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October 09, 2013

An alumni's view of MBE

I post this reflection on his time in MBE with permission from the author. If you have any comments or questions that arise after reading this piece, please ask them here and I will respond.

Hello everyone,

My name is Jan from Germany and I am a former student of the WMG at the University of Warwick in 2010/2011.

I am writing this reflection more than one and a half years after I finished my studies in Management for Business Excellence (MBE). I am still in contact with several people of WMG, especially Paul Roberts (Course Leader) and one of his doctoral students. My reason for keeping the contact is that I am convinced that WMG and especially Paul are doing a great job and staying in contact with academics always gives you new input.

This continuing contact actually gave me the motivation to write this blog. I think, and Paul agrees, that it is important to know what you can do with this degree—what is the benefit of MBE. After my studies I got in contact with some people and they asked what was the biggest benefit, what kind of job did I get afterwards, etc. Indeed these are very important questions and so I decided to write a few lines with the aim to share my experiences and thoughts regarding this topic.

I am aiming to support this course and its underlying philosophy, so that finally people have more motivation to decide on this course and to give them more belief in what they are doing during this one year of studying MBE.

Just to summarize it in advance—it was the most mind-opening year that I’ve ever had and it was worth every minute. In my opinion, every job on this world would benefit from these experiences and the conveyed message. So let's have a look at it in more detail:

First of all I should mention that directly after my studies I got employed by a big German company. For 20 months now, I have been working as a project engineer. Even though it is a technically-oriented job and on the first sight it doesn’t have that much to do with MBE, it is a challenging position and MBE steps in every day.

One thing that should be born in mind is, that most of the times you won’t enter a company and be the boss. There are competencies and experiences that must be gained. It is hard to manage and lead if you have no idea how a company works, how people behave and how the work is carried out. Besides getting the respect you need when you come directly from university, respect is easier to get if people see that you have a clue what you are talking about.

However, let me tell you a bit about my business life: I am responsible for a production site that produces a component for automobile paint. It is a chemical process that I didn't know much about. But actually that was not important for me because I do the engineering for this site, and this goes in the direction of what I knew from my previous studies. But being honest, I must admit that my technical knowledge is very basic and I had no clue about the technical component of my job at the beginning. In addition, and mostly forgotten: you work in a company, there are procedures, rules, responsibilities, actually it is real life and not comparable with the university life, even though university tries quite successfully to come close to it.

So at the beginning I had to deal with two main totally new areas. This is why I was also happy about not getting a management position right from the beginning. Even though I see myself capable of doing such a job (this applies to everyone from MBE), I would have been overloaded. Having responsibility for others right from scratch would have been a third main area, probably too much to make for me to be good at my job from the start. Besides without work experience I think it is hard to get the acceptance of your colleagues. It may work out but it would be tough.

But why is this course so beneficial for professional life afterwards?

On the one hand you have the concept of the course and on the other hand the content of the modules and the masters’ thesis.

With regard to the mentioned two main new knowledge areas I would like to kick off with the first one:

The concept, the idea behind MBE and its organization already forms one major benefit. It is about learning how to learn. And this, as simple as it is, is a great and future-building competence, which will help you in every situation. Previously, I studied in Germany, sitting in a class with hundreds of other students and listening to one professor, making notes and I finally proved in a final test that I am capable of learning something by heart. But the real world is different. You do not sit in an office in the basement; alone, no colleagues around you, no computer and you have to write from memory something on paper that you have learned quite a while ago. You do have experienced colleagues; you do have Internet, books, documentation, etc. Finally, your task is to take this basic knowledge and apply it to a new situation, task, project, whatsoever. Otherwise you would need ages for a little task. And this is what the course work but even more the PMAs are about. Like in real life, identify your aim and solve your task with existing knowledge that is available in various sources, while enriching it with your own thoughts and thus developing the solution. Getting used to this and seeing it as normal way to obtain knowledge, becoming confident to work in unfamiliar areas, is of great benefit.

I am quite certain that during your masters’ you will find yourself concerned about time at some point or even frequently. The pressure is high, you have PMAs, you have the dissertation, modules and the time will come when you want to apply for jobs. So it might seem that there is no time for fun and the workload is not manageable. But it is, thousands of people have proven it and it brings its own benefits. At the end of my year, indeed all concentration was on the thesis and the last PMAs, the weekly and daily workload was massive. To be honest, most of the stress was made by myself: how often did I postpone something or wasn't really working when my timetable actually said: Study. But from time to time you learn to cope with it. And this pays back in professional life. In my job it is normal to have about 15-20 projects at the same time. Some are smaller and actually no big deal, but some are quite comprehensive and you have due dates. So it is about keeping every ball in the air. Actually like during the masters’ and specifically when there are the mini projects, if I got it right in mind it was about 5. Having gone through these lessons the job that I am in now was nothing new. It was different, and it was serious, but I had my patterns from the studies at Warwick that I adapted. Of course a university won't be able to mirror professional life for a 100% but WMG has done a great job. Compared to other colleagues who started working at the same time as me, I saw myself more comfortable with the given new situation and all the side effects. It was just like a new module. Besides, all that I have written in this paragraph is also true for diverse Assessment Centers. I have gone through three and the hardest part was nothing other than course work.

