Thursday, September 10, 2009

FM Leadership with GRACE - Mark's Leadership Style

FM is success driven and has always been very result oriented. Since its last restructuring in year 2006, several short, mid and long terms goals were charted. A FM Road Map leading up to 2016 was mapped out. Milestones were charted out to benchmark against its progress. FM has grown significantly and has successfully migrated its business focus to design education. FMDS brand awareness in Asia is quite well accepted having able to leverage on its 20 years of accumulated knowledge, wisdom, networks and credentials to good use. The growth of First Media is a result of careful planning and execution plus strong leadership commitment. Started with only S$2,000 working capital, FM has grown to more than S$20,000,000 worth of property assets alone.

FM starts with an end in mind. It is constantly mindful of its end game plan.

Learn - continuous learning. Top up new knowledge with old and remove obsolete knowledge
Out of Box Thinking - Always explore non-conventional methods
Venture - Always prepared to move out from its comfort zone
Enjoy - Always relishing the process of putting an idea into action

Positive – maintain a optimistic outlook on its future
Open - openness in embracing new ideas as a change agent
Service - responsiveness, quality driven, proactive & initiative

Passion Hunger and Disciplined
Resourcefulness & always 'Be Prepared' for any eventuality

People centric acting as servant leader and role model to others to emulate
Always uphold a honest and responsible relationship that is transparent, fair, just and respect.
Always trusting and willing to give others opportunity to grow.

The Race

An Administrative team and an Information Technology team decided to engage in a competitive boat race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance.

On the big day they felt ready. The IT team won the race by a mile.

Afterward, the Administrative team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommend corrective action.

The consultant's finding: The IT team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the Administrative team had one person rowing and eight people steering. After a year of study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the consultant firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough were rowing on the Administrative team.

So as race day neared again the following year, the Administrative team management structure was completely reorganized. The new structure: four steering managers, three assistant steering managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.

The IT team won the race by two miles.

Humiliated, the Administrative team laid off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem

Morale of the story
This is typical of a company where the boss is not hands on.

The Pareto Principle (Pareto's law) - The 80/20 Rule

The Pareto Principle suggests that where two related data sets or groups exist (typically cause and effect, or input and output):

Here are some examples of Pareto's Law as it applies to various situations. According to the Pareto Principle, it will generally the case (broadly - remember it's a guide not a scientific certainty), that within any given scenario or system or organisation:

80 percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts
80 percent of activity will require 20 percent of resources
80 percent of usage is by 20 percent of users
80 percent of the difficulty in achieving something lies in 20 percent of the challenge
80 percent of revenue comes from 20 percent of customers
80 percent of problems come from 20 percent of causes
80 percent of profit comes from 20 percent of the product range
80 percent of complaints come from 20 percent of customers
80 percent of sales will come from 20 percent of sales people
80 percent of corporate pollution comes from 20 percent of corporations
80 percent of work absence is due to 20 percent of staff
80 percent of road traffic accidents are cause by 20 percent of drivers
80 percent of a restaurant's turnover comes from 20 percent of its menu
80 percent of your time spent on this website will be spent on 20 percent of this website
and so on..

Tale of the Asshole

The organs of the body were having a meeting, trying to decide who was in charge.
Each organ took a turn to speak up.

Brain......... I should be in charge because I run all body functions.
Blood........ I should be in charge because I circulate oxygen for the brain.
Stomach... I should be in charge because I process food for the brain.
Legs......... I should be in charge because I take the brain where it wants to go.
Eyes......... I should be in charge because I let the brain see where it's going.
Asshole.....I should be in charge because I get rid of your waste.

All the other parts laughed so hard and this made the asshole very mad. To prove his point, the asshole immediately slammed tightly closed and
stayed that way for 6 days, refusing to rid the body of any waste whatsoever.

Day 1 - Brain got a terrible headache and cried out for relief
Day 2 - Stomach got bloated and began to ache terribly
Day 3 - Legs got cramps and became unstable
Day 4 - Eyes became watery and vision became blurred
Day 5 - Blood became toxic and poisoned the body
Day 6 -The other organs agreed to let the asshole be in charge.

Morale of story

The Photo Copier Tale

Standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand,
" Listen," said the CEO, " this is a very sensitive and important document, and my secretary has left. Can you make this thing work?"
" Certainly," said the young executive.

