April 27, 2013

KBAM: Why is Asset management important?

On completing this module, I now better appreciate the scope of Asset Management. We only covered the management of physical or tangible assets but we found even that to be such an extensive topic. This has made me reflect on the importance of asset management. More specifically, why do organizations need to manage their physical assets?

I believe that it has such a significant role in determining the profitability and the operational performance of a company that they really cannot afford to ignore the effective management of their assets. It optimises their processes, reduces the whole life cost of their assets and ensures value for money in terms of property, plant, buildings, machinery and vehicles, etc. Hence, I will try to use this knowledge and build upon it through my work on the PMA in order to enhance the knowledge and asset management at my organization.

April 26, 2013

KBAM: Discounting

An important element of life cycle costing is discounting. I have come across this concept before but now I understand it in a greater depth. In essence, it ensures that all costs or benefits are compared in a meaningful way. The idea stems from the fact that real value of money changes due to interest rates and inflation.

One quote that often gets mentioned whenever someone brings up the topic of net present value is: "A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow". This is true since you can invest that money and earn interest. Moreover, inflation will lead to an increase in the price of an item, meaning that you will not be able to buy it with the same amount in the future. I know that this detail can often get overlooked by people, so I will make sure that I avoid this mistake when evaluating alternatives or identifying preferred choices in the future.

April 23, 2013

KBAM: Wisdom

The seminar today on wisdom was immensely enjoyable. In my preparation, I came across many qualities associated with being wise. These included having experience, knowledge, good judgement, compassion and morality.

However, from the discussion today, I have learnt that the significance of reflection cannot be downplayed. Confucious also labelled it the noblest way to increase wisdom. Indeed, if we think about it, having a lot of experience and knowledge will not make you wise unless you reflect. Hence, one must never pass up an opportunity to reflect and become a little wiser during the process.

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest"- Confucious.

KBAM: Barriers to effective sharing of knowledge

There are many roadblocks in effective sharing of knowledge. For example, employees may fear loss of ownership. Their false mental model can discourage them from sharing knowledge as they might feel they will not receive recognition. I believe that this is closely related to other barriers too such as lack of trust and lack of education. As a future manager, I hope to overcome these barriers by motivating and educating employees in my area of influence (to begin with). I would also ensure that feedback is provided. Another helpful way to harness knowledge can be to enhance socializing and be genuinenly interested in my followers' interests.

The one barrier that I am most concerned about presently is the lack of time. Managers are under a lot of pressure from their bosses, who may ask them to focus on purely operational activities rather than facilitate knowledge sharing. I suppose it depends on how receptive your boss is to your ideas, but we can still educate them on the importance of sharing knowledge and on the concept of control limits.

KBAM: Awareness workshop

Today's workshop on information, knowledge and awareness was very informative. I have to admit the video had an impact on me as all these disasters could have been avoided. Although I am not burdened by it, I do feel the sense of responsibility that a manager has in ensuring the safety of workers.

I have also learnt that it is important to not just gather information but also interpret it effectively and anticipate what could go wrong. Hence, I would personally like to develop my situational awareness more.

In addition, I now know at least one thing that I will be focusing on when I start my new job. The early days will be a perfect opportunity for me to observe the processes and ensure that any relevant information is readily available to employees. I would also like to emphasize the need on being effective rather than just efficient, as workers can sometimes overlook safety in order to be fast and efficient.

April 22, 2013

KBAM: Practicing what we learn

I am a firm believer that if we are not going to practice what we learn, then what's the point? In light of this, it was very encouraging to see how our group has already started the practice of sharing knowledge.

Basically, we divided the task amongst ourselves so that each of us had a separate section to look at in the online notes on moodle. The purpose was to spend time developing an understanding of our individual topic within Asset management and knowledge management, and then share that understanding with other group members. This is what we did, and I believe it worked really well. There are obvious advantages of sharing knowledge in this manner too. For starters, we managed to cover all the sections in a short period of time. This suggests that sharing knowledge can really make your life easier, which is a very nice thought.

Moreover, we were all able to transmit our detailed and personalized understanding of the area we were looking at. It was more than just sharing data or simple information.

This moves me nicely to my final point. Since we all gave a detailed presentation to the group, we were in effect sharing tacit knowledge. However, as we also made notes (either on computer or handwritten), we can also very conveniently share explicit knowledge rather than simply tacit. This can be beneficial in a number of ways. For example, let's suppose a new member joins us. He or she can easily access that knowledge even though they were not present when each of us delivered our presentations to other teammates. This also explains why it is so important for companies to have a system in place that actively transforms the tacit into explicit knowledge. It ensures that any new recruits can easily access and benefit from the knowledge gained by other employees' experiences.

