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December 07, 2009

""The Myth of the Hero–leader"

I read a book for writing the assignment of CBE and find it so interesting and have some reflection upon this.

Generally speaking, people believe that several charactistics are what leaders possess; such as capability for command and influence. In order to be able to influence, those leaders are more likely to have unique mix of skill, ambition, vision, charisma, and small amount of hubris.

However, the thing is, in our lives, we all try to be someone like this, and sometimes we forgot who we could be.

The author was saying, people tend to be obsessed with the hero-leader as a type of cultural addiction. Meaning when there's a need for change, we opt for the hero-leader rather than eliciting and developing leadership capacity throughout the organisation.

One of the most common reason nowadays is that, we choose a hero-leader, and what he/she does is to cut costs (usually people), and boosts productivity and profit whereas the improvement do not last.

Somehow I think all the problems that happen in a business all go back to human or human nature. That's why human resource management is really important and should be deeply and widely discussed. (personal view) Because PEOPLE make the systems, PEOPLE implement the systems, PEOPLE work with the systems, PEOPLE mess up with the matter what, there's must be some human sector involved in.

People turn greedy so that the world economy is under crisis now. People wanna make the world better so that we have charities, schools and education. And it's so important to choose a right leader to lead the people to the right direction.

It's easy to imitate someone who's hero-like. But one cannot become someone else. The thing is how do we learn and how do we adjust ourselves to do the right things. I believe if we're doing the right thing with the right way, small people would eventually influence the big people. It's also to me, a matter of caring or not.

*to be continued*

November 01, 2009

Organisational Learning

It took me a while to structure the ideas in my head. Coz OL is such a huge idea and difficult for Taiwanese companies or Chinese companies to do.

From my experience, as I worked in both Taiwan and China for two different companies for 2 years before, I had a general insight of the companies in Taiwan and China. There're few norms I'd like to share.

1. Taiwanese and Chinese people are different. We think differently, act differently. It's because of the way we were educated were totally different. I'm not being critical about this situation as I'm not trying to go to the politics. And I'm glad I'm getting along with the Chinese students in class. The people never have the problem, only the politicians try to pull us apart. But my point here is, we're different, and for a Taiwan based China branch office, Taiwanese boss wouldn't share all the top information to the chinese workers and vice versa.

2. In Taiwan, it's a common knowledge that if you're working for a taiwanese local companies or owners, the attitude towards working is always "responsibility oriented". Which means, finish your job for the day, otherwise, you're not going back home!

So what if you finish early?? Can you go home early?? The answer is NO!! ...... Why not?? Coz Taiwanese boss tend to think that, you finish early? so you have too less to do, and I should give you MORE work!!!!  

It's very interesting to see the thought stream, isn't it? coz the boss/managers won't think "OH, you're very efficient!" But of course above is an example that happens a lot in Taiwan, doesn't mean all the taiwanese companies are like that. Some of the companies still have a very open-minded leader :-)

So, in the more traditional thinking taiwanese companies, how do you learn? You tend not to learn or share, coz you don't want others to learn what you know, coz if you learned, you can replace their positions anytime.  and how do you learn from others? You can't force people to teach you..... You can only work hard and be very aggressive and humble. Make everybody falls in love with you first and then try to gain something from the more experienced people later. 

3. Some companies have training programs, but they want their employees to pay by themselves coz they can choose to attend or not. 

4. In Taiwanese or Chinese culture, some companies don't train people, becoz they're afraid once you train them well, they'll bring the skills and move to another company. So what you have invested would be a waste to the company. 

But in the west, companies treasure training programs. Because just like Deming thought, companies should educate people. 

and I think, I'd love to train my people, coz I believe what I have given them, they'll give me something valuable in return. Even though they left after I trained them, I still learn something. I learn that the person I hired is not loyal enough and next time when I hire someone new, I should avoid hiring the same type of people. I mean, no matter what outcome is it, we're always learning. No matter we succeed or fail, we always learn from the process. This is enough. This is all what we're seeking for -- learning, and improving. 

Debate: Ethical or unethical

Yesterday, I had another debate with a friend about a particular Chinese company: Lining (sports shop).
My friend raised few points saying what Lining is doing is unethical. and the Chinese government is being unfair to the international business environment.