So what about content of these studies? Well it also depends on how you understand them and how you apply them to your professional life. Let's take the Six Sigma modules. I wouldn't expect to go into a company and start implementing Six Sigma and optimize processes and products. Nonetheless, you have the idea of DMAIC in mind and this already is worth a lot. You know something different than others do and thus can push, e.g. a project group in the direction to try it. Thinking this further leads you to other modules like Leadership. How do I lead people towards a new initiative, how can I influence? You might not be the boss but you can lead and show the aim, the vision. Ok, that might happen in a smaller circle of influence than when you have learnt it, but it is a beginning and it is a great opportunity to try out several approaches. And this is what I meant about your own understanding and usage of the content. If you keep it in mind you can work with it and try out what works for you. Apart from leadership, change management is vital to implement something new in a sustainable way. Understand why people do not want to change and indeed cope with it. I don’t know if you are surprised to hear that, but I see that as the biggest challenge in a business and there are only a few people out there that are good at it. I am not saying that you are an expert in each of these fields, modules, and this is not the aim, but you definitely have a basic toolbox you can work with. The rest comes from experience and further education.

Let me give you a real life example: I started together with 6 other people in the same department; it was decided to form a newcomer group that was supposed to work on an undefined project. So it was up to us to define it. With everyone having a different background and position we ended up working on something that was concerned with the entrance of new employees. How do they get known to the company, where can they find answers to explicit questions and how could they gain technical knowledge and expertise? After a while the question came up on how knowledge in general was transferred. Therefore, I suggested calling the project knowledge management. That enabled me to contribute the knowledge I gained during MBE, and finally I ended up as the elected leader for a group of 12 people. Following the basic knowledge about change management proved to be absolutely valuable in order to persuade the older colleagues that our project is a positive thing and everyone could benefit from it. Although my experience was mostly theoretical, the knowledge about leadership allowed me to try out several things and finally find my way to lead the team to a successful project completion. In the end the project benefited from 3 WMG modules and my thesis, which I think is a good result.

The Masters’ thesis is a good opportunity to get deeper into a topic. There you really start becoming an expert in this field of knowledge and this is why you can apply it even better to your future job. So choose it wisely ;)

What more is to say? I know Deming is a big topic in MBE and this is a must. When you start working you quickly see Deming with his deadly diseases and 14 points of management everywhere. It is incredible to see that it looks like nothing has really changed for nearly 30 years now. During the studies I always thought: This is common sense, of course you are not doing it like this, you are doing it the other way; you are a nice guy and act like a human being. Who the hell behaves like that described by the seven deadly diseases? Therefore, I was shocked entering the business world and I can feel that it is of great importance to keep the words of this wise man in mind! It hopefully prevents you becoming and a****. In business it works differently, it is not a safe environment and it is vital to get grounded and remember what you have learnt.

In my eyes business ethics is a vital component of professional life and MBE provides the right direction. Paul once said that for him it was important to have his own values, set up his own mindset and stick to them. Although I am not in a leading position, this proved to be great advice and good support for decision-making. It doesn’t let you doubt. An example: should I go to my boss and tell him what I think? Sure, no excuse! I promised myself to always be open and honest as well as having my say. So I went there and in the end it was the right decision.

I am convinced that I actually could write some more pages, but I think this gives you a first insight on how you can benefit from the MBE course. But again it really depends on how you approach the course and use the given input for your benefit. It is not just about taking; it is also about developing it continuously.

If you have got any questions regarding MBE, etc. just drop me an email:


Finally I want to wish you all good luck with your studies but never forget:

Have fun and enjoy your life.


October 08, 2012

Welcome to MBE 2012

A warm welcome to everyone in the new Management for Business Excellence (MBE) intake--32 students of 14 nationalities. Today saw the start of the Creating Business Excellence module, the first of six MBE-specific modules. Everyone was engaged and lots of questions were asked in the introductory sessions. So, a good start for what promises to be a challenging year. I look forward to working with you.

October 22, 2010

Angry and ashamed

On Wednesday 20 October a student on the Management for Business Excellence masters was attacked by thugs on his return to his accommodation in Coventry after a day studying on campus. He was severely injured and had to go to hospital.

Words cannot adequately express the anger that I feel about a situation in which a supposedly civilised country spawns mindless thugs who prey on young people motivated to extend their education. An unprovoked attack by cowardly bullies against a foreign national fills me with shame. I have travelled throughout Europe, South-East Asia, North America, Africa, Australia and have always been met with courtesy, hospitality and friendship. Not once have I felt a threat to me personally, and yet here in Coventry, two weeks after his arrival in Britain our colleague is savaged by two of the poorest examples of humanity.

I take it upon myself on behalf of all the decent people in this country to offer you and your family my sincere apologies for what has happened to you. I hope that you get better soon and I trust that you will return to your studies with the enthusiasm and motivation that brought you to the University of Warwick in the first place.

October 17, 2010

The start of a new academic year

A new academic year has started and there are 45 students on the Management for Business Excellence (MBE) masters programme. There were 47 originally, but two left, one after the first 90 minutes of MBE induction and the second after a couple of days. Although I was sorry to see them go, they decided that the style of learning on MBE was not for them and they chose to move to another course. I wish them well in their studies this year.

21 nationalities are represented on MBE - wonderful - so many opportunities to learn from others who have different experiences and perceptions. However, this is not without its problems. Given the learning style in CBE which is largely team-based problem solving, one student wondered how they were ever going to come to an agreement on anything because of the diversity of views.

