It is quite difficult to select appropriate decision tools because there aren't only one rule in doing this. Different people have difference opinions towards this. Obviously, the selected tools must suitable for the problems, that is these tools is useful to solve out this kind of problems or under this kind of environment, these tools is effective. But this is not enough. The tools must also fit for the decision makers. In fact, it is the decision makers who choose the tools and use them. If they don't prefer or they aren't familiar with the tools, they aren't able to use it effectively. Sometimes, the feeling of boards must be considered. For example, AHP is criticized by the unclear results. The people who conducts it have no problem with how it be presented, however, if the boards do understand this tool at all, it will be difficult for them to understand it within several slides.
Favourite blogs for MKN Chronicles
May 02, 2011
April 10, 2011
It's always easy to learn but difficult to put it into practice. For example, we all understand the importance of the customer since we were children because there isn't lack of the murmur forever: customer is god. After I started the mbe module, I couldn't remember how many times I came across the crucial of customer, whether from teachers, books or journals. Unfortunately, when we were doing the task, we didn't realize the importance of the customer. We considered much on the thoughts of the board without noticing what the board wants is just what their clients require. In the environmental consultant practice, even though we just finished the rdm module, sometimes I couldn't stop making judgments and decisions through my intuition. But this situation is easy to understand. We can learn a formula in 1 minute, but it will take about 2 days to understand it and maybe two weeks to use it sophisticated. The more practice, the better utilization of the formula we can gain. So we need more practice in order to further understanding what we learned and then apply it.
It's hard to justify whether wiki is useful or not. I think is depends on each student because some of them would like to use it while others don't get use to it. Also, it depends on the modules. For example, in LE module our team almost didn't use it at all because we always worked together and created all the ppts together. Even though we searched some information after teamwork, we just brought them to the next meeting instead of uploading them into wiki. Everyone has his/her own opinion towards a question and then looks for information according to his/her minds. Even though this information has been uploaded into wiki, others may not know what does he/her mean at all and then give up reading. Therefore, face-to-face talking appears more effective and practical because we can understand others opinion in several minutes and give feedback to them immediately. But in KBAM module, we used wiki frequently because the task was so tough and it was impossible for everyone to work together all the time. However, as far as I'm concerned, the contribution of wiki this time wasn't at communication. We still brought all the information we found to the meeting and discussed together. The contribution of wiki was it helps our leader to organize our work more efficiency. We created different pages for everyone so that the leader can see clearly what we did and thus can link our work quickly. Anyway, it was a great help.
April 09, 2011
Yesterday Paul asked which way is better to learn, lectures or teamwork? I think it's hard to decide which one is more effective generally. Some students prefer lectures and they can learn more through lectures while some students may prefer teamwork. Education can't always satisfy all the students' requirements. For example, there are usually 2 or 3 talent students in a class who don't need to follow their teachers' instructions. In contrast, may be 2 or 3 students can hardly understand what the teachers' say. Most of the time, teachers are teaching the majority of the students but not everyone. Generally speaking, we learn theories in lectures and obtain more practical experience from teamwork. Even for one student, he requires theoretical knowledge in one condition and seeks for practical knowledge in another situation. In my opinion, theory knowledge is more important than practical knowledge at the beginning of learning or else we don't need to go to schools. We learn theory at schools and then study practical knowledge at work. Without theory it is difficult to learn in practice. Some of the Chinese didn't get well education but they performed well at work because of the experiences, they learned a lot of things from practice. Most young people, though they learned a lot theory in school but they could work effectively because the lack of experience. However, after several years working, the abilities of these young people usually went beyond their seniors. This was because the theoretical knowledge helped them better at summarizing and conclusion.
April 08, 2011
It's different to prepare 4 presentations and 1 presentation. In CBE and LE, we were required to complete 5 or 6 mini-projects together. At that time, we needed to find as much information as we could and then summarized them into our presentations. As long as we got enough information, we could make our ppt quickly. But this time, things changed. We found a lot of information because we only concentrated on one topic, then sometimes we didn't know what we should put into our ppt. The whole presentation is only 20 minutes, but after our research each of the aspect in asset management could be talked over 20 minutes, if we wished. Thus, we had to discuss our slides, modify them and rehearse them again and again in order to control our time. Obviously, we could only show part of our outcomes in the presentation. The requirement of this presentation is higher than before not only because we have to spend the same amount of time in one question but also it requires a better skill in summarizing our work. But the "better skill" must base on "a better understanding". Only if we can understand the topic clearly we are able to make a proper summary. Things turn out to be the same in real practice. Companies usually choose more than one consultant firms at the beginning and then decide which one to choose according to their scheme outlines. So it is important for the consultants to think carefully what the board really wants to know and how to draw their attentions in 20 minutes presentation.