First, I'd like to introduce about Lining. It won the sponsorship for 2008 Beijing Olympics, beat over big companies with huge internationally known brands like NIKE, Addidas or New Balance. Lining's ad moto is ""ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE"". I don't know if you would also think the same as my friend that its logo looks like the tick of the NIKE, and the moto sounds like a copy of "NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE" of Adidas. Please see pic below



I had a lot of discussion with my friend. Simply the conclusion we have is, in business, if you want to enter the same market, you have the similar products, there's nothing wrong with Lining Co. But I don't wanna go deeper before I hear other opinions. Coz I'd love to listen to other thought streams from you. :-D And I'd love to share during our debate :D

So, during our discussion, we debated a lot in many different perspectives, such as

1. Is it ok that a company establishes the brand by using competitors words or try to use similar words of the competitors logo/moto?

2. Are you copying other competitor's idea if you're in the same market? How to define fair competition?

By the way, no matter they're ethical or unethical, by the time we're discussing them, they succeed in their global-known attention isn't it?

I would love to start another debate here :-) 

How do we become better selves?

After learning the 3 most popular excellence models: EFQM, Baldrige, Deming's, all the inspirations lead me back to evaluate myself. 

These three models all have its pros and cons, none of them are better or worse than one another. It's aiming for a similar goal: create business excellence, whether in making profits, training people, developing products, smooth the process, or etc. And for real life application of the models, even if we're not from EFQM, doesn't mean we cannot implement the idea of EFQM. We just won't be able to attend or participate for the association or win the prize, but we can always apply these thoughts into our businesses or even our daily lives. 

The other day, team 3 asked a question about how do we make sure what the CEO want? What if the CEO doesn't know about the system so we can't implement it? To me, the answer is so simple. CEO doesn't know is very normal. Coz CEO needs to know something else more important like running a company. As managers, we have the knowledge to share with the CEO what we have learned and what could be good for the CEO. If CEO doesn't like it, simple, don't need to say it's EFQM or Baldrige or Deming's... Just Do it! If you have the confidence that this can bring some good for the company. Do it, it doesn't have to be a specific system. But you're implementing and put the ideas into practice. If it works well, the company starts improving, the CEO appreciates the work, then if you want to go for a recognition, tell the CEO then that actually the method you're applying is either EFQM, Baldrige or Deming's. 

"Don't stop doing something good if someone tells you that you shouldn't." Just like "Don't stop being yourself if someone doesn't like the way you are." 

Coz you never know what influence or impact that you could bring to the business, the people around you, or the world!

Not everybody has the wisdom to see the opportunities or the future that is coming ahead of us. The ones who see it, grab it! The others who doesn't, follow it. It's a chain, a cycle....

SO again, never limit yourself in a certain area or state of mind. There's a Chinese saying, "Stubborn only on the good things you believe."  Open your heart and think for the world is really something that we should have now.....

October 31, 2009

How to reach business excellence?

In Deming's, Baldrige or EFQM models, all the basic theories are about keep improving and make the best results for an organisation or business. And many times when doing business, we reached different results: some successful, some failed, some stuck and stopped moving forward. Then leaders and top management level people would try to change the result or solve the problems for a better result. In another word, they select solution based on the results to solve the problems. However, if they don't understand what caused the results, how could they find the roots of the problem and actually come up with a valid or constructive solution?

For instance, I had this debate with a friend the other day. A company is not doing well on its sales income, so A tries to fire the sales people. A made a decision based on the results and thinks that if changing another sales team would change the result. However, the sales volume is low because the products are out of date as well after the discussion. Also other competitors are trying way harder to provide the market the need and wants. During the discussion, we again realized that people are easily be blinded by the results or the current fact we have. But forgot to analyze them before we are convinced by the truth. Meaning, we haven't even analyzed the whole situation yet, how could we believe in the data we have now and make a comment based on those data. Data could be superficial sometimes..... they're not always presenting the truth that we're looking for!!

So basically, everything happens for a reason. In order to solve the problem, we need to examine ourselves as well as the whole process, admit the mistakes and fix them properly would be the next thing we should do. 

It's never an easy task. There're always too many things or aspects in life that change our minds and decisions. However, if we try to systemize this, we can start asking ourselves several questions. 

1. What are the problems? 

2. How are they related to each other?

3. What's the potential causes?

4. Does everybody involved in the case understand the situation?

5. Compare the causes and brainstorm on the problems and solutions.

6. Think and discuss a way to eliminate the cause, find out the root cause, and propose constructive possible solutions for open discussion and debate.

7. Check again the solution and potential effects in order to avoid other solutions create new problems.

Most importantly, and most people forget is to examine themselves. This sounds simple, and most people might think they have done so. But it's really hard to take oneself and stand out from the situation, and try to criticize oneself. I think this is a very practical and crucial skill to develop for all managers and leaders--to put yourself in other people's shoes. 

