Thursday, December 29, 2005

Words of Wisdom

The year end special edition of Knowledge@Wharton has some great interviews from the newsmakers of the Year. Some of my favorites are given below.

Good Managers Focus on Employees' Strengths, Not Weaknesses (Marcus Buckingham) speaks about the manager’s role in developing employee’s skill and competencies.

According to Buckingham, the best managers share one talent -- the ability to find, and then capitalize upon, their employees' unique traits. "The guiding principle is, 'How can I take this person's talent and turn it into performance?' That's the only way success is possible."

And yet not everyone has that knack, Buckingham said. If he has learned anything from his years spent interviewing the best minds of the business world, it is this: Truly great managers, and truly inspiring business leaders, are rarer than many think. "Some of you in this room may not have that talent," he said. "If not, management can become a thankless task."

Giving Employees What They Want: The Returns Are Huge (David Sirota, co-author of The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want)

Sirota talks about the key factors which influences workers behaviour at work. He says managers should rely on common sense principles that allow workers to take pride in their work. He urges them to reject trendy, get-tough tactics that were promoted in the late 1990s, such as trimming staff even at healthy companies in order to improve shareholder value.

His views on what can managers do to boost enthusiasm .

First, provide security. Laying off people should be the last resort, not the first thing you do.

Second, where there are difficulties in getting work done, we talk about self-managed teams.

Recognition is also important. Employees do not have to be told that you love them, but you want to be appreciative of good work. It sounds very corny, but people are corny. People need this kind of feedback.

As for systems, we find the traditional merit pay systems with an appraisal and pay increase are quite negative. Workers feel no relation between what they do and their pay increase. A reward has to be felt as a reward. Research has verified a system such as 'gain sharing' in which a group of workers judges its performance over time.

AmEx's Ken Chenault Talks about Leadership, Integrity and Survival.

"It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who survive, but those most adaptive to change. Over the past 10 years, the need for, and focus on, adaptability has accelerated."

A second key element of survival is leadership. "Many companies are struggling, and American Express is by no means perfect," said Chenault. "Any company, no matter how strong, is going to experience some difficulty. The question is, how do you develop leaders to manage in these times, how do you retain them and how do you excite them? That will be a continuing challenge for American Express and others."

Chenault believes that it's a lot easier to be a good leader in good times than in bad, but a reputation for leadership over the long term is established during times of change.

"Today, the stakes are incredibly high. The need for leaders to stand for something and act from principle is more important than ever. Things that were acceptable five or ten years ago will today cost you your career. You can make a few mistakes, not a lot ... a few. But if your people believe that you have the right values, they will tolerate a few mistakes. In fact, they will stay with you.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Employees Engagement and Feel Good Factor

Wo! I feel good, I knew that I wouldn't of I feel good, I knew that I wouldn't of So good, so good, I got you Wo! I feel nice, like sugar and spice I feel nice, like sugar and spice So nice, so nice, I got you

These lines of James Brown famous song could be the dream goal for each HR professional. HR team can only dream that its employee sing these lines every morning when they come to office. Employees feel good factor and happiness level has been a key area of research work for Economists, Psychologists and Management thinkers.

Gallup Management Journal surveyed U.S. employees to probe their perceptions of how happiness and well-being affect their job performance. Gallup researchers examined employee responses to see which factors differed most strongly among engaged employees (27% of respondents) and those who were not engaged (59%) or actively disengaged (14%).

When American employees were asked how often they feel challenged at work, a majority of engaged workers (61%) said they feel challenged very often, while 35% said they sometimes feel challenged. In contrast, just 49% of not-engaged and 24% of actively disengaged workers indicated that they very often feel challenged at work; 39% of not-engaged workers and 42% of actively disengaged workers sometimes feel challenged.

Respondents were also asked how often they feel frustrated at work. Here, the differences were even more striking. Almost 4 in 10 engaged employees (39%) indicated that they rarely or never feel frustrated at work, while only 13% very often feel frustrated. In contrast, 6 in 10 actively disengaged workers and 26% of not-engaged employees said they very often feel frustrated.
These responses suggest that while engaged workers do feel challenged at work, they view these challenges in a much more positive light than do less engaged workers.

When asked how difficult it would be for their employer to replace them, 54% of disengaged employees said it would be extremely or somewhat difficult for their employer to replace them, compared to 76% of engaged employees. Engaged workers also felt significantly more secure at their workplaces: 54% of engaged workers felt more secure at work than they did a year ago, but only 36% of not-engaged workers and just 18% of actively disengaged workers agreed that they felt more secure at work than they did a year ago.

