Contestants need to be open to change

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 December, 2008, 12:00am

Participation in an 'intelligent sport' competition designed for the local business community helps Victor Leung Wai-to sharpen his skills in strategic planning, the assistant general manager of information services at SmarTone-Vodafone said.

The annual SmarTone-Vodafone HK Challenge contains multiple stages that challenge the mental alertness and physical vitality of the contesting corporate teams. 'The competition is highly relevant to the real working environment because it has a strong emphasis on planning and teamwork,' Mr Leung said.

Through a stage in which each team scores points by building structures by a fixed deadline, the participants have learnt to exercise their mental agility and adaptability essential for strategic planning by observing what their competitors are doing. Mr Leung said, although each team had developed a plan beforehand, they would try to outwit each other by adapting their approaches according to the changing situation.

'We need to be highly observant about what is happening in the business environment and take into account the feedback of users when we are formulating business strategies,' he said.

Because the telecommunications industry is characterised by rapid change and intense competition, a contingency plan should always be in place to facilitate efficient change to the prioritisation of projects and reallocation of resources, Mr Leung continued.

The challenge is a corporate team event organised by Quintus Asia-Pacific. Participating companies send teams of five to compete in a series of mental, physical and intellectual stages designed to develop strategic planning, decision making, team work and communication skills.

Effective strategic planning also involves skills in decision making and delegating. This is reflected in the challenge, too. Mr Leung said teams are required to evaluate the strengths of their team members before they are put in charge of a particular segment. 'Based on the requests from various divisions, we set the objectives and then prioritise them and delegate the tasks to individual team members in alignment with overall corporate goals,' Mr Leung said.

To enhance the skills of its staff, SmarTone-Vodafone has adopted the basic human capital developmental concept of the challenge and developed an internal training programme called 'Mini Challenge'. More than 300 employees from Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou have participated in the three-month training programme.

Middle Management

Five keys to effective strategic planning

Be observant and acquire knowledge of one's competitors

Nurture a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of individual team members before setting the goals

Assign tasks to team members based on their individual strengths

Be highly adaptable to meet current challenges

Ensure a contingency plan is in place for unexpected situations