July 02, 2014

A work Environment where everyone seems competent

Have you ever seen a team where everyone seems to know how to solve all challenges at work, resolve any customer complaint and where everyone have the confidence that “if anybody can solve a problem within the team then I can, the only difference will be it might just take a little more time.”I guess readers at this point feel this is far too ideal a situation to be real.

In my perception, it is achievable. This is the impact a well-established knowledge sharing culture has on an organisation or a team working together. It is an environment where learning and incidents are shared and documented either good or bad. A place where people are not chastised for what they do not know, but are encouraged to ask and fully supported by team members to ensure each individual is up to speed on any gap identified.

Once again, this culture could only be developed through a leader that has the understanding, foresight and leads by example. I have an example where the knowledge sharing within a work team is operating close to the scenario explained above. All members through the support of the team lead have taken on knowledge sharing as the integral part of their task. The team discusses the previous day learning in every morning meeting, Procedures are created for any complex task completed and stored on a central database for accessibility and to ease the job for the next person that will do similar task at a latter time, in some situations people call team members that are off duty for support and they gladly respond. Although it takes time to build knowledge sharing culture, it is almost self-sustaining when fully established, and any new member joining such work team would flow with the culture easily. It is obviously another initiative that requires leadership full support.

Managing people to manage the Assets

Going through the literature on asset management and recent standards on the same subject (Pas-55, 2008 and ISO5500, 2014 series), a vital factor I realised is the importance of managing people, which in turn manages the organisation’s physical asset. An organisation with employees that are not engaged and staffs that does not see the need to take ownership of the companies asset will by no means be able to realise the right value from their asset. The result of a not well-managed workforce will span from improper use of asset to poor asset maintenance and could even lead to catastrophic accident.

Empowering people to take ownership of organisation’s asset will go a long way in raising the organisation’s bottom line. Giving people that is involve in handling the organisation’s asset the necessary training and education, putting system in place where there voices could be heard and creating the right asset maintenance culture will definitely attract reasonable effort and cost initially from the business leadership, but the idea is balancing short term savings with long term gains. A question that supports ownership as a means of proper handling of asset is; why do people handle their personal asset (cars, equipment, houses) differently from the way the handle their company’s asset. I think it is safe to conclude that is the sense of ownership makes people accept responsibility and agree that they are accountable for the assets in their care.

June 08, 2014

Asset and Knowledge Management again on the Leaders

A recurring factor for excellent performance in Businesses is leadership. Every Module done from the first to the last pointed to leadership as either the reason for success or failure. KBAM module was structured in such a way that we (as learners) have to find out who takes responsibilities for managing the organisation’s asset and knowledge, and all teams came up with what leadership will have to do, nothing was mentioned of the people that are being led. The question is; are leaders responsibilities over emphasized? Are the findings of the four teams just biased because all we have heard over the last few months is about leaders responsibility?

As far as I can recur, I have not being taught anything to do as someone that is being led, but all learning was targeted towards what is expected of me as a leader. This boils down to the fact of every one being a leader at one capacity or the other, no wonder we have team leaders even as students who are responsible for the team’s deliverable and performance.

Obviously, an organisation’s culture is the reflection of the attitude and values of the leaders. Show me an organisation with a team of visionary leaders who “work the talk” and I will show you an organisation with highly committed, high performance work team and a corresponding great organisational culture.

Lest I forget the leaders relevance to Asset management, it is often a common case to see appreciable differences on how assets and knowledge are being managed within the same companies when comparing one department to the other, or one manufacturing plant to the other. People could have very good knowledge sharing culture in a production plant in City A and a poor one in City B even in a company that has a universal guiding principle just because of the difference in leadership in these plants.

June 07, 2014

Different Approach to solving the same Problem

While reviewing the last experience of 4 teams of average of 5 persons each that was given the same problem, same background information and time frame, it is amazing to see how different the proposed solution from each of the team was. During the teams' presentation, I could Identify things that was not considered fully by my team but well treated by others and a few things my team seems to analyse more critically than others.

I try to examine why the approach by each team and consequently the proposed solution were so different, but reflected back on similar experiences over the few months of my recent academic experience. Every group in all similar scenario kept turning up with unique analysis, interpretation and solution to each problem encountered with a sound logic behind their approach.

This makes me belief that a fully formed team has its mind, which is a function of the character and experience of every person in such a team. Giving the same problem and moving one person around from each of the four teams mentioned above suggests to me that, each team will generate a different result / proposal from the four new teams as this change will alter the mind of the teams to a degree particulaly when the team has only few members. The approach that is adopted in my view due to the recent experiences has more depth and coverage when the people that form the teams have different educational, work related experience and more importantly cultural backgrounds.

June 05, 2014

The Extreme experiences of Knowledege sharing

After a session on knowledge sharing, a valid concern was raised by a colleague about a person that uses hoarding what he knows as the means of securing his job as people are being laid off in his company. He realises that if he teaches other people to be competent he will most likely loose his job.

