April 25, 2009

some reflection on FM cont'd


Chotipanich and Nutt, (2008) said that Facilities Management is expected to contribute positively to the “corporate culture, organisational effectiveness, work productivity, business flexibility, property performance, staff wellbeing and customer satisfaction.” Pathirage et al ( 2006) also added that FM creates the conditions in which business effectiveness may be achieved. Others claim that FM makes a significant contribution to business success.


All the business activities rely heavily on its facilities, for example, call centres’ operation relies on telephones, the running of university needs the provision of classrooms and offices. Any business will need the most basic infrastructure support if they want to operate properly. Furthermore, good facility management is not only about minimising the cost of running the infrastructure and facilities, but also creating value. For example, with good facilities management, people can work in an environment they feel comfortable in and thus, increase productivity, and innovation, which is key to the success of any business.


It is not exaggerated at all that FM is one of the main contributors to success, because it supports the effective, efficient and economic operation of an organisation, although  facilities management is often considered as “supportive activities”.

Ref; Pathirage, Amaratunga, Haigh and Baldry, 2006, Managing Knowledge for Facilities Management Organisational Effectiveness: A business case, CORBA

Chotipanich and Nutt, 2008 Positioning and repositioning FM, Facilities

April 22, 2009

Some reflection on FM

Having done my research for my KBAM coursework, now is time to write up.


I have chosen Facilities Management (FM) as the one aspect of WaveRiders’ asset management they need to develop. After reading a few journals, I feel the FM part often doesn't get enough attention as it is suppose to, therefore it is useful to let the WaveRiders board aware of the issue (the scenarios of my coursework).


Over the years, facilities management has already gone through four generations. At the beginning, facilities management is about the overheads of a company, and the focus at that time was managing facilities at the lowest cost, facilities management is isolated from the entire organisation. The second generation is integrating FM into the organisation as a continuous process. Third generation, FM was regarded as resource management, and supply chain issues was the FM focus at that time. The forth generation, people have realised the importance of FM as one of the core contributors of business success, FM plays an important role in a company’s strategic plan. FM is starting to align with organisational structure, work processes. (Pathirage et al, 2008)


Although most literature have shown that FM is an important element towards a company’s success, FM is still considered as one of “supportive activities” within a company. Companies are more likely to focus their energy on “primary activities”, such as operations, marketing and sales. Therefore, I think FM need to get more attention from the management board.


Reference: Pathirage, C., Haigh, R., Amaratunga, D., and Baldry, D., 2008, Knowledge management practices in facilities organisations: a case study, Journal of Facilities Management, 6(1)

March 15, 2009

Reflective from Lean

PIUSS PMA, I finally chose the 5th question to start, because I think it would be easy to do the research, at least, I wont lack in words to write... and at the end, I have too much information.

Lean and Six Sigma, both are admired by many organisations who want to be sustainable in the future.

We all know lean is basically about elimination of waste, supply matching demand, so inventory cost can be reduced, similar to the concept of Just-In-Time, lean explores more on closing the gap between organisational performance and the requirements from customers and shareholders.

Toyota, the first company to embrace Lean into their production system, now is the global leader in the field. the company is very generous about their experience of success and every year, lots of managers from different firms all over the world are welcomed to visit the Toyota plants. However, not many of them can learn the concept and put it into their own organisation.

Lean is a big contributor to Toyota's success today's, however, it can not be easily copied by other firms. even after leaning all the tools and concepts of lean, it is still hard to implement it. first of all, implementing Lean not only needs taking into account of the company's structure and feature, but also needs to look at the human aspects. People are always the most valuable assets of an organisation. Same for Lean, if a company wants to implement Lean into its production system, it needs to first talk to its workforce. Only if the workforce has the knowledge of where waste can be elimated.

Lean also needs continuous commitment. People easily shift their focus on their day-to-day activities. however, no improvement can be sustained unless effort is put into maintaining it (Drew, McCallum & Roggenhofer, 2004).

March 09, 2009


I have not made an entry for a long time, it doesn't mean I haven't learnt anything so far, I have. From Process Improvement Using Six Sigma, to Product Excellence Using Six Sigma. I have learnt a lot, even if sometimes the subject can be a bit boring. Here I am not going to give a summary about what I have learnt from the two courses, I will do it at another time. Knowledge Management is what I want to write about this time.

Today, we talked a lot about innovation at our first KBAM seminar. Now we all know that if a company wants to succeed, they have to be innovative first, to satisfy customers by providing a product which will exceed the customer's requirement, for example, the Walkman, the iPhone... in fact there are a lot companies that have embedded "Innovation" in their brand names.