A truly successful leader is not commanding people and treat them like lower species, but to respect them and win their respect by leading oneself as an example and inspire the people around you or work under you. This is a charisma that a good leader should possess. 

There are many skills or knowledge we can learn, for instance, business models, marketing, management, manufacturing, trading process, etc. But we can't make the business keep improving if we only focus on one prospect. knowledge and skills should be generated and applied to multiple environments. 

There are also hundreds of different industries, leaders, careers on the world, there cannot be a certain business model or management skills that's suitable for all situations. We are in the 21st century now, the world is changing rapidly as well as people. Today the world wants fancy computer products, but maybe next day they want traditional antiques. You can never be certain but only predict what is going to be the next trend, if you're lucky, you got the market interest, and if you're not, you follow the trend. On the other hand, applying somebody else's successful theory doesn't necessary mean that will help your own company. Because the people, environment, execution process might differ and lead to different results. Therefore, what a leader might want to do is maybe to be very flexible in the business, but also think positively to achieve a better result. 

Working in teams is always a good way to learn how to organize and communicate with people. If you can't handle 5, you won't be able to handle 100. Therefore, teamwork and mini projects are the most important part of the business learning process to me. 

And I hope through learning and sharing, we can all be one of the motivators to drive other people in the future to work towards business excellence. 

Decision Making Practice

I love the topic coz I'm always interested in Climate Change and how to make the world a better place.

So I'm already excited when I know we're having an activity on this :-D

But first of all, I'd like to share a personal observation about the country: UK. I don't find UK an envrironmental friendly country. Coz so many people or the households are not recycling the materials that we should. In Taiwan, every household is strictly requested to divid garbages into several different criteria: food waste, paper, plastic, metal cans, batteries, aluminum..etc. And when the government is collecting, garbage truck workers will check and make sure everything is seperated, if not, they will refuse to take the garbage away. Or sometimes, if you were found not recycling, you will be fined.

Also, in my university, we had strict rules about bringing our own cutleries and water bottles/cups. Uni also signed strict contracts with in-school or out-school restaurants/food stands to band giving any student plastic bags or chopsticks or any disposable cutleries. Although this is strict, but everybody is following happily because we all reached a consensus that what we are doing will make the world a better place. So the whole school is doing very well, and we have a very good checking system as well.

Therefore, I think climate change is not something we 'talk" about, but we actually "DO" something to alter the situation. Which is also that I think the Deming's PDCA circle is very useful. And we all should stop talking things, sharing ideas but not actually doing anything practical. "Action" is the most difficult and crucial part of achieving something. If you don't do, you don't get!

As for the exercise, again I learned a lot. But mostly I love my team coz we all worked together to solve a problem. Time management is better this time thanks to Paul's reminder when we were on Decision 1. The result we had was good enough. And after this exercise I think our team grew stronger, coz we started sharing and self-assessing. We cricize team mates but in a very polite and respectful way that we can all learn something from a very genuine feedback. And we know that we should work harder and learn together more from all the activities that we do.

Finally, not every decision we make can always be perfect, but we can always try our best to make the best decision! :-)

Meetings Meetings

During the exercise, our team mates were cooperating very well. Although we didn't have or select a leader to control the whole situation, everybody worked as a whole to give and share our views and helped each other to make the best decision. Maybe some of our decisions were not good enough, but we all reached consensus and decided to take the same risk altogether. I really enjoy that and appreciate that.

Also, during the whole process, I think we all listened, analyzed, debated, respected the majority, and reached a balance of the decisions.

I think making decision is never an easy task. To me, the most important thing for a manager to do in this kind of exercise is "always put ourselves into other people's shoes". We are managers, but it doesn't mean that we are superior than others. Maybe we just worked harder to get to this position. But others might be more talented than us, and sometimes others may have a better proposal over things that we can learn from.

Therefore, through this practice, once again I try to remind myself that as a leader, I have the authority, but I don't manipulate that power over people.

After this exercise, I realized I have the potential to lead and give valid analysis to support my decisions on certain issues. Part of the reason I think I should thank to previous education that gave me a lot of chance to practice the skill. Another part I'd like to thank for the whole-week "self-assessment" talk so that I kept reminding myself when I discuss or say something, give constructives ideas only. :-) (Solution-effect analysis!)

As for the discussion time, other colleagues inspired me for another question afterwards. "As a manager, we need to appreciate people's ideas and efforts because they share the opinions in order to make the company better!"

