Thursday, September 28, 2006

Scars are tattoos with better stories

I have been in several organizations in my working career. Functionally, I've spent some early years in R&D, then later in manufacturing. Though I did not stay long as a technical editor(for an electronics publication) after I left manufacturing, I begin to think sometimes that the editing stint was what brought me to the "matrix" organization. I started to be exposed directly to the many industries and the relevant networks, and this somewhat triggered my interest in the world wide web of information gathering and analysis. Sometime later, when I joined a company whose main thrust is commercialization of technologies, I understood deeper into the world of project management. You may not know it, but project management is actually what organizations are all about. Do not undermine the job of a secretary. A secretary is also a project manager with a different set of resource, goal, metric and execution.

Holistically, the organization is one whole big portfolio, consisting of programs and which in turns splits into many projects. Almost all organizations start with an ideation (vision, mission) that links to culture/structure; goals/metrics; and strategies. Strategies, utlimately, have to be executed (no use talking about strategies, you have to act on it!) and implemented at portfolio-, program- and project- level. Is this not what organizations are about ? Perhaps, one of the main reasons why the organization (I last worked for) failed to retain its staff is due to poor organization, I deduced. We were doing projects constantly, but project management was never well-defined in our working context, and everyone seems to be still in their basic functional division, doing what each of us is best at. I seriously believe that the culture and structure factors have been underestimated. It IS critical. It relates to ideation, goals/metrics and strategy. Take it out.. everything simply collaspe.

I am quite certain big and successful organizations/corporations, have anthropologists or ethnographers planted somewhere...either in human resources, or project teams. Because the world is flat, and it's all about people, people and people. Can anyone tell me if any big organization/ corporation in Singapore has employed an anthropologist or ethnographer ? I think major corporations in the US do. esp. if it intends to go global.

My moving across different industries and organizations sure helps me relate better stories.

When potential kicks in, rather than $$$

Everyone (at least in the semiconductor field) knows this is already a done deal. Still, the In-Stat piece on "The High-Tech Deal of the Year: AMD Acquires ATI" sets me thinking deep. This is a case that might not make immediate sense in the financial books of the "buyer" (AMD, this case) since it carries a huge financial risk with the use of US$1.7b in cash and US$2.5b in debt. AMD has justified this cost by indicating that ATI will continue to improve AMD's competitiveness that every 1% of market share will result in US$300m in additional revenue. But this is no where near-term. AMD sure haaaaaates Intel more than Intel haaaaaates AMD. AMD is betting on ATI product portfolios and market presence, esp. in mobile PCs, core-logic chipsets, cellular, (Nintendo and Microsoft) game consoles and digital TVs, to fight its rival, Intel.

Sure, the supply chain that used to revolve around Intel and ATI is now broken. Wonder if Nvidia is really celebrating for the anticipated support by Intel in the market place? How is Intel going to fight back with its platform strategy ? A "disrupted" supply-chain as such, might also cause a backlash to foundries concerned. Before the acquisition, TSMC is the chipset foundry for ATI (ATI is one of TSMC's largest customers). Now, there might be a possibility that ATI chipsets be manufactured in an older AMD fab lines or through AMD's partnership with Chartered Semiconductor. So, this acquisition might even put a big smile on Chartered Semiconductor.

This is exciting. Let's wait and keep this in mind when we see the financials of affected companies/foundries in a few years time (I would say 2 years to evaluate the complete picture again).