Crisis offers opportunities to Change 0 275

By Deepal Sooriyaarachchi.
Management Consultant, Author, Speaker, and Executive Coach.Former Managing Director of AVIVA NDB Insurance and a Former Commissioner of Sri Lanka Inventors Commission.

The current crisis compels us to review all our operations from a ground zero position without taking knee jerk reactions. Experts who have examined many organizations that have survived major crisis whether they are internal or external driven, tell us one of the most important things is to consider what is the core purpose of the organization, what are the core capabilities of the organizations, and what are the strategic steps that must be taken leveraging them. In that situation what is equally important is asking the question of whether the same strengths will be relevant in the emerging new scenario. In our economy, the public sector plays a significant role. With 1.5 million public servants, more than 600, 0000 pensioners, and all the politicians accounts for at least 40% of the national expenditure.
There had been a number of efforts to rationalize and improve the public sector with various
initiatives. I myself was once volunteered to serve on one such initiative called the National
Administrative Reforms Commission ( NARC). But they were not done at times when the need
is so compelling. In management, we talk of showing the elephant in the room to make change relevant.
The present situation is an ideal moment to approach to Rationalize, Right Size, and Improve
the productivity of the public sector organizations because of a number of reasons.

1. The Current Financial Situation in the country is one of the worst we have been so the
need to rationalize expenses is seen as one of the topmost tasks.
2. The last two months gave us ample opportunities to try newer ways of working and
service delivery and people have experienced the efficiency and effectiveness of those
so we will be able to sell the change.
3. There is a leadership that is visionary and willing to move the change agenda forward.

In order to develop a discussion and to move towards a national action plan the writer wishes to make a few proposals that can have far-reaching consequences. These are written not as an expert on public policy and administration but as a concerned citizen with some knowledge and experience in management.

1. CENTRALIZE VEHICLE OWNERSHIP

Most service organizations even in the public sector employee cost and transportation-related costs account for a high proportion of the overall cost. One can assume the same with the government agencies. I was trying to find out the latest statistics pertaining to the number of vehicles and associated costs but was not possible. But having led a government agency for a short period of three years I have made the following observations.

– Most government vehicles are overused and due to lack of cash flow reasons they are
not maintained at optimum levels.

– Due to the very laborious process involved with selling off an old vehicle in many
organizations, there are vehicles just left to decay. There are many such yards.

– Vehicle usage is not optimum. Every organization will have a number of vehicles.

– There is a lot of management time spent to ensure the governance processes involved
with using these vehicles yet misuses are very common.

– Every institution is duty-bound to maintain detailed running charts and these have to be
sent to the AGs department for scrutiny.

Rather than allowing every single organization to own vehicles, re-acquire all the non-strategic vehicles to a central transport service corporation that can be operated as a fully pledged cab company using an ICT platform such as Uber or Pick Me. Preauthorize the Type of vehicle that can be used by different grades of officers and encourage ride-shares by giving bonus points. This will cut down waste, improve efficiency, and be able to provide better quality vehicles for the officers to travel as well. Because this institution’s core responsibility is vehicle fleet management it will ensure proper maintenance and upkeep of vehicles. This kind of arrangement will provide valuable data to manage vehicle usage and resource planning. I am sure this is not a new suggestion.

2. MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

In order to optimize the scarce resources suggest organizations that have similar mandates and those that can produce better results through synergy be merged into single entities. To do this meaningfully a high powered cross-functional team must be appointed with Legal, Financial, ICT, Human Resources, and Public Administration experience and expertise. More importantly, those individuals must be those capable of thinking out of the box.

Eg all trading organizations such as state trading Corporations, etc can be brought under LANKA SATOSA.
The businesses that are better done by the private sector the government can exit ie. Salusala and Laksala etc. All research institutes must be brought under a central authority to ensure proper coordination where resource allocation must be done based on the short to medium term needs of the country. This can avoid duplication of limited resources.

There can be many other departments and agencies that do overlapping functions while there are no organizations to address newer issues. These are made more complex of the Provincial Council structure and the plethora of ministries created to accommodate politicians to ensure power consolidation in the parliament. These structural changes will require changes in respective acts and comprehensive M&A work. Before embarking on detailed work a preliminary study should be done to reveal the financial and social impact. However, the starting points could be restructuring commercial organizations.

2. CREATE CENTRALIZED SUPPORT SERVICES.

Centralize all the support services such as Human Resources, Administrative, Procurement, and Finance functions of those clustered entities so they can focus on core delivery function. This model should be tried at least for different institutions under a single ministry.

3. WORK FROM HOME (WFH) and Provide end to end service online.

Identify functions that can be done remotely in as many organizations as possible and create
infrastructure, and work norms for the state employees to work from home, take files home
complete, and deliver on given deadlines. They will have to be monitored not by the number of
hours they work but by the delivery of outputs. This will ease off the pressure on transport, operational costs of offices, and the personal costs of employees. Some institutions can work for less than five days a week without affecting delivery to the public. Encourage the public also to visit the government offices by making prior appointments. There can be some other organizations whose work can be done significantly online ie obtaining ISBN numbers by authors and facilitate online payments and credit card payments.

