December 01, 2005

Ethics and Business

I personally believe that we (or our children or grandchildren) will eventually live in a perfect world. However, my observations that I have made by now do not tend to support vigorously that believe. The reason I am talking about is that today we have been discussing CSR and ethics issues in business. My personal opinion is close to Philip’s point of view: yes, people may say that ethics and CSR is a good thing, but when the time to make money related decision comes the majority choose the most profitable investments or the cheapest products, even being aware that these products have been done unethically ( this is a very polite word, actuaaly). It is sad, but this is the world we live in.

The key issue may be that there must be a critical mass of people to make some ideas come true. Even the most perfect and sound ideas need to be supported by enough people to become the common thread things. I was a witness of falling may be the greatest ideas about the perfect world – when the USSR was breaking into pieces and all the transformation started happening with my country. That happened may be because of our leaders who were not efficient enough. May be the goals they proposed were unrealistic (who knows what could have happened if Gorbachev had been aware of Hoshin Kanri). But my opinion is that the society was not ready to build a perfect world. Our society was not ready to live quite poorly for a long time for the sake of the following generations – that is it failed.

Quite similar things happen now in western world – we do not care how they achieved these prices, but we buy these goods here because it is beneficial for our wallets. People are not ready to scarify a certain percent of their income in order to support companies that do things ethically. The positive news is that there are some people who care and who make their choices consciously in favour ethic companies. However the unethical companies will be flourishing unless the critical mass of these people arise. And we can hardly expect that this happen soon, because the ethical companies being in unethical environment (which is the case know, to be honest) experience the same things as a ethical person in unethical environment – they tend to have a tough time.

November 30, 2005

To measure or not measure

The problem of measuring the things that can hardly be measured keeps attracting my attention. Today we have tried to understand how the leadership may be evaluated. We could not come up with lots of ideas – and it is not similar to the other sessions we have already had where we had lots of things to input. I think it is a major problem of many so called non-natural sciences – not being able to measure things they are studying it is quite hard to build a theory and support it by equations – to look enough scientific (at least in a traditional way).

For me this topic is closely connected with another very interested issue – employees’ involvement in a work process. Because I think that a leader plays the main role in this process and his/her successfulness depends directly on the level of the people’s involvement.

In this respect I feel that is vitally important to provide all the employees with all the information about what is going in the company (what is the vision, strategy and goals) – that really unites the company collective. And even more important to provide some mechanisms of people’s participating in the process of creating even the top level decision – like strategy and goals. In Russia this is usually totally ignored and that really affects the company performance. I feel that Hoshin Kanri is more adapted to solve this task than the Balanced Scorecard and I’ll try to have some additional reading about it providing I have some spare time …

November 29, 2005

Why Leadership as a necessary ingredient of the excellent business

I think today I, if not realized, but became closer to the understanding why the leadership is so important. To my mind, the reason why there is a need for leadership is that this secret ingredient involves employees in the company’s life. This involvement may be very different: intelligent, emotional etc. It even includes passion if you wish. Without this involvement we are not able to reach the excellence. I think many EFQM tools imply at least formal employees’ involvement, but the leader is the person who is able to make all these tools really powerful and vivid.

As far as I understand (correct me if I am wrong), management tends to talk about motivation. I think it is a noticeable difference.

Another interesting thing that really appeals to me is how to build this involvement. The policy deployment approaches could be really useful in this sense. I feel that Hoshin Kanri is more efficient, than the Balanced Scorecard that seems as a more rough tool.

Academic input

I have been thinking about the sessions we are having this week. We decide by ourselves what topics, related to the module structure, we would like to discuss. We discuss only the things we are really interested in. This is a huge advantage of this approach. Moreover, it worked perfectly well for me at the first module – PPE.

However, during this module I started to think that, probably, this approach has some drawbacks. First of all, it has become clear that having chosen the topic we tend to discuss it using our previous knowledge, our common sense, but not the knowledge specifically gained for this particular discussion. But we are not the only one who has tried to understand it since the beginning of the Earth. We have to understand there are lots of things that have been done in every area, including the areas we chose to discuss. Relying only on our own common sense, knowledge and experience we limit ourselves and limit very shortly.

