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June 10, 2012

Your knowledge loss is someone else's gain

owl.jpgAs we approach the end of this masters, all of us have gained significant knowledge, not only technical, but personal as well. I believe that we have been learning organisms, we created and shared knowledge in various ways, we have been open to new learning and so on. Knowledge management has been part and parcel of this year. But how each one of us handled this knowledge is a completely different thing.

Undoubdtly, we all have learned, but in various paces and levels. Thus, now that we are going to find a job (luckily) in a company, this knowledge has to be retrieved, so that we can prove that we are the right people for that position. If we fail to do so, someone else with the similar knowledge more of less can easily replace us. On the other hand, if we do use that knowledge and prove our value, but the company fails to recognise it, then the employer will lose the knowledge we brought into that company.

Consequently, since we have experienced almost every aspect of knowledge management in our learning, it is time to enact upon it and utilise it accordingly. Also, we should keep practicing the KM principles, since if we rest in our laurels our knowledge loss will definitely be someone else's gain. Therefore, we are exactly as any company when it comes to manage our knowledge...


Property management and the apprentice's lesson

The other day I was watching an episode from the well known show The Apprentice. This show generally offers manyprice business lessons for both those who know about business and those who are out of the business world. In that episode the teams had to create an affordable luxury product. The team that had the most attractive product though wasn't the winner.

One of the lessons in that episode was the that team set a price on that product that was low enough to cover the operational cost of the supposed store. Of course someone would expect that the team members would have taken this fact into consideration when they were trying to find their price policy. However they didn't!

Thinking this fact, I tend to think that many entrepreneurs and small companies fall in the same trap. Therefore, here the property management is not executed well even though for the operational reasons, let alone the investment ones...

Hence, many companies can practically benefit from this lesson in regard to their pricing strategy and their operational costs. And a property's operational cost, especially when the company has only one property seems to be of prime importance. The obvious consequences of not being able to cover the rent or utility bills (not to mention wages) should always be in the mind of those responsible for the pricing policy in relation with the viability of a company.

June 05, 2012

Property Management

Working on my PMA made me think of a lot of things concerning the real estate/property management as part of assets management. As I mentioned in a previous entry, there are some definitions of asset management that focus only on this category of management and consider literaly the word asset.

Many people choose to invest in asset management, and namely properties, as it can yield quite high returns. When it comes to companies it is a bit different. Companies have properties for two reason: operational and investement. And although the first may seem obvious, many companies fail to execute it appropriately resulting in high costs.

These costs involve not only maintenance costs as someone would think, but depriciation. And the second comes in mind of the finance department usually when it is the end of each fiscal year. For this reason, I firmly believe that companies need to reconsider their property portfolios regularly, so that they can utilize and exploite their assets to have the best returns possible.

May 17, 2012

KM and personal assets

It is common knowledge that people is the most important asset in a company. In regard to knowledge management, people are those who have the knowledge within an organisation and thus, they are valuable. But if we look into this idea from the perspective of the person, his/her knowledge is the most important personal asset.

All our skills and competencies are based and have been developed from our experience and knowledge. Thus, we are a 'portable database' of what makes us who we are. As companies have to take care of their assets, physical or not, in a same vein people have to take care of their personal assets. That is why we are students in this university, that it why we reflect on our experiences daily, that is why we read interesting things and especially, that is why we socialize.

If companies coulld inderstand the concept of KM in a same way that people do for their personal lives, it seems to me that intensive knowledgeable companies would be the rule, and not the exeption...

Career development part 2

As a matter of fact, after attending a careers workshop I found a very interesting vacancy to apply for in a large company. And since this company was one of my dreams to apply for a job, I send my CV.

But the important thing is that before I did send my application, I referred to the work values matrix (it's a list of statements about what we seek from a job in terms of personal value to us). And luckily, the position for which I applied coincided with what I consider important for me.

I'm not sure if this company will call me for an interview, but as long as I know what I seek from a job, and not only what a company seeks from me, I feel that I can manage my career aspiration in a better way for me. Because, the career that someone pursues must give satisfaction and personal growth, not just be a chore...