For example, Rolls-Royce, one of the company's core values is "Innovation – we strive to be open minded and flexible in our work. A forward-thinking culture creates a well-managed and contemporary organisation that is always seeking to improve" (Rolls-Royce website). The other two brand values are "Reliability and Integrity". These three core values form the brand image Rolls-Royce is trying to communicate to its customers. A product, whether it is an aircraft engine, or a gas-turbine based energy generating set,  being reliable, integrable, and innovative; those are the main qualities that a Rolls-Royce customer will expect from any RR products or service, and the three main qualities are also how Rolls-Royce differentiates itself from its main competitors.

Other successful companies such as Toyota and Apple, all constantly create new knowledge and put this new knowledge in their new products, which later becomes one of their products' selling points. This is what we call "a Knowledge-creating company"


Ref: http://www.rolls-royce.com/about/brand/

February 05, 2009


I think some of us find Taguchi is a difficult part for our PIUSS study, because of the statistical elements involved. To be honest, I don’t think it really involves that much statistics, even if it does, probably just some easy math calculations. And we all know in the real world, we don’t need to do those complicated Orthogonal Arrays calculations, nowadays, we have our computer which can help us to do the calculations.

Taguchi theory is mainly used as a way to improve process, not by simply tampering the process, but looking at all the elements involved in a process, and by altering one or two at a time to see if there is any difference in the end result, so we can see clearly what the most influential factors are. If we don’t look at the calculations involved, I think the concept is quite simple. By looking at the Interactions and Noise Factor, the process can be optimised.

Running the Taguchi theory in practice might be costly and time consuming, but the benefit of an improved process are endless.


February 04, 2009

blog more

Two week of study the PIUSS has finished, and I haven’t made any entry on the blog, which I admit, is not a good sign for PIUSS results. All of us received our mark for our CBE, and now I think we all realised how important is blogging. Some of us may still think blogging is a hard thing to do, like me. Now it is the time to walk out our comfort zone, blog more with quality entries, then we can all get full marks for our reflective study part.


It is the learning process. We all knew that blogging contribute around 15% to our our score, but sometimes, lack of motivation or don’t know what to say, all these factors discouraged us from blogging. Till the recent CBE results, we see clearly what marks we got for our blog entry, undeniable fact. So time to change, time to improve the learning process. Let’s all blog more.

January 16, 2009

Skill Approach

Still continuing to reading the book "Leadership: theory and practice" by Northouse, P. G

Skill Approach, which is suppose to be different with the trait approach says that leadership can be trained.

Skill Approach, based on two studies that have been done by Katz (1955) and Mumford and his colleagues (2000), emphasises that effective leadership can be developed and trained through experience.

Katz (1955) says that effective leadership depends on three personnel skills:

Technical Skill; the knowledge about a specific type of work or activities, not required for top managers, but it is essential for lower and middle management.

Human Skill, also know as people skill, basically means the ability to know about others needs and to create an atmosphere where people are comfortable to work in. Human skills are important for all three level managers.

Conceptual Skill; the capability to work with ideas and concepts. essential for top managers, because they are those who create a vision and strategy for a company, and put down in words, to become a goal or strategic plan for the whole company to work towards.

Mumford et al (2000) developed a Skills Model of leadership. the model has five components: Competencies, individual attributes, leadership outcomes, career experiences and environmental influences. The skills model suggests that competencies include: problem solving kills, social judgement skills and knowledge are the key to effective leadership. Individual attributes, which relate to personal traits, together with career experience and environmental influences all shape an effective leader.

This Skill Approach can be used as a tool for leaders to know what their weaknesses and strengths are. Furthermore, since we know what the essentials are to be an effective leader, some form of training can take place to train those who aspire to become leaders in the future.


Trait Approach

The study of Leadership traits has been developed over the past 100 years.

A lot of people have tried to give leadership a definition, the same, a lot of people try to define the traits of a successful leader.

Like the amount of definitionq available for leadership, different experts also have their different views of the leadership traits.

Using the table from the book Leadership: Theory and Practice, which the author adapted from "The base of Social Power"

Stogdill (1948)

Mann (1959)

Stogdill (1974)

Lord, Devader and Alliger (1986)

Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991)

































Cognitive ability

Task knowledge

The trait approach for leadership is not to argue if a leader is born or made, because different situations may require different traits for a leader to be effective. therefore, a leader might be born with a high IQ and highly motivated might just never get the chance to lead, or in some situation, a good leader doesn't necessary need to be motivated.