I think that the answer at least in part, will come from consideration of one of Stephen Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people: Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. In a group with diverse views there is the temptation to makes one's own views heard and be accepted by the group. What Covey proposes is to spend time listening empathetically to truly understand the views of others. If each team member does this there is a far greater chance that they will be able to understand their common ground. And it is on this common ground that they can build their responses to the projects that they are working on, always working towards win-win outcomes. This process of sharing views, analysing and discussing them will inevitably lead to better understanding of others, help everyone to express themselves more clearly and bond the team in the process of working on the mini-projects, learning through practice the true meaning of collaborative working.

I am sure that Vineet Nayar would be happy to employ every graduate of MBE next year:-)

March 18, 2009

Obsession with targets

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7948162.stm

When will organizations and (especially) governments learn that the use of arbitrary targets is a fundamentally flawed practice? There is much condemnation at present of the tragic loss of life at Stafford Hospital and no doubt someone will be found to blame and appropriate action taken. Job done. Problem solved. Or is it? I suggest that a scapegoat or scapegoats will be deemed to be the cause of a badly run organization and the underlying root cause will continue to remain unexamined, far less eliminated.

The outcome at Stafford Hospital is an extreme case of what happens when organizations or individuals foist arbitrary targets on other organizations or individuals. When failure to meet these targets is likely to be career limiting or have other undesirable effects on one's employability, they become the focus of daily life rather than the purpose of the organization.

An organization is a system and a system should have an aim. To achieve that aim processes are developed. Processes have an inherent capability arising from their design. Their actual capability is dependent on the quality of materials, equipment and people that are used to create and run the process. All of these processes should work together to achieve the aim of the system. If the system is not achieving its aim it is necessary to understand the root causes of under performance and take corrective action that improves its capability. The changes implemented should be monitored for efficacy and further improvement action taken as required until the system is achieving its aim.

Now let us imagine an organization that is not achieving the required level of performance, or is costing too much to run. Let us apply targets to focus the people in the organization and get them to perform better! How to reduce the cost of running the organization? Well, let's not recruit to replace staff who have left; cut back on training; don't replace aging equipment; reduce maintenance effort; outsource to a lowest cost bidder. I am sure that with a little imagination we could find myriad ways of reducing the cost of running an organization. And don't forget that these cost savings are not usually done in one fell swoop. No, this is death by 1000 cuts. No single action to delay recruitment, purchase equipment and so on causes catastrophe, but collectively over time the capability of the organization degrades until it is operating so far from its design capability that it fails to meet its primary aims.

So, instead of introducing arbitrary targets, institute leadership. Put in place leaders who understand the nature of a system; who understand that the output of all processes is subject to variation; who understand that working hard without knowledge can never lead to improved performance; who understand that to get the most out of a process, the people in the process have to feel valued and enabled to contribute to the improved performance of their process.

To setters of arbitrary targets I recommend that you get out of the library or preferably purchase copies of a couple of books which, if you spend sufficient time to understand, will help you to realize that setting arbitrary targets is a poor substitute for leadership. When you understand that you will start to know what is really required to help organizations and individuals to improve their performance.

October 10, 2008

When have you researched enough?

Writing about When do you know you have researched enough? from Lila's blog

Lila raises some interesting points about when have you done enough research. My thoughts on this for the Management for Business Excellence students follows.

For the team study phase of the Creating Business Excellence module you have a number of projects to complete. Each of those projects could be studied for many hours, let’s say several hundred hours for a reasonably in-depth literature review. Each team member only has 30 hours to spend on pre-module work and this has to be split between the projects appropriately. If you refer to the learning objectives for the module, by now you will hopefully feel that these objectives will be achieved by working for a total of 100 hours. Your question indicates to me that you are in the process of making your own learning decisions, a key element of critical autonomy in which you go beyond the learning objectives set and start reflecting on your progress.

What all this leads to is study to the depth and breadth that time allows, recognizing that you will not be able to cover everything, and make objective choices on what to place emphasis.

Please do not be tempted to spend longer than the total time allocated for each phase of your study. As wonderful as it is to enjoy researching a topic of interest, your degree comprises many elements and focusing on a few to the exclusion of the others is a recipe for disaster from a qualification viewpoint.

October 08, 2008

What is leadership?

The Management for Business Excellence course started last week with registration and induction and the intake of 24 started the first module, Creating Business Excellence on Monday. Organized into 4 teams, the module starts with 30 hours team study on 6 mini-projects.

I suggested that there was an opportunity for everyone to lead a project; everyone could take a turn in monitoring the use of time, managing the paperwork etc. No instruction was given on how any of this could best be achieved and it appears from recent blog posts that there are different ideas about leadership and there exists in some teams frustration and perhaps a little tension. So perhaps the question that arises is “What is leadership?”

Bernard Bass, a respected scholar on leadership, has written that there are as many definitions of leadership as there have been attempts to define it, and so it is perhaps to be expected that ideas about leadership differ when people join a course from different parts of the world and are placed in a team that ensures the widest cultural mix.

I have analyzed 20 definitions of leadership that have been published in journals over the last 50 years and conclude that my definition of non-coercive leadership captures the essence of all of these definitions. Leadership is the process of influencing the thoughts and activities of followers toward achievement of shared goals. This definition implies that the leadership is non-coercive, otherwise the goals would not be shared. They may be agreed due to the use of power or fear, but not necessarily agreed and I think that this is most relevant to the team situation in the Management for Business Excellence course.

There is a great difference between personal power and positional power. If someone assumes leadership of one of the Creating Business Excellence projects, the other team members may go along with that person. But he or she has not been granted positional power by the group, and I think that is unlikely to ever happen in this scenario in which teams are made up of future leaders in whatever career they choose.

