All entries for April 2012

April 29, 2012

Asset management indeed?

As I was searching on the asset management issue, I came across a website that was suggesting that AM is often used as a synonym of investment management or fund management. And to be honest, I was quite skeptical with this statement.

But, as I was thinking about it and reading more it started to make sense. However, I should note that the perspective of this website was focused more on the financial benefits that a company can has from managing its assets. They emphasize the investments that a company does on assets or how it can exploit the assets in a way that is financially beneficial. That is why they define AM differently.

During the module, this aspect of asset management wasn't discussed at all and we were more focused on the different areas that a company should focus on. But, to my mind, this kind of AM presented by that website can apply to many companies. And I think that there are companies, and especially asset managers who has that viewpoint.

April 28, 2012

Is people indeed the most valuable asset of a company?

I know that intangible assets, like people, are not a big part of this module. Of course tangible assets like buildings, equipment and so on need a lot of attention and specific plans to be managed successfully. However, there was a general discussion towards people management at the end of the module.

In the previous module that I attend, the tutor asked who believed that people are the most valuable asset of a company and most of us answered positively. Nevertheless, she stated that it's not people. It is great people who are the most important asset of a company! And actually it's makes sense!

The problem is that for a company is almost sure that not all its people are great. Maybe the majority of them, but not all. Thus, a company has to do the best it can with what is has. It's not easy; rather it's challenging. But if a company has more great than good people, then it is highly likely that it's in the right track.

"Good is the enemy of great"

Commitment or engagement?

In this MSc program it is common practice to work in teams. And of course this practice represents how companies work to a large extent. So far, I've been working with most of my colleagues and sometimes things run smoothly whereas other times are more problematic. But what we experience here is like a 'miniature' of the real world. Most of the times you don't have the luxury to choose your team. Instead a team is assigned to you! And if happens you to be the leader, you need to make sure that team members are commited and actively involved. But in order to have the best results possible, engagement is essential. Just have a look at the picture. All people need to bring the letters to make the word, and not just sitting and watching others do everything. Not only because other members may put more effort on the common task (which is very important), but also for having a common sense of ownership.

Linking this idea to knowledge and asset management, team work is vital for these tasks as well. Either if it is KM or AM, all employees in a company need to be engaged, not just committed. Because the activities involved in managing knowledge and assets cannot be owned by a single person. They require team work.

Of cource commitment is paramount and the first step for good results, but engagement can bring excellence.

April 27, 2012

Asset Management + Benefits – Costs = ?

During this module while we were working on creating a plan for a company about its asset management, the financial aspects were at the back of our minds. Of course we knew that we were dealing with a SME, thus we didn't consider anything extravagant. It is true that some things in improving AM may cost nothing in terms of money.

Nevertheless, it is natural that some suggestions will require spending certain amounts of money. But on the other hand, it is not advisable to companies to spend more money on things that cannot afford. So, can a company do both? Improve significantly its current practices and spend as little money is possible?

To my mind, this in not always easy. A certain budget needs to be allocated for improving the asset management activities, but it needs to be flexible. Because, if companies want to improve their AM, but they have only financial criteria during their decision-making process, instead of the potential long-term benefits, then excellence seems impossible.

KM not only in companies!

Knowledge management is not important only for the companies, but for students as well! Let me explain what I mean by that. Today, after the team presentations we had a discussion about them, concerning more technical aspects of them. It was a common agreement that our presentation skills have improved significally! Yet, there are more things to be done in order to achive excellence in this part!

Although I was very confident about my team's presentation in the first place, we didn't actually have the time to finish it. As this thing has happened before, in other modules and other teams, we should have been more aware of it. Instead, we were thinking that we will have the time.

Thus, the 'lessons learned' for me from this fact can be compared with what companies can learn from KM. All the time knowledge and learning is generating. But you need to manage how to apply them, and what to include so that you pass the message across.

April 23, 2012

Situational awareness and confirmation bias

biasSituational awareness is more than common sense. However, common sense and emotional intelligence can be vital parts of it. In other words, situational awareness can be simply defined as knowing what is going on in the surrounding environment. As we learned today, situational awareness can be affected by several factors and can result in errors.

