June 10, 2013

Health and Safety Management: Accidents are preventable

After concentrating on health and safety management (and KM) for so long, one cannot help but formulate an opinion. Since this opinion is formed after reflecting on what I have read, I feel it is important to share it with you all.

I came across a report from the health and safety executive which stated that about 70% of work-related accidents are caused by management deficiencies. This is a staggering amount when you consider that on average, 2 people die everyday from an accident at work. This is a terrible loss, and the real tragedy is that it is preventable. Hence, I passionately believe that it's about time management shows more responsibility for the safety of their people. In order to change this sorry culture, they have to address this problem at the highest level. I will finish this by sharing a quote from the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission. It is safe to say that I share his view.

"As far as I am concerned, those who cannot manage health and safety, cannot manage. We need to create a positive health and safety culture which sees business go beyond doing the statutory minimum."- Bill Callaghan, Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission

June 09, 2013

Knowledge Management: Link with employee commitment

It is widely believed that the success of KM initiatives is ultimately predicated on having employees who are willing and prepared to share their knowledge. This is why, in my opinion, I feel it is very important to identify the factors that affect the willingness or reluctance of employees to share their insights.

After reflecting on this issue for a while, I believe one of the major factors is the level of commitment that employees feel towards their organization. If they are highly commited to their jobs, they will be more likely to share their knowledge with others. In contrast, if they are not commited, they will not have any motivation to share their expertise. Hence, it is very important for companies to increase the overall employee satisfaction and commitment. They must ensure that they have a strong psychological contract with their workers. Although, this does not give a definitive answer as to why some employees choose to share their knowledge and others don't, this information can help me in the future to appreciate the knowledge-sharing attitudes and behaviours of people.

Knowledge Management: Minimizing the impact of employee turnover and mergers

In my opinion, there are two obvious scenerios where having a knowledge management program will make an instant difference:

1) High rate of voluntary employee turnover: This is a critical issue for many companies. Employees quitting their jobs can cost an organization millions of pounds. This is because when they quit, they take away their knowledge with them. This loss can be clearly minimized by having a knowledge management system.

2) Mergers and Acquisitions: This is again a common occurence in the business world. Huge deals happen fairly regularly now as companies are taken over and others are merged. Each company almost always has a different way of doing things. However, effective knowledge management can mean that lessons are combined and learned. During my internship at Metro, I was lucky enough to experience how knowledge sharing can help ease the post-acquisition period. Metro, which was already the largest cash and carry business in the world, acquired Makro shortly before I started my internship. I noticed how both sets of employees would often talk to each other about their experiences from before the acquisition. I believe this was a good practice regardless of whether they knew what they were doing or not.

Knowledge Management: An enabler for innovation

I believe innovation is great since it helps organizations generate value. In order to grow, companies have to break out of a vicious cycle of doing the same old stuff. Not only that, Innovation helps change people's lives for the better. It allows people to hope and realize their dreams, and in my opinion you cannot put a price on that.

This is one of the reasons why I believe having an effective KM program is imperative for organizations today. A work place with a free flow of ideas will encourage collaborative work between employees and foster innovation. This will help create new products, new opportunities and more efficient processes. Knowledge management is sometimes quite rightly claimed as a means to an end and not an end in itself. In this case, it is believed to be enabling innovation that ultimately leads to increased revenue generation. One of my goals in life is to start up my own innovative business. In order to fully develop the innovation capability of my company, I will make sure that an effective KM practice is in place and that ideas are shared freely across all levels.

June 08, 2013

Health and Safety Management: PDMR Cycle (Khan, 2013)

I don't know if you guys have noticed it but studying MBE has definitely made us more process-oriented. This is hardly surprising if one reflects on the fact that during this academic year, we have often come across terms such as the PDCA cycle. The PIUSS module was entirely about improving PROCESSES; similarly the PEUSS module was about designing defect free PROCESSES; and RDM was about improving the decision making PROCESS.

In true MBE style then, I have come up with my very own process for health and safety management. The only difference is that instead of Shewhart's PDCA, my cycle is called Plan-Deliver-Monitor-Review (PDMR).

I feel that planning is critical for health and safety management. Hazards and risks have to be correctly identified at the earliest possible stage.

Deliver is about the actual improvement of health and safety within the workforce. For this to be done effectively, I feel that the plan has to be easily understood and readily available. In the future, I will make sure that any such implementation plan is displayed where it can be easily seen by everyone. I will also ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities.

The third stage, i.e. monitor, is crucial too. This is because without a formal record, corrective and prevention measures will be very difficult to implement.

Finally, the fourth stage involves reviewing the health and safety performance of the organization. This will help identify any gaps that still exist. These could be further improved through some more planning and the whole cycle repeats itself as the organization continuously improves it health and safety practice.

June 07, 2013

KBAM: Keeping the plan simple

Learning theory is good, but the actual application of that knowledge is what separates a postgraduate from an undergraduate. In this sense, I have really enjoyed working on this assignment. The fact that it is asking us to be more practical in our approach has made it that much more interesting.

