July 11, 2014

PDCA →Applied anywhere and everywhere!!

Writing about web page KBAM

Where ever there is need for continuous improvement, I have seen the PDCA cycle… Mr deming has left this world with a great gift in the shape of Deming Wheel. It can be applied for resolution of any kind of issue an organization or even a person is encountering. The application of this particular diagram is immense. While doing my pma on safety and health management, I came across many different standards that exist for the management of health and safety within an organization. I have come to realize that the concept behind the different standards is quite similar. All the international health standards have the following points in common. Senior management is required to establish the organization’s health and safety policy, ensure the major risks have been identified and required precautions are taken to reduce impact of those risks, ensure documents are properly compiled and audited periodically, ensure that the policy is communicated through out the organization and is reviewed periodically and improved continuously. The guidelines for all these are based on the Demings cycle of continuous improvement as explained by HSE in their book ‘management of health and safety’.

We started the MBE program by studying Deming and we end this program with Deming. Deming’s teachings have been with us through out the module!! It has definitely been a great learning experience for me… Hope it has been the same for everyone else?

July 08, 2014

KBAM, PDCA, EFQM, Kaizen!!!

It is amazing to see how all the concepts learned in the course of MBE are all inter linked and inter connected in one way or another. After reading a few of the other blogs, I see that most of you agree with me. While working on the last PMA, I observed that knowledge management is essentially a concept that has been devised from the Deming cycle of PDCA. What Mr Deming gave to world has great significance, it is just how you interpret and use it. A continuous cycle of improvement is represented by PDCA. What we learnt in KM was to record the learning and share it across the organization for everyone to learn from the past and improve. KM requires the right culture, corporate environment and effective leadership. So does PDCA. What I’ve come to realize is that all these management tools and techniques are very important for one to learn and apply. But at the same time, one should not try to apply all of these together, rather pick and chose the one they are comfortable with as almost all of these will lead towards excellence. EFQM involves all different aspects that were shown to us at the start of the year. I can confidently say today that I have studied all of them and will be able to apply if not all but some of them when I step out of Warwick. J

June 12, 2014

Lesson learned

I learned about the concept of lessons learned today and here is my understanding of lessons learned.

Lessons learned (LL) is an extremely important tool, which if used efficiently can have a great impact on the organizations progress. LL is defined as working knowledge that is derived from both successes and failures of the organization. It is important to note how it is not just failure that the organization can learn from but also the success. Through analysing the success, one can learn and reflect upon the path that led him towards being successful. Whereas, learning from failure indicates the paths of the process that caused the failure. LL processes can be defined as the organizations effort to manage the lessons learned. The main goal of any organization that wishes to implement lessons learned is of ‘enhancing job safety, cost reduction, quality improvement and increased problem solving speed’...

Lesson learned

I learned about the concept of lessons learned today and here is my understanding of lessons learned.

Lessons learned (LL) is an extremely important tool, which if used efficiently can have a great impact on the organizations progress. LL is defined as working knowledge that is derived from both successes and failures of the organization. It is important to note how it is not just failure that the organization can learn from but also the success. Through analysing the success, one can learn and reflect upon the path that led him towards being successful. Whereas, learning from failure indicates the paths of the process that caused the failure. LL processes can be defined as the organizations effort to manage the lessons learned. The main goal of any organization that wishes to implement lessons learned is of ‘enhancing job safety, cost reduction, quality improvement and increased problem solving speed’...

March 21, 2014

Decision making tools, always useful or not?

Writing about web page Robust Decision making

A reflection of last week, it was great working with the team, as they were no arguments whatsoever! Everyone was really cooperative and we were well prepared.

Choosing which decision tools was a difficult task, as we had to first understand how the tool would help us analyzing the problem question and then coming up with the decision. Each tool had its own advantages and disadvantages. Some tools were just really straight forward like SWOT. Others were a bit more complicated like SMART and the decision tree.

One thing that I noticed while working in the group was how the decision makers influence the decision. When using tools such as SMART and AHP, the decision makers have to give the weights to the most favorable and the least favorable characteristics. They base their decision on research, but their gut feelings also have a role to play in the decision tools. This may lead to biased results.

My team had divided the work in such a way that each of us was responsible for using one decision tool. Some of us were unable to do it as group thinking was required for assigning weights. This led us to work as a group and apply the decision tools to the given situation. Since a lot of information was not available to us, we were forced to base our decisions on assumptions leading us to come up with the final decision we intended on. I say this because there was one team that justified through the decision tools that they chose Exmouth, whereas none of the tools that we used gave us that result. I wonder how they came up with calculations that supported their claim when there were four groups who decided to go ahead with Lymington.

As discussed today in class how everyone had a different decision tree. The reason for this was that everyone's mind works differently and each problem is solved with a different approach even if the decision tool is the same. So I guess there is no right or wrong decision tool. The decision depends on the decision maker. This is what I think after going through the robust decision making module..