One of the most interesting things though in this situational awareness, is the confirmation bias which means that you see what you expect to see and you pick up signals that can support the mental model you've already created, even though the signals may say the opposite. This kind of bias can happen to us any time and I am quite sure that we all have experienced it several times so far.

In fact, this happened to me recently when I submitted a PMA. I was working on it to finalise it for almost two days and after the submission I realised that something was missing. Of course my omission is 'harmful' only for me and the potential mark that the tutor will assign, but when this thing happens in real-life situations where the stakes are higher and human lives can be involved, confirmation bias can have fatal results unfortunately.

April 20, 2012

Making decisions on Asset Management

article_checklist.jpgFor managing assets appropriately, decision-making is vital in this process. First of all, not all things apply to all companies and suit their culture. Thus, even though a specific aspect of asset management might seems interesting and temting to address it, it should go under the discussion of its appropriateness for the company in question. Take for example the facilities management aspect. There is a huge list with things that companies need to address, but it doesn't automatically means that all these things are part of their day-to-day business. What is more, decision-making seems more relevant given the facet of several constraints, such as the budget and resources that each company has available for spending in each part of asset management.

You can picture this process like packing your things for a potential trip. It's for sure that you won't pack everything in the suitcase just for a 5 day trip! Either because you don't need a lot of things or because there are weight or space limitations. You have to be able to decide what to take with you and what to leave behind!

April 18, 2012

Can excellence be achieved…?

Follow-up to Managing knowledge and assets: easy or difficult? from "It's not a MBA, it's a MBE"

In my previous entry I posed the question if excellence in knowledge and asset management can be achieved within a company. And the answers I got so far indicate that indeed, excellence is possible by having the right people and right infrastructure.

However, I am still not totally convinced. My 'inhibitions' lie in the fact that both issues are too big to be addressed properly or at least sustained over time. But just for now let's assume that attaining excellence is achieveble. Then, how can a company (company 1) be sure that it is considered as excellent in these fields? And don't just say by self-assessment and benchmarking! Because this is like comparing and competing with other companies which one knows the most things and manages its assets better and so on...

And is it possible that another company (company 2) does something differently in knowledge and asset management that puts it in a pedestal of excellence that the assuming previous excellent company (company 1) does not?

A Greek philosopher, Socrates, said that “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” and as long as we live we keep learning. That thing also applies in companies as employees are those who learn. Aren't they...?

April 17, 2012

Managing knowledge and assets: easy or difficult?

Knowledge management and asset management are two quite broad issues that companies have to deal with. Each one, and even each perspective of them, takes a lot of time to be explored and understood. Yet, an exellent company needs to address both in such an effective way that gives it sustainability and successful results. Thus, how easy can these processes be?

To my mind, so far, these two things, knowledge and assets are more than difficult to be managed effectively! Not only because they are too broad, but also because they involve many people. And usually the more complex a situation is, the more difficult is to handle it properly. And what seems to be even more difficult is to sustain a certain (effective) management level on these issues and the same time to keep doing business.

Therefore, how can a company ensure that it can achieve excellence in managing knowledge and assets? Or maybe there is not such a thing in these areas?

Wrong decisions

Iright & wrongn every PMA we all make decisions about what to write exactly. However, we are never 100% sure that we make the best decision and usually the feedforward and the marks can prove us right or wrong. In a recent PMA though I made up my mind to use a specific model to apply a change. When I made the decision I was pretty sure that it was appropriate and suitable for my case. Nevertheless, when I asked the tutor about it, it proved that I made the wrong decision. Luckily, there was still plenty of time to fix this 'mistake'.

Having that incident in mind, I was wondering what happens when companies face a similar case (not for PMAs of course!). If they make a decision which that particular time seemed to be the right one, but after a while they realize that was actully wrong, what happens next? Some situations are reversible but others not... And is there always enough time to make things right again?

April 2012

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