May 06, 2012

Facilities management and awards

award.jpgAs I am exploring the asset management issues a bit further, and especially facility management, I saw that the British Institute of Facilities Management has annual awards. So far, I knew about other kinds of awards, like CEO or manager of the year, but there they reward the Facility Manager of the year.

Of course, the idea behind these kind of awards is that they reward people for innovative use of FM methodologies, how they create dynamic solutions and how they integrate FM into the organisation’s strategic influencing and decision-making process and senior corporate structure (BIFM, online).

Thus, it is of no wonder why the area of FM has such an importance for companies and the job of faility mnagers is of equal importance with that of other managers.

For more information see the website: http://www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/events/awards/Awards2012/FMofYear

May 01, 2012

Career planning

Today I had the opportunity to attend the career planning session and I would recommend that everybody attend it, even though (s)he has very clear opinion about what career wants to pursue. The main reason for attending this session was to learn as much as I could for what I want to do when I grow up! And actually it was very helpful.

The most informative part of this session was the list with the skills selector where you can see what are your skills via a wide variety of attributes. I always had a problem to identify my strengths/skills when I was asked to and this excersise was very helpful because I actually saw that I'm better than what I thought before!

I know that I still have a long way to go with identifying what exactly I want to do in my life, but today was a good start. As for my next action points

  • I will definitely have a very serious discussion with myself and see what I really want to do
  • I will try to find out how I can improve even more my skills (I'm studying business excellence of course and there are always areas for improvement) and
  • I will start making my career plan step by step having short-term goals and see how to achieve them.

I wish I've used this sessions earlier this year, as they focus on you as a person and they seem like some 'for me time'.

April 29, 2012

Asset management indeed?

As I was searching on the asset management issue, I came across a website that was suggesting that AM is often used as a synonym of investment management or fund management. And to be honest, I was quite skeptical with this statement.

But, as I was thinking about it and reading more it started to make sense. However, I should note that the perspective of this website was focused more on the financial benefits that a company can has from managing its assets. They emphasize the investments that a company does on assets or how it can exploit the assets in a way that is financially beneficial. That is why they define AM differently.

During the module, this aspect of asset management wasn't discussed at all and we were more focused on the different areas that a company should focus on. But, to my mind, this kind of AM presented by that website can apply to many companies. And I think that there are companies, and especially asset managers who has that viewpoint.

April 28, 2012

Is people indeed the most valuable asset of a company?

I know that intangible assets, like people, are not a big part of this module. Of course tangible assets like buildings, equipment and so on need a lot of attention and specific plans to be managed successfully. However, there was a general discussion towards people management at the end of the module.

In the previous module that I attend, the tutor asked who believed that people are the most valuable asset of a company and most of us answered positively. Nevertheless, she stated that it's not people. It is great people who are the most important asset of a company! And actually it's makes sense!

The problem is that for a company is almost sure that not all its people are great. Maybe the majority of them, but not all. Thus, a company has to do the best it can with what is has. It's not easy; rather it's challenging. But if a company has more great than good people, then it is highly likely that it's in the right track.

"Good is the enemy of great"

Commitment or engagement?

In this MSc program it is common practice to work in teams. And of course this practice represents how companies work to a large extent. So far, I've been working with most of my colleagues and sometimes things run smoothly whereas other times are more problematic. But what we experience here is like a 'miniature' of the real world. Most of the times you don't have the luxury to choose your team. Instead a team is assigned to you! And if happens you to be the leader, you need to make sure that team members are commited and actively involved. But in order to have the best results possible, engagement is essential. Just have a look at the picture. All people need to bring the letters to make the word, and not just sitting and watching others do everything. Not only because other members may put more effort on the common task (which is very important), but also for having a common sense of ownership.

Linking this idea to knowledge and asset management, team work is vital for these tasks as well. Either if it is KM or AM, all employees in a company need to be engaged, not just committed. Because the activities involved in managing knowledge and assets cannot be owned by a single person. They require team work.