To read more click here

Thursday, December 22, 2005

How to have Fun @ Work

Employee’s motivation and engagement is the key mantra for attracting, developing and retaining Human Talent. Organizations are striving to make work exciting as well fun activity so that they get greater employee involvement and commitment. Employee’s perception about work is believed to be the driving factor. To build this reputation and promote a fun culture here’ some essential guidelines for HR Folks.

Allow for flextime. Giving your employees some flexibility in their work schedules shows your concern for their personal lives. In addition, allowing employees to work from home occasionally can be a great motivator, making the days in the office a lot more productive and less stressful.

Schedule exercise breaks. There’s no reason you can’t copy what many larger corporations are doing these days -- squeezing in stretch/dance breaks throughout the day during which employees step out of their offices or cubicles to do a group stretch to music.

Cultivate fun.
Make your office an exciting place to be by holding frequent contests, celebrations, and team-building activities. Surprise everyone by ordering in lunch or by starting out the day with coffee and pastries in the kitchen. Be creative.

Lead with laughter. Understand that taking 15 minutes to laugh will increase productivity, not reduce it.

Encourage mini time-outs. Encourage everyone to relieve daily stress by taking a few minutes to do something they enjoy. A small break in the day’s routine can really reinvigorate a person’s thought process. Take short breaks yourself and encourage others to take them.

Find the humor in negative situations. Lead the way in joking about difficult situations in the company. When people can laugh in the midst of a impending deadline, make fun of themselves after making a mistake, or share the story of a horrendous (but humorous) customer experience, they can defuse a lot of tension and stress.

Create a fun squad. Ask for employees' ideas for ways to add fun to the workplace. Consider creating a “fun squad” whose job is to dream up ways to bring lighthearted fun into the office.

Build a “Wall of Fame.” Designate an area where you can post pictures of team members, thank-you notes from clients and customers, and clippings about the organization’s success.

Designate a humor corner. Transform one corner of your break room or other area into a humor corner. There you can post cartoons, funny quotes and pictures, and other illustrations designed to relieve stress.

To read more click here

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Effective E:learning Approach

E learning is going to be of the most preferred and commonly adopted mean for higher education. Its going to be all the more relevant for management education since it’s a wonderful mean for acquiring and developing new knowledge skill and competencies for high level of performance. However the learning ability and style of individuals has been well researched for the traditional method but the e learning mode of education has its own peculiar results.

In an article titled Learning Styles and Study Habits Ryan Watkins discusses about the challenges of e learning. He suggests ways to make the learning session more effective based on individual learning style suited for online method.

Learning Style Is Visual
As a learner who prefers visual elements in his or her instruction, what study skills do you believe are most useful in the online course environment? For example, drawing pictures or mind maps as you read online materials, paying special attention to the images or animated graphics, and/or envisioning the topic in your thoughts.

Learning Is Auditory
As a learner who prefers auditory elements in his or her instruction, what study skills do you believe are most useful in the online course environment? For example, developing an internal conversation between you and the text, reading aloud, and/or discussing the topic in verbal conversation with a peer, family member, or colleague at work.

Learning Is Tactile/Kinesthetic
As a learner who prefers tactile/kinesthetic elements in his or her instruction, what study skills do you believe are most useful in the online course environment? For example, taking careful notes while reading online material, using a pencil or highlighter to mark your notes, using an online highlighter (fir example, with PDF files or Microsoft Word documents), and/or keeping an online journal.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Best Ethical Practices Awards

Recently the 17th business ethics awards were announced by the Business Ethics Magazine and the winners list has the following names;

Intel:For leadership and excellence in corporate social responsibility management.
A computer chipmaker in Santa Clara, Calif., Intel has 90,000employees. It posted double-digit gains in 2004 for revenue of $34.2 billion. Net income for 2004 was $7.5 billion, up 33 percent from 2003. Long a darling of the social investing community, Intel is included in 50 different socially responsible mutual funds. Last year, it ranked No 5 in Business Ethics' 100 Best Corporate Citizens list. And it made the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the seventh year in a row. It was the sixth company in the U.S. to report in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative, a rigorous international framework for corporate social reporting.

South Mountain Company:For using employee ownership as the foundation of a
life-enhancing company.

WHEN THE EMPLOYEES ARE THE OWNERS, and they are charting the course, essential business priorities change,” says John Abrams, founder of South Mountain Co. "Improving the community where we live and raising our families become part of our basic priorities.All of this is made possible by the firm's ownership structure.