On the other hand, this is another question for myself in the future to discover: "If I'm on the top management level, and I have plans that other people may not know or may not need to know, should I tell people the company's goal and plan on the issue?" For instance, if I plan to emerge with another company for better profits or marketshare, the decision might be good for the firm, but might not be good for the employees coz some people may be laid off due to this activity, should I still inform my employees or wait until the deal is done?

The reason I think about this is because in EFQM model, leadership is very important as well as policy and people. And during the course we talked about the direction is very important for the people to understand the organisation in order to achieve business excellence. So in this case, in real life, I probably won't tell the employees because I don't want to create a chaos situation or make people panic. But If I don't tell them, does that make me unethical because I wasn't honest to my employees?

Above is always welcome for discussion and criticism :-)

October 14, 2009


Although it's been 2 days after the CBE intro, it shouldn't be too late to jog down the inspiration I received during the course. :-)

First, I really loved Team Work explanation that Paul illustrated -- There is no "I" in the team, coz team spells as "T-E-A-M." This is very true and many times we have heard about team work team work, but how to really work as a team? It's an art. It requires leadership, personnel skills, intelligence and wisdom.

I still remember when I used to work, there are many occasions which requires team work. Sometimes people do gather up the spirit for a single goal ahead. However, it is still very difficult for everybody to be team oriented. Everybody is an individual, and that means people have their own thoughts toward a certain idea. Sometimes the idea is communicatable, but sometimes it's not. This involves a lot of factors. Sometimes the factors can be very personal too. However, I think team work is a really great idea of uniting everyone's talent together and make the best out of it. I enjoy sharing and I do love to share...and I think B4 will have a lot of fun too :-)

Second, another interesting idea about how each department should cooperate instead of competing with each other. Again, this is another example involves human individuals. It is true that people are selfish. But selfish can be in a good way sometimes. It just depends on how we want to make things happen. For example, I do what everybody wants, being unselfish, but maybe Im not contributing anything at all, and just following what people say and do. If I try to think in another way, "I" want to make this project work, so I put a lot of efforts in, sometimes not necessarily what people expect, but at the end, the results might be overwhelming.

How a company can manage the competition or encourage cooperation? A good working environment and harmonious atmosphere in a company is a key that how people can perform -- I think. That's why creating a buiness environment for the company is very important too. It decides whether or not you can attract the people who want to work with you, and how well they would like to contribute to the company! People is always the key in a company... If you can manage the people, you can manage the company! As a future leader, I think once you know how to handle the employees, you can achieve a lot of things with an very efficient way.

Yet, people sometimes don't want to cooperate, especially when there is a competition. This is the selfish part of us. Competition indeed can boost up one's potential, but if competition is used in a wrong way, results can be negative. I say, people are supposed to cooperate with one another to creat a better environment for the world, but sometimes a little bit healthy competition is needed. So the world can keep improving and moving forward!

Third, "No more beat up the suppliers, coz they give you rubbish!" quoted from Paul during the class.....

This is again very true, and I have the personal experience when I worked for previous company in computer peripherals.   I have a secret to this subject -- Many computer peripherals products are rubbish, and they shouldn't pass the QC at the beginning, but they are everywhere in the market. How? Well.. let's say because "Everything that humans can imagine, is a possibility in reality." This is my favorite maxim.

It's because in some business, profit is the only concern; money is the only attraction; process, is not important at all. And "greed" can make people do crazy things. In my previous company, we beat up all the suppliers we had... Yes, they give us Rubbish sometimes, but we always manage to bully them back for new replacements. yet, the process is not ethical. It's pure business. I personally don't think the business can last long. After all, you lacerate the trust of the partners you long work with. If you put yourself in the battlefield all by yourself, you are not going to win.

Therefore, I think in business...There's no forever friend or enemy, but forever cooperation and competition. And we need to figure out how to do it to make the environment healthier. :-)

The rest are just few points I'd like to remind myself of...

1. Always be aware of the business, competitors and new markets.

2. Cooperation, create a win-win situation with the competitors.

3. Not How Much the company can change, but How Far should we change...

4. Lead and Inspire!

5. Financial results only show the past performance, which cannot be an indicator of how to perform in the future.

6. Profit is a result of doing something good and efficient!

7. Never wait for the people to inspire you, you need to observe the daily life to discover what do people want!

8. A well organized or planned procedure can eliminate waste in order to speed up the process and create efficiency.

9. Never stop working on self-assessment! Coz when there's a's already too late!

10. I have been taught to do this since 15 at college, never realised it's called the Deming Circle :-P

--> Plan, Do/implement, Check/study, Act

--> when there's an idea, don't just think about it... DO IT!

Have a great feeling that it's gonna be a great year!!

June 2023

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