Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Undercover Boss and the Republic of the Philippines, Inc.

Dear insansapinas,
My professor in Managerial Accounting in the Graduate School told us that the balance sheet of the Republic of the Philippines was a mess. At that time, I thought he was joking. He was young, all of 45 years old, a director of a government bank and was about to assume a position in the World Bank when he died of colon cancer. He became my kumpare when I joined the MBA faculty.

We were in the financial statements analyses and were scrutinizing the composition of the assets and liabilities of one company when he blurted out. Alam ninyo, sa Republika ng Pilipinas, may mga assets na nasa libro pa pero kasalukuyan ng pinatutubuan ng talaba sa ilalim ng dagat. May mga assets na nabubulok sa mga agency na hindi mo makikita dahil hindi nakarecord sa libro. He used to be a bank examiner and auditor so he knew what he was talking about. Then came Heidi Mendoza with a revelation
AFP's messy records, banking practices "perfect for crime".

What has this to do with Undercover Boss?

Undercover Boss is a reality show in CBS where actual CEO, President or Owner of Company go undercover and work with the employees in the assembly line to find out the morale of the employees and the operations of the company which needed some improvements not based on reports but their own actual assessments.

The first episode that I watched reminded me of my father who was a Chief Mechanic and had assembled several heavy duty trucks for the lumber company he was working. I can still clearly remember those parts of the trucks--how he bought them from the "Casa" and put them together. I know, our house was right there in the motor pool where he was working with his guys. 

And the operation of that biggest truck manufacturing/assembly was just a big version of how he did it.
But what is the relevance of this to the Republic of the Philippines, Inc, you may ask.

These were my observations after watching three episodes:
1. The CEO believed that records are very important to run a smooth operation. In the warehousing and shipping of the truck parts and other products, the inventory and the place where they can be found are crucial to prompt delivery and ultimate satisfaction of customers. Mess this up and there will be chaos and opportunity for corrupt employees to pilfer the inventory. 

Several years ago, some AFP personnel were accused of selling weapons to the insurgents. But I did not hear any conviction. The messy records could not have provided solid evidence.

In the Department of Education, there were thousands of books found rotting in the warehouse. Messy records? Poor inventory control? They just order and fail to distribute them? Ganoon din ang mga publicly funded contraceptives?

2. The CEO believed that the  competence of the workers spell success for the organization. Hire incompetent ones and you will end up apologizing for the mistakes which are not possible in corporations for profit. 

So two CEOs joined the assembly line. They were the cause of the delay of the production line. One minute delay would trigger stoppage of the flow. One CEO and owner of the corporation  could not cope up with the tasks. It is so routine but needs speed that his employee who did not recognize him as the boss, intimated to him that he had to improvise a system. This cuts the process by 30 seconds or half a minute that when translated to productive hours meant savings for the company. Another lady in the uniform factory came up with a device that would shorten a process thereby eliminating unnnecessary work.

At the end, these employees which contributed to the company's with their skills and improvisations; others who were complaining about the operation were asked of suggestions and were invited to participate in the formulation of the new process which they can improve the operations.  

In the Republic of the Philippines, Inc. the incompetent ones are not reprimanded; on the contrary, they were defended by no less than the CEO and then made to lie low under the radar of the media. 

3. The CEOs believed that the morale of the employees are important in the success of the company's goal to have an organization where labor relations are stable and solid. This way strikes are avoided.

In the Republic of the Philippines, the management do not care about the opinion of the people. So what if the incompetent people commit one blunder after another in a matter of less than a year. 

The CEOs may not be able to learn how to put the bender in the truck or package the uniforms that the company is selling, but he is paid for to THINK what is good for the company. There are many things he can delegate.

In the Republic of the Philippines, Inc, the CEO could have just delegated the renewal of his license. His desire to show that he is one simple law-obeying citizen hardly equals the time wasted to secure that area and the precious time he spent to get his new license. He has more important things to do for the nation. 

Going back to the Undercover, at the end, the CEOs convened the employees and introduced themselves. They enjoyed showing the footage where they blundered and were voted out. The employees thought that the reality was a competition between two contestants who can best learn the skills after training. 

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