April 07, 2011
Few SMEs have a whole asset management system, it is easy to understand. There are seven aspects in asset management according to our material and each of the aspect has its own management system. Each of the system can go so much detailed into it and can be time-consuming and expensive. Also, because of there aren't so many assets in SMEs, so that managers believe the assets are easy to be managed without a asset management system and thus time and money can be saved. It may work and lots of SMEs run well without such a system. I'm not an expert to judge it's ok or not. But in my opinion, these companies at least should have emergency response plans and provide basic training for employees in dealing with immediate incidents. Besides, employees need to be familiar with their emergency response plans so that it helps them to keep clam during disasters. What's more, emergency response plan is important to large companies, either. I believe there are many risk analysis in aircraft industry and railway industry, but misfortune continue happening. None of the companies has perfect management system and of course, not every hazard can be identified. Therefore, companies can never overlook creating their emergency response plan.
It is impossible for a leader to understand all of the leadership theories. In fact, many leaders lead their followers without reading any leadership theory. This doesn't mean they that don't understand leadership, they learn it through practice and experience instead of reading books and articles. Each leader has their own leadership style but some of them build their style without noticing they are doing so. They also don't know what their style is. But this doesn't affect the effectiveness of their leadership. Some of them even don't want to learn some related theories from books because they point out it will affect they opinions. I don't want to challenge the useful of books but there are lots of ways to learn knowledge without books. For example, some people prefer to learn through their real experience while some people obtain knowledge from books. It's hard to illustrate which kind of leader is more effective. Or perhaps it's better to combine theories with pratical experience.
April 05, 2011
Asset management is quite broad and there are many aspects needed to be considered. Obviously, none of the companies can focus on every perspective in asset management and also, it is impossible to work on each of the points because of the cost of time and money. Therefore, companies must choose the must crucial parts in their asset management. In the presentation, our role is the consultants and we found that it is a difficult task. One of the main reason is we aren't familiar with the conditions in WaveRiders. We spent a lot of time in identifying what assets WaveRiders could have and trying to search for the potential problems that these assets may generate. Thus, I can understand why some companies don't trust consultant firms. No one can be as familiar as the employees in WaveRiders do in understanding the situations with WaveRiders. If the consultant firms fail to have a clear picture of WaveRiders, it is impossible for them to identify the problems. Take the health and safety management as an example. We don't know exactly what assets WaveRiders has, we don't know what is the most dangerous equipment and material, we don't know what happened before in WaveRiders. Employees in WaveRiders may not be experts at asset management but they know their company better than others. Specialists in consultant firms are good at the asset management but perhaps they have no idea about WaveRiders before they receive the project. So it is hard to say who is better at doing this task.
There are lots of leadership theories and it is hard to select the most suitable ones. For example, the selected theory must be compatible with the environment, the characteristics of leaders as well as the followers. However, it is hard to achieve this condition. A theory may fit the environment but confront with a leader's personality. Also, it is common that a leader has different characteristics with his followers. In addition, it is not easy to define the personalities of the employees because they may have a number of different types of characters. Perhaps one of the three factors has the dominant position among them and has a significant influence on the development of the company. In that case, choosing the theory that is compatible to that factor may make leadership become more effective. Meanwhile, the negative affects of the leadership towards the other factors need to be treated carefully in order to reduce potential problems.
It is possible for the leader to implement more than one kind of leadership theories at one time so as to meet the above requirements. It seems common, but it may cause conflicts either. Two different kinds of theory definitely require different behaviors and skills. It's hard to balance them. When deploying two theories together, it is unavoidable these theories encounter each other and generate conflicts. In our pma, we can select different kinds of leadership theories to the CEO and the director. But I just doubt the collision between them. What's more, will the people feel comfortable even though they are affecting by two totally different leaders.
Yesterday, we did an exercise and during that exercise we did what we used to do before: when we had different opinions towards an issue, we took the idea supported by the majority of people. This seems to be the most popular solution to solve conflicts in discussions. But the ideas may not be the best ones all the time. We didn¡¯t get some good results in some decisions though the decisions had been support by the majority of us or even all of us. The truth is always on the side of few man. Perhaps the sentence is a bit more extreme, but it sounds reasonable. Taking the majority's opinion is helpful to make a fair decision but it may not be an effective method in choosing the best ideas. I didn't see a more effective way to work out this situation. Almost every companies let the top manager to make the final decision or let the board to vote for the options even though no one can guarantee it will generate a good decision.
