April 27, 2008

Cat

Visited Caterpillar yesterday, my feelings is somewhat strange. Tom Peters said he can get a sense of the corporate culture within 30 seconds or so after entering the reception area.

There are two things on the wall caught me when I was there. One is six sigma, the other is their run charts. The six sigma  part is quite interesting, they put up all the black belts profile, their projects, and how much is saved by each of these projects. They also put up the DMAIC process with some brief explanations. All these are in the centre of the wall, where people can see it. On the same wall, in the corner, there are some other posters about something called RPI, Rapid Process Improvement, or something like that. I cannot exactly figure out if they mean something similar to Business Process Engineering. What interesting is, there is also an memo from CEO to all the employees to reassure them six sigma is still one of Cat's fundamental business strategies. What more interesting is on the opposite wall, there are a dozen of run charts of things like accidents, accuracy of logistic delivery to storage location, absence from work, stuff like that. All of them are without control limits, and some have a target. I am than in pondering of perhaps what Deming would asked, what are they supposed to mean?


April 25, 2008

semi column?

We finished off with the last day of sitting in classrooms for lectures, seminars, or team projects. We actually only started about 6 months ago, but it seemed to me it felt like for a long time. When looking back all the notes in paper or electronic forms we had, I am a bit astonished how much stuff we have covered. Some of them I would consider very useful, especially in the case of "management of change". Frankly, when Paul recommended this elective to me, I had really not much idea of what to expect. After the module, I gained not only some understanding of what change means but also got a new perspective of how I see myself. I would strongly recommend it to other students as well just like Paul recommended to me.

Generally speaking, I find the way WMG deliver their module contents quite refreshing with perhaps a few exceptions. It is quite different from my previous experience with Warwick where I attended a handful modules delivered by the department of computer science, engineering, business schools, and philosophy. Where lectures can mean dull, or even lifeless. Maybe, my attitudes towards learning also slightly changed? Since last time, it is only after leaving the universities, I suddenly found some of the materials I did not pay much attention to could be quite useful.

Anyways, still have a few PMA to complete and finish off the project where suppose to be the other half of the major learning points:)



April 22, 2008

arguments

In one of the OPP lectures, I guess I was being a bit to argumentative. However, there is some perspective towards the questions I never thought of. The thing interested me is the learning generated from the discourse. Discourse is one of the instruments to explore knowledge in some social science. I guess this is somewhat similar to the notion Paul used, "constructive critique". Some people also believe diversity is a key to create innovation, creativity, and competitive advantages. I suppose, diversity certainly will make certain scope of discourse rather than simply compliance. In the discourse, different perspective can be explored, a deeper understanding will be formed, hence more structure or insight of knowledge is built.


April 21, 2008

blogging

Just noticed that one of Warwick blog banners said "do it, think it, blog it". I guess this coincide with the point where Paul wanted us to write blogs for reflections. I had a look of what I have blogged so far, there are times, I had some interesting thought or question and trying to develop them further, but there are also times that I just simply write down stuff with less meanings and trying to sneak it before the closing gate of blog deadlines. Clearly, what you get from different practises is very noticeable. We are motivated to blog because there are marks tight to it. It makes sense to help us to gain a deeper understanding of what we've learned during lectures, seminars, self-reading and so on. There are also companies using the same tactics to encourage their employees for learn more. I've heard that GE give their employee book money and ask them to write something like a review essay, where more rewards will be given. Sure, any learning is good on individual bases and it will certainly create some positive learning environment for the organisation. Maybe I am a bit conservative on this, but I wonder how tightly this is in alignment with their business strategy. Sure today we value high on innovation and creativity, and the same with knowledge. Knowledge renew perhaps is always an important policy of any organisational HR policy. Hence it is important to create a learning environment. But the point is the policies needs to build up towards the business strategy as it is necessary to cascade it down. The question of GE would be what HR policy they need to have to ensure the individual learning can be consolidated into actions, and how can this be evaluated?


April 02, 2008

Learning & Creativity

Whether knowledge management or organisational learning, much is focused on the learning experiences or gaining new knowledge. Surely, these two topics make us more knowledgeable in many ways. But I still feel there are some gap between knowledgeable and be able to create things. One thing is be able to recite and reuse knowledge does not necessarily mean creation of something new.  Maybe that is why when it comes to the definition of knowledge, some have defined a higher level called wisdom. But I remain puzzled, how do people create things? Surely, knowledge forms a solid foundation for any innovative or creative activities. But this does not directly leads to create something new. Perhaps this gives the explanation why the organisational and ecological is much more powerful than the techno centric approach of knowledge management?


