Saturday, July 31, 2010

Now what?

Where do I go from here
What a difference 18 months make. 
Before the EMBA, my expectations were high on what value the program will add to my experience and knowledge. I learned early on that the amount of knowledge I receive is directly proportional to the effort, interest and learning motivation that I put in. I am fortunate to have the humility to accept the many ‘inadequacies’ i have as an executive. Though many of the concepts, principles and skills that were taught were positive revalidation of what I already know, they still add so much value to my knowledge and experience bank.
On a ten point scale, I was a five before the program. Now I can say I’m a solid eight. As I knew then, the other two points is always to be earned and experienced in the work place - in the real world.
The most important difference that I experienced is a positive change in the way I think and act in a more strategic manner. Systems thinking complemented my rational thinking and put a clear framework on how I view situation and conditions. Bonus to this is the ‘renewed’ mindset to always consider how any change or activity in the company can and will affect the bottom line. A better understanding of the balance sheet deepened my appreciation of the companies financial health.
Still, further real life experience and deeper study is needed for me to be more comfortable and (soon) an expert in finance. My advantage over many students is that I came from the soft side of operations that dealt with HR, Operations and Marketing. Case studies and simulations were enjoyed well because I was able to relate with the characters and the situation.
Of the many important concepts and principles learned, the following made an impact to my learning experience:
  1. Balanced Score Card - perfect framework for the hospital that I manager where strategies were only espoused through meetings and business reviews. Today, the whole management team is aware of the strategy, the tactical activities and their impact to company as well as their own performance (evaluation)
  2. Systems Thinking - ‘the shift of mind’ had a major impact in the way I think. Without a doubt, this system of thinking must be taught and practiced at all levels of management.    This skill is a must have for all managers who matter to the company. and that means all of them.
  3. UAI formulation - the UAI that our CAN group did for the hospital has been the key basis for a lot of tactical activities as well as strategic directions for the hospital. Our Value Proposition - Alagang Mercado, Kumpleto, Sugurado, has been revised to fit what the voice of customer say as revealed by the UAI.
  4. Globalization issues and opportunities - the world is shrinking and all organizations must either step up and confirm their global citizenship and exploit the whole world of opportunities out there. Or they can just remain as they are and be like dinosaurs. The bigger revelation is that the whole phenomena of globalization extends to the individuals   who is now put on a level playing field as the big buys via the marvels of the information super highway. 
  5. Asian Business Systems - bound by common family of race but nevertheless unique in culture, mores, business ethics and mindset, Asian business organizations are to be studied and appreciated for what they are if one is to succeed in their markets. 
  6. Management Control Systems - responsibility accounting has made the managers in our hospital more concerned, informed and productive in their respective departments. Having defined specific metrics that conform with their BSC perspectives, the managers’ focus on their roles were made more precise and goal-oriented.
  7. Operations management principles - Lean systems through TQM, 5S and other quality measures borrowed from manufacturing industry (Toyota Production System) has been instrumental in the improvement of various processes in the hospital’s ancillary services (laboratory, radiology, etc), business office (admissions, discharge, credit and collection) and facilities management (work order services, maintenance program). Defining Takt Time on key procedures made the managers aware of service and productivity levels which will encourage them to introduce improvements.
  8. Strategic HR functions - the new HR role as admin expert, employee advocate, change champion and strategic partner is a challenge to HR organizations including our company’s. Unfortunately, this new mindset cannot just be learned in seminars and workshops. The role and commitment of CEO and the Board of Director should be initiators and not just supporters. HR should champion the new role as a matter of principle and not just a matter of practice. In other words, the whole program must come from am appreciation of the changing role of HR as a strategic partner and not just an administrative and police function of the company.
  9. Capital structure strategies/ working capital management - this was one of the reasons i took the program. Now i have a better understanding on working capital management. This area falls outside of my day-to-day task but still well within my immediate responsibility. By experience, the hospital does not have a clear capital structure policy other than keeping watch over the ‘family’s’ equity portion versus other investors. Borrowings are made and paid based almost solely on cash availability and need hence a rather passive approach as opposed to a more aggressive approach of leveraging debt.
  10. Value Chain management - the understanding of the hospitals value chain is discussed and analyzed at each department. The managers now are more focused on delivering value to the end customer and have realized where the potential bottle necks are. SIPOC diagrams, which were unknown to the organization before has become a regular part of department meetings.
Worth mentioning is how Quantitative Analysis made me ‘smarter’ (or dumber). It’s still a struggle to put multiple linear regression analysis into a model that will be useful for my company. It is important however, that I was introduced to this ‘animal’ which I know I will meet again someday.
What’s up ahead?
At the start of the program, I was recruited to be COO of a tertiary hospital in Tanauan City Batangas. As if on cue, each of the modules that were scheduled coincided to the program of action that I undertook to review and re-align the strategy and actions of the company. Fast forward 18 months: EBITDA and ROS budgets were exceeded 106% and 104% respectively. Compared with same period of 2009 (before my tenure) the company improved by 14% despite a decrease in Revenue by 1.5%.  That was value added.
I credit the results to my ability to piece together a comprehensive program to align strategy with action and most of all tie them up with employee performance. The challenge for the hospital now is for the program (BSC and new Performance Evaluation System) to continue and sustain the positive results. 
Current management of hospital must sustain the results by continuing the program. Unfortunately, I recently just ended my term as COO of Daniel Mercado Medical Center to return to the industry I love the most and take a new role as General Manager of Seattle’s Best Coffee. To me therefore, the experience and track record that I made was largely influenced by the knowledge, experience and perhaps prestige of the EMBA program from AIM. That was value added.
Moving forward, I can only continue the learning attitude to be able to bring my score to at least a nine. The intention is not to get recruited again to a higher role, but to be more prepared to a higher role in the same company.
Over-all, the value that was added to me by the program was enjoyed as well by my former company. And the real value that is lasting will continue to be manifested in my career advancement and my personal improvement. 

Moreover, a fitting bonus to the experience was the honor and privilege to have the acquaintance and friendship of my classmates who have provided more than their time into the program. They have been worthy 'adversaries' in many debates. Able commentators on numerous discussions. Curious contributors to even the most trivial or controversial issues. And fitting members of a bunch of what I think is a perfect mix of intelligence, experience, character and integrity. My sincere gratitude will be expressed in future emails and text messages, as I do not intend to sever my ties with anyone of them.
The only regret I have about the program, is that ‘I should have taken this program when I was younger’.
Germin G. Espino

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