He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.
" Excellent, excellent! " said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the shredder machine.
" I just need one copy. "

Morale of the story

Boss & Managers Tale

A junior manager, a senior manager and their boss are on their way to a meeting.
On their way through a park, they come across a wonder lamp. They rub the lamp and a ghost appears.
The ghost says : " Normally, one is granted three wishes, but as you are three, I will allow one wish each. "
So the eager senior manager shouted : " I want the first wish.
I want to be in the Bahamas, on a fast boat and have no worries." Pfufffff …. and he was gone.
Now the junior manager could not keep quiet and shouted : " I want to be in Florida with beautiful girls, plenty of food and cocktails. "
Pfufffff …. And he was also gone.
The boss calmly said : " I want these two idiots back in the office after lunch at 12.30 pm. "

Morale of the story

The Lion Repairman

It's a fine sunny day in the forest, and a lion is sitting outside his cave, lying lazily in the sun. Along comes a fox, out on a walk.

Fox: "Do you know the time, because my watch is broken."
Lion: "Oh, I can easily fix the watch for you."
Fox: "Hmm... But it's a very complicated mechanism, and your great claws will only destroy it even more."
Lion: "Oh no, give it to me, and it will be fixed."
Fox: "That's ridiculous! Any fool knows that lazy lions with great claws cannot fix complicated watches."
Lion: "Sure they do, give it to me and it will be fixed."

The lion disappears into his cave, and after a while he comes back with the watch, which is running perfectly. The fox is impressed, and the Lion continues to lie lazily in the sun, looking very pleased with him.

Soon a wolf comes along and stops to watch the lazy lion in the sun.

Wolf: "Can I come and watch TV tonight with you, because mine is broken."
Lion: "Oh, I can easily fix your TV for you."
Wolf: "You don't expect me to believe such rubbish, do you? There is no way that a lazy lion with big claws can fix a complicated TV."
Lion: "No problem. Do you want to try it?"

The lion goes into his cave, and after a while comes back with a perfectly fixed TV. The wolf goes away happily and amazed.

Inside the lion's cave. In one corner are half a dozen small and intelligent looking rabbits that are busily doing very complicated work with very detailed instruments. In the other corner lies a huge lion looking very pleased with him.

Morale of the story
If your team is good, it doesn't matter whether you know anything or not, as long as you know how to boss around.

The Rabbit's Thesis

It's a fine sunny day in the forest, and a rabbit is sitting outside his burrow, tippy-tapping on his typewriter. Along comes a fox, out for a walk.

Fox: "What are you working on?"
Rabbit: "My thesis."
Fox: "Hmm… What is it about?"
Rabbit: "Oh, I'm writing about how rabbits eat foxes."
Fox: "That's ridiculous! Any fool knows that rabbits don't eat foxes!"
Rabbit: "Come with me and I'll show you!"

They both disappear into the rabbit's burrow. After few minutes, gnawing on a fox bone, the rabbit returns to his typewriter and resumes typing. Soon a wolf comes along and stops to watch the hardworking rabbit.

Wolf: "What's that you are writing?"
Rabbit: "I'm doing a thesis on how rabbits eat wolves."
Wolf: "you don't expect to get such rubbish published, do you?"
Rabbit: "No problem. Do you want to see why?"

The rabbit and the wolf go into the burrow and again the rabbit returns by himself, after a few minutes, and goes back to typing.

Finally a bear comes along and asks, "What are you doing?
Rabbit: "I'm doing a thesis on how rabbits eat bears."
Bear: "Well that's absurd!
Rabbit: "Come into my home and I'll show you."

As they enter the burrow, the rabbit introduces the bear to the lion.

Moral: It doesn't matter how small you are. What matters is whom you have for a mentor.

Heaven & Hell

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said; "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.”

The Lord led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table
was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, "You have now seen Hell."

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, "I don't understand.”

"It is simple” said the Lord. "It requires only one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other."

Morale of story
It's people's attitude that makes our place of work, a hell or heaven to them!!! “Help and Seek Help” this makes all the difference. Success and happiness is all about teamwork.

The Empty Soap Box Tale

One of the most memorable case studies on Japanese management was the case of the empty soap box, which happened in one of Japan's biggest cosmetics companies.

The company received a complaint that a consumer had bought a soap box that was empty. Immediately the authorities isolated the problem to the assembly line, which transported all the packaged boxes of soap to the delivery department. For some reason, one soap box went through the assembly line empty. Management asked its engineers to solve the problem.

Post-haste, the engineers worked hard to devise an X-ray machine with high-resolution monitors manned by two people to watch all the soap boxes that passed through the line to make sure they were not empty. No doubt, they worked hard and they worked fast but they spent whooping amount to do so. But when a rank-and-file employee in a small company was posed with the same problem, did not get into complications of X-rays, etc. but instead came out with another solution. He bought a strong industrial electric fan and pointed it at the assembly line. He switched the fan on, and as each soap box passed the fan, it simply blew the empty boxes out of the line.