Thus, unable to rely on positional power to coerce team members to follow, the leader in this situation has to use personal power to influence and this must surely start with identification of goals for the task that all share. That’s all very well, but have we got time for this? Wouldn’t it be simpler to give the leader the positional authority and let him/her get on with the task? We could do that but this would not be leadership (in my opinion), it would be headship. Headship, through positional power, can influence the activities of followers, but will their thoughts be influenced in the ‘right’ direction? Will the goals be shared? Without hearts and minds working towards achievement of shared goals, how can headship compete with effective leadership?

If as I do, you find it useful to look at extremes, take a look at any one of a number of 20th century dictators and compare their accomplishments to a thought leader such as Gandhi. I know whom I would prefer to follow.

October 05, 2008

Good wet weather gear

I went walking today in the pouring rain, taking my two dogs on a forest track. After about two hours I returned home and apart from spots of rain on my glasses, I was completely dry. So I thought that I’d share what I was wearing in case anyone would like some recommendations on good gear that works in wet weather.

Firstly, I start with my walking boots. I’ve recently returned from a holiday in the Lake District where they were first put to the test. I have to say that these are the most comfortable boots that I’ve ever worn. They are like putting on a pair of slippers. Check out the website at http://www.ecco.com/gb/en/collection/men/outdoor/68074/51052/detail.do. Made of Yak leather, with a great inner lining that cushions and protects, giving great support but being very light and completely waterproof.

I bought a pair of Sprayway all day rainpants at the start of my holiday in Cumbria because the weather this summer had been so ppor, I was convinced that we’d be walking in the rain in the hills. Webpage http://www.sprayway.com/view/mens_pants-and-shorts_waterproof/product/all%20day%20rainpant refers. As luck would have it, we had the best two weeks that Cumbria had experienced since May and the rainpants stayed in the cupboard. So it was this morning that I wore them for the first time, and they kept me completely dry without feeling like waterproof trousers. Although it rained really hard at times it felt that I was wearing a normal pair of trousers without getting soggy.

A year ago I bought a Montane Velocity DT jacket, http://www.montane.co.uk/productdetails.php, because I need a highly breathable waterproof shell when I am walking in wet weather otherwise I just turn the inside of the jacket into a sauna. This jacket kept me completely dry this morning and did a pretty good job of breathing too, especially as I was completely zipped up with cuffs closed tightly and the hood drawn quite tightly around my face.

My outdoor clothing was finished off with a pair of SealSkinz waterproof activity gloves http://www.sealskinz.com/cgi-bin/psProdDet.cgi/KJ461||@c@b|0|user|1,0,0,1|26|. These are truly great because there is nothing worse in my book than keeping dry and warm in wet, windy weather except for your hands. With the Montane jacket cuffs close securely over the wrist of the gloves, my hands stayed dry and warm throughout.

I thoroughly enjoyed my walk today despite the weather thanks to some excellent gear. I’m not so sure that my dogs were impressed with the walk, but they enjoyed being rubbed down, having a meal and a sleep by the gas fire.

MBE class of 2008

This week saw the start of a new postgrad academic year with enrollment on Monday and induction starting on Tuesday. So far there are 24 students enrolled on Management for Business Excellence (MBE) and there may be three more joining the course on Monday. It is a pity that these three will miss the induction sessions, but I am sure that their colleagues will help them get up to speed quickly. Why do I think this? Well, although it is early days, it looks as though this group is already working well as a team. There have been lots of good questions and discussions and the team working shown on Friday’s Teambuild exercise was excellent. I am sure that the newcomers will be welcomed and will integrate quickly.

This is the first year that the course is called MBE and it is also the first year that the numbers on the course have exceeded 10. This in turn means that a greater number of nationalities and hence cultures are represented and if the group continues to go from its excellent start, this year promises to be very exciting because of the high levels of motivation that will lead to a very rich learning environment.

Welcome to MBE. I look forward to working with you all.

October 14, 2007

Developing reflective practice

This entry follows on from my last in which I considered whether I should make blog entries part of the summative assessment for my modules. I have decided to do so.

Thus, in their first module, the EEE students will be awarded up to 17 marks for the number and quality of their use of blogs and forums. A third of in-course marks (10 out of 30) will be awarded for these contributions. Ten percent of the post module assignment (7 out of 70) will be allocated according to the development of their reflective practice using blogs during the post module period of 6 weeks.

Although it is a little early to discuss results, some EEE members are taking up the challenge and some have yet to do so. I know that doing this is a huge leap for many people, but it is possible to restrict the readership to a group of people with whom they are reasonably comfortable to share their reflective thoughts.

I agree with the comment on my last post that there are other ways in which people can develop their reflective practice. However, the blog is surely the best way in which I as a tutor can follow an individual’s development and add value through supportive, constructive comment.

March 22, 2007

Developing reflective practice

Had a conversation today about reflective practice and blogging. As stream leader of the Engineering Enterprise Excellence (EEE) MSc programme I have encouraged the use of blogs as a tool that assists development of reflective practice. One of the key aims of this programme is for the students to achieve deep learning, and reflection is an essential element of this learning process. Why use a blog for this? Why is a blog so much better than a diary? The blog can be used like a diary because you can create private entries. However, the power of this medium occurs when we choose to make our entries public. By making our reflective thoughts public, we engage the social aspects of learning - of inviting others to comment on our thoughts, helping us to build on our ideas and enabling us to become aware of and understand other views. This provides us with a deeper learning experience and with practice this reflective thinking will become ever more natural.