KBAM: Why is knowledge management important?

Knowledge management is undeniably very important. Judging by how all the topics put forward for seminar were related more closely to knowledge management than asset management, it seems that almost all of us appreciate its importance too. Whilst, I do not wish to undermine asset management (which is also vital), it was, nonetheless, an interesting observation.

So one must ask: why is knowledge management such a big deal?

In my opinion, the answer lies partly in the constant bombardment of data that we get regularly. For example, anyone who has been to an assessment centre and done the e-tray exercise will concur with me that an overload of data is almost suffocating. In that short space of time, you get close to about 30 emails in your inbox which require you to interpret data and make a decision. Now, if these organizations are using that to mirror their day-to-day work, then that paints a very critical picture. Essentially, these companies are living and breathing on data. This ever-increasing overload of data has, in my opinion, made knowledge management very important. Some would even go as far as comparing it with the analogy of a life support machine.

As a future manager, I hope to instil a culture where learning is a routine and knowledge management is a priority. This will not only aid the decision-making process at the organization but also harness innovation and generate wealth.

April 20, 2013

RDM: Group versus individual decision–making

For our presentation, we all worked together in teams and made decisions collectively. However, there is an age old debate about the relative effectiveness of group and individual decision-making.

Since, decision-making is such an important part of life and businesses nowadays, I feel that it is important to address these two types of decision-making.

Individual decision-making: This can perhaps be thought of as the traditional way of making decisions. An example can be a manager making important decisions by him/herself. It is widely believed that when there is only a single person involved, making a decision can be relatively quick and easy. However, I believe that it should only be made when the decision does not affect anyone else (otherwise, it is likely to be met with resistance).

Group decision-making: This is more of a collaborative effort. It can be done either via consensus or consultation. Consensus means that the most popular choice is selected, whilst consultation refers to a person (e.g. manager) asking others for their opinions when making a decision.

As the saying goes "Two heads (or more) are better than one", I believe that group-decision making (if done properly) can actually lead to a more robust decision. This is because input from all members is considered. Moreover, different stakeholders will be able to have their say in the criteria selection. Also, they will bring their individual expertise to the table and so more accurate assumptions can be used to reach the decision. In addition, there is a possibility of coming up with many alternative approaches to the problem. In order to make sure that these benefits are realized, we have to make sure though that there is no one person dominating others and that issues such as group think and social pressures are avoided. Only then, an effective decision can be made.

April 19, 2013

RDM: Important factors to consider

In order to make a robust decision, we first need to know which factors have an impact on the quality of a decision. After learning more about decision making, I now understand that there are at least four things which decision makers should do to make more effective decisions. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and it only represents my humble opinion:

1) Ensure that almost all suitable criterions are considered.

2) Develop a wide-ranging list of alternatives (avoid a scenerio where only well-known options are chosen).

3) Make sure that both advantages and disadvantages are considered for each option (often biases creep in and disadvantages are ignored).

4) Keep looking for any information that can better inform the decision (this is important since new information can sometimes completely change the outlook of a decision. The purpose is to better inform the decision and not to justify a choice, so one should always avoid confirmation bias).

April 17, 2013

RDM: Groupthink

During the RDM module, we did a worksheet on groupthink, where we had to match its symptoms (such as rationalization and belief in group morality) with the given statements. At the time, I found it slightly similar to the concept of establishing rules when brainstorming as a group. More specifically, the suggestions that ideas should not be criticized at the outset and that one person should not dominate the proceedings so much so that he/she steers the group towards his/her personal perspective.

In the post module period, I have been motivated to learn more about groupthink. For example, I have learnt that the proposition of groupthink was developed by Irving Janis in 1972. The underlying idea is that groupthink usually happens when there is an autocratic leader and when the team is restricted from accessing contrary perspectives. It can have a number of drawbacks in terms of the decision making process. For instance, the option that is favored by the majority can be accepted without a challenge, the team can suffer from overconfidence, and other more viable alternatives may be ignored all together.

These drawbacks can be avoided, however, by a few simple steps such as: ensuring everyone critically evaluates the decisions, dividing into subgroups, inviting group members to throw fresh ideas and encouraging at least one person to play the role of the devil's advocate. All of these should be important considerations for us in any next decision making process that we undertake.

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