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March 12, 2009

Standards and creativity debate

On last Tuesday, we decided to change the way that we run seminars and to do one of the topics in a debate mode where 2 groups are agreeing and 2 groups are against that.

The debate was about if implementing standards will stifle creativity in organisations.

Paul (Module tutor) gave us some instructions and timetable that explains how the debate is run.

I found a debate kind seminars rather interesting and could help understand and capture more due to the fact that each of the groups had to listen carefully to the other group so that they could come up with good counter-arguments that could weakens the other group's position.

I was (luckily) in the group that supports and defends the idea that standards do not stifle creativity, and we did come up with a number of support evidences that might support that. The other team was trying to prove that standards do stifle creativity and even though they were in a weaker position, I did enjoy the debate and I was able to understand a few points that actually slow down creativity if they were not handled correctly, not because of the standards, but perhaps because of what the people think of the standards.

For example, If you implement ISO 9001 standards in your organisation and you don't explain to your people that the standards are considered a base and that you can actually improve things to go beyond that, some people are going to think of these standards as a MUST that you can't change or improve. I did experience that, and I have always tried to explain this point to help get rid of this psychological barrier that could reduce creativity and innovation which is caused by people's understanding of the issue.

One of the points that we brought up was that standards are considered a base. and they are considered the minimum that should be in-place.

Further improvements to what the standards brings are possible and I think each organisation should question itself if it is doing exactly what the standards require, unless there is a very good reason for that.

Organisations structures and cultures are different and I can't see how standards could fit in just fine in organisations around the world even though that could be possible in some situations (maybe?). Still, I believe organisations shouldn't be constrained by standards and they should really try to improve themselves beyond the standards, at least if they want to stay competitive in the market, in my opinion.

March 09, 2009

Again with Knowledge Management

Thanks to Paul today, he reminded me that we need to blog during modules!

Anyway, I don't know why the subject of Knowledge Management is so in my mind and I am not sure why I keep thinking about Knowledge Management mostly. Maybe because I am working in an area where I think Knowledge Management could improve the work performance greatly.

I know that other Asset Management approaches or techniques are useful inside organizations as well, still I like KM the most!

Anyway, I have written before about a Document Management System, which could be actually used as a Knowledge Management System by companies as it is a free opensource system and could be implemented easily on any PC/Server.

Another way to do it is to have an intranet portal which could capture and share knowledge to people in the organization.

I am very interested in the issue of Knowledge Management even more now that we have gone through the seminar today that shed some light over this interesting subject.

I guess as Paul said, even though it sounds easy and so, it is still very hard to do it in real organizations. It would be interesting if there were any papers or books discussing the challenges related to the use of KM inside the organization.

I'd guess that some of the difficulties would be on how to motivate people so that they use the system with their own will rather than forcing the people to access the KM which could render this useless. Another difficulty would be to ask people working in teams or solving problems or improvements teams (like Six Sigma ones) to share and capture their own knowledge and experience so that people throughout the organization could use it.

I believe that the second point, at least for me is going to be a very difficult one since its related to the culture of the organization as well. In organizations where there are competition which I'd like to call (Negative) because it is basically a competition between administrations or departments within the same organization that doesn't add any value but in-fact work against the progress of the organization, which is something really spread out I guess in many places that I know of. This competition would make it very hard for departments and administrations that have competition between them to be able to share their experience in the organization which limit the use of KM to your own department or administration which really isn't that helpful if you compare the benefit from that to the benefit of sharing the knowledge throughout the whole organization that could consist of something like 40 departments or administrations!!!

I guess as Paul said, there is no reason not to implement what you think is usefull on your little area that you lead even if it is a small department if you can't implement it throughout the organization.

January 20, 2009

Process Improvement Using Six Sigma E–Learning

I am really enjoying going  through the e-learning material about Six Sigma and Process Improvements, especially that I have a bit of interest in Six Sigma. However, sometimes I would love if some points are explained more instead of the Jump (After a While) or so.

I know that this is just an introduction and that it is very hard to explain in detail a lot, since it is properly going to take a lot modules, but I just wanted to say this.

I didn't finish a lot of the module, just finished 5 so far and I am enjoying it. in fact I have another e-learning course that I signed for (SAP) that i am more interested in now because of how I enjoyed this style of learning.

The last point is, I would love to more information about the Project Contract and how it should be created with more details. Also, I have something else that I am thinking about which is, If the company itself is starting to use Six Sigma to improve the key processes, do they have to create a project contract then as well?