Would look forward to hearing what you all think!!

Goal Setting theory, is it useful?

Writing about web page Leadership and Excellence

Goals setting theory is a motivational theory that helps in sustaining and improving performance. Assigning of goals would direct attention of your team towards what needs to be accomplished. Goals would help in boosting the energy levels of the employees. High energy levels would result in greater motivation levels and increased persistence to achieve the assigned goals. Goals may encourage strategy development and action plans being prepared and implemented within the teams.

It is very important to note that specific goals are more efficient compared to general goals. Goals that are hard but accepted by the team may result in the team accomplishing them. But it must be noted that if the goals are not realistic then it may so happen that the task is not completed. In order for goals to be effective they need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, result oriented and time bound). If goals are measurable, then only can the performance be evaluated. When employees know that their performance will be evaluated against their goals, the effect of goals increases. Another important fact about goal setting is feedback not just when the task is completed but also during. This allows the person to understand the areas of improvement and strengths resulting in improved performance. Upon completion of goals, rewards and recognition is needed to keep the employees motivated to achieve more demanding goals in the future.

In order to foster teamwork, team goals must be assigned rather than individual goals. This will allow the individuals to work together as teams rather than compete against each other. Team results will start showing improvements. Sometimes making the teams compete each other for rewards may also be helpful but the employees should always be reminded of the fact that only healthy competition is favorable.

But goal setting has a downside to it. Goal setting is a technique that is known to be very dangerous for organizations in the past and it may cause unethical behavior, inhibited learning and decreased intrinsic motivation. It is essential for the leaderto specify exactly how he expects his team to achieve the goals. The leader has to put special emphasis on ethical behavior.

In order to avoid situations where teams could do anything to achieve their aims, teams that are not successful in achieving their goals should not be punished. Rather, it would be better if feedback were provided on their performance. In addition, it will be great if the reason behind the team not achieving the task is investigated and lesson is learnt from their failure.

For instance, if the goal was not achieved due to the goal being unrealistic, then goals could be set again based on what the team thinks is achievable. If they still fail to achieve the goal, then there must be something else that is going wrong, as they were the ones who set the goals for themselves. This means proper investigation of the reason behind unsuccessful tasks must be done in order to understand why the teams failed.

March 20, 2014

Manager and Leader… Different or the same

Writing about web page Leadership and Excellence

Is leadership very different than management? There are conflicting views about this. Some authors believe a manager can never become a good leader as he would not know how to inspire and influence his team. Moreover, a leader has the ability to create a vision whereas a manager is responsible to implement the vision.

According to Harvard business review article that I read today, a manager was made a leader of a business department and he was heading 3000 employees. He had a lot of difficulties heading the department as he was focusing on the areas that he was comfortable with and was ignoring areas that he was not a specialist in. The article proves that a manager needs to transform himself to become an effective leader.

Quote from the article

“They must learn to move from specialist to generalist, analyst to integrator, tactician to strategist, bricklayer to architect, problem solver to agenda setter, warrior to diplomat, and supporting cast member to lead role.”

This clearly shows the difference between the two roles, i.e. leadership and management.

However in my opinion in order to become a good manager, one should be an effective leader, as he is the one who is leading his own department. I agree that heading a department and leading an organization is very different. But if a manager is taken from the department and asked to lead the organization he would be able to do it. Why I say this is because he knows how to lead, it is just that the role is very different. Tapping into the role will take him some time, but if he was an effective manager, he will be a good leader. He will just have to go through the transformation that is mentioned in the article. If he successful in the transformation, it will be very easy for him to lead the organization.

Thus I end by saying that a manager is a leader of his own department. Leadership is a function of the leader, group members and situational variables. A manager is in a very different situation compared to the leader, this does not mean he will not be an effective leader. It just means that if the situation changes he will need to adapt to the new situation. He will be a great leader if he adapts quickly.

What does everyone think?

February 21, 2014

Should a leader take all the stress?

Writing about web page Leadership and Excellence

The position of a leader is one of the most stressful one in any setting. A leader is under constant stress of meeting deadlines, accomplishing the tasks, resolving conflicts within the team and keeping the team motivated. As a leader of one of the student’s society in my university, I experienced that stressful position. Not only your team members but others around you expect a lot from a leader. The spotlight on the leader sometimes puts the leader in a very stressful situation.

