March 06, 2016

Decision making

Decision making is an inevitable process in all personal and orgnaizational aspects, while organizations must endeavour to make as good decision as possible to achieve excellence.

How many choices did you make today? or this week? - Average is 70 per day. How many decision CEOs need to make per week and how long do they take for each choice? We are making decisions everyday from small to big and we may think we can do well. There are studies showing that on average every CEO have to make 139 decisions per week and 50% of the decisions were made in an 9 mins or less, only 12% of decisions took them an hour or more. The questions arise here. In this choice overload world, how well do you think the choices are managed? How many choices are made through robust and rational process? In fact, most of people make decision based on intuition and instinct most of time. The feeling of deep uncertainty may come from their not knowing of key parties' preference, the system model or opportunity cost prediction. Robust Decision Making can help to delivery rational decisions with systematic analysis.

The key idea is to start with defining goals and uncertainties, select candidate strategeis, estimate performance of strategies in many futures, explore various senarios and characterize the vulnerabilities of strategies, finally evaluate tradeoffs and make the decision. It is much easier said than done. We have covered a huge range of decision making tools in the lecture, however deciding which tools to use is the first decision to be made before tackling any problems in any situations. Information also plays a key role in decision making process where data collection needs to be accurate and effective enough to ensure the quality of the decision. However in the information overloaded world, choosing from useful information and identifying the optimum point through cost and benefit analysis are vital.

Decision making are everywhere, selecting the right methodology is the most significant and very first decision to be made. Wrong methods will definately lead to the wrong decision and organization will have to suffer and take the consequences if that happens. Design for Six Sigma is intend to do things right for the first time instead of spending a fortune to rectify the problems resulted from wrong decisions. Deming also proposed Plan-Do-Check-Act aiming to minimize the impact of wrong decisions. Making robust decisions are therefore an improtant task in industry.

February 21, 2016

influence even with no authority?

After talking about leadership for several weeks, some of us may keep wondering how can we influence in the culture that positional power is a main component of leadership. I wouldnt dare to say that anyone of us will be in leadership position and get people to do what you ask immediately after graduation. But we do need to enhance our personal influence wherever we are and whatever we do. Influence is, simply put, the power and ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. People in authority but do not have leadeship skills will only get compliance from followers, but of course we need more than that, we need genuine commitment in order to achieve shared goals.

The most effective influencers know how to utilize all three approaches: logic, emotion and cooperation. To maximize your personal influence, you’ll want to evaluate your own style of influencing. What tactics do you use most? What could you do differently? For example, if you rely exclusively on logical, you’ll miss the chance to engage people through their emotions, values and relationships. If you overemphasize emotional or cooperative, you may leave out the data and rationales that will make your case. Usually women are more of emotion and cooperation approaches and men of logic, this is where we need self-awareness and apply some balancing skills.

Once you are more aware of your influencing style, you’ll be able to become a more versatile–and more effective–leader or influencer if that is what you would like to address yourself when you dont have authority. I believe that being a great influencer will pave the way to become a great leader when time comes. We shall prepare us for the future instead of worrying too much about how to lead or who to lead as a junior staff.

The truth about CSR. Smokescreen or belief?

What does the famous Volkswagen emission scandle tell us? If what you do is not what you believe and simply eager to enjoy the business results using CSR as a smokescreen, then don't even bother to do it. It seems astonishing for me that globally VW was ranked as the 11th best company in the world for its corporate social responsibility work and their annual report was packed full of lovingly described projects it backed and charities it supported. CSR departments now are providing moral cover for companies that allow their own internal standards to get worse and worse.

Fortune 500 companies, as shown in a research, are now spending $15bn a year on CSR work. Just about every company caught up in a scandal turns out to have a CSR department spending millions. For me, the companies who do not have a belief are using CSR as a racket to show the public how virtous they are and stop giving seriour thoughts about what their actual purpose is - which is not hard to guess- to optimize economic results in no spare ways. I would simply suggest the companies with no belief could simply take that $19bn spent on CSR and pay out higher salaries and dividends – and then let shareholders and staff decide what they want to do with the money - give to charity if they want to.

The social responsibility of a private company is actually very straightforward. Make a decent product, which does what it says it will, and isn’t dangerous in any unexpected way. Charge a reasonable price and provide expected warrenty. And pay its staff and suppliers on time – and maybe pay its taxes promptly as well. If it can do all of those things, and do them well, it is already making a hugely responsible contribution to society.

Do what you believe, or don't even bother. CSR programs are only the way to prove what you believe and the outcomes should be a spillover, not the reasons for being.

February 20, 2016

Coaching is easy. Oh Really???