Of cource commitment is paramount and the first step for good results, but engagement can bring excellence.

April 27, 2012

Asset Management + Benefits – Costs = ?

During this module while we were working on creating a plan for a company about its asset management, the financial aspects were at the back of our minds. Of course we knew that we were dealing with a SME, thus we didn't consider anything extravagant. It is true that some things in improving AM may cost nothing in terms of money.

Nevertheless, it is natural that some suggestions will require spending certain amounts of money. But on the other hand, it is not advisable to companies to spend more money on things that cannot afford. So, can a company do both? Improve significantly its current practices and spend as little money is possible?

To my mind, this in not always easy. A certain budget needs to be allocated for improving the asset management activities, but it needs to be flexible. Because, if companies want to improve their AM, but they have only financial criteria during their decision-making process, instead of the potential long-term benefits, then excellence seems impossible.

KM not only in companies!

Knowledge management is not important only for the companies, but for students as well! Let me explain what I mean by that. Today, after the team presentations we had a discussion about them, concerning more technical aspects of them. It was a common agreement that our presentation skills have improved significally! Yet, there are more things to be done in order to achive excellence in this part!

Although I was very confident about my team's presentation in the first place, we didn't actually have the time to finish it. As this thing has happened before, in other modules and other teams, we should have been more aware of it. Instead, we were thinking that we will have the time.

Thus, the 'lessons learned' for me from this fact can be compared with what companies can learn from KM. All the time knowledge and learning is generating. But you need to manage how to apply them, and what to include so that you pass the message across.

April 23, 2012

Situational awareness and confirmation bias

biasSituational awareness is more than common sense. However, common sense and emotional intelligence can be vital parts of it. In other words, situational awareness can be simply defined as knowing what is going on in the surrounding environment. As we learned today, situational awareness can be affected by several factors and can result in errors.

One of the most interesting things though in this situational awareness, is the confirmation bias which means that you see what you expect to see and you pick up signals that can support the mental model you've already created, even though the signals may say the opposite. This kind of bias can happen to us any time and I am quite sure that we all have experienced it several times so far.

In fact, this happened to me recently when I submitted a PMA. I was working on it to finalise it for almost two days and after the submission I realised that something was missing. Of course my omission is 'harmful' only for me and the potential mark that the tutor will assign, but when this thing happens in real-life situations where the stakes are higher and human lives can be involved, confirmation bias can have fatal results unfortunately.

April 20, 2012

Making decisions on Asset Management

article_checklist.jpgFor managing assets appropriately, decision-making is vital in this process. First of all, not all things apply to all companies and suit their culture. Thus, even though a specific aspect of asset management might seems interesting and temting to address it, it should go under the discussion of its appropriateness for the company in question. Take for example the facilities management aspect. There is a huge list with things that companies need to address, but it doesn't automatically means that all these things are part of their day-to-day business. What is more, decision-making seems more relevant given the facet of several constraints, such as the budget and resources that each company has available for spending in each part of asset management.

You can picture this process like packing your things for a potential trip. It's for sure that you won't pack everything in the suitcase just for a 5 day trip! Either because you don't need a lot of things or because there are weight or space limitations. You have to be able to decide what to take with you and what to leave behind!

April 18, 2012

Can excellence be achieved…?

Follow-up to Managing knowledge and assets: easy or difficult? from "It's not a MBA, it's a MBE"

In my previous entry I posed the question if excellence in knowledge and asset management can be achieved within a company. And the answers I got so far indicate that indeed, excellence is possible by having the right people and right infrastructure.

However, I am still not totally convinced. My 'inhibitions' lie in the fact that both issues are too big to be addressed properly or at least sustained over time. But just for now let's assume that attaining excellence is achieveble. Then, how can a company (company 1) be sure that it is considered as excellent in these fields? And don't just say by self-assessment and benchmarking! Because this is like comparing and competing with other companies which one knows the most things and manages its assets better and so on...