4. STRENGTHEN THE GRAMA SEVAKA OFFICE

Strengthen the GS office by converting it to the GS division based government contact center by attaching at least one of the newly recruited graduates. His/her job should act as a facilitator between the citizens and different government institutions. He or she should read and explain all the requirements to citizens, certify and upload applications and supporting documents, give clear instructions as to how to approach requirements needed by the government. This should ease the work of service providers, reduce repetitive visits by the citizens. The GS office should be equipped with Internet Connections, Video Conferencing facility, and high speed or at least
a flatbed scanning facility.

5. STRENGTHEN THE POSTAL DEPARTMENT AS THE LAST LEG DELIVERY PARTNER
FOR E-COMMERCE.

Allow the post offices to hire three-wheelers so the postman’s delivery area can be increased
and what can be carried too will be enhanced. This way they can specialize in delivering
pensions and such needs of the elderly, thus creating a very powerful user-friendly customer
service. Eventually, the profits can lead the postman to use their own Three Wheelers. POST is
the largest distribution network in the country. It might make sense for the Postal Department to
be converted to a commercial establishment fully owned or as a Joint Venture with a Logistics
company so Sri Lanka Post can be a fully pledged modern distribution network. If not, the
department will continue to be a major cost center without even being able to pay salaries of the
employees.

7. DISTRIBUTION OF PHARMACEUTICAL ITEMS.

Leverage the experiences of the recent medicine distribution through post offices and build a centralized platform that can be used by private as well as public pharmacies to distribute
medicine and dispense them to patients. Doctors should send the prescription to the preferred
pharmacy of the customer. They can either collect or get them delivered. This will improve the
regulated medicine consumption. There may be some legislative changes needed to make
these possible.

8. A PLATFORM TO BOOK GOVERNMENT SPACES

Create a platform such as booking.com where every single meeting room is listed, so they can
be used and shared by different government users and if available even by private sector
organizations. This will generate new income for those institutions.

These are just a few simple ideas that can propel changes in the system if implemented.

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Co-creating solutions at the grass root to make a difference for dairy farmers 0 64

              Sri Lanka’s smallholder dairy farmers are at the heart of the local dairy industry and an integral part of the nation’s rural economy. 

              This 300,000 strong farmer base supplies 90% of the nation’s local milk – and has the potential to greatly improve their yield of high-quality milk and thus their own income levels, driving a positive impact to the socio-economic landscape of rural Sri Lanka. 

Focused training and development to improve milk yield and quality:

As a dairy co-operative from New Zealand, Fonterra continues to work hand-in-hand with smallholder dairy farmer families, communities, and other partners to create a thriving local dairy industry, having invested over Rs. 3.7Bn into strengthening its local dairy value chain. 

 Managing Director of Fonterra Brands Sri Lanka and Indian Sub-Continent Ms. Vidya Sivaraja explains that as a dairy co-operative at heart, the company is committed to making a tangible difference by sharing expertise and best practices. 

“We have invested in focused training and development initiatives with our farmers centred around the right herd, right feed and right business model to increase milk yield and quality. Our pioneering Training and Demonstration Farm in Pannala opened in 2016 to help us amplify the impact of these initiatives.”

Over the years, Fonterra has trained over six thousand farmers across the nation at its Pannala Training and Demonstration Farm and has welcomed over a thousand visitors from the government, universities, and other institutions.

Co-creating solutions at the grassroots:

In addition to the above programmes in place, Fonterra commenced an initiative to co-create and implement specific solutions together with its dairy farmers through its ‘Dairy Discussion Groups’, organised at the grass root. These solutions were geared to improve milk quality and yield through practical training, the provision of fodder and farming equipment and a workable cost-effective business model.

The solutions being implemented are in line with the imperatives called out by the President’s National Policy Framework. At the centre is the small holder dairy farmer – a focus that has been echoed by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication. 

At Fonterra’s Pannala Training and Demonstration Farm, fodder is grown and distributed to neighbouring farmers in the vicinity

Ms. Vidya Sivaraja hands over grass cutting equipment to a Fonterra dairy farmer at a September Dairy Discussion Group.

“Good insights come from the grass root. Such consultations have been valuable in co-creating solutions to help improve milk quality and yield,” says Vidya. “Our discussions only prove that our country is rich in resources, talent and ingenuity. We are committed to championing this potential in line with the nation’s priorities.” 

Dairy farmers participate in Dairy Discussion Group series kicked off by Ms. Vidya Sivaraja and her team.

Fonterra dairy farmer Mr. Dharmashri Thennakoon, one of the beneficiaries of the fodder and equipment distribution programme stated, “The Dairy Discussion Group was a valuable learning experience and we will be able to apply these learnings on-farm. I was very appreciative that this was followed with the provision of grass cutting equipment. We hope Fonterra continues to host discussions such as this in the future where we can all grow together and find solutions as a community.” 

Mr. Indra Jayasinghe, a Fonterra dairy farmer from Kuliyapitiya says, “At a time where accessibility and costs of feed is a challenge, getting extra fodder from Fonterra helped me sustain my operations.”