I recognise that some people are nervous about making their thoughts public.  It is very easy to restrict access to your blog to a circle of friends or colleagues in whom you can confide your thoughts. As you develop confidence in the positive nature of the bogging community, you will widen the circle and thus expand the opportunities for development of ideas. Your blog will become a learning log that will enable you to track the development of your thinking during your study year.

For the current EEE module I have incentivised the use of blogs by allocating marks for the number and quality of reflective entries. My hope is that some students will continue to use blogs when the module and assignment is over.  Perhaps next year I should use this approach from the beginning of the course to increase the probability that EEE students become lifelong reflective practitioners.

March 21, 2007

Enriching the learning environment

I have submitted a bid for funding research and development of the EEE MSc learning environment. The idea is to develop a synchronous conference environment. Nothing new in that you might say, telematic conferencing has been available for a long time. True. What is different about this project is to try to recreate the sense of co-location and socialisation that one has in face to face (F2F) meetings. I would like to create the on-line equivalent of allocating students to teams and asking the teams to meet in a syndicate room or the Learning Grid to discuss and plan a mini-project.

I have noticed how EEE students meet as teams at all hours of the day and night, usually in the Learning Grid. I feel that the facilities of the LG are not always needed and indeed, some of the meetings take place in the coffee shop. For the shorter meetings, how much time would be saved if they could hold the meeting without leaving their residence? For students who live off campus the benefits could be huge. Even if you live on campus, the walk from the LG to the residence during poor weather can be challenging.

If as tutor, I would like to meet the students or the students wish to discuss some aspect of their studies with me, virtual meetings become even more attractive. No longer would it be necessary to book a meeting room (usually in short supply). We could just switch on our high definition webcams at the appointed time and let the meeting begin with the contributors located around a table in a meeting room on screen.

Moving on to module syndicate work the tutor could ‘visit’ teams in their syndicate rooms, switching from one room to another as one would do physically. The students would ‘see’ the tutor as he/she ‘entered’ the room. Then of course, the tutor could ask one team to present to the others, promoting the presenting team to a position of prominence on the screen in both position and size so that they could present to the rest of the group. Presentation over, the team could be return to ‘syndicate room’ position and another team prepared to give a presentation.

Such a system would develop to be stateful. That is, similar to programs like MSN Messenger, you would be able to see who is on-line and set up impromptu meetings, much as you can do in Messenger but with full visual semantics to enable the social aspects of learning to enrich the learning environment.

Of course, such a system would be of even greater benefit to students who live far away from the campus, such as our industrial, part-time students, both at home and overseas. I do not envisage that such a system would completely replace F2F contact, no matter how many improvements were made in terms of bandwidth availability etc until perhaps the technology gives us full 3D high-definition…watch this space.

December 11, 2006

Leadership module

Last Friday (8 Dec 06) saw the end of the Leadership and Excellence (LE) module, one of the core modules for the EEE masters degree and an elective module for the 5 students from other streams. This year the three teams comprised a mix of elective and EEE students and from the outset I was pleasantly surprised at how well the elective students adapted to the different learning environment that has been created for the EEE degree. Without the benefit of the induction week and the previous Practices and Principles of Excellence module, the elective students seemed to embrace the lack of lectures, learning through completing mini-projects in groups and discussing topics of interest in seminars. All of this was supported through the use of forums, blogs and most importantly, the Learning Grid.

Everyone was encouraged to take the opportunity to lead a project or exercise and both Graeme and I were once again delighted at the depth of learning that the LE students demonstrated during project presentations and seminars. The two weeks finished with a planning operation for an outward bound exercise, called the Leadership Challenge. It was interesting to see the different approaches of the leaders and their team members. The exercise is effective because everyone forgets that it is an exercise and gets really immersed into achieving the best plan, scoring the most points and thererfore, everyone behaves naturally.

I thoroughly enjoyed this module. It was great to be in the company of the LE students – their energy and enthusiasm was sustained at a high level throughout the module and many of the reflections in the blogs showed a high degree of insight. I feel that they have achieved a huge amount in just two weeks and I hope that this will provide a foundation for their leadership practice when they leave in ten months time. Thanks everyone.

July 19, 2006

Predestinated hostility, predestinated encounter

Recently watched a cartoon called “wolf and sheep”, it’s about two hostile species establishing true friendship. No matter how disagree from the sheep family, or how disdainful objection from the wolf family, wolf Gabel and Sheep Mei just ran away from their home town, stayed in a jungle, watching moon light every night, and forever.

Have to say, wolf and sheep were much luckier than Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet from two hostile families, also predestinated encounter, love lead them to their path, they felt in love, but could not last forever. Juliet was going to fool everyone by pretending death, after that she could fly away with Romeo to have a new life, where no fighting, no combat at all. However Romeo thought his beloved was dead, so he ended his life by his sword in front of her coffin. And when Juliet woke up from the potion, what she saw is Romeo’s corpse, so she ended her live by Romeo’s sword, following her lover to another world.
Yes, all coincident caused this poor couple could not be together forever in the earth; but their immortal love just lasts for several centuries as classic. Is it only when our mortal fresh faded, then our fragile love could flare as stars? Is it mortal human being, have to accept the flowery love wearing away in drops as time goes by?