Morale of story

Always be resourceful to devise the simplest and economical possible solution. Learn to focus on solutions rather then the problems.

"Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary." Ray Knight

Rocks in Bucket Tale

Start with a bucket, some big rocks enough to fill it, some small stones, some sand and water.
Put the big rocks in the bucket - is it full?
Put the small stones in around the big rocks - is it full?
Put the sand in and give it a shake - is it full?
Put the water in. Now it's full.

Morale of story
This is another 'half full half empty' tale. Often, we thought we have attained peak performance or learn 'more than enough' skill and knowledge that we failed to recognise how ignorance we were. Never shortchange your relationship with your business partner over small money and losing out the big money in the long term. I have learnt that generousity opens many doors leading to bigger payout.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Interview with Mr Mark Phooi,CEO of First Media

Interviewed by: JP, Vanja, Shawn and Bernard of Mediacorp Radio 938 Live.

Interviewer: Could you describe the company that you have set up?

Mr Mark Phooi: Basically I run 2 business divisions: the consulting practice – Integrated Marketing Communication consultancy service, and design education. I am the CEO of both division. First Media, which is the IMC division, is co-managed with my other director, Ms Audrey Chong who oversees the day-to-day operations. I play the role of a strategic planner, business mentor, harnessing and making sure that all the strategic between FM and the school’s objectives are in line. For the educational aspect, I am playing the role of a CEO and principal so I can get actively involved from top to bottom, including academic matters, financial planning, regional marketing activities, workshop/seminar leaders and counselling. These basically interlink with one another. It works as a design basic work frame here. How does that sound?

Interviewer: That was good, thank you. We’ll start with some questions if that’s alright.

Mr Mark Phooi: Ok sure.

Interviewer: Why did you start your own business? Is it a financial goal related or was it for another reason?

Mr Mark Phooi: It is actually motivated by my character. I can’t work for people and I knew that since young. I can’t take instructions well and do not comply with structures very well. That’s the reason why I’m very keen to do something on my own; be it small or big. The main reason is that I do not like to report to people. Of course, there is also the financial gain which is the secondary motivator.

Interviewer: What are your current goals for your business?

Mr Mark Phooi: My goals have shifted, both personal and financial. As for my personal goal, it has shifted from a professional manager to a mentor. The reason being that I find my satisfaction and fulfilment in nurturing young minds, bringing them to a different level of exposure and experience. This experience gives me more satisfaction. That is the reason why I started a school. From the financial side, anything that comes my way will be an added bonus so I am not driven by financial gain.

Interviewer: That sounds good. Do you have a secret to your success and what do you think that would be?

Mr Mark Phooi: Way back when I was 14 years old in 1976, I chanced on this book called the 7 laws of success. It is a Christian book but it teaches you the 7 basic laws and it has been a guiding principal throughout my life. The laws are Goal, Education, Health, Drive, Resourcefulness, Perseverance and God. When we talk about goals, there are short term, mid-term and long-term goals. When I chart my goals, I start from the day that I get buried. What would others say about me when they attend my wake? This is in line with the book, to start with an end in mind. If you want to leave behind a good memory and legacy, you should start from the day you die and work your way backwards. With
your character, behaviour and principles, act accordingly to what you want your end to be like. That itself is a goal.

Interviewer: That’s a very interesting point of view. Now to carry on, you said that formal education is very important, so obviously you believe that it’s important. Do you intend to do more of that?

Mr Mark Phooi: I didn’t get my diploma until 27 years old. I had my first 10 years of formal education like any Singaporean would have. Since the age of 16, I have been working. I didn’t go back to studying until the age of 24. So for a good 8 years, 2 years of which was spent serving the Army, I was bumming around. Only then did I go back to school to get a design qualification. Why I chose design is because my academic result did not allow me to pursue any engineering or business studies due to the fact that I did very badly in academic areas. Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) was the only school that would accept me as a student. When I went there, I was supposed to study fine art. I did painting, sculpturing and drawing but not graphic design. It was only in the 2nd year that I chanced upon what we call commercial art that I started to
channel myself to graphic design study.

Interviewer: So do you believe that your family and friends influenced your decision to become an entrepreneur? Do you have a role model?

Mr Mark Phooi: If you want to be a good entrepreneur or successful, I believe that friends are the last thing that you have in mind. I had to give up my social life in exchange for the long hours that I put in to build a business. I also do not believe in getting business opportunities from friends. This is because I would rather the relationships come from business to friends than friends to business. There will be a lot of unexplained and expected demand from friends and relationships that can turn sour when expectations are not met.

