Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is Procter & Gamble too complex?

Analysts say “some investors believe the company is ‘too complex’ and that more focused competitors will perform better in the future,” reports the Associated Press, 27th Jan 2012. The CEO of the world's biggest consumer products maker was asked if the company would do better if it were broken into separate units. And he argued that the company has been more focused as major portions of the business have been taken off the portfolio. Still, an analyst went so far as to "downgrade its rating from "Buy" to "Neutral" citing an array of concerns about the company's culture, strategy and potential . . . It has limited its ability to meaningfully change how it does business."

P&G is recognized as one of the most progressive global enterprises with a track record spanning almost 200 years. Yet it is not shielded from the pitfalls that come with complexity. Economies and nations are more complex by nature and which is why strong leadership, driving a clear vision and congruent values would characterize the efforts of those that elevated themselves to model economies. In short, they succeeded in overcoming complexity and pursued a more focused development path. No wonder Myanmar is tapping Singapore’s expertise.

Until Juan de la Cruz learns to focus and prioritize, we would be economic laggards – with Myanmar soon breathing down our neck? Everything starts in the mind and a complex mind finds comfort in complexity? The writer is chatting with a Filipino grammarian from the media industry. As a writer he easily grasps varying perspectives and realizes that Juan de la Cruz is not predisposed to change. He takes his hat off journalists that he believes are mavericks if not radicals but the common denominator is still Juan de la Cruz operates in his comfort zone.

Even in a high-stake legal drama complexity does not have to be the bottom line. Writes CJ Artemio V. Panganiban on the Corona impeachment trial: “I think it is best to be transparent, open and forthright, and to abandon the use of unnecessary technicalities, remembering always that impeachment belongs to the people, not just to lawyers. Our people simply want the truth. Anything that prevents its discovery merely incenses them all the more. The best strategy is really simple and is captured in lyrical Filipino, “Walang taguan, walang takipan. Katotohanan lamang ang panalo sa bayan.” (Rough translation: Hide nothing, cover up nothing. Only truth will win the people.) [Philippine Daily Inquirer, 28th Jan 2012]

A relative visited with the writer’s family over the recent Christmas holiday and traveled with them to the Dominican Republic. And the one thing he would notice was the pace of life – and he was talking about the New York metro area and Puerto Plata, a laid back seaside community. “Waiters in Manila can’t survive this pace,” he says. But 10 million OFWs, including those in restaurants and hotels and on cruise ships, are viewed as models and clearly the pace of work doesn’t bother them. Unfortunately, when we’re at home and in our comfort zone, we do as the ‘Romans do?’

Does it explain why we’re economic laggards? Even a simple chore as waiting in a local restaurant could be complicated by the Pinoy mindset – i.e., they are simply not focused and thus slow? And back in Manila, the writer and wife unconsciously were wondering why the waiters were taking their sweet time – and the relative’s reaction was confirmed.

We must take note that even a world-class and very successful enterprise like Procter & Gamble could be criticized for not being as focused as the competition – and for its culture and its strategy and potential! And thus Juan de la Cruz must recognize such pitfalls otherwise he would simply be at home in his comfort zone. And whether it is the chaotic traffic or the lack of sensitivity to the environment or simply respecting time and space, indeed we have an uphill battle. We want to provide an efficient, rapid transport system within the Makati central business district, but how are we populating Fort Bonifacio? We would not replicate Makati’s immense density – and pollution – and chaotic traffic in an area where we have all the time and the chances to do good?

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