The way I dealt with stressful position was that I would try to deal with stress alone and not tell any of my team members. Some students had just joined the society as executive VPs in order to show it on their CVs. They were not interested in working for the society, and would work very half-heartedly. I had told each member to keep themselves free every week on one specific day and time. One week everyone forgot about the meeting, as it was thanksgiving, even the person who was supposed to remind everyone of the meeting. I called that person and reminded her about the meeting, only to find out that she had kept a thanksgiving dinner at her house and completely forgot about the meeting. I called other team members and found out that they all had other commitments for the evening. I was a bit irritated by the fact that everyone forgot about the meeting since we had to take very important decisions during that meeting. I had to cancel that meeting and so no decisions were taken as a group. I took the decision about the next event and planned it out myself. Unfortunately the event had to be canceled due to rain. In the next meeting, my co-president got into a heated argument with one of the team members. I had to get involved to stop the argument. The meeting continued but once I left I got a phone call from that particular team member that she was resigning. I tried to stop her but she was very adamant so I stopped convincing her to stay. As soon as she left there was a little tension in the group. Some members lost their motivation and one of them stopped attending meetings. There was one more resignation from another team member later during the year. I would just like to add that I was friends with all the team members before I started working with them, which is why we sometimes had very informal meetings. During the year, I went through all these rough times, but I refrained from discussing the issues with my team members who were still motivated. I had stopped delegating work to the members who were not interested and started taking care of that myself along with other members who still showed some interest. We managed to pull of a great year, ending with a great end year party and a large sum of money was donated to a charitable organization. It would not have been possible without my team member who were with me till the end. If I look back at that year, it was a tough time for me, but I would say I handled the pressure well. Even though I seemed under pressure I would do my best to not show my team how stressed I was.

When this topic came up in class, I wondered whether I should have shared my state of pressure with my team or not. And after our discussion I can say that it is the urgency of tasks that needs to be shared within the team and not the stress. There are some people who don’t handle stress well, hence they must be told how important the task is and its urgency. A cool leader can get the most creativity out of his team whereas a stressed leader would only result in fearful team members who would be afraid of the consequences of their actions.

February 20, 2014

Is there a solution for office politics

Writing about web page Leadership and Excellence

Politics, why would someone indulge in such a dirty game, be it in an office, family or any other setting. The answer to this is very simple, to gain power over a group or against a certain individual. Next question would be, why would someone want power!? Another simple answer, because of human nature and psychology. Yes it is not true for all human beings, but every group of individuals may have one particular person who indulges or get his hands dirty with politics. He is the one who spreads this disease in the group and influences others to get involved as well. This particular action results in many conflicts within groups and between different people. So what is the solution for this, how must a leader deal with politics within his team members?

This was our topic of discussion during the seminar. This particular discussion led to another question in everyone’s mind in class, can politics be eliminated or not? Some held the views that politics is inevitable whereas a few people thought that elimination of politics is very much possible. The reason for the first view was that, since it is believed that it is human psychology to indulge in politics, it is very hard to get rid of politics. However, they believed that promoting equity within a group could definitely mitigate politics.

The top management develops every office culture. This means that if politics exists within the office it has started from the top management and then transferred down the prism of hierarchy until it reaches the lowest level employees. This results in every employee to get involved in office politics. Top management starting with the CEO must try to refrain from politics. This would suggest that none of the top management is power hungry. As a culture of harmony is developed at the top level, it would certainly be seen as a culture through out the office resulting in zero politics within the organization.

Both views are correct as both are backed by their own justification and reasoning. I personally believe there is definitely a solution for politics. CEO must keep an open mind for everyone; he must refrain from favoritism or talking behind any other employees back. He must act as a role model for his top management to follow. As the top management is the immediate team of the CEO, it is the CEO responsibility to ensure none of the senior managers are power hungry. Only then will the office be free from politics. However, these are my views and are open for discussion.

February 19, 2014

Coaching: A tool of leadership

Writing about web page Leadership and Excellence

Coaching is a very important aspect of leadership. A leader must know how to coach in order to lead his team effectively. It can be said that coaching is a tool that a person could apply in order to practice effective leadership. Two important abilities of a good coach are listening and communication skills.

Coaching is not about training or teaching. It is in fact a process through which a coachee generates a solution to a problem he feels that he faces. Coachee owns the concept, as he knows the answer to the difficulty he encounters. But in order to share a problem with the coach, the coach must create a safe environment in which anything could be discussed. This is done through the development of trust between the coach and the coachee. Coaching is a process through which the coach empowers the coachee with the independence of being his own coach. The process of discovering and exploring that the coachee goes through during the period he is being coached enables him to be his own coach. This would allow him to not return to be coached again if he encounters a similar difficulty.

A coach must put himself in the shoes of the coachee and feel the bit of their pain, in other words empathize with the coachee in order to deeply understand the difficulty he faces. In addition, a coach must ask questions in order to lead the coachee to explore his options. The process of coaching is about solution generation but only from the coachee and that he only must explore the situations. The consequences of their decision, allow them to play with their solution.

A few important steps of coaching and aspects of behaviour of the coach and the coachee.

  • Coachee must explore their issues.
  • A coach must let the coachees go if they do not feel like discussing.
  • A coach must ask the coachee if there is anything else he wants to talk about.
  • A coachee will eventually select the solution that they are happiest with.
  • The most important step of the process of coaching is to enable the coachee to develop detail about how to implement their solutions.

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