Using the Trait approach, it would be useful for an organisation if they want to develop somebody as a leader, and also, for those individuals who want to be a leader in the future, they might be able to learn what they can do towards their journey to being a successful leader.

However, Traits are not easy to cultivate, some of them might be easier to develop, but some might be very difficult, because it is difficult to learn to be somebody else, right?

People talk about using personality assessment instruments to find if the potential employee is fit for the company. To be honest, I dont really think it works well, definitely not in a accurate way, simply because we can pretend to be somebody else.

These days, most companies use this kind of personality test when they are recruiting. I was a fresh graduate last year and I have experienced this a few times. Reasoning tests, you can't lie, it is something you know or not know. But personality tests, give you a situation and ask you to give a choice of A B C or D to see what type of person you are, really, we know what they looking for, for that half hour test, we can pretend to be an effective leader.

To understand the Trait Approach and make it really work, some knowledge in the psychology area would be useful....

December 04, 2008

Promotion and Firing Policy

This week we have had all our presentation done already, and Qian and I were responsible for the topic "Promotion and Firing Policy".

GE has a vitality curve, which differentiate people into three categories and our presentation is to find out the logic and validity behind the vitality curve in light of Deming's system of profound knowledge and discuss the likely impact on employees.

For people who don't understand what the Vitality Curve is, it basically differentiates people into three categories, the top 20% are A players, the Middle 70% are B players and the Bottom 10% are C players. For the A players, they will get promotions, bonuses etc, whereas the C players have to leave the company.

There are a lot of critics about false ranking, first, it can be subjective, and might be bias. Second it just simply cannot be fair for the C players, because they might not have done anything wrong, but because they are in the lowest 10%, so they lose their jobs.

Deming's philosophy is about fairness, no reward for the winners and no penalty for the under performers, since there are variations in the system. today, for those that perform well it doesn't mean they will perform well next time, and the same for those that under-perform, if they didn't perform well today it might not be their fault, but some externalities, such as the machinery,  wrong methods etc...

After the other team presented their understanding about false ranking, I thought I should raise the question that if false ranking has so many critics, why are there still so many companies using it? for example, GE, and why it seems the vitality curve works well in GE.  I think the question I was asking was also what we are required to acheive from the mini project that is to find out the "Logics and Validity".

However, I think I was misunderstood by others. I never said GE's success was build on the vitality curve. What I am saying is the Vitality Curve is a part of the organisation and as a successful company, GE seems to works well with it. All I want to ask is why?

I suppose in my own presentation, I answered myself, that is using Jack Welch's words, "being transparent and being honest" and also in conjunction with a performance system including the 360 feedback and Session C meeting, etc

Deming will be against the idea of the Vitality Curve, since it not only punishes the low performers, but also creates fear in the working environment. there are also examples showing that false use of the Vitality Curve can lead to disastrous results. However, can I say GE is a successful example that is using it? is it Valid? I don't work for GE, so I don't really know.

There will definitely be more competition than cooperation, but on the other hand does it encourage winning and doing a good job?

The society we are living in is competitive, right? if not, why do we always talk about "improving competitiveness" for a company?

If everything is fair, why do we need to work hard to get at least a 2:1 degree so we can get a good job? why is there high un employment?

If ranking systems are so bad,  and ranking people is one of Deming's 7 deadly diseases, why are so many companies still using it?

I am just simply asking questions, doesn't mean that I am a big fan of false ranking, because I am not, I know it is unfair and all the other shortcomings, I have done my research.

November 26, 2008

How to transform an organization to a learning organisation

Here I am again, another piece of coursework... I chose the third topic; How to transform an organisation to a learning organisation, use Deming's Profound knowledge and EFQM as a framework.

There are four core values in Deming's system of profound knowledge:

System, Variation, Knowledge and Psychology.

When it comes to developing an organisation into a learning organisation, it becomes the goal of an organisation, requiring the whole system to understand this aim. Neglect of any components of a system will lead to the failure of accomplishing the goal.

To manage the process of transforming an organisation to a learning organisation, it is important to understand Variation. Common variation and special variation are the two different types of variation. One is within a process while the other is caused by special events outside the process. Understanding the two types of variation can help an organisation to improve the learning process.

Knowledge is an essential element for managing the learning process. 'any sound interpretation of data requires some knowledge of the subject matter' (McNary,1997). Transforming an organisation to a learning organisation, requires the managers to understand what the customer's needs are and to make future predictions about the changing environment around them.

Psychology is fundamental; understanding the people involved in the learning process will help managers in how to motivate them towards the goal of becoming a learning organisation.

This is how I understand the system of profound knowledge can be used to transform an organisation to a learning organisation. Am I on the right track?


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