. The pressure on them is at least as great, and probably more intense. Some people enjoy pressure and are bored without it."
"However, when the pressure turns to stress it becomes negative and constraining. People differ with regards to the point when pressure turns to stress. But this may occur when, for example, your 'to do' list becomes so large that you feel helpless and finish up doing nothing, or your personal relationships become very unpleasant because you are so frustrated at your limited achievements or your partner complains that you do not give him or her adequate attention and time or says that you are moody."
"Poor project management can cause stress for your team members. They may see you, for example, dithering on decisions, not involving them in any way, being unreasonable in your requirements, or display an aggressive style in your relationships with them. Delegation is important and even though you could do a job, it may not be appropriate use of a manger's time. Delegation can help in two ways. First it can relieve some of the pressure from you, and second it can be seen positively by your colleagues as they feel more in control of 'their' task and they may enjoy the added responsibility…"
"Targets and 'to do' lists can be useful but should be realistic (indeed, they can suggest that delegation is essential). Again, doing overtime can relieve pressure, but it will be negative if overtime periods become prolonged. Sometimes stress is caused because colleagues lack the skills needed. In this case it is important to identify these needs early and make suitable training programmes available. In other cases stress can be relieved by doing another activity (including taking a break). This might put the problem in perspective and enable you to look at it afresh."
"One particular symptom of stress where this approach can often help is 'paralysis by analysis,' where you have spent too much time looking at the issue. Looking at it afresh, after a short period, may well enable you to make a reasonable decision or take positive action. However, don't put off t he decision forever, as making no decision is unlikely to solve a problem."
(David Avison and Gholamreza Torkzadeh in 'Information Systems Project Management,' p. 232, Sage)

Managing risk

"Doing business involves taking decisions and concluding deals and every deal is a calculated risk. No decisions are possible without exposing oneself to a certain element of risk…"
"All business decisions and deals are normally made after doing considerable home work and the risk becomes directly proportional to the unknown and the validity or accuracy of the knowledge that was acquired before taking decisions."
"In gambling, however, decisions are taken without any valid knowledge and information and that is how risk taking is quite different from gambling."
"Anyone who takes an initiative or pursues an opportunity is taking some sort of risk. But successful people do not see risk as simple risk. They always look at the potential risks as the opportunity for innovation, potential gain and for bettering their performance or even for achieving something remarkable in life which they aspire to. Brilliant people or achievers of extraordinary performance are seen to be pursuing some objective or pursuing some plan or even following a path which others may consider to be sheer madness."
"Some knowledge cannot be obtained at the time of taking decisions but many a time, after decisions are taken and actions emanate from them, new knowledge surfaces and corrective actions or a change in the course of earlier decisions becomes possible and the ill-effects of the original decisions are, thus, minimised or counterbalanced in a significant way…"
"The most important lesson that needs to be learnt in risk management is to take decisions based on valid data and not on opinion. Even if there is an expert opinion or advice, the same must be established using valid data."
(Rajat Kanti Baisya in 'Winning Strategies for Business,' p. 153, Sage)

Chief CSR officer

"The CEO must actively sponsor CSR. This executive ownership is the foundation of an effective CSR policy and is central to ensuring that CSR is institutionalised as a core component of day-to-day operating practice. Ideally, the CEO will consider himself or herself the chief CSR officer. At a minimum, the CEO must remain in touch with the effectiveness of the company's CSR policy by receiving regular updates, while granting a clear line of access to the top for the CSR officer. This commitment from senior management is crucial for effective implementation. Executives must exhibit leadership to infuse a stakeholder perspective. Otherwise, any CSR policy or statement will quickly become a hollow public relations gesture."
(William B. Werther, Jr. and David Chandler in 'Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility,' 2e, p. 127, Sage)

Age-old philosophies

"Social responsibility and environmental sustainability are age-old philosophies. Examples of social responsibility and environmental sustainability can be found, for instance, in Indian agriculture and husbandry. In Indian villages, for hundreds of years, clean fuel has come from cow dung patties or briquettes made of cow dung and thatch. In turn, cows were fed in a manner that did not deplete a particular area of vegetation. Houses were built of biodegradable materials like clay and thatch. Plates were made of banana leaves, cups were made of clay, and hands were used as utensils. During Indian feudalism, landlords (i.e., zamindars, jagirs, desmukhs, chowdhurys) lent land and money to farmers, akin to today's microfinance."
('Social Responsibility and Environmental Sustainability in Business,' Ed: Preeta M. Banerjee and Vanita Shastri, p. 163, Sage)

Arm’s length price

"The valuation of international transactions for the purpose of income-tax and customs duties is done on the same principle, at arm's length prices. Yet, the process and the purpose are different. There is no legal link between the customs valuation and valuation of goods for purposes of transfer pricing in income-tax. While the taxable subject (the person subject to tax) and the taxable object (the transactional activity providing the tax base) provide the same starting point for customs duties and income-tax, customs duties are concerned with economic value conveyed, whereas the income-tax, with economic value added. There are basic differences between the income-tax and customs duties; with regard to taxable event, the purpose and object of the transaction between the related parties and the aims of the different tax departments. The taxable event for income-tax is the purchase, sale or lease of the property or the provision of services, and for customs duties, the importation of goods. Income-tax is a tax on a person in relation to his income. The focus of the customs duties is on traded products and financial magnitudes, and not on the personal organisational or functional characteristics of the traders. The focus of the income-tax is on both."
"The price for transaction between the members of the multinational enterprise is fixed, for the purpose of income-tax, to avoid income and for the purpose of customs duties, to alter the pattern of international trade. The aims of the two tax departments are also different. Of the income-tax, it is to decrease the value of the imported goods or services so as to reach a high taxable base; and of customs, to increase the value so as to increase the yield. There is also dissimilarity in the methods of valuation. For income-tax the methods applied are comparable uncontrolled prices (OECD Guidelines, and Section 92C of the Act); and for customs duties, transaction value methods (GATT). Simple application of the two different procedures leads to different results…"
(D. P. Mittal in 'Law of Transfer Pricing in India,' p. 233, Taxmann)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Abandoned child