When people trade off love for money, fame, power, someone sacrifices live for love, should it be worshipful? Or it is pathetic? Eventually, love just a luxury, very few people could afford it, most people only could choose the commodity. Hopefully, Cupid will not be unemployed in the future…






June 29, 2006

personal space for my singing

Dear all:

I found a nice space to upload 100M stuff, so I put my self singing there, including guitar play and karaoke singing. the link is:

by the way, alex you can register one and record your guitar playing there as well, haha.

the space is: www.castpost.com

May 04, 2006

confession and continuous improvement

recently I have been doing research at home, for assignemnts and for the dissertation, at the mean time I downloaded some buddist movies for mental renewal.

in Buddist philosophy, confession and continuous improvement is very important. we should confess everyday, or at least reflect everyday to understand what we have done. something we have done well, something we have done wrong, something in between then we should improve.

how to improve ourselves? there are three points:
1. shame yourself. what is the difference between human being to other being? we will feel shame. e.g. when we did something wrong we will feel shame, when we realised our weaknesses we will feel shame. shame yourself give us an opportunity to look at our heart deeply and clearly.

2, fear. some people will say: no of course not! I wont fear anything! only coward have fear!

yes, maybe you are brave enough to try everything, or handle every situation, or face any difficulty, but this fear is linked with your consciousness.

some people they fear nothing, because they dont believe in karma, causes and consequences. they thought they could escape the law after they did something so called clever, and believe no one could ever know. every concequence has a cause, if people could escape this life, oneday they will still taste the bitter, only matters the time. how can we not fear?

nothing is certain in this world, only death and tax. when that day comes (not the taxation day) even you want to improve or confess will be too late. all your dreams, your ambitions, your reputation, will stop where they were when the death reach his hand to you. time is always so little, and always so much to do, how can we not fear?

3. brave

we always try to give ourselves many excuses to defer day by day. I will do it tomorrow, I will do that next time….not good!
facing our own mistakes and weaknesses plus trying to improve ourselves, it takes bravery. a hero is brave, and a person who try to admit his mistakes also trying to improve is another kind of hero too. mariah carey sang a song hero, that hero exists in everyone, it is our own concsiouness and bravery!

so, continuous improvement one hand need a mentor to advice you; in another hand, you need to believe karma is your witness.

April 09, 2006

knowledge, asset, technology

these 3 are inter-related and interdependent. technology could not exsit wothout proper knowledge and financail asset to develop. knowledge could not renewal or move on without asset (financial) to support. Asset requires knowledge and technology to maintain and develop….

the principle actually is similar to the material vs intelletual consesus. without material suppot intelletual could not last long, without intelletual support material just empty shell. what makes human being became the king of the nature? intelletual, it is the spring of our lives, it's the light of our darkness, it's the oxygen for our soul. however without material support, our body would not be there, so there will not be a carrier for the intelletual.

outsourcing topic

this is interesting topic too, you outsource what you lack, and someone who is good at it offer what you want.

good relationship and marriage should be two ways mutual outsourcing, we both offer each other something we are good at, in the same time we recieve something we lack from each other, hopefully during the whole process we all develop and improve out life, mind, attitude…

(to be continued)

tacit knowledge consideration

this is a very interesting topic, tacit knowledge is more likely to be the philosophy consesus rather a business aspect.

(to be continued, after my PEUSS)

April 08, 2006

the profound sorrow

What is the grief making you so painful?

The profound sorrow

The sorrow deep in your bone and heart

Even in your blood marrow

When someone could not make you stay

Does it mean you don’t love any more?

Or you don’t have the strength to fight with your fate

What is the furthest distance in the world?

Is the death and alive

Or the distance between the sky and the earth

No, the furthest distance in the world

Is the distance of our hearts

Oppress our emotion

In connection to the profound sorrow

March 29, 2006

5 stories



(立场不同、所处环境不同的人,很难了解对方的感受;因此对别人的失意、挫折、伤痛,不宜幸灾乐祸,而应要有关怀、了解的心情。 )

Different Situations

There are one pig, one sheep and one cow lived in the save place. One day, the shepherd caught the pig and tries to pull him out. Pig was crying, sheep and cow were annoyed by his noise, said: “What is the matter? He often catches us and pull us out, we never cry!”
The pig said: “That’s completely different! He caught you for your wool and your milk only. He caught me for my life!”

(People often cannot understand others in different situations. When you see others frustrated, hurt, painful, please try to care them not laughing at them. )

2、 靠自己

妈妈:因为蚯蚓弟弟会钻土, 大地会保护他啊。

Depend on ourselves

Baby snail asked:” Mom, why we have to carry this heavy hard big shell since we born?”
Snail Mom: Because we don’t have any bone to support us, so we could only climb but very very slow. Therefore this shell is here to protect us.
Baby snail: but why caterpillar has no bone either, she doesn’t need to carry this shell?
Snail mom: because caterpillar could become butterfly one day, the sky will protect her.
Baby snail: then earthworm has no bone nor became butterfly one day, why he doesn’t need to carry this shell?
Snail Mom: because earthworm could drill, so the earth would protect him.
Baby snail cries: we are such poor creature! There is no sky or earth to protect us.
Snail mom said: Honey, that’s why we have the shell! We don’t depend on the sky or the earth, we depend on ourselves!