Experienced coaching exercise with Graeme, I realized that it is not easy to coach for a directive and result-driven person. There is always a saying that "Feed one with fish, he can survive for one day; but teach one to fish, he can survive forever". However, it is much more easier said than done. My self awareness rised again, when people explaining their problems to me, I turned to give direct answers and instructions instead of making the person think, analyse and realize on his own. I couldn't help to realize that Paul is a wonderful coach when he throws the question back to us everytime and direct us to reflect everyday.

However why it is least often used in business world? Because leaders doesn't have time for slow and "tedious" process of helping others during a high pressure environment? Leaders dont use it because they think it is tedious, but it is actually much more powerful than giving direct instructions. Yes, the coaching process might be slow for the first time, but it will take little or no extra time later on. Leaders ignoring this coaching style are giving up a power tool where its impact on performance and climate are remarkably positive. Coaching focuses primarily on personal development, but not immediate work-related tasks. However it will improve results when employees know that their boss are caring for them and they feel safe and free to experiment where they will get constructive feedback for further improvements.

All in all, coaching is a leadership style that shouldnt be written off. Leaders that are directive and eager to win in nature should try to learn to put up with short-time failure if it furthers long term learning.

February 19, 2016

Giving and receiving feedback

Have experienced with giving and receiving feedbacks, the golden point I learned from the course is that ALWAYS start from POSITIVITY, even to people who are open to suggestions and there is nothing about failure, only feedback and areas for improvement. When receiving feedback, it is important to listen in a positive manner as well.

Many times in life, we come across people in our lives who seem to be super quick to take offense when you thought you were offering help, advice or constructive feedback. It is worse when some people like that ask you for feedback. Your heart sinks as you know that no matter what you say or how you say it, they’ll likely be devastated. People like this often describe themselves as being sensitive and they are. But often their reactions to your comments are a defense mechanism. It probably because they have survived harshly judgmental environments andcan be found in every family, workplace or group of friends. Dealing with this kind of people need to be very careful, positive feedbacks must be given in a very appreciated and optimistic way before moving on to areas for improvement. If a leader encounter this type of team members, the most initial and important action is to create an optimistic and more than couragous environment in order to shift away their sense of uncertainty and shame in the first place. Personal coaching might be involved to brighten up their psychological landscape. It will be time-consuming at first, but when this type of people begin to contribute, the result will be priceless.

From a different point of view, defensiveness sends terrible signals and when you indulge in it, you are likely to be considered as insecure, close-mined and overly emotional. None of these label will help you be a good leader, teammember or build strong relationship with anyone. We should review ourselves constantly as well by reading whether there are any signals of being defensive such as "Do you response the feedbacks with loads of but","Is your heart starting to race when about to receive feedback especially within a group setting". Learn to control of the defensiveness will help to reduce stress, improve the quality of conversations and increase our contribution to organization. I personally am coming from a harshly judgemental environment and the worst situation is when most people know your symptom but you never realise it by yourselve. Receiving feedback in a positive manner is the way to bring our your self-consiousness. If defensiveness is a symptom, I am glad that Im recovering now. From the leadership challenge today, as a leader receiving feedback, the time when "but" coming out from my mouth, I know im being defensive again.

February 17, 2016

"Leaders" AT LARGE

There is one particular kind of leaders we never talked about, which are the ones who lead by fear. This large group of people love to enjoy the positional power, to create power distance, to phenomenon the job uncertainty and let their people live in fear of the high possibility to lose their jobs. I don't really like to call them leaders because they are just a group of people who happen to be in position. They are authorities, but not leaders. They have violadated the very defination of leadership and the social contract. Truly, I wanted to ask "who made it happen and who promoted them", but today's seminar told me that never ask who did it, only ask what can we learn from it. It is no longer important to look back the past and judge the present, what we can do to change the future is what matters.

The truth is the whole system somehow goes into the wrong direction where business equals to money and people equals to cost. Highly intelligent but greedy wall street bankers created a system to sacriface others for their own gain and super fat bonus. Living in that environment, it is not hard to imagine what value people will have except for dollar sign. Even my friend as an investment banker said he had nothing but the money to buy a wife...I even felt sad when he became hard to please and full of hatred even though he is so much richer than me, that doesnt seem to matter anymore.

I believe great leaders will never sacriface their people to protect their interest. I believe they believe in heart count but not head count. When you care sincere and enough for your people, they will put sweat and heart and tear in you, and strive to be in the process to make your vision come true.

February 16, 2016

what makes GREAT leader?

Having talked so much about leadership qulities, traits and behaviors, such as ability to identify the right people for the right task, excellent communication skills, confidence and commitment as well as positive attitude or even being an emotional steady person, these are the essential points in order to equip oneself excel in leadership position, but what actually and truly makes a leader GREAT?

