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Posted by Naro on September 15th, 2007

There is a basic problem with the style of a leadership advocated in this article in that nearly every historic “Leader” one can name has had a completely different approach; Machiavelli did not advocate being a caring Protector as a means of becoming a great leader but rather that a Prince ought to be happy with “a reputation for being cruel in order to keep his subjects unified and loyal”.

Your situation, however, is a little different. You do not have the power to execute, nor even to banish. The workforce is rapidly gaining in sophistication, as the world grows more complex. You cannot effectively control through fear, so you must try another route. You could possibly gain compliance and rule your team through edict; but you would lose their input and experience, and gain only the burdens of greater decision-making. You do not have the right environment to be a despot; you gain advantage by being a team leader.

A common mistake about the image of a manager is that they must be loud, flamboyant, and a great drinker or golfer or racket player or a great something social to draw people to them. This is wrong. In any company, if you look hard enough, you will find quiet modest, fear not; all you need is to talk clearly to the people who matter (your team) and they will hear you.

The great managers are those who challenge the existing complacency and who are prepared to lead their teams forward towards a personal vision. They are the ones who recognize problems, seize opportunities, and create their own future. Ultimately, they are the ones who stop to think where they want to go and then have the shameless audacity to set out.

Knowledge Management – The benefits of it

Posted by Naro on September 15th, 2007

“So what’s it in for me? Am I really going to get my money’s worth? Is it really value-adding?” Sound familiar? Well, these questions naturally come to life every time we are faced with decisions like investing in a new strategy, program, process or project. It’s always going to be about cost-benefit analysis. How much money am I going to be sinking in to this investment and how much return or value am I going to get out of it?

Well, these questions hold true also for Knowledge Management (KM)  initiatives. Now that we are faced with increasingly difficult economic times, are initiatives such as KM programs and practices truly worth the effort as well as the investment? Or can we just keep on doing what we used to do and still survive in the competitive arena that we find ourselves in?

Top management always want a clear understanding of the ‘bottom line’ benefits of knowledge management before they invest in such initiatives. So, let’s take some time to look at the benefits of these KM initiatives.

The concept of the KM Benefits Tree, which was developed by David Skyrme Associates, a networked management consultancy specializing in advising senior executives and policy makers on how to create and implement successful knowledge-based strategies, highlights the interrelationships of three major categories of benefits commonly associated with successful KM initiatives. The categories are:-

1. Knowledge Benefits,
2. Intermediate Benefits, and
3. Organizational Benefits.

KNOWLEDGE BENEFITS

Benefits under this category include:

1. Access to best/latest thinking,
2. Faster access to knowledge,
3. Better knowledge sharing,
4. Knowing who’s doing what.

These benefits result from, let’s say, making use of improved and more efficient processes to generate information and knowledge for use in decision making. These improvements and efficiencies may arise because of the elimination of a number of non-value-adding steps in a series of processes or perhaps increasing the productivity of the workers involved in a specific task so that time is saved.

One concrete example is the organization of numerous physical files of, let’s say, a manufacturing firm or an academic institution or a government agency. Categorization and segregation into working databases allows the employees who need specific information to access it more efficiently through word or category searches rather than having to sift through so many folders. Updating of these databases will also result in having the most recent and relevant information and knowledge stored and easily accessible by any employee who may need them.

INTERMEDIATE BENEFITS

Benefits under this category include:
1. Novel approaches and new ideas,
2. Faster problem-solving,
3. New hires become effectively quicker and
4. Minimizes duplication/re-invention.

The key point to remember in this benefit category is improvements in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. As a result of, for example, systematic documentation of activities and tasks in a systems development project, the teams involved in similar projects can look at what was done and learn from the experiences chronicled in the project documentation. Thus, duplication of mistakes would be minimized if not eliminated and knowledge gained from doing a certain activity or task can be passed on for the benefit of other teams. Going back to our physical file organization example – because everything is organized, the decision maker can now proceed more efficiently with the decision making process. He does not have to use the “I’m sorry but I don’t have that information with me.” or “I don’t know what you want to get from all this.” excuses anymore.

ORGANIZATIONAL BENEFITS

Benefits under this category include:
1. Better/faster innovation,
2. Improved customer service,
3. Reducing knowledge loss and
4. Increase in productivity/better performance.

All these benefits impact on the way an organization thinks and does things to achieve its objective Ò whether it is to provide quality education, quality products and services or quality programs to bring about the good of civil society. In a constantly evolving and competitive environment, organizations are faced with having to continuously improve especially in the area of creating innovative products and service that would be meet the also constantly evolving needs and wants of their customers. Ultimately, without patronage from customers, the organization will die a natural death.

In our physical file organization example, as a result of organized databases, the decision maker has the necessary information and knowledge to substantiate or justify, let’s say, R&D initiatives that would lead to more innovative and create products and services.

These initiatives may cost the company at the start but, looking at the long-term perspective, we can see that, when the products and services are created and then sold to a market that needs or wants them, then the company will actually reap the rewards of satisfied customers translating into increased sales revenues which helps offset the initial capital sunk into the R&D initiatives.

“So what’s it in for me? Am I really going to get my money’s worth? Is it really value-adding?”

Bottom line, the benefits of any KM initiative should always outweigh all the efforts put into KM implementation to help your company move forward.

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