Global co-operative, local footprint:

Fonterra touches the livelihoods of over 250,000 people across the country through its operations, including traders, retailers, distributors, agents and farmers.

Since 1997, Fonterra Brands Lanka has been collecting Sri Lankan milk for its local dairy portfolio of set and stirred yogurts, drinking yogurts, and fresh and flavored milk. To preserve the quality of this milk, Fonterra has also invested in milk chilling, collecting, and processing infrastructure with pioneering technology that can help define future milk quality standards for the nation. 

The company has also recently accelerated its export efforts of value-added dairy, in alignment with the vision and the imperatives set out by the Presidential Task Force for Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication.

Amongst the many initiatives in place to grow our nation’s local dairy industry, multi-stakeholder collaboration and co-creation of solutions is a refreshing approach, bringing farmers, dairy companies, industry groups and the government together to make a difference. 

Economic, Social and Environmental impacts of fast fashion Comments Off on Economic, Social and Environmental impacts of fast fashion 4606

  • $400 billion worth of clothing is wasted every year!
  • One garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfill every second.
  • That’s enough to fill 1.5 Empire State buildings every day.
  • And it’s $400 billion of wasted clothing every year.
  • The average consumer bought 60% more cloths in 2014 than in 2000. But kept each item for half as long.
  • The world’s growing middle class is also driving consumption. And a 400% rise in world GDP by 2050 is only going to increase demand.
  • Making cloths uses a lot of the world’s resources. It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt. That’s what one person drinks in 2.5 years.
  • And making and washing one pair of jeans emits the same CO2 as driving 69 miles.
  • The fashion industry also has a heavy human cost… Garment workers in Bangladesh earn less than $100 per month. Just 30% of what they need to live a decent life.
  • There are initiatives to make our demand for clothing less damaging. Germany now reuses half of all used clothing.
  • Scientists are developing new materials that demand less from the environment.
  • And start-ups are encouraging consumers to rent, not buy clothes.

(Source: World Resources Institute)

Modeler : Sudhith Vidhush

How are you changing what you wear?

Think about how many sweaters, scarves and other clothes were given as gifts? How many times people wear them before throwing them out?

You will be surprised to hear probably far fewer than you think. One garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every second!

Gone are the days when people would buy a shirt and wear it for years. In a world of accelerating demand for appeal, consumers want – and can increasingly afford – new clothing after wearing garments only a few times. Entire business models are built on the premise of “fast fashion,” providing cloths cheaply and quickly to consumer through shorter fashion cycles.

This linear fashion model of buying, wearing and quickly discarding clothes negatively impacts people and planet’s resources.

Here’s look at the economic, social and environmental implications:

The Economics

According to the Ellen MCArthur Foundation, clothing production has approximately doubled in the last 15 years, driven by a growing middle-class population across the globe and increased per capita sales in developed economies. An expected 400 percent increase in world GDP by 2050 will mean even greater demand for clothing.

This could be an opportunity to do better. One report found that addressing environmental and social problems created by the fashion industry would provide a $192 billion overall benefit to the global economy by 2030. The annual value of clothing discarded permanently is more than $400 billion.

It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt.

Enough water for one person to drink for 21/2 years.

The Environmental impacts

Apparel production is also resource and emissions-intensive. Consider that:

  • Making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 80 miles.
  • Discarding clothing made of non-biodegradable fabrics can sit in landfills for up to 200 years.
  • It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt, enough to meet the average person’s drinking needs for two-and-a-half years.

The Societal impacts

Clothing production has helped spur growth in developing economies, but a closer look reveals a number of social challenges.

For instance:

  • According to non-profit remake, 75 million people are making our cloths today, and 80% of apparel is made by young women between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • Garment workers, primarily women, in Bangladesh make about $96 per month. The government’s wage boards suggested that a garment worker needs 3.5 times that amount in order to live a “decent life with basic facilities.”
  • A 2018 U.S. Department of Labor report found evidence of forced and child labor in the fashion industry in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and other countries.
  • Rapid consumption of apparel and the need to deliver on short fashion cycles stresses production resources, often resulting in supply chains that put profits ahead of human welfare.

Designer: Nisansala Deegala
Model: Harini Silva

So, what do we do?

So, what does a more sustainable apparel industry look like, and how do we get there?

We’re starting to see some early signs of an industry in transition. Business models based on longevity, such as Rent the Runway and Gwynnie Bee, are the beginnings of an industry that supports reuse instead of rapid and irresponsible consumption.

Just as Netflix reimagined traditional film rental services and Lyft disrupted transportation, we are beginning to see option for consumers to lease clothing rather than buy and stash them in their closets. Ideally, an “end of ownership” in apparel will be implemented in a way that considers impacts of jobs, communities and the environment.

This is only the beginning of a radical transformation required. Apparel companies will increasingly have to confront the elephant in the boardroom and decouple their business growth from resource use. To meet tomorrow’s demand for clothing in innovative ways; companies will need to do what they have never done before: design, test and invest in business models that reuse cloths and minimize their useful life. For apparel companies, it’s time to disrupt or be disrupted.

By: Cameron Blake

Image Curtsey: Eranga Pilimatalawwe