Paul provides us with the absolutely necessary academic input, but I feel that is not enough. Ideally we all have to do some readings and researches before going to these seminars, but it is quite far from the reality. A bit more realistic approach is that the people who are interested in the topic they proposed should prepare some additional material to it. I feel that the discussion should be after some people present a brief review of what have been done in this area before we decided to discuss it. As an alternative way we may try to invite someone who is an expert in this field. However, it requires pre-planning and more difficult to implement.

I feel that this way (with some preparation) could be more efficient that the current one. It became especially clear for me today, when we were discussing Hoshin Kanri and after 2 presentations Paul described his view supported by his practical experience. That was an open-minded event for me!

I tried to understand why I have changed my mind about this type of learning. The reason, as I think, is that at the very beginning it was a great way to initiate thinking, it was a really good start, but by now we have moved several steps forward and there is a need for a bit more focused and intensive approach.

However, it is only my feelings about it and if for everyone else it still works perfectly, I am ready to follow.

November 28, 2005

Leadeger=Leader + Manager

I think a very important thing came up today. Nowadays, due to the massive character of changes happen in every aspect of our life, there is a huge demand for good leaders. But what about the good managers, don’t we need them any more? Does it mean that the profession of a manager is not up-to-date and must be replaced by the leader? To answer on this question it is useful to look on the differences between the leader and the manager.

The differences between these notions are not so obvious and quite questionable, but probably the main is that leader is the person who is able to create the vision and who can, by influencing people, make it come true. Whereas the manager is the person who is able to manage people and projects efficiently within some context, which might be given to this manager, – the manager is not the person who has the ‘admin’ rights to the system he or she manages. The leader is the ‘admin’ of the system. This analogy may be quite rough but it helps me to describe the difference.

At the same time, leadership nowadays, I am talking about the business environment, implies not only personal traits and abilities to create visions. It is equally important for the leader to be good and professional at implementing this vision into practise, that makes the leadership closer to profession, rather that inherited natural features. So, the leader is a profession that requires not only leadership abilities, but at the same many management skills. The person who combines all these features and attributes can be named as a future leader (with very good management skills) or, if you wish as a future manager (who will have to be a professional leader). I propose to call this profession the LEADEGER – the profession that requires the balanced leadership and management skills and abilities.

I don’t know whether someone has coined this word before, but Google hasn’t found anything.

November 23, 2005

Brushing off dust from my blog …

It is not easy to start blogging after more than a month of silence. The silence actually does not mean that I have been doing nothing this time, but the main reason of being quiet is that the majority of the things I could have published are so negligible to other people and are not worth revealing at all. It could have been like this ‘Today I realized how apply two-way ANOVA! What A clever person I am!’. It is funny – isn’t it? However, I do think that blogging is a good way to formalize my thoughts and to track the road I have been going. So, I’ll try to make this page alive …

This week we have been discussing the issue of leadership which became quite important in a business environment quite recently (15–20 years ago I think). The reason is that the world started to change so fast that it required a new type of management thinking and abilities. The thinking that should have combined many different things: ability to create a strategic vision, accompanied by number of tactic solutions, and ability to implement this ideas, to reach the strategic purpose by influencing people, convincing them and justifying their expectations. To my mind, the issue of leadership is equally contains from ability to create a vision and abilities to make it true, to implement it. That is why my own definition of leadership so important for me. Here it is:

Leadership is the art/ability to create the vision basing on the moral principles, people's expectations and the leader’s own feelings/experience and to achieve this vision by setting goals/targets, gaining people's commitment and by motivating/convincing/encouraging them with the help of communication/personal traits on the way how the leader is supposed to do it within the context of the specific situation and the specific people

In this form this definition sounds to me quite practical.

Will be continued …

November 07, 2005

I am not the only one

I have not put anything to my blog for about a month and I started to feel some pricks of conscious. However, having looked at my EEE peers' blogs, I realized that I am not the only one person who is not blogging regularly. I would not say that this is a big relief for me but I feel a bit better …

Anyway, I am going to start using my blog very soon. At least I hope to do it.

October 12, 2005

Measurements or why we need to study physics.

Deming’s system of profound knowledge is a really powerful theory, once again it was proved during today’s seminars. Deming’s ideas seem to be very holistic and the more I know about it, the more connections I see with another fields of knowledge.

