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Our manufacturing opportunity

How Pakistani producers must redefine opportunity and create new markets. For the last 5 months, I have undertaken the arduous task of renovating my home. Much to the discomfort of family members, I have rather foolishly persisted with the endeavour. Although it is difficult to foresee success in this adventure, at least not to the satisfaction of my wife and my mother, I have managed to gain some knowledge about the building sector in Pakistan. The main insights have sadly been about the complete absence from the market of locally manufactured products used in the finishing of homes and buildings.
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Why can’t we compete in global markets?

More than anything else, our main disadvantage is incompatible and poor management skills Why are Pakistani businesses unable to compete in the global markets? What is it that inhibits them from breaking through overseas? As our exports continue to decline, the commonly heard responses to these questions from the private sector are lack of government support, expensive inputs, energy shortages and a slowdown in global markets amongst many others. On the other hand, the government blames past policies including currency overvaluation, limited product range and underinvestment by the industry. While none of these are entirely incorrect, I would like to
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The meaning of culture

Can developing admirable cultures be an opportunity for our organizations? “I came to see during my time at IBM that culture is not just one aspect of the game, it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” These are strong words expressed by Louis Gerstner, the transformational CEO of IBM in the 1990s. We commonly refer to culture as something which sets apart any organization, a business, a nonprofit, governments, communities, and even political parties have unique cultures. But what is culture anyway? What do we
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The real accountability

Using data to judge performance for service delivery is the much needed real accountability. Accountability is a damaged word in Pakistan. Recent rains in Karachi brought out various aspects of public service delivery in this large city and people clamoured for accountability of various organisations involved with service delivery. The voices raised against the government and other service organisations have mainly been hysterical cries of anguish. While the frustration is easy to understand, some of us would like to use the opportunity to see how reform can take place to improve the situation in the coming days. Public service is
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The utilities must transform

If you live in Pakistan and have recently received your gas bill, I bet you are fuming (pun intended). Gas consumers have received their latest bill with increases of up to 5 times from last month’s bill – that is 5 times in one month! Call it crazy, madness and quite unbelievable if you are an ordinary bill-paying consumer. But it is not an unlikely outcome if you have followed the working of governments, policymakers and gas companies in Pakistan, or for that matter in many countries in the developing world. While the current gas situation in Pakistan is complex
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Why most board rooms at Pakistan Inc. are nothing more than a hoax

In my career in the corporate sector and now as a strategy consultant I have often seen corporate boards of listed companies fail to do the right thing for the company, its customers, employees, and its wider stakeholders. I am of the firm opinion that most corporate failures start and end in the board room. Whether public listed or privately held, companies are most impacted by decisions taken right at the top, starting with the board and the leadership team. In this piece, I will discuss why the listed companies’ governance structure in Pakistan is misplaced and needs a complete
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Islamabad blues: why capital calling is bad business

Has anyone ever taken the 7 am PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad? If you have, you would see a line of businesspeople and corporate executives holding files (or laptop bags) boarding the plane. Rubbing their eyes and barely being able to stay awake they are all going to Islamabad to attend meetings with one ministry or the other. They board the flight in the hope that they will achieve their objective of making their case to someone important. However, the 7 pm return flight to Karachi actually tells the story of their day. Those who make the return journey
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Disrupt or Be Disrupted

The human mind is trained to visualise linear developments and finds it difficult to estimate exponential possibilities which emanate from technology. Such disruptions are always resisted by humans at first, but once accepted and fully deployed, they are capable of changing the way we live. Think about fire, the wheel and breaking the horse in ancient times to the aeroplane and the automobile in the early 20th century followed by the internet and smartphones in recent times. In particular these days, information technology is moving faster than ever, driven by developments in 3 basic areas; processing power, communication speed and storage
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“No, I don’t see myself in your seat in 5 years time”

Growing up in the 70s, whenever we were asked what we would like to do as an adult, the very obvious response would be to become an engineer or doctor or the more academically challenged ones like me would limit our aspirations to working for a bank or a company. But one would hardly ever hear anyone say they want to be an entrepreneur! In fact, I don’t recall the word from my school days. Perhaps we heard of businessmen- men, always men mind you, who would own some factory or the other. But in today’s parlance, the word is
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What is work ?

I am often amazed watching people at their workplace. Most common, you would agree, is to see people with their heads almost buried inside computer screens in front of them. Unless they are computer programmers (who we can ignore for this discussion), they are emailing or browsing the internet and sometimes (rarely in my view) reading a work related document on their screens. From what I have observed, it is mostly email that occupies their time and they are either creating, replying or forwarding emails. Which means people are spending most of their time communicating and unless their job description
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