As for role models, mine would be the political dictators; Che Guevara and Adolf Hitler. As for Hitler, not for his atrocity that he has committed but more for his focus and diligence to rise from nothing to somebody of a powerful position. Does that make you guys feel awkward?

Interviewer: No, that’s actually a very interesting point that you made. So when did you realise it was an opportunity for your business? And when you realised it, what investigation or planning did you do?

Mr Mark Phooi: As far as opportunities are concerned, there was no such thing as a good timing in the old days. I had only my graphic design skills to depend on although I was a competitive swimming coach for a while. So as far as timing is concerned, I always believe that anytime you go into a certain market, there are always companies out there so just believe in yourself and do it well.

Interviewer: With our assignment, we have to prepare a business plan. Do you believe it is important?

Mr Mark Phooi: I believe that the business plan is an essential part of any action.
The business plan itself will serve as a guide and goal post as you move forward. It allows you to identify the strengths and weaknesses using SWOT analysis. It will also show you where you can tap your opportunities. A business plan to me is just like a goal. If you’re driving in pitch dark, and you do not have any navigators or compasses with you, you will most probably be lost. So a business plan is a fundamental to starting a business; without it, you’ll be lost.

Interviewer: In the beginning phases of your business establishment, what were the types of obstacles or problems that you faced?

Mr Mark Phooi: I think the most curial problem is financial. 1 reason is because when you start a business, you have your friends and families that give you well wishes. That’s all that you should expect from them. Do not expect to call on them for financial support to start a business. Financial problems are something that we always face.

Interviewer: So in terms of acquiring your financial backing, how did you go about finding the financials for your business?

Mr Mark Phooi: I started out with only $2,000 as my working capital. So what I did was I started small with a one man show. I housed my office at
home in my bedroom and purchased the equipment that I required. I was very careful with my expenditure. That is how my company
Lancer Design came about. I started as a freelance designer and after I formally started the company, I dropped the word “free” to
come up with Lancer Design. Up till today it is still running on a profitable track.

Interviewer: So how did you get clients when you first started?

Mr Mark Phooi: When clients asked me how many people were working in my company, I told them that there were 5 positions in my organisation;
a Creative Director, Designer, Copywriter, Account Executive and Admin. Without telling them that it’s a one man show, I told them
that there are 5 professions in my organisation. One other thing is that when you’re young and new, nobody trusts you. So I played the
emotional attachment at that point of time. I would win my client’s confidence by telling them that if they are unhappy or unsatisfied
with my service, they do not have to pay me for my service. If you appeal to their emotion, dare to risk your service and reputation,
clients would probably be more obliged to trust and respect you.

Interviewer: Just another thing, if you had the opportunity to do it all again, what would you have done differently?

Mr Mark Phooi: I would still be in this business. This present business that I’m in is a very challenging business. No two days are the same. After 18 years,
I still put in 12-14 hours of work a day. If I am financially motivated, I would have gone into property development or perhaps architectural
design and space planning where there are more big money projects. Having said that, I am still enjoying what I do today and making the best
out of every moment.

Interviewer: Did you made any kind of forecast in the beginning. How accurate were these predictions?

Mr Mark Phooi: That is a good question. All the forecasts that I’ve made have been literally thrown out of the window. One scenario would be, during the
first 10 years of my operation, I had to shift office 9 times. We were growing too fast and I underestimated my forecast. Partly it is because
I acted prudently mainly due to financial constraint. So for the first 10 years we were practically looking for a bigger office space every year.
However, it is a good sign that we had to move to a bigger office than to down size to a smaller one.

Interviewer: For a business that has limited finances, are there any strategies that you can recommend or have used?

Mr Mark Phooi: As far as the marketing strategies are concerned, we always had to differentiate ourselves from the masses. Whatever business we’re in, there will be always somebody that is dominating the market There are 3 areas that I would like to mention: pricing, service and standard. We pay more attention to service because in this line of work, it is all about personalised service. As a design consultant, we are always putting ourselves at our client’s disposal. In other words, when I service them, I always put my client at ease. I will always let the client know that I am at their disposal and always on call 24 hours a day. During each stage of the projects, I would constantly update them on the development and new ideas that could excite them. This is how I managed to delight them and manage their expectations as well. I would take the opportunity to forge closer bonding and to build a mutually understanding relationship with them. Unlike many others, I do not allow pride and ego to come in between me and the clients. From these multiple contacts, these clients will be able to recognise my effort, and trust is built along these contacts. If you love your customers, you will not want to disappoint them. So any business with limited financial resources, service differentiation is always the key strategy. The skill is how far does one want to be accommodating without the clients going overboard in their demand.