"Then one particular night when my head was full of numbers, Old John, God, language problems and all the odd bits and pieces of puzzlement, out of the fog a small girl suddenly appeared."
"There was not much I could see of her in the fog even by a gas lamp. She was not very tall. She told me she had 'runned away' and she carried an old rag doll, a box of paints and she was hungry. She made a large hole in my bag of saveloys and she liked fizzy drinks, particularly the ones with a marble in the neck."
"A couple of necessary fags to regain my composure and I learned that her name was Anna, that she was going to live with me and that she loved me as I loved her. I never was one to get into an argument that I had no hope of winning, so I simple accepted all that she had told me."
"As time went by I did try to find out more about her background, but nobody had missed her, or if they had, they did not want her back. So she came home with me and stayed until she died a few years later…"
(Fynn in 'Anna and the Black Knight,' p. 84 Harper)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Air globes

"In England, George III formally wrote to the Royal Society asking if research into 'air-globes' should be sponsored by the British Crown, or left to private individuals. An enterprising Swiss chemist, Aimé Argand, had released an eighteen-inch hydrogen balloon from the terrace at Windsor Castle on 26 November 1783, first getting the King himself to hold the string and feel the tug. Intrigued, George offered to put up money from his own funds to finance some early experiments. He received a cautious reply from Sir Joseph Banks, who still felt that there was inadequate experimental evidence for balloons' utility. The French, he seemed to imply, were always inclined to mistake novelty for real science. This reaction was very unlike that of the French Académie des Sciences, who were determined to sponsor Pilâtre de Rozier in further ascents and larger balloons, seeing all sorts of possibilities, both commercial and military…"
(Richard Holmes in 'The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation discovered the beauty and terror or science,' p. 133 Harper)

Memory of lineage

"A dragon carries within her the memories of all her dragon lineage. They are not always in the forefront of her mind, but they are there to draw on, sometimes deliberately when seeking information, sometimes welling up unobtrusively in times of need. Perhaps that was why what happened next was so terrible. She lifted unevenly from the ground; one of her hind legs was stronger than the other. That was bad enough. But when she tried to correct it with her wings, only one opened. The other clung to itself, tangled and feeble, and unable to catch herself, she crashed to the muddy riverbank and lay there, bewildered, on her side. The physical impact was debilitating, but she was just as stunned by the certainty that, for as far back as her memories could reach, nothing like this had ever happened to any dragon in her lineage. She could not assimilate the experience at first; she had no guide to tell her what to expect next. She pushed with her stronger wing, but only succeeded in rolling onto her back, a most uncomfortable position for a dragon. Within moments, she felt the discomfort in the greater effort it took to breath. She was also aware in a panicky way that she was extremely vulnerable in such a posture. Her long throat and her finely-scaled belly were exposed. She had to get back on her feet…"
(Robin Hobb in 'The Dragon Keeper,' p. 53 Harper)

Eye movements and NLP

"If people's eyes do not move, this may be due to the western 'look to talk' rule. In the west, there is a belief that if a person does not look you in the eye, that person could be deemed untrustworthy. So when you are making eye contact, they may look at you directly. Their eyes will seem not to move, or move very slightly and quickly. However if you notice carefully, what may be happening is that they are defocusing their eyes so that their 'internal' eye can look in the appropriate direction…"
"Eye movements can also be used to determine how truthful or congruent a person is being. If a person is describing an event that he or she has witnessed or participated in, for instance, the person's eyes should move primarily to their left, indicating memory access. If the person looks up and to the right a lot, however, it is likely that the person is constructing or reconstructing some aspect of the experience he or she is describing. This is may indicate that the person is either uncertain or being untruthful about what he or she is saying."
"The most common application of eye positions in NLP is to determine the representational strategies a person is using in order to think or make a decision. Since many aspects of people's thinking processes are unconscious to them, spontaneous eye movements can be an extremely important part of eliciting and modelling a person's inner strategies for decision-making, learning, motivation, memory and so on."
(Dipankar Khanna in 'Mind Warriors: Winning strategies with NLP,' p. 58 Penguin)

Lingering, unreal hours

"The past, even when less than a day old, tended to be overrun with sprouts of ungrown time, when getting a life back had appeared to be simple, like putting a few files in the bag, slipping into shoes, boarding the crowd-jammed bus. The tomorrow that lay a few hours ahead, the clear light of day that cleared knots."
"The stirred dead of last night, less than twenty-four hours ago, when she had slowly, dreamily joined him, the veiled phantom, through long hours when sleep had come only in fits and bursts."
"Why, he had left the bed this morning with the unwashed excitement from the night before clinging to pores of his body, the dried mucus in his eyes, the grogginess in his limbs."
"Even with the sun streaming through the wooden shutters, it was as if his mind had never last night's lingering, unreal hours."
"It had been past two in the morning."
"Long after the last of the drunkards had passed singing along the street below, and long after the stray dogs had let out the last of the staccato barks after their shadows, he had left his bed to roll a cigarette…"
(Saikat Majumdar in 'Silverfish,' p. 141 Harper)