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Justice M. Rustam Kayani (1902 – 1962) was among the most well-known and well-respected jurists who served as Chief Justice of West Pakistan from 1958 to 1962. At that time West Pakistan and East Pakistan were two units of Pakistan; the provinces were not recognized as separate administrative structures. Justice Kayani is known for his wit, his uprightness, his principles, and his opposition to Ayub Khan’s dictatorship. His following verses are known to so many even if they did not know who said it.

اک ہم کہ تھک کے رہ گۓ اپنی ہی راہ میں
اک وہ کہ گویا تیر کماں سے نکل گیا
اٹھو وگرنہ حشر نہیں ہو گا پھر کبھی
دوڑو زمانہ چال قیامت کی چل گیا

During my 48 years of working in Pharmaceutical Industry, I have seen companies closing, becoming redundant, or barely surviving, and I have seen some others jumping the queue, coming in the forefront, and growing aggressively.

Some examples shall help to clarify.

Medimpex was a Hungarian company which came to Pakistan with two products initially. One of these was Postinor, the first post-coital contraceptive. Later, they put up a manufacturing unit in Karachi when they had more products registered. This plant was sold to another company ‘Saitex’. Getz started from here and it is now among top three companies. This is an extraordinary success story.

PVP – Pakistan Vitamin Products was launched in 1970s in collaboration with AGP if I remember correctly. It was launched all over the country and did well. But it is not there anymore.

CCL Pharmaceuticals (previously Consolidated Chemical Laboratories) tried hard to get along with time and is now among the top companies.

Schazoo, Opal, Epla, PDH, PPP (Arco), Chas A. Mendoza, Woodwards, Lisko, are some examples of organizations who had a successful past but could not sustain their success over time, were tripped over, and are now among the ‘tired’ organizations. Schazoo and PDH were split also. One part of PDH was recently taken over by the property tycoon Abdul Aleem Khan who appointed my old colleague Sajidullah Ghumman as its CEO. As the news go, the company is out of the ‘tired’ category and growing rapidly.

The symptoms or appearance of most ‘tired’ organizations are the same.

  • The offices will be old, with worn out furniture, except maybe the owner’s office.
  • The manufacturing unit, if available, shall also be old, with even older machines.
  • Quality standards shall not be followed in any area due to rampant corner cutting.
  • The staff will be old, underpaid, unrecognized, and poorly treated.
  • Working shall be 6 days a week and for long hours though the quantum of work does not justify it.
  • There will be no discussion about future or growth or improvement.
  • There shall be no investment on the manufacturing unit even if the business is earning reasonably.
  • Payday shall not be fixed; it may be any day during the month. Sometimes the whole month may pass without payment. There are numerous examples in Pharma where the employees were not paid for several months and finally left; their final clearance was never done.
  • The owners keep harvesting whatever they can and live comfortably while the employees suffer.

Since time keeps moving forward, these organizations keep going further back. The reasons for these may be many, and we shall discuss some of these, if not all. We shall also see how to bring about change.

Reason #1 – Living in the Past

The business owners prefer to live in the past and refuse to look ahead. They would keep referring to old times and how they started and how they worked hard to establish the business. The past mostly looks good because we see it from a stress-free view, while present is stressful. It is even more so, if the past had been glorious, like Muslims as a whole, not just keep referring to past glory, but also try to recreate some part of it at least, such as typical dresses.

Business processes and procedures are old and redundant. Software, other than pirated MS Office would not exist. The delegation of authority shall be zero, and the owner insists on signing every expense voucher, no matter what its value is. As is customarily said in the shopkeepers’ circle, that only the owner must sit on the moneybox, the same is done in offices.

The entrepreneur/owner follows the same thinking which he had when he started the business, when he had to do everything by himself. He can delegate now, but he would not. He would micromanage and remain entangled in small things while big things would pass by. He would not be able to see the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’.

Living in the past has two basic reasons: inability to cope with new things; and stubbornness to accept change. It is not a professional issue; it is a personal issue. Scores of officers left their lucrative bank jobs when the banks adopted computerization, because they feared they would not be able to learn computers. The entrepreneur would not close his business but relegate himself and his business to backside to protect it from the winds of change. In Pakistan, where implementation of rules is deteriorating with time, anyone can survive while living under the radar. Stubbornness is common in our society anyway and increases as the age increases. There are several examples in Pharma Industry where the entrepreneur whose next generation is ready to take charge, does not leave an inch of his territory. The younger ones cannot do anything except to wait for his departure to heavens. This happens due to stubbornness, not fear of children destroying the business. At the same time, the father refuses to train his children, delegate, and share his authority. When he passes away, the children are at a loss as to what should they do.

To be Concluded……

Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.

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