All entries for March 2008

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


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! 

March 09, 2008

Knowledge as Asset?

Asset management is a broad topic, especially when asset is no longer a term only limited to physical asset. People more and more frequently using the term like Intellectual Asset Management, Intangible Asset, and Intellectual Capital.

This new trend, new economy, or even new value creation, has recognised by many intellectuals such as Peter Drunker who frequently used the term knowledge workers, knowledge organisations, and knowledge economy. The landscape also dramatically changed, since the proliferation of technology in particular information technology. According to research, prior to 90s 70% of U.S.A.'s investment went to tangible goods and some 30% went to intangibles. However, today the portion has inverted.

It is perhaps most noticeable in the stock prices,  the relationship of market value and book value was more than 6 times by the end of 90s in comparison with 1 time in the 70s. For some companies, especially IT firms, about 90% of their market capitalisation was in intangibles. Some, such like Skandia tried to visualise this change of value creation, and made an attempt to give a sounding explanation to their shareholders and the public at large. Skandia has included a series of supplement to accompany their interim and annual report through out the late 90s.

Skandia Market Value Scheme

However, since bust of dot com bubble in 2001, and the late crisis in financial industry, how much does the intellectual asset and capital contribute to the creation of value is remain to be justified. (Surely, such asset/capital is an very important and critical factor for any business. ) 

March 08, 2008

the power of writing

There was again some discussion on reflection and blogging. Paul used the words "the power of writing", which I liked very much.

There was an Chinese idiom or phrase, which can be loosely translated as "half understanding of a subject" or some times as sciolism(which I doubt if it is the suitable translation). This happen to me very frequent, especially when I first learn something. Some times I wonder if this perhaps has something to do with my nature, as it can be impatient.

To overcome this, Paul has encouraged us to reflect on what we have learned during the day (or night). Use the form of writing blogs to let the writing to inform the thinking. I do fully agree his point of view and perhaps I can think of some reasons why I was not so diligent on this practise.

      • maybe somewhere down there, I still treated it like a chore thus delay and completing it until the last minute.
        • I felt like to write up some elementary school's homework or a pupil essay, which developed no deep reflection into the subject
          • did not habituate myself to blogging as a daily practise
            • sometimes certain topics require some effort and time to digest and decomposite before writing anything 

            Seems, the first 3 are some sort of attitude problems, and actually the last one makes blogging and reflection as an effective technique to support the process of comprehension.

            One of the two things my grandma tried to get me started as a child were: making notes/comments while reading, and write a journal or diary. I didn't seem to make any of those two. Hopefully, it is not too late to start on reflective blogging. (which can be sort of a combination of both and more)

            March 07, 2008

            having a plan

            This seem to be one of the central theme of asset & knowledge management. I suppose it is true for any managerial topics. It is clear without a plan, how can you waste resources in such magnitude. Watched the documentary "No End in Sight", the coalition force went to Iraq without a plan(or having a plan but without execution). The result is devastating.

            On the other hands, there is comparison being made regards to the speed, scale, and cost of construction between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Beijing Terminal 3. BAA definitely used much longer time to plan. Was this effort worthwhile? Maybe it will be more clear after 2008 Olympics?

            The new chief economist and vice president of world bank, Mr. Lin is also advocating "Crossing the River by Groping the Stones" which means less planning to some extend. However this is based on the assumption, that there is almost none or very limited experiences.

            Perhaps the PDCA cycle, in fact should be starting with a DCA and than followed by a continuous PDCA. Either way when experiences is acquired, without studying and planning, these experiences are wasted. An inadequate management of knowledge resources.

            March 05, 2008

            People & Knowledge Managment

            There are two views or perspective of knowledge. One view it as a entity, the other sees it as an integral part of people. I think both are valid, and there is hardly any clear line of it.

            I suspect the context of KM in this module meant both. However EFQM 4e perhaps meant the management of knowledge as a entity, since EFQM 3b covers the management of knowledge as an integral part of people.

            Interestingly, with different perspective, different courses also being developed on knowledge management. There are university which taught it as more of a extension of IT (Cranfield?, Middlesex, Westminster, Southampton), and there are some taught it more as a extension of HR (Lancaster).

            I think both approach are valid, but when organisations think about knowledge management, may be they need to consider the following:

                • Volume or Scale
                  • Efficacy & Efficiency
                    • Complexity
                      • Knowledge Life Cycle

                      March 03, 2008

                      Partnerships and Resources

                      Paul gave some example of how each module covers all the sub criteria of partnerships & resources. It really made me wonder for a while, if this is the case. Maybe when EFQM developed, they used boxes to help illustration. However, the more I know it, the more it sounds like a black box for me. For each, so much is covered and contained, and every parts is inter linked and even overlapped. It is always clear when you look at the model, which seems so simple. Yet when you read into the elaborations of each sub criteria, there is always something more perhaps can be included.

                      Luckily, only the asset, information & knowledge part will be covered. They are all seen as part of resources, one way of categorising them. For the company I worked for, it was very much event driven kind of business. Most of the resources were simply consumed and than acquired. I wonder for the company lives in patterns of behaviour or systemic structure, would they be more proactively managing the resources and even developing the resources?

                      (Maybe I wasn't being fair, to a extend we did manage or develop our resources from time to time. However that is only in the case where is an top-down initiative or external demand such as inspection visit.) 

                      March 2008

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