Today’s observation is devoted to measurements. Since quite recently (I think the end of 80’s of the last century) measurements of business results were obviously too shallow due to the fact that Deming’s ‘Appreciation for a system, Knowledge about variation, Theory of knowledge’ were totally ignored while performing business measurements. ‘Be guided by theory, not numbers’ – looks quite simple at the first glance, but appeared to be quite hard to understand and realize. Only in 1992 Kaplan & Norton published the article about the principles of the Balanced Scorecard, which presents a balanced approach to business measurements. However, even nowadays lots of companies widely use paired comparisons measurements and measurements against targets, not realizing how limited this approach is and how many difficulties it produces.

As I have already mentioned below, I am a physicist (at least I have a graduate diploma in solid state physics). When a scientist performs some experiments (read making measurements) with an object, a Black Box, if he/she does not have a theory or some models about this Black Box constitution, the experiments are useless. Because the data he/she receives can not add anything to the understanding of the Black Box. This data is rubbish. I feel this fact is clear for any second-year postgraduate students of Physic Department. Nevertheless, business community probably haven’t learnt physics very hardly.

The most important thing is to be conscious about why you need to measure something. To my mind, the measurements must be justified by one of the following criteria:

  • Do the measurements we perform help us to understand the system/business processes we deal with?

  • Do the measurements we perform help us to understand what particular part of the system/ business process can be improved?

  • Do the measurements we perform help us to understand are our improvements successful?

In the logical consequences it can be presented as follows:

October 10, 2005

Can we measure immeasurable things?

It is said that the most important things can not be measured.

I dare to make one amendment to this classic point – the most important things can not be measured DIRECTLY.

I graduated from the Physics department of Nizhny Novgorod University and during my last two years of study I dealt with the things which no one has ever seen and very unlikely will see in the nearest future. I don’t want mention these things here in order not to confuse anybody, you should trust me. However, I know for sure that humans in general, and physicists in particular deal with immeasurable things quite successfully. And the reason is if the thing exists it shows itself. It shows itself by interactions with the surroundings, by its reaction on internal actions and so on. Realizing how it influences on some measurements which we are able to perform (and which give us some ‘integral’ figures), we only have to find and to separate its participation on this process. Of course it sounds much easier that it is, but it is possible to do. And there are several things from the ‘Requirements’ part of our Excellence picture, which I feel must be measured:

  • Employees’ involvement and participation
  • Cooperation, not competition
  • Awareness of all stakeholders needs
  • Sharing knowledge
  • (the list may be continued)

The measurement of immeasurable things could be a great subject for the course project, isn’t it?

Re: What is the excellence anyway?

Today we have tried to answer on the question posted in the title of this message. Despite we have some knowledge about this subject (quite limited, but we have it) we started coping with it from the very beginning. We put our ideas quite randomly, basing on our own feelings rather than knowledge, and after collecting a huge number of ideas we (with the help of our tutor) grouped it.

Firstly, I was quite sceptical about it, but after a while I realized that this approach reveals some things which had not been clear to me before.

  • It’s not possible to give a simple definition to the 3E.
  • Trying to create the universal definition to the 3E we traced the way which the creators of EFQM had already passed. It was a really amazing feeling and it was an extremely useful experience.
  • The way how EFQM presents its Excellence model is not awkward, as I was prone to think few days ago. Moreover, I realized that this is probably the only way how so complex and holistic theory can be organized and presented.

Today I devoted 2 hours of my life to answering on a very complicated question. Before starting to do it I was not sure if it worth doing, or we should try to find the answer in the relevant literature. I have learnt a very important thing due it. The thing is that even if the question seems very hard and there are not many chances that the right and holistic answer will be found, however, the process of answering is worth doing. It can really help you to become closer to the answer, besides, it can highlight some absolutely new thing which are valuable itself. I will definitely use in my life.

November 2020

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Oct |  Today  |
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Search this blog



Most recent comments

  • Any additional marks, whichever module they were added to would help the overall average score. I sh… by on this entry
  • could this 3% or more be added to other assignments? e.g, FACS? Cheeky! by on this entry
  • could this 3% or more be added to other assignments? e.g, FACS? by on this entry
  • Genius. I love it. If that is the case then Paul would never get round to giving them back so as to … by on this entry
  • Love the idea, I'll raise it at the next SSLC meeting. Gez by on this entry

Blog archive

RSS2.0 Atom
Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder