Columnists

Do CEOs encourage bad news?       

Views - 6871 Monday, 21 July 2014 00:01

CEOs, much like politicians, tend to get ‘surrounded’ by ‘yes-men’ who fear delivering bad news.  Given the tendency to ‘shoot’ the messenger of bad news, constructive feedback/ground realities tend to get suppressed and decision making


Violence and country branding

Views - 2653 Monday, 23 June 2014 00:02

It takes decades, if not centuries, to build a country brand. It takes only a few irresponsible acts to significantly negate all the hard work that multiple stakeholders have put into building a country brand.  The perception damage caused, locally


Work-life balance – ‘walk’ the ‘talk’

Views - 1865 Monday, 16 June 2014 00:00

One obvious way to help employees achieve work-life balance is to offer them flexibility of where they work from and what times they work – at least on some days of the week where they need this flexibility most.  Yet, why do most Sri Lankan compa


Recruiting senior management like at the IPL auction!

Views - 1561 Monday, 26 May 2014 00:00

We live in a business world that is increasingly characterised by ‘impatient capital’ and ‘never-satisfied customers’. This means the way in which we lead and manage our business needs radical re-thinking. It is in this context that we need t


Mergers and acquisitions are not the same!

Views - 1525 Monday, 5 May 2014 00:00

The misinterpretation of the HNB MD’s comment at the MTI Banking Forum demonstrates the widespread confusion regards mergers and acquisitions, which are two distinct approaches of inorganic growth for a business.   Acquisition, as the name implie


Co-opetition

Views - 1775 Friday, 11 April 2014 01:45

The joint initiative of Dialog and Etisalat for the mobile money platform is a classic example of co-opetition – whereby conventional competitors, motivated by their consumer needs and commercial synergies, decide to co-operate while still competin


What can businesses learn from the Royal-Thomian?

Views - 2416 Wednesday, 12 March 2014 01:27

The ‘power’ of two competing ‘brands’ synergising to create an experience much ‘larger’ than either could. Even if businesses cannot stretch their thinking to synergising with competing brands, start with complimentary brands. The


Marketing vs. finance – an irrelevant debate

Views - 5603 Wednesday, 5 March 2014 00:34

The topic of an upcoming seminar tempted me to write this! In the context of today’s competitive business environment and the business models that are emerging, both these functions (and the very terms marketing and finance) are insular, myopic an


Is cricket a sport or business?

Views - 2696 Tuesday, 11 February 2014 00:01

ICC’s decision to concentrate a much higher level of ‘power’ and ‘profits’ in the hands of three countries has drawn much criticism – most of this on the basis that it is unfair and detrimental.  This holds true – if cricket is like an


Banking mergers must translate to customer benefit

Views - 1822 Monday, 3 February 2014 01:45

The City of Colombo has 282 bank branches, with ongoing competition among the institutions to have more, bigger and ‘fancier’ branches.  (In this same geographical domain, there are only 47 supermarkets!) This requires multiple layers of DGMs,


4-dimensional New Year resolution

Views - 1590 Wednesday, 1 January 2014 07:53

Focus on what is most fundamental and most important in your life and business – technology and socialising are ‘double-edged swords’ that can distract you from the ultra-simplicity we need in a complex world. Each of us have a limited sup


Year end, time for ‘brain surgery’

Views - 1792 Tuesday, 31 December 2013 02:07

It’s a good time to take stock of our ‘thought baggage’ and do some spring cleaning. Why? As knowledge workers, think of how we earn a living. Whatever your job, be it CEO or management trainee, there are only four types of activities that we


Why the sudden export surge?

Views - 2080 Saturday, 21 December 2013 00:00

Sri Lanka’s export performance (compared to global competition) has been below par for the last decade. Therefore, the news that we have crossed US$ 1 billion for two consecutive months is a good sign and much needed for the economy. But, why have


Do we attract the best talent into marketing?

Views - 1923 Friday, 6 December 2013 00:00

The development of any profession/discipline depends on its ability to attract the best talent at entry level.  In Sri Lanka, the medical, engineering and finance disciplines are able to attract the best performing talent at entry level. How about


Short service awards

Views - 1360 Tuesday, 5 November 2013 01:27

Long service awards are a permanent feature of many legacy organisations. It makes a fundamental assumption i.e. like wine; the more time you ‘stick’ with an organisation, the greater the value you create. Today’s globalised and competitive bus


Should CFOs directly report to the board?

Views - 6747 Monday, 30 September 2013 01:25

A close look at major corporate scandals around the world has its roots in corporate finance, compliance and/or governance. This is despite the ever-tightening compliance and reporting protocols. It is here that the CFO has a much bigger role to play


Where has the money gone?

Views - 3174 Friday, 13 September 2013 03:32

It is not the first time a financial institution has got into trouble. It is certainly time for some ‘soul searching’ on who and what triggers such collapses. nThe financial institution – for irresponsible lending? The borrowers – for


What does GDP mean to a layman?

Views - 3660 Friday, 6 September 2013 03:47

The economic prosperity of a nation is measured by the percentage growth in GDP. A nation is made up of people. This means, the economic prosperity at the national level must be ‘felt’ by its population.  Here are questions from a layman to an e


Sanga’s choice; a strategic perspective

Views - 1939 Monday, 2 September 2013 11:07

In many ways, Sangakkara is a Sri Lankan multi-national brand, as much as Abba was for Sweden or Drogba is for the Ivory Coast. T20 franchises, by design, are meant to feature multi-national teams (pity that the Sri Lankan version did not), because t


Will the cows come home?

Views - 1864 Friday, 23 August 2013 11:49

Sri Lanka is the world’s second highest per-capita importer of milk powder and a very low level of dairy self-sufficiency.  By contrast, India is today the world’s largest dairy producer and almost entirely self-sufficient. How did India achieve


Create value, not brands!

Views - 2216 Friday, 9 August 2013 00:00

‘Newcomers’ to corporate branding often try to ‘imitate’ the external manifestation of the more established players, not realising that the strongest ‘corporate brands’ first focus on customer and shareholder value creation, and then the


CSR: Vanity or sanity?

Views - 1902 Saturday, 27 July 2013 00:18

There has seen a significant increase in CSR project undertaken by businesses, which on the face of it appears to be a good thing. MTI’s CSR research shows that businesses tend to undertake a multitude of micro initiatives for diverse social causes


Challenging the status quo

Views - 4054 Thursday, 11 July 2013 02:13

 Following are excerpts from an interview with Hilmy Cader, CEO of MTI Consulting and Architect of the MTI Strategic Reflections Column   Q: What motivated you to write this column? A: I had done a presentation at a forum in Sri Lan


Think ‘small’

Views - 1870 Monday, 17 June 2013 01:08

‘Think big’ is a cliché in business. It works well for goal-setting. When it comes to strategising, it can lead to solutions that are ‘blanket’, shallow and /or ‘overkill’.  Instead, by miniaturising


What really is leadership?

Views - 1470 Monday, 27 May 2013 00:00

The concept of leadership has its origins in the armies, and then spilled over to the industrial revolution. Today, most business organisations claim to have the following in place:  Mission, Vision, Values, Strategic Plan, Board Committees, P


‘Fixing’ the IPL?

Views - 1355 Monday, 20 May 2013 00:00

Some ‘pundits’ have called for a ban of the IPL because of the recent match fixing. This is like banning the stock markets because of insider trading. In any industry that attracts this kind of money, you have to statistica


Marketing should be more accountable

Views - 1117 Monday, 13 May 2013 00:00

Of all the investments a business makes, Marketing is arguably the one with the least accountability. And there is no shortage of flimsy excuses why it cannot be done. Here is a simple, hard-nosed logic to challenge this: If you agree with


Dilemma of Bangladesh’s apparel industry

Views - 1658 Monday, 6 May 2013 00:00

Brands like H&M and Primark have triggered the creation of a mass market for fashion. To provide such mass volumes at ‘unbelievable’ costs, you need countries with mass labour willing to work at exceptionally low wages (lifestyles). C


‘May Day’ for knowledge workers

Views - 1364 Thursday, 2 May 2013 00:25

The concept of a Labour Day originated in an era where there were only two main classes i.e. workers and business owners. Today, we have a significant number of ‘knowledge workers’ – like you and me reading this paper. None of us ar


The illusion of wealth

Views - 1621 Monday, 8 April 2013 00:00

Today, a significant part of our wealth is in the ‘books’ of financial institutions. We are made to believe that our monies are available in full, safe and can be accessed at any time. The unfolding of events in Cyprus has given us a rude


Today's Columnists

Come, let us build!

Friday, 26 April 2019

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Best because Sri Lanka was united in what it did well: being at peace, on an extended sabbatical, pursuing the absence of conflict – even mindlessly – and enjoying the fruit of island life. Wor


Black Easter

Friday, 26 April 2019

To Sri Lankan Christians, Easter this year was a day of God where demons reigned. It can be considered an unfortunate day in which the country was plunged again into the uncivilised wretchedness that prevailed in the country during the violent confli


Explaining Sri Lanka’s new Emergency Regulations on ‘publication’

Friday, 26 April 2019

Sri Lanka’s President issued a new set of Emergency Regulations on 22 April. This note explains the contents of Emergency Regulation 15, which concerns the ‘control of publications’, and certain other regulations relevant to publication. There


A secular public space is essential for the safety and wellbeing of all

Friday, 26 April 2019

The heart is heavy and the pen is slow. The environment is thick with the shared sorrow of many. Pain and suffering caused by deaths of hundreds and maiming of more on Easter of 2019 will linger for the rest of our lives. But life must go on and we m


Columnists More