All 9 entries tagged Management

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April 24, 2009

Tacit to explicit

One of the greatest challenges of any KM policy is how to transform all the huge amount of tacit knowledge that is part of an organisation in explicit knowledge. People want write manuals or fill in systems. The most practical way to do that is through communities of practise or creating in-house training. Based on what I have seen over this years, if a company wants to to somehow make people write down or fill useful information of some sort that has to be connected with some bigger aspect (some prize or being considered a natural part of some other activity). A few years ago we had a structure to allow all projects conducted on the company to leave some kind of information. We managed to have over one hundred projects properly completed on our database. Quite a good number. We did that by establishing that in order to be appreciated over one recognition program we had, all information had to be filled. Some other people also filled because they believed on the idea (and we set example, doing the same on the projects conducted by us). The problem, looking back, was how useful, how frequently those information was used and valued on other initiatives.

But the challenge of making people share and use the available knowledge by turning tacit to explicit persists.


April 20, 2009

Writing in books….

Never liked writing in books. Them some years ago I had a teacher on university who stimulated me to do so (in my own books, of course, not library ones). So while reading about knowledge management one of the techniques that is often discussed is that people just register conclusions taken from meetings, actions or facts as soon as they happen (Toyota, for example, stimulates that). The idea is that it allows more details to be remembered, real information's to be collected (and not post-fact impressions changed by personal impressions) etc. I related one think to the other. The idea of writing thoughts and ideas on the book as the information is readden relates in an individual level to the same concept. Is a technique for individual knowledge management but that builds in the same ideas used for organisations.

 


April 10, 2009

Maintenance, Management, Life–Cycle, KM…

Writing about life-cycle costs asset management for my PMA. Actually came to my mind that the basic question of management is always related to the basic question of Life-Cycle. It`s such (or it at least should be) a basic thing, the idea that a manager should make decisions thinking about the life-cycle consequences of those decisions that is sounds funny that somebody has to be remembered of that by a whole body of knowledge. 

But is certainly something we human beings tend to forget. I had a teacher on my MBA who was an specialist on Ethics. He wrote a very interesting book about how the basic question people`s life (and for extension in all business related sciences) is always about spending more, enjoying the moment or saving for later. Reminds me of the old rock`n roll motto that used to say you should have a fast, crazy life and die before being 30....Well personal decisions are personal decisions, but when managing an organisation in which several people depend on you you need to have a non-r`nr approach and think about life time implications and decisions...



March 27, 2009

A bit about 5s, organizing a clean enviroment of work

Reading a bit for the future KBAM PMA (still finishing PEUSS....). It came to my mind and incident and something I learn from an older person.

Many years ago I worked on a structure that had a good mix of (very!) experienced people with (very!) junior employees. I was on the second group but I had risen a bit faster so I actually worked as a kind of assistant to the general manager of the area. One day this manager was assigned to take over another area (as well as the one he already had). The are had a quite repetitive work, dealing with LOTSSSSS of papers. It was very easy to lose a paper in there (and depending on the paper it could have quite serious financial consequences).

This manager of mine was a senior person, with about 15-20 years experience but was not a formally educated person and it also had a bit of difficulties communicating, he was not good at it (even though he had some other fantastic qualities). When he assumed the new are he was appalled by the amount of paper and by the lack of organisation on some people`s desks (even though, to be fair, it seemed to work that way because loosing papers was not a particular problem of that area). The thing is that right in the begining he got everyone together (about 20 people on that area) and said that personal stuff should be kept to a minimum on the desks and that they should be very organised, with everything on defined, standardised places). He understood that by doing that the risk of loosing anything would be minimised as productivity would also increase. I did not know (and I`m pretty sure that to this day he still does not know) that this approach is the basis of the Japanese 5S way of managing the working space. Once again, he did not need to know that theory, was just common sense working (like I said very long ago here in this blog, in the end it is all common sense). That made me think, specially because I`m not a organised person. I`m not going to finish the case because this simple request, done in the way he did (and I told him I think he did not do it properly and he agreed), caused all sorts of problems, uncovering serious relantionship questions and ending with the dismissal of a employee.