Interviewer: For a young individual that wants to start a business and become an entrepreneur, is there any advice that you can give?

Mr Mark Phooi: From my point of view, any young entrepreneur should not be merely profit driven but rather be passion driven. Love what you’re doing and you will automatically stand out from the masses. Especially in our trade, profit motivated designers get a bad start cause they will be more calculative and have less tolerance for hardship. The amount of hours we put into a project is not determined by the value we charge but by the design passion that we put in. This is difficult to determine.
Unlike other people, the market does not allow us to bill based on per hour. Hence, every project has a cap. For any successful entrepreneur, there should be a “PHD” quality in them which stands for Passion, Hunger and Discipline.

Interviewer: Do you think there is such a business in the international scene that is not so much financially?

Mr Mark Phooi: The reason why most companies are set up is to make profits. There is no limit as to how much profit we will achieve before we are happy. I believe that it is up to the individual to answer this question. Some people are driven financially and some are driven by achievements. I feel that whatever the reason we want to start a company, just give it your best and be the best in the market. Doesn’t matter if it takes 1 year or 10 years, if you have this principle or concept, you can be deemed as successful in your own right.
How Creating Platforms Changes the Design Process

The creation of an effective platform adds some significant dimensions to the traditional industrial design task. To the fundamental industrial design objectives of creating product designs that are user friendly, esthetically pleasing, and signal the desired image of a product or service, platform creation adds at least three strategically critical design tasks.

First, platform designers must work closely with business strategic managers to define adequately the business goals and market strategy for a new product. In effect, platform creators must work closely with business managers to define the intended strategic positioning of a product line or service in the marketplace. Increasingly, this task is concerned not just with the first generation of a product or service, but also with future generations of products and services as well. The key to carrying out this design task is providing business managers with better ways of representing consumer perceptions of a product space and of the positioning of competing products within that space. The “High Design” methodology developed by Philips Design, for example, systematically helps business and product line managers map the way consumers perceive a given kind of product space, and also helps them evaluate the positionings of a new product line within that product space that could be most advantageous strategically. Only after designers work with managers to thoroughly explore consumer perceptions of a given kind of product and alternative positionings of a new product within a product space can the business goals and market strategy for achieving those goals be defined adequately to give clear direction to a platform development process.

Second, today the commercial success of a product depends not just on the design and technical performance of a product, but increasingly on the performance of a firm’s supply chain in getting the exact product variations desired by a customer to the right place at the right time. The decisions that designers make about products fundamentally determine the complexity of the supply chain needed to realize a product or service—and thus the speed and reliability of a supply chain in configuring and delivering products and services to customers. Designers who participate in creating platforms must interact intensively with supply chain professionals to fully grasp the operational implications of alternative product and service designs. The objective of these interactions should be to develop insights into the most advantageous ways of strategically partitioning a product architecture to improve strategically important aspects of supply chain performance. An example of this would be supporting faster supply chain response to customer orders by partitioning product architectures to enable last-point differentiation of product variations in manufacturing processes.

Third, because platforms must help firms compete on cost as well as product and supply chain performance, designers involved in creating platforms will work much more intensively on supply chain cost issues than is typically the case in traditional industrial design processes. In effect, while traditional industrial design is concerned primarily with the manufacturing cost of a product, the cost management concerns of platform creators extend into all aspects of the product realization process. Costs of carrying parts inventories and work-in-process, costs of packaging and shipping, and costs of servicing and repairing products are all affected—often substantially—by product and service design decisions. These issues must therefore be extensively explored in defining product and service architectures that are as cost effective as possible in meeting market demands for product variety, product upgrades, and supply chain performance.

Making “Platform-Thinking” an Integral Part of Design

The power of platforms to support aggressive, successful new market strategies is being demonstrated today by firms that have correctly understood that a platform is not just a new management fad based on some vague and fuzzy notion. Firms successfully pursuing platform-driven strategies have learned that platforms are a powerful design approach that requires clarity, definition, and discipline—as well as creativity—in conceiving a strategically-focused, well-balanced, and carefully-coordinated system of product and process architectures. As platform thinking and platform-driven market strategies increasingly become an integral part of global management practice, designers are finding that their role in creating new products is fundamentally changing and becoming even more strategically vital. But assuming this new role will challenge designers to broaden our conceptualization of design objectives and to learn new ways of working with a broader cross-section of management concerns and professionals.