After Abrams split with his two founding partners in 1985, he transferred ownership to a worker-owned cooperative corporation (in which he shares ownership). Today, there are 16 employee owners and another 14 working toward ownership. After five years employees can buy into ownership. Since the company has no outside investors and no non- employee board members, Abrams writes, "We decide what kind of business ours will be.”

That means, among other things, that South Mountain pursues a policy of conscious
growth rather than maximum growth.

New Leaf Paper: Environmental Excellence Award: For mainstreaming ecological
principles into the paper industry.

San Francisco-based New Leaf Paper Co. has since 1998 been in the business of saving trees -- nearly 700,000 to date, since over half the fiber used in its papers comes from post-consumer waste, rather than virgin pulp from trees. That's not to mention the 34 million pounds of solid waste no longer in the waste stream, thanks to the company's sustainable line of paper products, considered the most environmentally responsible on the market today.

In its first full year of operation in 1999, New Leaf Paper generated $4 million in sales. In 2005, it expects revenues to exceed $18 million. Yet with only 18 employees, this small firm is having a significant impact on its industry. "The mission of our company is to inspire the paper industry to move toward sustainability. We essentially married our own success with our environmental goals,” said founder and CEO Jeff Mendelsohn.

Weaver Street Cooperative, Living Economy Award: For its sustainable products, community focus, and democratic governance.

Weaver Street is more than a food market. It runs a restaurant, Panzanella, also devoted to locally produced and seasonal foods, which hosts frequent special dinners and wine tasting to show off local producers. The cooperative donated staff time and unused real estate to create a new community radio station. And it created a nonprofit to build affordable housing. When residents nearby wanted a second market, they approached Weaver street to open one. It did so, and 600 subscribers signed up to finance the venture.

To read more click here

Friday, December 16, 2005

Designing an Effective Learning Program

On of the biggest question which any learning Manager faces today is designing and customizing a training program. Often one wonders about the likely efficacy of a program for a particular role and position.

Glen Spielbauer has given some useful tips for learning officer in designing any learning activity. He feels that as the chief learning officer, you must be the driving force to push your company’s productivity to higher levels. To truly empower your organization, be proactive, not reactive

Include all your employees, not just the managers or professionals: Do not neglect the rank-and-file employees who truly determine your bottom-line success. Individual contributors are the ones who build customer relationships and put quality into your product or service.

Don’t reinvent the wheel: Make sure your training adds to the knowledge that employees already have from their college training. (This includes both two-year and four-year graduates.)
Utilize those with two-year and four-year degrees: It is essential ensure that all managers understand the advanced level of graduates of two-year community colleges and technical institutes. Graduates of two-year associate degree programs have expertise that often overlaps with four-year graduates and should be treated as professionals in their own right.

Incorporate local community colleges: Use local community colleges as an integral part of your corporate training strategy. Many community colleges provide regular and custom-designed short courses for corporate clients, sometimes even on-site. These include customer service, e-commerce, quality assurance, project management, technical writing, telecommunications and computer network technology.

Your overall agenda must be coherent and unified, not piecemeal: Include all departments and all levels and types of employees. Although specific training may be targeted for certain functions (such as marketing or manufacturing), all training objectives must be a part of a “top-down” design to be truly effective.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Andy Grove :Leadership Redefined

Intel's former CEO Andy Grove is one of the great technical evangelist who is also revered as a great leader of his times. He is also considered a great management guru and has some great works to his credit including 1983's High Output Management and 1996's Only the Paranoid Survive, whose title entered the lexicon along with its phrase "strategic inflection point," which Grove defines as "a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change."

Richard Tedlow's is coming up with a new book titled The Life and Times of Andy Grove .HBR has come up with a review on his work.

“Tedlow calls Grove “America's greatest student and teacher of business,” and this essay describes several key decisions that reveal Grove's brilliance at grasping profound changes in the business environment and steering the company's big bow into new waters.

By the 1970s, for example, the company had made its fortune in computer memory chips. IBM was not only its largest customer; it was its largest shareholder, too. But as memory became a commodity in the 1980s, Grove decided to follow a bet-the-company strategy to charge into microprocessors even while risking the loss of IBM's business. The move, of course, not only paid off for Intel but also helped launch the PC revolution.Studying Grove, says Tedlow, will help today's managers cope with the accelerating rate of change. “Grove is the best model we've got for doing business in the twenty-first century,”
Fortune has a preview of the work and it’s a fascinating stuff to read.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

IT Industry biggest Challenge

A recent article in New York Times has reported that India is going to face an acute shortage of Engineering talent required for its IT industry.

Its not just the IT talent which is going to be in short supply ,also highlighted is the fact that we are going to short of current hot spots for IT industry which has the majority of these industrial units. The fact that congregation of huge workforce requires scaling up of infrastructure and other basic facilities is largely being ignored till date.