That entry if for KBAM, for that reason I`ll not go down the road of discussing the communication issues. But the idea of having a organized space stickied with me. So After that I always had quite a bit of organisation when dealing with work. Documents stay on the right place, with the right names, files are organised on the computer, I always do back up, etc etc. I keep a bit of mess on the space itself, in part because it is part of me and I don`t think would be helpful to add any more stress. Besides in the last few years being creative was part of my profession and a bit of confusion, colours, information are proven to help creativity. But for production places, with many parts, objects I think the idea of having a organised space with established processes make all sense.


March 12, 2009

Ch ch ch ch changessss!

The most interesting question I took of from the PIUSS PMA (that tks God, I already sent on Monday) was questioning myself if one is really able to build a planned process to change the culture of an organisation. REading books about it I found lot`s of arguments for (and a few against. Smaller quantities because defending that is not possible is obviously less interesting commercially speaking....)


I particularly think that it is possible. But it will take a LONG time. And will need not only a method, a plan, but a lot of skill and occasionally a quite strong fist. I thing it is almost impossible (if not impossible) to change a whole organisation`s culture (unless, perhaps, if it is a small or recently created organisation) smiling, without beeing quite hard and though from time to time.

But I think is possible and Six Sigma can be a good method to do so, if done properly and with care. 


How much would you pay for all the knoweledge in the world?

I did my MBA in finance. I did not particularly love it, but it was useful. But there was one specific module called asset valuation that I liked. I was particularly impressed with a book called "Value at Risk"by an Indian-American scholar called Damodaran. He is a major expert on the subject (Actually pretty much all his writings are available for free in his web page http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~adamodar/ ) . It was fascinating the way he worked solutions to try to put a value on everything (on a economical sense, of course). For example, how to measure the value of an organisation that never profited? Or of something that is still a plan? He discuss it. 

Of course that is interesting only for people that enjoy financial matters (And important to say not all economists understand or like finance. Several economists are dedicated to historical questions, or development, or marketing related issues, etc etc). But that idea of trying to find a way (creative, often) to measure things often comes to my mind.

All techniques we study recommend (and that is quite logical) that measures should be established to measure the evolution of the initiatives. Fantastic. How to measure knowledge? Of course there are processes and suggestions in several papers. You could measure number of improvements taken from knowledge present on a database, or number of ideas collected from employees, etc etc. BUt is that a good measure?

One could also think about how much money was taken out of an database, or how many bytes on a database..all numerical measures. But are that a good wat to measure?

Of course the best way would depend on the circumstance, on what you are using Knowledge Management for (and a very important feature is that you have to know EXACTLY what you are using it for, exactly what you are expecting to gain from it.


But is something hard to measure...

 



February 18, 2009

Common sense strikes back…

Follow-up to Good sense, organizations and people from Francisco's blog

Working on PIUSS PMAI found a phrase rather interesting "Common Sense is the least common of the senses" (better reference it just in case....(Pande, Neuman & Cavanagh ; 2000) ). It relates to my old post saying that most scientific knowledge I saw in my life in economics, finance, engineering, quality, process and so forth are organised and well presented common sense.

6 Sigma is no different. Common sense all the way. Even though I must say that the way it is presented, the toools, the way priorities are defined do stimulate some thinking that we don`t usually do. I realisedsome colleagues are having trouble perceiving the whole logic of thinking on a process and variation related way, and that what 6 Sigma can help with, to show the importance of understanding that logic and presenting a way to relate it to everyday practises and results. So it is a clever way to stimulate and take results out of common sense.

So if I had to say what is the most important aspect of 6S, the one you should really understand it would be: "Pay attention to processes, look at them carefuly and sistematically and take as much variation out of it as possible".

But when the concepts are understoos, it is common sense ain`t it?