3、 鲨鱼与鱼

曾有人做过实验,将一只最凶猛的鲨鱼和一群热带鱼放在同一个池子,然后用强化玻璃隔开,最初,鲨鱼每天不断冲撞那块看不到的玻璃,耐何这只是徒劳,它始终不能过到对面去,而实验人员每天都有放一些鲫鱼在池子里,所以鲨鱼也没缺少猎物,只是它仍想到对面去,想尝试那美丽的滋味,每天仍是不断的冲撞那块玻璃,它试了每个角落,每次都是用尽全力,但每次也总是弄的伤痕累累,有好几次都浑身破裂出血,持续了好一些日子,每当玻璃一出现裂痕,实验人员马上加上一块更厚的玻璃。后来,鲨鱼不再冲撞那块玻璃了,对那些斑斓的热带鱼也不再在意,好像他们只是墙上会动的壁画,它开始等着每天固定会出现的鲫鱼,然后用他敏捷的本能进行狩猎,好像回到海中不可一世的凶狠霸气,但这一切只不过是假像罢了,实验到了最后的阶段,实验人员将玻璃取走,但鲨鱼却没有反应,每天仍是在固定的区域游着它不但对那些热带鱼视若无睹,甚至于当那些鲫鱼逃到那边去,他就立刻放弃追逐,说什么也不愿再过去,实验结束了,实 验人员讥笑它是海里最懦弱的鱼。

Shark and fish
Someone did the experiment before. He put a vicious shark with some fish together in the pond, but using special glass to separate them. At the beginning the shark attacked the transparent glass everyday, he tried to eat those fish but he could not. Every time staff change a new glass when the glass had a small crack, it became harder and stronger material, the shark often attacked till bleed.

Eventually one day, the shark stopped attacking the glass, so the staff removed the glass, but the shark still stayed in his side. So the experiment was off, staff laughed that shark was the most coward creature in the ocean.

But people who hurt in the relationship before all understood why-because the shark doesn’t want to get hurt again.

4、 神迹




A small town in France, it said there was miracle spring water could heal many diseases. One day, a retired soldier with one leg only arrived. People said: “poor guy, does he want to beg the God give him another leg again?”
The soldier heard it and answered: “No! I want to beg the God to show me how to move on my life without one leg.”

(Try to accept the fact what you lost, and try to appreciate what you lost. Whatever lost or gaining in our lives, we should try to light up the fire for our future, don’t cry for the pass and try to find out the meaning of the lives.)

5、 钓竿


Fish Rod

An old man was fishing by the river, a kid saw it and came next to him. Old man likes the kid so wants to give the fish to him. The kid said no. old man surprised: “why not?” the kid said: “I want to have your fish rod.”
“what you are going to do with that fish rod?” old man asked.
The kid said: “the fish would be eaten very shortly. If I have the fish rod, I could fish for myself, then I could always have fish.”

(You might think he is a clever kid, but he isn’t . if he only asked for the fish rod, he cannot even have one fish at all. Why? Because he doesn’t know how to fish yet, so only acquire the fish rod is useless. The trick for fishing is the fishing TECHNIQUE, not the fish rod. many people thought they have the fish rod so they have everything. As the kid thought as long as having the fish rod then he could always have fish, employees thought as long as they sit on the director’s office then make them always have money.

March 28, 2006

KBAM study – 2

Found time to work on the PEUSS assignment and later took up the KBAM module sheets. Most of the asset management practices mentioned in the module are practiced in our company and able to appreciate it. The module notes gave insight on why central utility is held alongwith ISD and why contractors are managed by CU in TVSM. Some of the best systems and practices in TVSM like TPM,ISO,OSHAS,....were explained. Not sure how far will others in the group would understand all these things. But felt that there were few repetitions from the area of Finance, which could be accepted due to the relevance. Spent some time on asset management and need to focus on knowledge management in the next few days. Tomorrow morning we (the team) will have a meeting at the learning grid to decide on which areas to focus on.

KBAM study – 1

Paul presented the objectives and learning outcomes of the module. The module is going to be with an entirely new way of learning, no class room teaching, no lectures, no internal assessment….its only the self drive and quest for learning which is going to push the module learnings. It would be a different experience for us. Hope to experience it. The syndicate exercise – Meetings on meetings…went on well, with Jane the general manager, Me the food and product manager, Vlad the training manager and Gez the front house /reception manager. The team discussed the issues quite smoothly and was very amicable. It could have been better if such a exercise (with minor modifications ) is held during leadership and excellence module…which might be useful to explain the leader's role or during the CRIP process (Catchball process). I did the summing up on learnings of the exercise and went on well. Later we had a team meeting and decided to go through the KBAM material and meet again on Wednesday to decide further course of action.

March 27, 2006

be a wise girl

【分享】聪明的女人 Be a Wise Girl

If a man began to ignore you, please leave him. You don’t have to devote your love and your heart to someone doesn’t appreciate it.

任何时候,不要为一个负心的男人伤心,女子更要懂得,伤心,最终伤的是自己的心。如果那个男人是无情的,你更是伤不到他的心,所以 ,收拾悲伤,好好生活。
Never break your heart for any man who is not worthy r. Heartbreak finally only break your heart not his heart. So be strong and carry on.

Never chase the man you like too close, although you love him terribly deep. Give him space and time, otherwise you will lose him eventually.

When a man says to you: let’s finish! Don’t cry, you should smile and reply: I have been waiting for you to say that, then turn away.

Always believe yourself, treat yourself, let your life splendid. You are not doing this for making anyone regret his lost, you are doing this for your own sake.

Please smile back to the people who truly appreciate you.

Dong go to bar or night club when you feel so lonely. A lonely woman with a cigarette and wine in hand, only make you feel more lonely and upset.

don’t go for peacockery, it is drug and you will get addicted.