April 03, 2011
No one wants to deny the importance of asset management but almost all the companies only focuses on managing the assets that have high values. This is because the time and people are usually limited in a company and managers believe asset management is not so important in low-value products, so that they tend to let his people to work on other important projects. Not only managers but also many employees have the same opinion. Seldom people really care about low-value assets because they don¡¯t want to ¡°waste¡± their time in these non-valued products. As a result, the report in accounting departments will become messier year after year and finally, it is impossible to manage these things through the reports.
In addition, asset management is always missing in this situation. For example, if a duplicating macline has been destroyed, most of the companies are going to let someone to fix it instead of buying a new machine. However, repairing machines costs a number of money either. It is possible that even buy a new machine costs a lot, the effectiveness and efficiency of the machine will increase work performance. Also, repairing machines never mean to spend less money than to buy a new one, which is obviously.
March 31, 2011
So far what we have done is about how to treat the asset in WaveRiders, for example how to maintain it, how to improve it to meet health, safety and environment policies. These are difficult and complex tasks, obviously. To start asset management, firstly we should know what is asset, which means it is important to identify the asset. But it is so difficult to know exactly what assets a company has, especially when the company is large. For example, it¡¯s the purchase department¡¯s responsibility to buy a new product, after that, the product will be sent to a particular department or person. Now the company has already got the product. At the same, the related accountants must record the purchase correctly. When the product is broken and has to discard it. The related accountants should be informed either in order to modify the record. If the accountants fail to receive the message or they make a wrong record, than there will be a gap between the record and the real product. This situation can happen frequently. For instance, the purchaser forgets to inform the accountants or the accountants overlook the message, especially when the value of product is low. The differences will certainly generate problems and chaos when inspecting the assets. Companies always use the record to manage its assets, to identify their assets and the value of them, and then give some instructions to deal with some assets. If a non-existent product is given some instructions, it¡¯s easy to imagine the problems.
Different situations suit different types of leaders, or we can say different situation will generate different leaders. I can't deny the relationship between a leader's personal characteristic with his leadership style, but obviously, the environment around the leader will influence him to a great degree. It's hard to say which impaction is greater, personality or environment? We did a lot of exercises about leadership in class, but I'm sure, if we were put into real situation, things will become totally different. The significant different between the practice and real life is we didn't have any pressure when practicing so we could do anything we wanted. Even though the leaders made a wrong decision, he won't be punished, his people won't complain about it. If the practice came true, most of us would surely appear more carefully. A leader without any pressure and a leader who is under a lot of pressure will certainly behave distinctly. Pressure can be either an angel or an evil. People who feel pressure tend to be prudent and conscientious, this can reduce the probability to make wrong or improper decisions. In contrast, too much caution constraints a leader's thinking and action. Thus the leader may be lack of creativity and may lose some wonderful opportunities because more risky can generate more profit, if succeed. But his pressure make him to give up the chance.
March 30, 2011
Our group had a discussion about the project yesterday and set a simple and rough structure of our presentation. According to the requirement of the presentation, we linked AM, KM and EFQM together. However, potentially it helps to link the mission or the goal of WaveRiders with those aspects. The vision of a company should always be the center in AM and KM, or else the value of A/KM will significantly reduce. In fact, not only A/KM but also all the strategies and approaches which deploy in a company, the purpose of them is to contribute to the vision.
Besides, we tried to find all the possible assets that WaveRiders has but we just focused at the fixed asset in WaveRiders. Maybe it's ok because we don't have the situation to manage liquid asset such as the inventory. Yes, we can manage it within the company however, in real life, it should be managed with the consideration of the environment of the market. If the market condition becomes uncertain and unpredictable, inventory management may appear more difficult.
March 29, 2011
It¡¯s the time for a new module, and of course, for a new project. There are many materials about KBAM, which implies KBAM is definitely a difficult process. Take asset management as the example. Firstly, the scope of asset is quite broad, which includes both tangible and intangible assets. Secondly, so many factors need to be taken into consideration in AM. In my opinion, it is more difficult to manage intangible asset than the tangible one. Tangible asset is easy to identify while sometimes intangible asset may be overlooked. Also, the outcomes of tangible asset are easier to calculate but it is hard to identify the results of intangible asset. Therefore, perhaps people would prefer to manage tangible asset because the contribution of it can always be seen directly and thus motivate people. In addition, I can see there are a lot of interactions among different kinds of AM, so maybe it is easier to apply AM in small companies than in large companies. For example, it is likely that there is a conflict between environment management and maintenance management. When the number of assets increases, the conflict may grow, so more effort should be paid in order to balance it. What¡¯s more, in a large company, most of the time each department is only responsible for itself assets, therefore, many sub-optimizations will appear. More concerns should be paid either so as to reduce these shortages.