And is it possible that another company (company 2) does something differently in knowledge and asset management that puts it in a pedestal of excellence that the assuming previous excellent company (company 1) does not?

A Greek philosopher, Socrates, said that “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” and as long as we live we keep learning. That thing also applies in companies as employees are those who learn. Aren't they...?

April 17, 2012

Managing knowledge and assets: easy or difficult?

Knowledge management and asset management are two quite broad issues that companies have to deal with. Each one, and even each perspective of them, takes a lot of time to be explored and understood. Yet, an exellent company needs to address both in such an effective way that gives it sustainability and successful results. Thus, how easy can these processes be?

To my mind, so far, these two things, knowledge and assets are more than difficult to be managed effectively! Not only because they are too broad, but also because they involve many people. And usually the more complex a situation is, the more difficult is to handle it properly. And what seems to be even more difficult is to sustain a certain (effective) management level on these issues and the same time to keep doing business.

Therefore, how can a company ensure that it can achieve excellence in managing knowledge and assets? Or maybe there is not such a thing in these areas?

Wrong decisions

Iright & wrongn every PMA we all make decisions about what to write exactly. However, we are never 100% sure that we make the best decision and usually the feedforward and the marks can prove us right or wrong. In a recent PMA though I made up my mind to use a specific model to apply a change. When I made the decision I was pretty sure that it was appropriate and suitable for my case. Nevertheless, when I asked the tutor about it, it proved that I made the wrong decision. Luckily, there was still plenty of time to fix this 'mistake'.

Having that incident in mind, I was wondering what happens when companies face a similar case (not for PMAs of course!). If they make a decision which that particular time seemed to be the right one, but after a while they realize that was actully wrong, what happens next? Some situations are reversible but others not... And is there always enough time to make things right again?

April 02, 2012

Who's the decision–maker?

Reading a book, I came across the following phrase of John Atkinson, “If you don’t run your own life, someone else will”. And it is quite true! Our whole life is a decision-making procees, but the decision-maker may differ. In other words, most of the times we are the ones who make our own decisions and form our destiny. However, there are times that other people make the decision for us and we accept them.

This fact is also true at many companies. And I think that both cases prevail at the same rate. For example, usually the senior management team is the one who makes the decisions and the rest of employees have to follow. Other times, external issues and trends may determine the decisions of the company, leaving less flexibility and ownership for the final decision.

Thus, we can be in either case, the decision-maker or the decision-recipient. The question though is which one will you pick...?

March 24, 2012

Great wo(men) leaders…?

manWhen someone thinks about a great leader, usually a man comes in mind. And I think that this applies to both sexes. Althought we live in the 21st century and women have great career opportunities, still men have primacy. This is quite weird, because women have major leading roles in organisation with influence and power! Yet, when it comes to name a great leader, most times would be a men.

Is it because people trust more male leaders or because female leaders act differently? Many leadership studies have been conducted about women leadership and there are sectors that women outweight men. The other day I came across an article which suggested that women leaders tend to be more transformational than male ones. But still, it seems that although the efforts that women put on acting as leaders, they have to prove themselves over and over again.

Maybe we are still belive that this is a man's world...

Leadership & change

Having just finished the MOC module, I found many connections with the LE as well in terms of leadership. When you try to implement a change, leadership is crucial and that became apparent during the simulation. Change won't happen by itself! It needs leaders that are willing to change and motivate the rest towards this change.

During the LE module there was a lot of discussion about followership, but sometimes can be vague. In the case of leading a change though, things can be more tangible. In other words, in order people in an organisation to commit into the change, the leader has to buy them in, to win them intellectually and emotionally! The leader has to show the promising land and engage people to work towards this direction.

However, either in change or not, the leader should be the first to believe into the change and know why. You cannot sell something if you don't support it. The same applies to any leadership moment. Leaders need to be trusted and become the example. And if leaders believe in the change, it's easier to identify its merits and encourage other people to follow them towards it!