Wednesday, February 26, 2003

MADCAT-take a bow Many moons ago, in a far away forum, this cat engaged a consultant/columnist/businessman/educator in an unfriendly exchange of opinions. One thing that I learned from that exercise is that there are people who cannot accept defeat and that the perceived wrong is not only forever etched in their hearts but also perpetuated in their web site. The MADCAT ruffles a feather or two but this cat did not realize that the guy's ego was so shaken that the pages devoted about this CAT consumed several megabytes. As if it is not enough, the synopsis is carried in a friend's web site. Bite me. He wrote: I was surprised by the level of ignorance displayed about substantive topics affecting the Philippines. To give just one example, I mentioned my active involvement in the Philippine call center industry (serving on working groups, writing magazine articles, working on a white paper to influence public policy, etc.). This generated responses like the following: Madcat: So you plug RP when the government commissioned you to write PR materials for the government but in your website, all these positive pics that you draw about the country are wiped out with your sweeping generalizations about how bad our culture is. The attraction of putting up call centers in the Phils is not because of any write-up of anybody but because of the cost savings that these projects will bring the company... the cost/benefit/risk has been done before some expats are flown to the country.The people from Silicon Valley have been around and I'm sure they have seen places to make Manila seem like paradise. They have real fellows on payroll that have done the cost/benefit and risk analysis so most of the real work has been done before you meet them at the airport. All that you have to do is remind them how little they have to pay Filipinos to get high quality work to satisify the sharks in green shades and make sure they can find the local McDonalds and bars. I'm sure you'll do fine. You might not be a Peter Wallace but neither are you a Mike Wallace. He further wrote: Aside from the fact that I've never been paid for such industry activities, the irritating thing was that the comments were so far removed from reality. The "write-up(s) of anybody" are read by international investors and help build the "brand image" of the Philippines on the global stage. Sure, the MNCs do cost-benefit analysis before they come here. But they do not automatically choose the lowest cost offshore location and they never, ever make an investment decision without extensive fact-finding missions and comparative analysis with other offshore locations. For example, the leading flamer - whom I shall call Madcat - made a very puzzling post attacking Filipino Business World 101. This hypothetical case told the story of an ex-pat business consultant who completely screwed up an engagement because he failed to understand Philippine culture.(talking about himself-cat's comment) The column describes how the project fell apart because he failed to understand the importance of face, group norms, and basic cultural sensitivity. I am proud that the case has been used in MBA courses at both De La Salle and Ateneo de Manila, and that I have been asked to discuss it with students in those programs. Thus, I was astonished when Madcat attacked me for painting a portrait of inefficiency and blaming the Filipino workers for the fiasco. In fact, the case explicitly points out the mistakes made by the ex-pat consultant in failing to operate within Filipino cultural norms. The purpose was to educate international executives about basic Filipino values and to illustrate how they should not behave. Crystal clear. CAT:It is crystal clear that the consultant in real life is disgruntled that the project was terminated, period. In case writing, both sides are presented objectively to enable the class to identify as to whose viewpoints can be adopted in order to come up with a more acceptable and less prejudiced resolution of the problem at hand. He continued: Of the numerous other examples, one of the strangest and most off-the-wall concerned my Eva from Cebu column. Here's Madcat at her best: "Cut that crap of drumbeating that you write articles in order to promote the country which you learn to love. It is not spelled L-O-V-E for the host country. It is spelled PR and and sales promotion strategy for your consulting business" Here's one of my responses: I care deeply about the Philippines, and am amazed that there are Filipinos like you who would reject the possibility of a white boy actually having something to contribute or caring about what happens here. You should be ashamed of yourself. Madcat's all-too-predictable reaction: "I am touched. What really is the image that you would like to impress ? What is your crusade ? I see nothing but insights on how to be seen and heard in order to create a name in the consulting business. If ever you will hear me applaud, it is because I can see that you applying what you learned in Management and Consultancy Business 101 superbly. Huwag mo na kaming PAUTANGIN NA LOOB na ginagawa mo lang dahil sa kapakanan ng Pilipino (Rough translation: "Don't pretend that you're doing it out of the goodness of your heart or for the Filipinos"). Now I am drenched in tears. Let me wipe them off with the Dilbert funnies' pages." One of Madcat's major protestations was that my web site is horribly offensive because it presents itself as a business column, yet delves into places it's not supposed to go. She went on and on and on, questioning why I write about OFWs or bar girls or pagan rituals, asking why I didn't just stick to business issues like I should. What sez me ? Quotation- Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach me - Rene Descartes


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