We did a lot of practices during leadership module, even though I realized a leader should do something to change himself/herself, however, my focus at that time was how can a leader influence others. For example, when we were working on the leadership definition presentation, ¡¡ãinfluence¡¡À was the word that we all identified it at the beginning. Also, during the class, I always concentrated to whether the leader motivated others, did he/her develop the teamwork effectively, etc. But after some reading for the pma, I found that most of the authors stress much on the quality of the leader him/herself. For instance, Dubrin uses about 4 or 5 chapters to discuss the necessary quality of a leader, such as traits, motives, attitudes, behaviors. I paid much attention to identify the influence of a leader but overlook that a leader should change him/herself first, and then it is possible for he/her to become more effective. Just as the words in Westminster Abbey, change yourself, and then change the world.
March 19, 2011
We used the same material, and some of the tools we selected were the same, and we were in the same class and listened to the same lectures and seminars. Almost all the things turned out to be the same, however, the decision we made for Waverider were different from each other. This definitely was an interesting topic. Even though a slight different in our thinking can lead to a big different in the final outcome. Even in one group, we had the arguments about choosing tools. Also, after the analysis, we had a lot of discussion about our decision while we got the same results in our analysis. Thus, I can imagine the different opinions in a company or even outside a company. Also, even one person, it is impossible for him to make the same decision in different situation or different time though he faces the same problem. Therefore, we make a decision today, but perhaps we want to change our opinion tomorrow. So I can see the importance of the word ¡°robust¡± and of course, it is fairly difficult to achieve robust.
The recommendations of each group are different, either slightly or significantly because of different focuses. Some pay more attention on to the tangible costs and profits in the material while some groups stress more on potential costs and benefits. Even all the groups used decision tree as one of their decision tools, the results turn out to be different. One of the possible reasons could be the uncertainty information, for example, the probability of available chance in Llymingtom. Different solutions and ideas generate different approaches in analyzing this issue. Therefore, bias can¡¯t never be avoid no matter which tool is chosen. Everyone can use the same too in different ways and even in the same way, possibly the focuses are distinct, thus the results can¡¯t be same. Also, there was an interesting question raised yesterday, since we used more than one tools in analyze one decision, sometimes the results were totally incompatible. So can we say in this sense, bias can be reduced to a certain degree. However, as far as I see, if the results are confronted, bias may be reduced, for example, one kind of bias exists in one tool and a different kind of bias exists in the other tool. When the distinct results appear, people may start to think the reason or sometimes, they try to balance each other. In this case, bias could be reduced. But if different tools indicate the same results, that may not mean the outcomes are correct, perhaps in that situation, bias is strengthened. Every tool has the same bias and shows the same results. Thus, the above bias is easy to be ignored.
March 18, 2011
Today, during the presentation, Jeff asked a group why they wanted to choose some simple tools instead of the complex ones. The answer is they wished to use simple tools which they could understood clearly. I definitely agree their opinion. Yes, we can read articles or books to gain more knowledge about tools to make decision. But it is impossible for us to learn enough ideas about complex tools. We used AHP, decision tree in our presentation but no one can say he/her already completed understood these tools. We chose them as we believed generally we learned something about them and we knew how to use it maybe just in one or two aspects. The simple tools, we can learn them and understand them easily and clearly. Thus, it is impossible that we use them with mistakes, perhaps there are a few, but just only a few. However, even if complex tools may result in a much robust decision usually if we use them correctly. But since the complex and difficult in adopting then tools, it is easy to misuse them and thus come out a terrible decision without noticing it by ourselves. So in my opinion, only if I am quite sure about the utilization of a tool, I won¡¯t pick any one unless I have enough time and resources to learn it.
Both quantitative and qualitative data are important to a company in decision making. However, only quantitative data can use more technical tools such as simulation, AHP, decision tree. Unless the qualitative data has been ranked or valued, the above technical tools cannot be adopted. May be these tools do not turn out to be more scientific than the others, but at least they appear so. What I want to doubt is that do these technical methods tend to be more effective and correct in decision making. Of course, using mathematical analysis tools to analyze some data will make a decision sounds more convinced because the result is more accurate compares to only using some simple tools that contain many biases. But can we say more accurate result leads to a better decision or is it mathematical analysis more accurate? Because of the limited energy, time and cost, we can¡¯t conclude all possible factors or criterias. Therefore, the outcome of the mathematical analysis is only based on the limited elements. It isn¡¯t completed at all. In contrast, when analyzing qualitative, it is usually not easy to do maths processing so that this kind of analysis may contain more biases than quantitative analysis. Even though we only list some limited aspects again, but when we valuing them subjectively, sometimes we tend to combine these issues with other elements or situation unconsciously. In this case, perhaps the scope of our thinking is wider and we consider more aspects in our decision making.