March 17, 2008

Is it about Knowledge?

I have known the term knowledge management for sometime, maybe a bit longer than some of my classmates. However, I often feels that the more I read in this topic, the less I truly know and understand about some of its points. I also wonder if it is still simply about knowledge management any more. There are times we talk about many things I would categorise them under organisational behaviour or psychology. Surely, it is very useful to gain some insights on how people connects with what they know. Maybe this is how we see the connection between our mind and heart? There are also times we talk more about technology. Surely, it is useful to deploy technology and maximise the usability and efficiency gained. But again, it seems people often talks about the acquisition of knowledge but less about the creation of knowledge. How to create knowledge efficiently? Again, this depends upon the definition of knowledge, i.e. whether if there is another layer called wisdom where we explore and create new things in a mysterious way and knowledge is simply some re-usage of the existing. What's next than? Wisdom management, I wonder.

March 16, 2008

Knowledge

The centre topics of knowledge management is about knowledge. Often we ask the question like the following: where does knowledge comes from and how is knowledge acquired? Interestingly, epistemology or theory of knowledge concerns some similar questions, in particular of the nature and scope of knowledge.

According to Plato, knowledge is somewhere between truth and belief. Some say it may be produced through discourse. This is a bit different than knowledge management, as the accessibility of knowledge is not one of the primary concern. But rather it cares more about the generation of the knowledge. Some times, I wonder if this is where actually the creativity comes from? Knowledge management is important because we need to maintain the existing in such information exploded age, but maintaining the old does not give us something new.


March 15, 2008

Time Managment

You never know who has the most interesting insight. Ting said something made me rethink why time management is so important. I cannot exactly recall her original wording, but basically the time management is important in two folds (she was talking it in a context of PMA). Not being on time naturally means whatever you delivered will be penalised, whether it is some marks being deducted, a bad impression, or commercial consequences like money. The other thing is, if you are not on time, it usually means you need to pull it through until the very last minute. This naturally indicates you are working under immense pressure. The quality of such would not be very good in most cases, at least it would hardly be anywhere close to excellence.

I never thought in the second way. When I consider all the cases where my time management is poor, it seems that she is right mostly. Time managed remains to be a critical success factor for me, and there are at least 2 instant solutions when your time managed went disastrous downhill. However, it seems neither would be what we initially set to achieve.


March 11, 2008

Knowledge Transfer

Recently talked to a former colleague, it was interesting to find out the slight different attitude towards knowledge and technology between Indian TATA and Chinese SAIC. TATA is in the process of acquiring Land Rover and Jaguar from Ford, and SAIC have already merged with NAC which acquired MG-Rover sometimes ago.

TATA has set up a European technical centre based in Warwick for a few years now. It is already in operation, and is constantly contributing towards the new product development back in India. In contrast, it seems besides changing the logo MG-Rover to NAC-MG. (and perhaps now to SAIC-MG) There is not much going on in the European technical centre of SAIC based in Leamington Spa. Actually this SAIC technical centre is largely based on Ricardo, and it is believed there still a lot of collaboration. This does not surprise me, as many Chinese domestic auto manufactures have to heavily rely on the technical know-how especially in the R&D area. However what surprise me is the strategy TATA took. Instead of collaborating with engineering consultancy, TATA chosen to collaborate with university. One of the goals set by the MD of TATA Motors European Technical Centre is to transform from acquiring know-hows to also know-whys. TATA choose the long-term goal of acquiring the capabilities of R&D instead of the obvious short-gains of specific technology. In a few years time, we probably would see how different strategies work out for each of them in products.

P.S. my ignorance, I didn't know CityRover was actually based on TATA Indica. There's already a difference shown in the strategy between TATA and SAIC/NAC back then.


March 10, 2008

Life Cycle Performance

To improve total life cycle performance, this is one of the elaborations in EFQM regarding asset management. It is a very interesting and yet familiar idea. I often hear company put a lot of focus on product life cycle management, but less on the life cycle performance of their asset.

The two concepts both have life cycle in them, however I find the perspective is rather different. Frequently, product life cycle is taught in the way of 4 stages of introduction, growth, maturity, and decline.  Yet, it is infrequent to mention product recycling with the stage of decline. Most frequent, it is new technology, new innovation, and the introduction of a next generation product being associated with. I wonder if it is this model gave the proper reason for buying or upgrading to the new and the latest.

On the other hand, management of life cycle performance through maintenance and utilisation, and the consideration of life cycle cost prolongs the usage, conserve the energy, and protect the environment.

Maybe organisations should consider more life cycle costs when developing new products as environmental friendly can also be revenue generating. It doesn't have to be new! 


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