Two questioned should be addressed here:

1. Are you courageous enough to abandon the practices that have made you successful in the past?

As people in leadership position have the tendency to do what they are comfortable with and the practices that made them successful. Today's simulation game on Hotel Managment have absolutely reflected it. When our team passed the breakeven point and started to make profit, we were making decisions very carefully and conservatively in order to achieve stready growth without risking anything, until Q4 after a long discussion we decided to jump out of the comfort zone and make substantial investment without knowing what will bring in the future, of course with the analysis the worst situation, the result proved us right and yielded a great return on investment.

Great leaders dare to be different. They dont just talked about risk-taking, they do it. They carry themselves with a strong heart and emotional stability when acquiantances are saying that your ideas are naive and stupid. However most interesting phenomenoen might be the people joining you for the "stupid" ideas are not from usual aspects, but from people who think differently and believe in what you believe.

2. what is the diversity measure of your personal and professional stakeholder network?

We all have a network of people we are comfortable with. But this question addresses the importance of leaders' capacity to develop a network that is very different from you, in terms of biological, physical, political, cultural exc. Great leaders treat the difference as a source of diversity and manage to successfully collaborate together towards the shared goals while most of people will be biased and uncomfortable, sometimes feel frustrated and overdefensive when someone is thinking differently than you are, therefore fail to work together efficiently.

Great leaders are not headdown, they see around cornors, shaping your future and not just reacting to it. GREAT LEADERS are not for the comfortable perdicability of yesterday, but for the reality of today and all of those unknown possibility and opportunities of tomorrow.

January 03, 2016

lean or six sigma

In conjuction with pma, I always asked myself why there should be a debate about implementing lean or six sigma, does it work better when the two approaches blending together?

Theoratically, of course the two approaches working together will yield a positive and expected result where lean focuses on waste elimination and six sigma focues on reducing variation. Both are scientificaly proved method in achieving process improvement and lean pathes the foundation where six sigma compliments and enhances lean. The idea is simple as in no companies would like to reduce variation on the waste, just like no one bother to conduct experiment on noise factors. Therefore, it is essential to identify and eliminate waste first and then work on reducing defects using six sigma. However the reality is cruel, there are big differences existing in two methodologies where always led to confusion among employees and a drain in resources. Some companies argue the lack of capital to initiate a proper lean six sigma project and some worries the involvement of lot of statistics and mathematics that front-line operater wont be able to handle. Some of them are out of the fear of unknow and failure.

But there is always a starting point called DMAIC which will not drain the capital or resources. No one ever reaches a final stage of learning and it is a continous journey. companies can always begin with the diagnose on the necessity to adopt lean six sigma, if the answer is yes and then start an experienment. if the anwser is no, make sure it is true to heart and not out of fear.

November 29, 2015


From zero to one. From good to great. Being good is not good enough with the competitive envrionment as of today. Everything we went through is changing and everything we will be anticipating is about to change. To anticipate the change, we shall equip ourselves with abilities to change, most importantly with a mentality to embrace the change. In an organizational level, it can be translated into devising most approporiate strategic and tactical plans and having an intimate understanding of human, because plans alone do not capture value and value can only be realized through people - employees who are obligaged for working and comtributing to the changed environment.

I. sometimes, think that creating an organizaitonal culture or bringing change to an organization is way too far from where i am standing right now, however be prepared for future is a necessity and be in a better position to execute the strategic plans for change is what we should prepare us for. It suddently reminds me of the concepts Paul has brought us - time management, mindmapping and even writing reflective blogs etcs, these are all about breaking the habits, which is about change in a personal level. Pushing ourselves get out of our comfort zone can start from really small, same logic for change in an organization. Exercising for me is definitely a change and yes the resistance exists and I translated it into lazyness. Losing weight was my motivation and I was highly motivated, but after two months of execising I realized it has brought me so much other benefits other than the weight I lost, the sense of achievement especially motivates me to go further and sustain better. Sense of achievement and recognition are the elements organization should never miss out, people are the ones to execute whatever plans and intrinsic motivation is the only methods to keep people working at their most capacity.


Making paper helicopter and assemabling planes in Graeme's class were loads of fun and made me feel like little Joney again, learning unconsiously through playing. This kind of teaching style stimulates not only my interest in learning, but creativity and critical thinking too. Creativity generates ideas, scientific methods help to make decisions, using Deming's PDCA cycle to experiment the ideas. Everything we learn so far begins to create interlinks and connections.

Creating Business Excellence course is like a helicopter taking us fly above an boundless forest and enabling us to have a holistic view of the forest. When the course ended, helicopter landed. We are entering into the forest itselft and getting to take a closer look of what various trees look like and how they grow. Business excellence is conceptual and as indicated in EFQM model, the organization can only achieve excellence with integrated application of all the enablers. Six sigma shall be used as a tool in every part of enablers for improvement and evert part of results for assesment if applied properly, in order to achieve organizational execellence as a whole.

May 2022

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