 


December 07, 2008

Good sense, organizations and people

Submitted my CBE PMA. Good feeling, glad I did and glad I worked on it. It is a good feeling to deliver something that took a lot of honest effort.

I few things that came to my mind while working on it.

My father is a very religious person, very catholic. But he has a very nice approach to it, he understands faith is an individual questions and that each on of us must deal with it in a personal way. So we all (me, my 2 brothers and my sister) had the option to go or not this way (and so far, none of us did). But there is something he always says. It does not matter if you follow or not an organised religion as long as you love each other the same way you love yourself. It`s a beautiful thing. But sometimes not so easy to apply. Once I had a doubt about how to apply it on a specific situation, I came to him and discussed the matter. I remember he saying he could not decide for me, he could not say what to do, but that I should not forget the rule of love and I should use common sense when using it.

This common sense thing became part of me. Years later I was in the university learning economy, and after a time I realized that except by the jargons and very specific thing economy, like pretty much any other science, is a matter of common sense. I had the opportunity to teach it and always said that to my students, when in doubt, common sense.

Now, finnaly CBE. When giving a closer look at change management, organisational culture, continuous improvement and above all EFQM we find out it is all above common sense. It`s something special to say that when changing something you should put all the involved people to participate? It`s something new to understand that when going in a specific direction all the processes involved on it should be aligned in that direction? But that`s all in the material we found. Human beings are funny, we know what we should do when we stop and think, we know what is common sense, we know that what is called "common sense" is called that way because lots of people in lots of situations have taken that direction and decision so that it became a COMMON decision and logic, a tested and proved choice. But we still behave wrongly quite frequently and need studies, frameworks, models, theories to do it. Human, very human.

One last think. Common sense is good, but is not all. Sometimes we have to try something different, to break common sense, to go further, to innovate. The problem is knowing when and how. That`s why we have geniuses with major successes, and dumb people with major failures. The difference between brilliantly going beyond common sense and sadly falling by not respecting it, is success.


October 26, 2008

Communication, honest, true, direct

Writing about web page /alanhung/entry/turnover_/

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

From my experience I think the most powerful tool one can use with people is straight, honest, complete communication. People are not dumb and don`t like being treated as such. I hated when I had bosses or I received any corporate communication and it was very clear that this was not true, was not complete information.

Many years ago I attended a meeting where we had a presentation from a senior manager of the company. The company was going through a tough moment and was not easy to get promotions, to hire people to positions where we had lost people etc. In the end of the presentation a colleague asked about it to this manager. Instead of going straight he engaged in a word-game, meaning of specific words in the question trying to say that everything was normal and that this moment was just a wrong impression we had (worth to say the whole sector had problems and anyone who watched the news knew that!). That made him look silly and we land lost confidence in him and felt stupid. he should have been straight saying something like: "All the companies of our sector are going through a complex moment and we are not different, so now we will have to hold for a while, to keep together working as a team patiently because it will pass and them we will grow together, we will remember those who have been through it together. That would have been honest.

I`ve had honest relationships both with my bosses and with the teams I managed. Once I had a boss that was a very open person,  and once he made a decision that affected me and a fully desagreed. I`ve got to his table and held my opinion. We could not agree, he kept his, but the simple fact that we were able to hold a honest straightforward conversation made both feel better.

When I managed people it was the same thing. I`m proud to say I always had very honest and direct conversations and always had some very good feedback's because of that. Of course some truth must be said with care, choosing well the words and making very clear that the objective is to grow together, to improve together. Another important thing is when you have a piece of information that for any specific reason you can not talk about, and you are asked about, how to deal with it? That`s another thing I`ve learned from a  previous boss. If you usually have a straight and honest communication most people won`t mind if you just tell them that unfortunately you can not talk about that now, but that as soon as you can you will give her an answer. That has worked with me many times as both an manager as a managed.

I`m just writing that to say that sometimes, a very simple and obvious tool such as good, clear, honest communication works betters them other complex things in order to have a low turnover rate.

 



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