I am thinking that the project contract could be created with a lot more details if the project team included people or consultants from outside of the company. On the other hand, I am guessing the project contract could be something created just to keep things organised, if the project and everything related to it is done inside the company.

I am open for any ideas and thoughts about anything related to Six Sigma.

January 18, 2009

Diagram: Bad Communication system and Strategy Deployment

Diagrams sometimes explain the situation a lot clearer that when you try to spend time writing many words to explain something.

In this diagram that I used in my PMA, I tried to bring up what could happen if a company is trying to deploy its strategy while there is a bad communication system in the company where of course this will affect feedback.

This is an example of a business strategy being deployed incorrectly and no one of the lower employees know what they should do because the strategy was not broken into detailed tasks or objectives.

Business Strategy and Bad Communication

I like the idea of using diagrams to explain things, so don't be mad if I start using them in all my blog posts :D.

December 05, 2008

Why EFQM if you have Balance Scorecard?

Paul Jack brought this question during the LE module:

Why should an organization go for EFQM if they have implemented Balance Scorecard?

From my knowledge about EFQM (Modules & Previous training), I believe that EFQM brings more to the table than Balance Scorecard. I like to think about EFQM as a solid base that when implemented correctly would bring lots of improvements oppertunities.

I believe that if an organization implements EFQM and they have already implemented Balance Scorecard, they would still gain a lot of benefits from EFQM.

While some benefits might not be noticed in the short term, EFQM will defenitly be a good choice to bring into the board inside the organization.

EFQM covers a lot of areas that Balance Scorecard doesn't cover.

How to Convince the Board?

I think a good idea to convince the board would be showing the EFQM Excellence Model and telling the board how the EFQM consists of many criterias that improve many areas in the organization.

It is also possible to say that Balance Scorecard brought us many benefits (if thats your case) and simply point out that in the EFQM, Balance Scorecard would fit in the Strategy & Policy Box, and that EFQM is larger in scale and takes a holistic approach (Enablers -> Results).

Just my opinion about the question brought up ;)

November 18, 2008

OPP Module

Just got back home from the 2nd day of the OPP Module where we learned interesting things today about Motivation and more about Team work and had a team excercise.

We were introduced to the Critical thinking concept and how it's good to use.

It's good to leave things and emotions outside our mind and try to judge things based on facts only, because in many cases, we judge things while we are affected by our emotions and these decisions we make that are influenced by emotions could be wrong!

Yesterday, we had a very nice lecture about Personalities, and Guy gave a lot of great information about differences between peoples' personalities, it was a very good leccture as I said, and I enjoyed it much and had the chance to write down some things that I think could help me in the organization that I work at, with managing and leading and motivating people that I lead.

Thanks to the lecturers for all their great lectures so far, and I look forward to the next days (certainly not looking forward for the PMA!!!)

Alright, time to finish my CBE Assignment as It took way much time than it supposed to take >.>

November 16, 2008

CBE Module and Learning Organization

I have never before thought about the concept of Learning organization and how sharing of knowledge and experience could benefit the organization greatly.

In CBE Module, there were very nice presentations about the learning organization subject, and I personally learned alot from these presentations.

As I work on my Post-Module-Assignment (@70% i think), I keep learning new things, by combining both Deming's and EFQM approaches.

I will probabily keep the file for a while to get back to it in the future!

I think having such assignment was very nice, it helps with discovering both Deming and EFQM approaches and use them to contribute into the transformation into a learning organization.

As I go further with my assignment, i will post more points that I think are important when it comes to the transformation into a learning organization and how to make this process as effective as possible,

November 01, 2008

Managing a Team

We had a very nice discussion on the last 2 days of the CBE module.

At some point, Paul shared with us, how he never solved a problem for his employees, and that as asks them to provide solutions to the problems and then discuss these solutions with thier manager (Paul), and finally choose one of these solutions.

I think what Paul said was really nice, it made me think of this approach in many ways.

I belive that this approach is very nice, some of the reasons of why I think this approach is nice is because:

  • It encourages thinking from employees. Sometimes people forget that they have a mind to use, it's not thier fault in some cases, sometimes it's just because they are too used to doing the same thing over and over, and once they face a problem they run to someone to help them, which is bad!
  • Giving this feeling to the employees that they are helping the organization to solve problems and also gives them the feeling that they are contributing somehow.
  • Giving the idea to the employees that the Manager is not a shoulder to cry on :).
  • More time for the Manager to think and plan for the feature instead of dealing with dialy routines and problems.

