Sunday, July 15, 2012
Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2012– 'a complete waste of time'
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the umbrella organization of the Chambers of Commerce in the Country, represents the interests of thousands of businesses in the Sri Lanka Private Sector, and is a body that technically has the clout to make changes in public policy and the way business is conducted. Its remit should include promoting business ethics as well as facilitating business to business contacts between its members and with other chambers across the world as well as assisting its members in a whole host of business related transactions to enhance the ease of doing business in Sri Lanka, especially of its members. Educating its members into improving their knowledge and exposing them to a good network also goes without saying.
The just concluded Sri Lanka Economic Summit last week, was very costly for participants, and I really do not believe anyone left the event, with any more knowledge than when they came in. I do believe there was a chance to renew old acquaintances and make new friends and contacts amongst the participants, but that does not need such an elaborate affair at such cost to accomplish.
While I am not criticizing the speakers and topics and panel discussions, I would ask the attendees what they got out of it? There was not even a questionnaire for the attendees as to what they thought of the whole thing. I hope the Chamber at least has the presence of mind to write a specific questionnaire for them to fill in anonymously, so that frank exchange of views could be made without prejudice!
There was nothing startling that came out of the event. The topic was “bull shit” (positioning Sri Lanka in the Global Economy) a typical excuse for a harmless subject. Come on Chamber, for one of the most important employers organizations in the Private Sector in Sri Lanka you can do better. Just look back, look inward, have an honest discussion amongst your board and team, if it was useful to ANYONE!!
It is important that we do not become slaves to conferences and think we gain anything out of it. After all no one paid the fee from their pockets, they got it as a tax deductable charge from their companies or employers to attend the event. It was in short a junket! Of the worst kind. I agree it is nice to see some well known names as speakers, and panelists, but really who are they? Just the run of the mill Sri Lankan businessmen and no doubt very successful in their own fields, but really, did they inspire the audience to something bigger and better in their lives and companies? Did they honestly change the thinking of the attendees in how they should go and develop their organizations to better cope with the Global marketplace? I rather think not, just a little bit of P... envy created. Where were the women panelists? That is apart from the speaker on the first day and she was foreign!
It is vital that there is a post mortem, to which all the attendees are invited for a breakfast meeting FREE OF CHARGE, to discuss the positives and negatives of the event. How these should be conducted in the future? How they could make it better and even an open forum, permitting anyone who attended to comment on the event.
Think about it! No Sri Lankan seminar worth their rupees, ever really has a post mortem. It does not even have a list of action points, or a summary of the main issues discussed with the main suggestions, (hopefully printed and circulated in the form of a book after the event to the attendees) so that a useful aide memoire can be kept on ones office desk to refer to in the future.
For a conference to be successful, the attendee who pays the fee, MUST get a benefit at least as much as its cost and the opportunity cost of lost productivity at the office, which could run into millions for some. This last concept is lost on many Sri Lankans. Why is that? That is because most of the attendees are not of a suitable caliber to do the jobs they are at. So their opportunity cost of lost productivity is zilch, nada, zero!! How about negative, so it is better for the Company to send them to the Seminar rather than they muck up a business strategy or deal!
I wish to provoke comment and an outburst from some of the very impotent attendees who seem to be walking in a daze or not really woken up even after the two and an evening’s bit of the seminar. So sleepwalkers can have a more productive life than some of the sleep deprived attendees!!
If Sri Lanka is to truly develop its potential to take on the world, as I am sure it can, it must first develop the caliber of the manager. His time keeping and time management in prioritizing and his organizational skills are a few of a whole selection of shortcomings that have to be worked on. I know that there is no shortage of courses that he or she can attend. They cover all manner of ills or wells, and they still fail to produce the manager or administrator that we need. The quality is just NOT THERE. We are so SHORT of capable people. No wonder we have such dick heads who run our top corporations. They would not be seen dead getting someone better than them to take their place. Where are the boards of directors? Another bunch of Yes men, with retirees and not youth with vision.
Contemplate what I say in this challenge, evaluate the seminar, each session by session, and note what you are able to remember and I bet you will not be able to write one page on it. Need I say more? So I appeal to the Chamber to do your Country a favor and do not just schedule a seminar each year to clear your conscience. Do it if you believe it benefits the attendee immeasurably.