The overriding feeling I have had while working on this pma is that somehow this is preparing us for the professional world. This is because organizations often have to create implementation plans. One thing that I will do well to remember is that plans are only as good as the execution. At the end of the day, your best assets i.e. your people are going to be the ones who implement the plan. Hence, if it is to have any value at all, it has to be a working document which employees can easily relate and refer to. I feel that it is absolutely critical for the plan to be easily understandable.

And so I have tried to keep it simple for this assignment, but much more importantly, I would like to keep it as simple as possible in the future too when I may be doing this for real. Put another way, I would hate to make the plan any longer than it needs to be, as I really do believe that over-the-top jargon will not add any value whatsoever.

KBAM: Health and Safety– It's not just a humanitarian concept

After reading a bit more about all the different aspects of asset management, I decided to go with Health and Safety. Although we don’t have to justify why we chose a particular branch of asset management in the PMA question, there are many reasons why I personally chose Health and Safety Management. One of the main reasons is that the health and safety of my employees is something I would never compromise on. In that sense, it will be very high on my priority list when I become a manager.

However, not everyone is the same and others might not view health and safety initiatives in such a humanitarian way. Zoe Chilton raised an important point in her CSR talk. She said that senior managers often only understand the language of money. She told us how she had to convey the economic benefits of CSR to her boss. I believe this holds true for health and safety management as well. This is why I feel this assignment is really useful as I have learned how effective management of health and safety can have a positive impact on the bottom line of an organization. The simple fact that badly managed health and safety can cost an organization a lot of money is not only provable but will also appeal to how some board members think. If it comes to it, I can use this information in the future to convince senior management why health and safety management is a great idea.

May 07, 2013

A sporting analogy– Is knowledge sharing a key ingredient for success?

In brief...Yes! Or at least in the eyes of Robin Van Persie (the dutch striker who has recently won the premier league with manchester united).

When asked why he thinks he adapted so quickly to life at his new club, he replied:

"Everybody was so nice to me, everybody wanted to help me and everybody told me they wanted to share the success with me. Playing with team-mates who want to help you and are happy for you if you score is a key ingredient" (Interview on manutd.com).

Now lets try to decipher and figure out the underlying message in his response. An environment where everyone is trying to help each other because they want everyone to share the success is essential for enhancing the team spirit. This is the premise of knowledge sharing. Knowledge should be shared all across the organization as shared success is sweeter than individual success.

April 28, 2013

KBAM: Shared goals, Shared Knowledge

There is one moral story that I remember coming across in my childhood, which highlights the message that unity is strength. I never thought that I would be sharing it here but I now feel that in many ways, it also points to the win-win culture of knowledge sharing.

"Once, an old man was very ill and lay dying in his bed. He had four sons who were al­ways fighting with each other. He always worried about them and wanted to teach them a lesson and asked his sons to come to him. When they came, the old man gave them a bundle of sticks and said, “Can you break these sticks?”

The first son tried to break the bundle but nothing hap­pened. He tried very hard and finally gave up. Then it was the turn of the second son to try his luck. He thought it would be an easy task and picked up the sticks easily. He tried his best to break the sticks but nothing happened. Then, the third son tried to break the bundle of sticks, but he couldn’t do anything either.

Meanwhile, the youngest son jeered at his brothers and thought they were very incom­petent. He thought he was very clever and took one stick at a time and easily broke all of them.

The old father then smiled at his sons and said, “Children, do you understand what hap­pened? It is always easy to break the sticks one by one. But when they are bundled to‑ gether, none of you could break them. In the same way. you four brothers should always be together. No one will be able to hurt you then.” The four brothers realised what their father was trying to teach them and forgot all their enmity and learnt that unity is strength.

From that day onwards, they never fought with each other and lived together in peace and harmony."

The message that organizations can learn from this story is that if they use the collective knowledge of all their workers, they can easily achieve the desired performance. To conclude, I really think that they can only truly achieve excellence when they live by the value of "shared goals, shared knowledge".

April 27, 2013

KBAM: How to effectively manage assets?

In my last blog, I talked briefly about 'what' asset management is and 'why' it is important. Now, I want to address the 'how' element, which often gets overlooked as pointed out by luisa today.

Without going into too much detail, I would like to share my reflections on how assets can be managed more effectively. Firstly, I believe that there should be clear objectives. This can only be achieved if an accurate assessment of the current situation is made (similar to what the teams did today for the presentations). The desired outome from the asset system should be outlined so that it is measurable. This could, for example, be a specific level of performance required from the asset. A timescale plan should also be constructed for implementing the strategy aimed at achieving the objectives of asset management. I also believe that these objectives should be tied in with organzational goals and strategy.

In essence, one can (and ideally should) use the principles of PDCA and continuous improvement in asset management. Organizations must always work on the enablers (for example, their processes and resources) in order to have an efficient and effective asset management procedure.

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  • Hi Wayne, thank you for your kind words. It is really nice to know that you have enjoyed reading my … by Hasan Khan on this entry
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