"India's information technology industry faces a shortfall of 500,000 professionals by 2010 threatening its dominance of global offshore IT-services, warns a report to be published this week by business consultancy McKinsey and Nasscom, India's leading IT association.

The prediction comes as multinationals, such as Microsoft and JPMorgan, increase their presence in the world's largest offshore services industry, adding to labour-market pressures caused by a widening mismatch between the supply and demand for technology talent.

The "war for talent" is one of the most striking signs of the success of India's offshore IT sector. It expanded by about 30 per cent from 2003 to 2005 and is expected to grow by at least 25 per cent a year over the next five years, sustaining the county's rapid economic growth."
To read the complete article here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Employee's Communication:The New Mantra

One of the biggest challenges which organizations face today is communication. Employee communication is considered to be the most effective indicator of its people practices. It is believed that communication is the key to superior performance and good work ethics.

In a study conducted by Watson Wyatt it was found that effective financial performance of the organization was linked to its Employee’s communication. Some of the major findings of the study are:

Companies that communicate effectively have a 19.4 percent higher market premium than companies that do not.

Shareholder returns for organizations with the most effective communication were over 57 percent higher over the last five years (2000-2004) than were returns for firms with less effective communication.

The 2005/2006 study found evidence that communication effectiveness is a leading indicator of financial performance.

Firms that communicate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to report high levels of employee engagement versus firms that communicate less effectively.

Companies that are highly effective communicators are 20 percent more likely to report lower turnover rates than their peers.

Two-thirds of the firms with high levels of communication effectiveness were asking their managers to take on a greater share of the communication responsibility, but few are giving them the tools and training to be successful.

Global firms are not customizing their messages to meet local needs or cultural sensitivities.

On average, firms within the financial and retail trade sectors rank among the most effective communicators. Health care, basic materials, telecommunications and other service companies rank among the least effective communicators.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Craig Barrets on Science Graduates in Amercia

Intel's Charirman Craig Barret is on India and having talks with industry experts and political leaders on the future investments prospects. In a recent article published in Business week he seems to be worried at the rate which China ,Korea and other nations are churning out quality science graduates and on the other hand the quality and quantity of science grads coming out of US universities have dropped considerably.

Here’s what he has to say about the erosion of resources in America“We have a graduation gap: While the number of jobs requiring technical skills is increasing, fewer American students are entering -- and graduating from -- degree programs in science, math, and engineering. Why does this matter?

Science and technology are the engines of economic growth and national security in the U.S., and we are no longer producing enough qualified graduates to keep up with the demand.

These graduates -- like the Intel STS students -- represent a resource vital to American competitiveness that is eroding at home while being produced more rapidly and efficiently abroad.

He shows his concern at the overall share of engineering graduates who were awarded degrees. For the past three decades, about one-third of U.S. bachelor's degrees have been granted in science and engineering.

Asian nations far outstrip that figure, with China at 59% in 2001, South Korea at 46% in 2000, and Japan at 66% in 2001.Of those degrees, the number awarded in engineering also varied greatly: In China engineering accounted for 65% of all science and engineering degrees; in South Korea for 58%; and in Japan for 29%.

In the U.S. that figure is less than 5%.How did we get here?

A report released earlier this year by Achieve, a nonprofit organization that helps states raise academic standards, contends that we have institutionalized low performance through low expectations. Our high schools expect only a small number of students to take the advanced math and science courses such as algebra and geometry.

Another Achieve study showed that much of the math content on state high school exit exams is basic at best -- similar to material covered by foreign students in the eighth grade.
To read more click here

Friday, December 02, 2005

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Individual Creativity and Work Pressure

Often we feel that the kind work pressure we have to cope up with is really killing our individual creativity. Sometimes we look back at our past and recall the good old days when we could actually do something really exciting and creative. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile is trying to understand this situation in her research findings on Time Pressure and creativity.

She is in midst of a ten-year study looking at, among other things, how time pressure in corporate setting affects employee creativity. She recently presented early findings and an updated working paper to colleagues at the HBS Research Symposium, and will publish an overview of the work in the August issue of Harvard Business Review.

Here's a snapshot of her findings;

The results suggest that, overall, very high levels of time pressure should be avoided if you want to foster creativity on a consistent basis.

  • However, if a time crunch is absolutely unavoidable, managers can try to preserve creativity by protecting people from fragmentation of their work and distractions;

  • They should also give people a sense of being "on a mission," doing something difficult but important. I don't think, though, that most people can function effectively in that mode for long periods of time without getting burned out.

