Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Are you managing the lights?

It could be a result of my consultant training but I think a lot in structures. Even if we look deeper into chaos, there is always some form of order.
When I think of organizations, I always think of structures. I think of organizations as environments where the directors have an eye on bottom-line performance, profit maximizations, cost reductions, expansion and some sophisticated ideologies about how businesses should be run. Now, not everyone can think sophisticatedly but at least, some effort is being made.

And this is how I think a normal day at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN, popularly called NEPA) would be.
I imagine the directors (wearing some expensive frames and dressed in pinstriped suit) arriving to the office in chauffeur driven cars and reading some foreign newspaper about power (that may be a bit imposing, but I think you get the picture). They rush into the office to discuss current realities and path a way forward. Issue on the agenda for today focuses on the power sharing agreement with the Chad republic; how it can exist within a self-sustainable framework. The meeting should be chaired by representatives from the World bank.
The lobby has managers and staff breezing into the office with documents and folders. Some are on the phones others are just walking fast into their offices. The hallway is littered with consultants in the lobby with their laptops (prepared for some PowerPoint presentations, or final delivery of business model).
We have engineers in one section reviewing AutoCAD printout and making suggestions. Most of the staffs have not gone home because they are three weeks behind the agreed deadline. Consultants are explaining certain issues to the managers (who do not agree with the point of view).
The finance office will be filled with clerks and low-level staff trying to clarify the use of certain funds. Every one has Excel opened on the screen (along with facebook and MSN/yahoo IM for recreation).
The inventory keepers are in the store managing inflow/outflows of equipments. He keeps looking into the invoice to clarify the accuracy of the transaction. The manger is trying to prepare a report for management that should be finished by 2pm.
He is trying to figure out how he would attend tommorrow’s meeting in Abuja (as the consignment from Port Harcourt will arrive around 5pm and that takes over two days to offload). His assistants are busy gathering information on stock levels and relevant KPIs.
The HR department is working on compilation of additional staff requirement for the group. Around this time (end of November) preparation would be on its way to deciding the next round of staff promotion. Members of this department would have to work extra hard to estimate benefits and dues for staff (based on grades and department) before approval and disbursement (by the finance department).

But there is no light. We barely have five hours of light per day; as I write this blog in the financial capital of West Africa, The Lagos Islands, the generators are working with full blast. One complain that occurrences is that the problem is because we do not produce enough energy for the total population. I think the reason why our situation is in this epileptic state transcends just below requirement capacity, but also includes our lacking the right skills to manage actual production and distribution. I am really worried about the situation. I think all the focus on power generation by the present government will be in vain if there little or no focus on the fundamental problem to the epileptic light situation in Nigeria; Management.

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