Design as Strategy - Building the Right Platform

Today, the role that designers play in helping firms define and support successful market strategies is undergoing a profound transformation. Succeeding in today’s competitive product markets requires firms to respond more quickly to changing market demands, to differentiate more product variations for rapidly segmenting markets, and to bring new and upgraded products to market faster—all while meeting increasingly stringent product and supply chain cost targets. Growing numbers of firms today are recognizing that the creation of platforms is the key to defining and executing new kinds of strategies for meeting today’s escalating market demands.

The need for firms to create platforms capable of supporting aggressive new market strategies challenges design professionals to understand clearly what an effective platform consists of—and how creating a platform changes the nature of the design process and the role of designers in that process. In this article, I briefly explain what a platform is and summarize some important ways in which creating a platform may change some of the traditional objectives of product designers. I also explain how platform creation calls for more extensive integration of product design and supply chain design, leading to more intensive interactions of designers with all aspects of the supply chain that will execute a platform-driven market strategy.

What is a platform?
The term platform has recently become a prominent part of management vocabulary globally. Yet like most new terms in management, its precise meaning is often unclear. A perusal of business publications today soon reveals that the term platform is being used in many different ways, leading to confusion about what a platform really is—and thus what a platform might possibly do.

Based on both my research into modular product and process architectures and my work with a number of global companies in implementing platform strategies based on modular architectures, I propose that the following definition captures the essential conceptual and practical characteristics of a platform:
A platform consists of strategically motivated and operationally coordinated modular product and process architectures created for the purpose of carrying out a well-defined market strategy for achieving a clear set of business goals.

The key elements in this definition

First, a platform consists of a product architecture designed to enable the leveraging of a family of products or successive generations of products. A product architecture defines the essential technical structure of a product: (i) the decomposition of the overall functionalities of a product into functional components, and (ii) the interface specifications that define how the functional components will interact within the product as a technical system. However, a platform is not just a product design. A platform also includes a supporting process architecture for realizing the product variations to be leveraged from the product architecture. A process architecture is analogous to a product architecture, consisting of (i) the decomposition of all the supply chain and production processes needed to make, distribute, and support a product into a set of functional activity components, and (ii) the specification of the interfaces between activity components that define how the activity components will interact as the production and supply chain functions as a product realization system.

To effectively support the leveraging of product variations and future generations of products, the architectures in platforms must be modular. The term “modular,” however, is also often used with many different meanings in management discourse. I have tried to clarify the meaning of modularity by distinguishing two types of modularity. The first form of modularity in an architecture is what I refer to as technical modularity, and it is created when designers specify an interface between components to allow the free substitution of some range of component variations on one or both sides of the interface. A common example of technical modularity would be the standard wheel-bolt pattern on an automobile that allows a nearly endless variety of wheel designs to be mounted to the wheel hub.

Effective platforms require a “higher form” of modularity, however—a form that I refer to as strategic modularity. Creating strategically modular architectures requires that an architecture first be strategically partitioned so that the technical decomposition of an architecture follows the design principle of one-to-one mapping. Under this principle, each functionality that is perceived by targeted customers as an important source of differentiation in a product or service activity is “contained” within a single component (or sometimes a subsystem of components). Interfaces between strategically partitioned components are then made technically modular, so that intended variations and evolutions in a product or service activity can be configured by substituting a range of component variations into the architecture without having to make compensating design changes in other components.

Creating strategically modular product and process architectures can “design in” a number of important forms of strategic flexibility. Product and service variations can be quickly configured by combining different physical or activity component variations. Higher performing products can be leveraged by substituting higher performing components into an architecture. At the same time, disciplined reuse of standard common components to provide functions that are not sources of perceived differentiation (for example, power supplies or transformers) can lead to lower product and supply chain costs while meeting market demands for product variety and upgrading.

Thus, strategically motivated modular product and process architectures are architectures in which the component variations that can be substituted technically into the architectures are determined by the range of component variations that will be needed to leverage the product and service variations and upgraded products required to support a desired market strategy. In other words, the strategic flexibility of a modular architecture to configure a range of product and service variations and upgrades in support of a market strategy should happen by design, not by luck.

Operationally coordinated modular product and process architectures result when each activity component in a process architecture has been designed to the full range of product variations and upgrades to be leveraged from a product architecture, while at the same time achieving its own strategic goals for supply chain composition (insourcing versus outsourcing) and performance (order lead times, order fulfillment rates, reduced inventory levels, etc.). Achieving operationally coordinated product and process architectures effectively requires simultaneous co-design and co-development of the architectures.