In the Quality Management Administration which I work at, we have a great Director General. He have a lot of impressive plans, he always put the administration's work infront of him. He spends too much time in the administration even though he doesn't have to.

Sadly, because he deals too much with dialy problems and routine issues, he wastes too much time on this, and he then spends more time after we are all gone home, to work on planinng and strategies.

Since i am close to him in Work (Going to meetings together), and outside the Work (Relative), I always discuss this with him and asks him to find someone who deals with employees problems and routines for him to be free for the other big issues. He finally found someone to deal with these issues and started having a break and more time to spend with family without the usual headache, and I belive he is very happy now!

I think we as employees, who haven't yet made it to the top of the department or administration, should know about that. Those people are human, they have families and they are not free all the time for your small concerns, even though most of them will welcome you, but you shouldn't use that too much! Try to solve your problems, try to think and think again, and find solutions by yourself!

Now, about the approach that Paul used when he was a Manager of some department, I think I personaly like this approach, and I will definitely try to use it in the future, when I get back to the administration and the people that works with me.

October 24, 2008

Big Database for Quality Resources

ASQ is a Very large database with all kind of resources about Quality topics, including: 6 Sigma, ISO, TQM and much more.

I really recommend you to setup an account, which will give you access to a large Articles database.

If you are intrested in signing up, Please post your name & e-mail, and I will send the link to your e-mail.

Happy researching!

October 23, 2008

Clarification and little more about ISO 9001

In many sessions over the past few days, it appeares that alot of peopel think very negativly about ISO 9001 QMS, some of these negative ideas is that ISO is just a certification which could be easily wone and kept.

Well, Since i have what i think is OK experience about ISO 9001 QMS, I wanted to clear things out and add a few things in a bullets list.

  • Implementation of ISO 9001 QMS is not that easy, it takes quite alot of time, for example, from my experience at work (Quality administration), it takes around 9months to implement ISO 9001 QMS Successfully.
  • Auditing could be a very positive activity, it's not bad everywhere in every organization. Even though in some organization they do it completly wrong, it's still a very good activity that could help organizations detect problems and provide the solutions for the problems (Corrective actions/Preventive actions).
  • ISO 9001 enoucrages Continus improvements in some ways, for example by asking organizations to set goals every now and then and acheiving them.
  • When you implement ISO 9001 QMS on an organization, you will go through documenting of the processes. What we do usually is that we try to improve the processes as much as we can in this step as well.

What I think is good:

What is really important and nice about ISO 9001 QMS is that, it creates a Quality Manual that is distributed to employees in the Organization to help them follow the prcedures correctly. This would really help in situations where, for example, an employee leaves thier position and another one steps in, this Quality Manual would help the new employee understands what the previous employee was doing, and how he was doing it.

Few points about auditing:

  • If you are auditing, always try to add some value and benefit for this audit. Try to find problems and provide solutions for them. Auditing is a process that helps the Organization improves.
  • Try to make the auditee relaxed and not that afraid, explain that you are auditing the process rather than the persons, also repeat that on the finishing meeting, so that Managers do not blame peopel for what they are doing wrong, it might be the process itself that is wrong.
  • Explain whats been done wrong, give the auditee suggested solutions to thier problem if you have any, and not only take notes of what is wrong and leave him and move on.

QMS TIP: Reducing Repetitions in the Documented Manual (QMS):

Sometimes you will come across some processes that are just the same.

for Example, there could be a process for sending reports to the Top Management that is being used by more than one department, and since processes needs to be documented as well, you could save some papers, and instead of printing the process on a paper for each department, you could make a group of shared processes at the start of the QMS that could be used by more than one department, this way, you save papers, you save trees, and you will make your QMS in less papers.

From my experience, sometimes there are just too many processes that are shared by a number of departments, so we actually minimize the papers and have these shared processes at the start in a section that we call Shared Processes and ofcourse give some information on the same page of which departments can use this process.

Books I Enjoyed

As I buy/view books, I update this list with the books that I most liked:
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Little About me

Abdulrahman Hariri's Picture

Name: Abdulrahman Hariri

PhD student at WMG.

I’ve started a research education website in 2009 to help people from the Middle East learn how to do scientific research. The website continues to attract tens of thousands each month and has over half a million followers on social media.

My Websites (in Arabic):
البحث العلمي
الأكاديمية التعليمية
الابتكار و ريادة الأعمال

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