It is quite easy to theoretically prescribe to organisations not to make any one redundant as a consequence of sharing what he/she knows. This however may not be the case always as some job designed to train others to take over. An example mentioned during the discussion are business consultant and service providers that presents initiative or packages that can only be sustained whilst they are still onboard. This ploy is to keep them with the business as long as possible.

An entirely extreme scenario to this case is the practice of some orgnaisation where people's progression at work ties back to how much knowledge they are able to share. For instance people have to train subordinates or colleagues in handling their roles to be able to move to the next role on the ladder (promoted) or even to be able to get some benefits such as study leave. This creates a work force that is eager to share knowledge. This model might not be applicable or practicable in all scenarios; I however see it as an healthy approach organisations can adopt to knowledge sharing.

Knowledge Sharing Barriers

Why would people have the enabling environment, the platform and the technology but still not share knowledge, as they should? This is a question I have been thinking on for a few days. Could it just be stress and fatigue as mentioned during a seminar? As much as I agree that stress could reduce people’s will to participation, I do not totally agree it is the main barrier to sharing knowledge.

One of the reasons I think affects knowledge sharing greatly is that people prefer and will share knowledge more easily in their comfort zone. I could make links with how people tend to make much more contribution in a fully formed sub team than making contributions in a bigger class. People discuss and share work related technical and safety knowledge more during tea breaks in common rooms than they do in formal safety meetings, people rather prefer to share group files on social media such as Facebook rather than WIKI provided even when we are well aware it is not very professional.

A relaxed environment will definitely go a long way to help people share knowledge. Much more important is having the right perception and understanding of the benefit of sharing knowledge. If people have a common goal, and realise sharing knowledge will ease their jobs, enhance the team’s and company’s performance at large. Knowledge sharing culture will improve tremendously in a company where the staffs are engaged.

June 04, 2014

In saerch of Return on Asset Maintenance

The financial ratios such as ROCE, ROA, Asset turn over, inventory turnover seems to make a lot of sense to me as this are single figures that could be interpreted and inference can be drawn from them.

Asset maintenance activities are critical part of business these days especially for complex asset such as production plants that consumes a lot of cash. In that light, I wished there could be a simple formula to compute asset maintenance contribution in financial terms probably termed as ROAM (return on Asset Maintenance) just like any other financial ratio.

The More I search for this single financial representation, the more I get the feeler that we can only estimate maintenance contribution with assumptions. Knowing the exact financial implication of maintaining an asset could be too late for an organisation in the sense that we can only calculate the loss incurred for not maintaining our asset as required. This could be in terms of reduction in asset performance plant downtime, or in other non-pleasant scenarios such as cost incurred due to an accident or incident that occurred as a result of poor asset maintenance.

The justification of the indirect cost (which is that part of the iceberg under the water in maintenance) reducing because of good maintenance practice seems a viable justification for explaining asset maintenance contribution pending the availability of my coveted ROAM ratio.

Incorrect Mental Model in Situation Awareness

The risk of having the incorrect mental model is very high due to the possibility of making the wrong decision and subsequently causing an incident or accident; much more alarming is the high probability of having a incorrect metal model for a given situation. This got me thinking on how it can be managed in an environment where work related hazards abound.

Mental model is shaped from our experience and real scenarios rather than instructions, procedures and guidelines. A typical example that crosses my mind is people's response when we hear the fire alarm go off. I have experienced in a few classes, offices and shop floors where the immediate response is that it must be a test being carried out on the system despite that there is no prior information that the system will be tested. People almost hypothetically belief fire alarms are for test against its real purpose of alerting people in an emergency. This applies to many other precautionary safety systems such as car seat belts and so on.

Awareness training, refreshers, availability of visual materials (such as safety videos are good tools in my view to help reinforce and sustain the right mental model of safety system usage in an hazardous work environment.

June 02, 2014

System Failure, A Prerequisite for Poor Situation Awareness

Reflecting on the errors associated with the 3 stages of situation awareness which are gathering information, interpreting and anticipating what could go wrong, It becomes obvious that a great deal of work lies on the organisation’s leadership team to prevent these errors.

Although every scenario that led to an accident could easily be linked to a top event (i.e. Personnel entering a confined space without necessary preparation and authorisation), a common denominator to most of the accident case studies is that several barriers that could prevent this top event does not exist or has being removed much earlier. This can be likened to the Swiss cheese model, which states that all barriers against an accident must have a hole lined up to allow for the occurrence of an accident.

Swiss Cheese Model

The latent failures in the model are the prerequisite for situation awareness errors

A major learning is that, as a manager it is essential to continually carry out risk assessment related to your sphere of influence, know how to cascade information to colleagues and develop trust within your work force. Assumption should not be made on awareness of safety information, it should be made available and clear enough for everyone involved in a given task to understand.

An empowered workforce that understands the reason behind safety procedures and implication and the consequences of not following such procedures will reduce the likelihood of accident. Furthermore an error prove (poke yoke) process or system will go a long way in preventing accident, loss of life and preserving organisation’s asset.

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  • Oge, this is absolutely right, having engaged staffs that takes ownership of the company's business … by Shola Osundiya on this entry
  • Interesting post.. Knowledge sharing to me is a radical gamble and i can understand how difficult it… by on this entry

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