Finally, no designer can help to create an effective platform if the business goals to be pursued through the platform are unclear. Thus, the process of creating a truly effective platform will usually challenge product line managers and corporate strategic managers to be more precise in defining their business vision, their specific strategic goals, and the market strategy for achieving those goals that the platform is intended to support.

First Media Design School's Photos - FMDS Scores BIG!

After 3 weeks and 12 rounds of gruelling competitions against Singapore best known design institutions including NAFA, LaSalle College of the Arts, Temasek Polytechnic and our closest rival, Raffles Education, FMDS students emerged victory clinching the first and second position in this year Heeren Young Designers Award.

“The competitive spirit was immensely intense having to face your competitors and spending countless hours working side by side coming up with the best concept in fashion, graphics, advertising and fashion stylising to woo the audiences and the 3 judges”, said Kenneth Tan, the leader of Team ‘DesignPreneur’ which emerged the overall champion.

“It was a sweet victory for all of us and especially for FMDS which at the beginning was regarded as underdogs by our prideful contestants. Initially, nobody pays attention to us till they saw what we have produced,” said Adam, the leader of Team Glake who emerged second outbeating contestants from NAFA during the final juding yesterday at the Heeren Mall in Orchard Road.

The mood was exhiliarating, highly charged and mentally draining given the numerous briefings, design researching, brainstorming and execution. Nevertheless, the FMDS underdogs have for now ‘over the top’ feelings.

Congratulations all FMDS contestants, you have definitely done FMDS proud.

Lessons in Business Success - Mark Phooi

Rule No. 1 - Commit to your business
Believe in it more than anybody else. If you love your work, you will be out there everyday trying to do it the best you possibly can, and very soon everybody around you will catch the passion from you — like a flu.

Rule No. 2 - Share your profits with all your associates, and treat them as partners
Remain a corporation and retain control, but behave as a servant leader in a partnership. Encourage staff and associates to hold a stake in the company.

Rule No. 3 - Motivate your staff & partners
Money and ownership alone aren’t enough. Constantly, day by day, think of new and interesting ways to motivate and challenge your staff and partners.

Pay them fairly but treat them superbly.

Rule No. 4 - Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners and staff
The more they know, the more they’ll understand. The more they understand, the more they care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them.

Rule No. 5 - Celebrate your successes and failures
We inject humour in our failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up, and everybody around you will loosen up. Have fun and show enthusiasm — always.

Rule No. 6 - Swim upstream
Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If you see the bandwagon, you are too late.

Personal Life Lessons by Mark Phooi


• Success is only a journey, not a destination. Success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.
• Success is a wonderful thing, but never underestimate the value of failure. Failure teaches us many more things than success ever can.
• If you’ve experienced the dark (failure), you can better appreciate the light (success).
• Whether you succeed or fail is not as important as whether you do your best.

• Making a decision whether it is bad or good is still better than not making any.
• It is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all. Some of our key regrets in life are the opportunities we passed up and the chances we didn’t take.
• A man’s countenance (face) tells you more about him than his clothes.

When you make a mistake, do you get better or bitter?
• Every mistake is an opportunity to learn something new. You are wiser today if you learnt from yesterday’s blunders.

• Progress in life, business, or any project comes through taking initiative and continuing to press on with new strategies, concepts, and plans. The original momentum isn’t enough to keep you moving forward. Your progress will grind to a halt unless you refill your engine of inspiration with the fuel of fresh ideas.

• We believe that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel; the sun will shine after every storm.

Watch you heart, it translates into your thoughts.
Watch your thoughts, it translates into words.
Watch your words, it translates into action.
Watch your action, it translates into habit.
Watch your habit, it translates into your destiny.

• Some people own a lot of things, but many people’s things own them.

• Each new working day is a new challenge. To stay fresh and alive in spirit, there must be change. Find new tactics, methods, and modes of operation that are right for today’s situation; otherwise you’ll be left behind.
• The best way to conquer your competition is to make them your friends. You will never know what can be achieved until you try to do it.

• A painting is made up of many different colours, each one is important and necessary.
• Be the kind of person who is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

7 Laws of Personal Success in Life

The Seven Laws of Personal Success

Law Number One - GOALS
Aim as high as you can. Even if you cannot achieve your goals, you will get a lot further than if you have not aimed at all.

1.1 Identify your career/business interest and chart your goals
A big goal becomes a mountain when you see it looming before you. If you break up into smaller, more reachable goals, then you will be much less apt to procrastinate towards achieving it.