要有几个死党,独自一人的时候,保证还能有死党为你端茶送水。而不是声竭力嘶的嚎叫为什么说爱你的那 个人不能来陪你。
Have intimate friends, when you alone at least someone could get you a cup of water.

Open your eyes clearly to choose your partner. If you chose the wrong one please leave immediately, otherwise both of you will get hurt.

Go travelling; travelling could fulfil your emptiness.

Know what you want, including the man you love.

None is better than exceeding. Don’t find a man because you are lonely, it’s not fair for both of you, and lack of responsibility.

Say “NO” to the one you don’t want when he courting you, even he says “it’s not your business”.

认真的对待你的工作。工作也许不如爱情来的让你心跳,但至少能保证你有饭吃,有房子住,而不确定的爱情给不了这些,所以,认真努力 的工作。
Be serious to your job. Your job might not make your heart beats like you are in love, but at least your job ensures you have food, house, which love could not ensure. So work hard.

Don’t be regret for someone you already missed, if they don’t belong to you, then find another one who does.

Don’t fall in love with a married man, even he swear he would divorce for you. If he doesn’t love his wife anymore, he would divorce anyway, not because your existence.

情人节或者生日没有人送花也无所谓,不必自己去买一束让花店送来。你可以将买花 的钱买精美的礼物,送给妈妈和爸爸。
It’s ok no one buys you flower in Valentine Day, don’t buy for yourself. You could save the money for presents for your parents.

You can love a man, but don’t give your whole to love him. No one is worthy you to devote your life. If you don’t cherish yourself, who else would?

Cook for him when you like, but don’t do it everyday. You are not born to cook for him.

sing for yourself occasional, performance doesn’t matter, as long as you feel good.

When you feel lonely, get some friends for shopping, chatting and meal. It doesn’t have to be lonely.

If you text someone you like without any reply, don’t text him anymore.

万一脆弱的不行了,请选好哭泣的对象,不要随便借 肩膀和胸膛。
if you have to cry, please choose a right audience. Don’t pick a random guy’s shoulder.

从现在开始,聪明一点,不要问他想不想你?爱不爱你?他要想你或者爱你自然会对 你说,但是从你的嘴里说出来,他会很骄傲和不在乎你。
Don’t ask him “do you miss me?” “Do you love me?”. He will say it if he really misses you or loves you. But if you ask him, it would make him proud to ignore you.

不要24 小时都想念同一个人。可以分一点给家人和朋友。
Don’t miss the same person 24 hours. Spend some time to your family and your friends.

let him know you like him when it’s available. You might not have the answer you want, but at least you try and you wont regret in the future.

If you want to leave a person, you better be quick. If you want to love a person, you better be slow to see if he is suitable for you.

If a man says he love you, believe him. When he says he doesn’t love you, believe him too. Always tell yourself, it’s lucky to leave a man who doesn’t love you.

Love your parents. Call them or have meal with them at least once per week.

Don’t have to banish yourself for someone. Life still going on whatever you love or not, finish is finish, why suffer yourself?

Buy good quality clothes, and find a good quality man. He doesn’t have to be rich or handsome, but he has to make you feel happy and secure.
If someone said something upset you, try to forgive him. He would be regret he lost a good girl like you.

有一个最少两年内需要达成的目标。有目标的人生不 会太无聊。
At least have one goal you could achieve within 2 years. Without goal life is boring.

If so unfortunately you met a man only aim for sex, please smiles first then despise him: You are the most disgusting loser I ever met in the world. Then walk away with your grace.

If a man uses busy as excuse not to meet you or reply your email, not care what you are now and not share the life with you, please leave him bravely.
Nothing is more important than caring you. Love a man who doesn’t love you, you are wasting you time.

Innocent is good, but if you are innocent in every case, it will become idiot.

Learn to live with pain. Some words should be buried in heart only; some pain should be forgotten quietly. Experience made you grown.

Don’t wait for man buy you present. Buy for yourself when you want it, you feel much more comfortable.

Don’t try to revenge a man after he left you, that only worse your life and your mind. The best way is to live better than before and tell him: “Thank you, I am happy.”

When you have time you can learn yoga and tae kwan do, yoga helps you relax your mind; Tae Kwan Do helps you protect life.

Love the person who loves you. If only you love him or only he loves you, please leave. You don’t need someone pretends caring you, and you don’t need to pretend caring someone.

Hold your beloved’s hand when you walking in the park. if you don’t have one, then learn to appreciate the view.

Please believe first sight love, believe there is someone always waiting for you in the corner of the world. As long as you see the world with your heart, and be patient.

做个睿智的女子。学会从容面对生活。积极面对生活 ,生活定会如你所愿,如同明早,太阳依旧会如时升起。
Be a wise girl, learn to cope with challenge and be positive. Life would be as you wish, as the sun rising in the east.

March 20, 2006

on the way to the journey is more important than the destination

when we try to arrive cerntain destinations, did we ignore thebeautiful viewduring the journey? When we try to seek for cerntain outcomes, did we ignore the processes?

one philosophist said:our beginning and destination are all the same-from birth to death, what makes the differences are the view during our journey.

human being often make such mistakes. when we study we only care the marks rather than what we have learnt; when we compete in sports we only care who won rather than challenge ourleves; when we have relationship we only care the workout rather than single detail we share and enjoy….

Yes, we kept the peel and threw all the essential parts of our life, how silly it is!

From today, I want to enjoy my view on the journey, no matter where is my destination, there must be something beautiful worthy to explore….