Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #764 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Continued from Previous……

We continue our discussion on tired organizations, which are those who have been left behind in the process of progress.

Technology Adaptation

Pharma Industry in Pakistan has also had its share of technology adaptation during the last 15-20 years. Technology upgrade has occurred in several areas, such as manufacturing, packaging, and storage. However, the biggest change has come in the Quality Control area. HPLC – High Performance Liquid Chromatography, UPLC – Ultrahigh Performance Liquid Chromatography, GC – Gas Chromatography, AAS – Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer, TOC – Total Organic Carbon, are just a few equipments which may now be seen; some in all, and all in some QC labs.

It is one thing to buy and keep an equipment to satisfy regulatory requirements, it is another to follow the quality parameters fully. I do not wish to share in greater depth; suffice it to say that the tired organizations do not comply fully to the quality standards. Besides cost, it is also the mindset which encourages deviations.

Technology upgrade in the offices is mostly limited to enterprise level software. Some pharma companies have installed SAP – mostly Business One and are struggling at various stages. We are generally so used to working on paper that it is difficult for us to switch to digital space. The bigger issue is that the ERP softwares like SAP are based on best practices, while our people desire that their existing practices should be digitized. This conflict is impossible to resolve and becomes a major hurdle in ERP implementation. Most companies are not using enterprise level software; they make do with standalone modules of accounting, and maybe couple of other functions. Rest is done on MS Office, which is almost always pirated version.

The question if we should pay for the original softwares or use pirated/cracked copies, is a very old one. There are arguments for and against. Microsoft has never come down very hard on this issue, though they keep nudging about using original software. It is true that the Windows would have never become popular if it were not for the easy availability of pirated versions. I remember, we could buy a CD for cracked Windows95 for ten rupees only. Several years later, I was in Beijing and a guy took me to a back street and tried to sell a CD for $100. I was obviously not tempted.

Technology is the Achilles heel of the industry; they don’t want it but cannot discard it. The ambivalent relationship is hurting the scope of achievement and we are not able to exploit its utility and benefits fully.

Skills & Qualifications

Among the less progressive, tired organizations, there is a tendency to compromise on qualification and skill both. For example, rather than hiring a chartered accountant or a fully qualified ACCA, you will find the so-called CFO who would have done CA-Inter many years ago and then got busy with jobs and could not study further. Same goes true for other departmental functions. The logic behind is that such people come at lower cost, and they tend to stay longer because they are not hot commodity in the market. People at senior positions may also have risen from the lower ranks with long service as their only credit.

Hiring must be according to the culture, standing, evolution stage, employees mix, and orientation of the organization. Mismatched inductions do not last long and do not add value either. High qualifications, foreign degrees, heavy experience sound great, but only if they match the requirement of the organization. Such people, when they come to an organization, try to upgrade the overall working and systems. If the organization brings them with the clear purpose of bringing change, and stands behind them, then they would be able to do something. This is not the case in most cases though. They are told to steer the organization towards change but are left alone to do the whole effort. Almost always, it fails.

Skills are not taught in any institution (other than technical skills); these are learned on job, as coached by the seniors. For this reason, many skills remain highly specific to organizations, and may not be relevant to others. A certain kind of dealing with industrial workers is one case in point. HR treatment is another. Even financial handling varies greatly. Therefore, the number of years of experience is not enough evidence of being a good fit. Hiring managers do not pay enough attention to these details while hiring.

One words which is commonly heard in these organizations is ‘deserving’. By ‘deserving’ they mean ‘downtrodden’. I have seen many managers emphasizing on this one-point greatly. Their argument is that these people work tirelessly, obey humbly, and accept poor treatment silently. It is true because they are in dire need, but needs must not be exploited.

Trainability is another large, grey area. Stubbornness and lack of education/skills somehow co-exist. The proverb, ‘you cannot teach new tricks to an old dog’ must have been invented by either a government employee, or someone from a tired organization. Resistance to learning is serious, severe, and constant.

Sum Up of Characteristics of Tired Organizations

We have looked at several scenarios how some or many organizations become tired and are forced to quit or optout of the competitive racing. The sum up is here.

  • Living in the past
  • Failure to see the change coming
  • Time sensitivity
  • HR anomalies
  • Technology adaptation
  • Skills & Qualifications

It is fair to assume that all entrepreneurs start with lot of energy, enthusiasm, and ambition. They dream of making it big and work very hard towards it. Making and running an enterprise from scratch is an extremely demanding job and the entrepreneurs commit to it. When and why do they abandon their quest and choose to live a life of no consequence? When does a company falls out of the mainstream? Is it lack of will? Or lack of courage? Or lack of commitment?

We shall look into the reasons in the next post.

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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