1.2 Plan with an end in mind
- Visualise these goals through forward/reverse planning
- Change your course of action to suit the external environment but never change the goal post

1.3 Every achievement starts with a dream and follow through by action. Nothing beings nothing ends.

Law Number Two - EDUCATION
Acquiring knowledge is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Knowledge is a collection of facts.
Wisdom is knowing how to apply knowledge correctly and with sincerity and honesty.
Wisdom is the ability to see beyond the challenges and to discover the opportunity within.

2.1 Pursue academic and related work experience to enhance learning.
- Learn from the experts
- Read as widely as possible
- Learn from others by trading opinion/view points, etc.

2.2 Develop an exploratory & experimental mindset. Before you discover, you must explore.
- Have a strong quest for knowledge
- Develop an inquiring mind

Law Number Three - HEALTH
Your health affects all you do. The key to good health is to eat right, sleep right, and exercise right.
How to be fit, not for a life of leisure nor for any sort of culture, but fit for the struggle ahead.

3.1 Health is wealth
- Sustain a strong body. It is the most important vehicle that will carry us through hardship, troubled times and withstand a longer period of struggle.
- Move beyond the basic struggle and strive for higher level of struggle. It’s more stimulating and yields better returns.

3.2 Healthy body, healthy mind
- Positive mental attitude is crucial. Profits are made by tackling and mastering difficulties.
- A person’s main causes of trouble are often in his own mind.
- Your mind is like a garden, tend it well by filling it with positive, encouraging thoughts throughout the day.

Law Number Four- DRIVE
Anything you’ve ever wanted, dreamed of, or hoped for can be yours if you put passion, zeal, and enthusiasm into everything you do.
Passion, zeal, and enthusiasm are the fuel of drive; it helps you get to where you’re going. Without, life will be a struggle.
Dare to be strong and different. Dare to take a stand for what your inner drive tells you.

4.1 Remove all safety nets (financial)
- No “U” turn nor contingency plan
- Adopt a do-or-die attitude

4.2 Develop a strong burning desire and be passionate in your pursuits
- With passion, work becomes play
- Create benchmarks for self-evaluation and achievements

4.3 Heed your calling
- Do not be distracted by others’ financial gains or successes
- Stay focused and committed to your goals. Put in your best in every endeavour

Even if everyone says you don’t stand a chance, don’t give up on your dreams. Life is a combination of
successes and failures. Both are needed.

Challenges come in three broad categories: easy, difficult, and impossible. Those who take on only the easy have a safe and boring life. Those who take on the difficult have a tough but satisfying life.

Those who take on the impossible are remembered.

5.1 It’s better to slow down and get there than never to arrive at all.
- Life is never a bed of roses. Things will never turn out the way we wanted it to be however much we plan.

5.2 There are no problems, only challenges.
- Attempt continuously until you get it right
- Do not give up, take a break if necessary

5.3 If you want to be a winner, you have to be willing to give it your all.
- Go ahead make mistakes. Only if you know how to resolve it and don’t repeat it.

If you can’t get through the mountain, go around it. If you can’t go around it, go over it. If you can’t go over it, sit down and ask yourself if getting to the other side is all that important. If it is, set about digging a tunnel.

6.1 Tap into the information power
- Have in-depth knowledge of local market intelligence
- Stay tune to common market practice irregardless of its relevancy
- Know who has what and where to find it
- Know how to do apply these information with suitable action for maximum impact
- Increase zealously your appetite for information

6.2 Stay connected to the market players.
- Develop a diverse network of friends and associates irregardless of relevancy. You will never know when you need them.
- Know your contact as human being. Have no division between ranks and power.

6.3 Continuous self-improvement
- Cultivate a reading habit (read as widely as possible)
- Develop a keen sense of competitive spirit
- Develop hobbies related to your business
- Know your personal strength n weakness and learn to exploit your strength and strengthening your weakness

6.4 Develop strong work competency
- Build up a strong presence so that people will respect you to the extreme of fearing you
- Be the extremist. Stay clear from the conventional thinking and practices
- Develop a keener sense for business trends and management practices
- Build up a war chest of business strategies for future implementation

Law Number Seven - GOD
Faith in God is the best insurance when you’re faced with a personal setback or tragedy. An insurance company can reimburse your financial loss, repair your home or car, and help you start again in business, but only God can mend your broken heart.

7.1 Supreme being who has given us all the blessings
Do good as a person (peace loving, righteousness, goodness, mercy, considerate, etc.)

7.2 A strong foundation to build an upright and righteous character
Your character and personality will endure through relationship better than your craftmanship

7.3 Life is a journey; Heaven is the destination.
Almost every one when age, disease, or sorrows strike him, there is a strong inclinations to think there is God, or something
like him. Develop a strong faith and give thanks for every small blessings.

How to do up a business plan for a creative agency