  • At the other end of the spectrum, very low time pressure might lull people into inaction; under those conditions, top-management encouragement to be creative—to do something radically new—might stimulate creativity.

  • The most surprising finding from the time pressure study is that time pressure really does seem to have an important impact on creativity, even though our intuitions are contradictory and previous research is inconclusive.

  • To read the complete interview click here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

CISCO -India vrs China

Businessweek has carried out an interesting story on CISCO's future plans for expansion in India,and why India was given a preference over China. Here’s a brief from the article.

On Nov. 9, in a conference call, Chambers made a striking prediction: "It would not surprise me to see India actually challenge China, in terms of our business revenue, [in] three to four years.” Chambers' statement certainly goes against conventional wisdom.

After all, China boasts a $1.6 trillion economy that's growing at a 9% annual clip, and it's the world's largest market for many products. India, with the same 1 billion-plus population, has a $700 billion economy that's growing at 7%.And Cisco itself has been a major beneficiary of China's buildout.

From the late 1990s through 2003, China's massive state-controlled phone companies built nationwide networks that connected more than 30 million homes, and Cisco profited greatly. Many Western companies, meanwhile, are banking on China remaining their single biggest source of new growth. Says Meichun Hsu, a Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ ) executive who will run a new research and development lab in Beijing: "China's potential is greater than India's for the next decade, even though India could be the bigger economy in the next 25 years." Others are even more skeptical about India matching China. "Maybe in 50 years," says Toshiba Corp. CEO Atsutoshi Nishida (TOSBF ).

What is Cisco thinking? The company is betting that India's growth rate is going to pick up smartly -- in part because deregulation of its telecom industry is leading to vast investments in new Internet infrastructure. "We are witnessing the advanced stages of an enormous evolution of the Indian market as the government rolls back state control and as the economy becomes liberalized," says Cisco Senior Vice-President Daniel Scheinman.

That creates a huge new market for Cisco with big phone companies, including state-owned BSNL as well as private players such as Bharti and Tata Group, which are rolling out state-of-the-art broadband networks. That in turn is leading to demand from consumers and companies.

To read the complete article click here

Friday, November 18, 2005

Knowledge Society and the Digital Divide

Knowledge based societies have come a long way in developing the quality of its citizens life. Probably the wheels of growth have gained a strong momentum because they always believed in the healthy practice of sharing and enabling knowledge based processes.

UNESCO has come up with a report which tries to find out the approach these societies have adopted and how they differ from the information based societies.

Towards Knowledge Societies"*, launched in Paris by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, also advocates making linguistic diversity a priority, sharing environmental knowledge and developing statistical tools to measure knowledge and help policy makers define their priorities.

Knowledge societies, the authors** stress, are not to be confused with information societies. Knowledge societies contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities, and encompass social, ethical and political dimensions.

Singapore, for example, started out as a developing country of shantytowns at independence and achieved economic growth rates that surpass those of most industrialized nations in just four decades by promoting knowledge (education) and creativity.

Information societies, on the other hand, are based on technological breakthroughs that risk providing little more than "a mass of indistinct data" for those who don't have the skills to benefit from it.

The Report, opens a panorama "that paints the future in both promising and disquieting tones," says the Director-General, "promising because the potential offered by a rational and purposeful use of the new technologies offers real prospects for human and sustainable development and the building of more democratic societies; disquieting for the obstacles and snares along the way are all too real."

One of the main obstacles, according to the Report, is the disparity in access to information and communication technology that has become known as the digital divide.Only 11 percent of the world's population has access to the internet and 90 percent of those connected live in industrialized countries.

This digital divide is itself the consequence of a more serious split. "The knowledge divide," write the authors, "today more than ever, separates countries endowed with powerful research and development potential, highly effective education systems and a range of public learning and cultural facilities, from nations with deficient education systems and research institutions starved of resources, and suffering as a result of the brain drain.

"Encouraging the development of knowledge societies requires overcoming these gaps, "consolidating two pillars of the global information society that are still too unevenly guaranteed - access to information for all and freedom of expression."

To read the complete report click here.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More about Drucker

Here's a snapshot of a wonderful tribute given by the Wharton Knowledge site to Peter Drucker.

Back in 1942, when Peter F. Drucker was a professor of politics and philosophy at Bennington College in Vermont, a book he had written, The Future of Industrial Man, caught the attention of Alfred P. Sloan, the legendary head of General Motors. Sloan was so impressed by the book that he invited Drucker to study GM, and Drucker agreed -- ignoring the warnings of those who said the project might derail his academic career. As Drucker said later, it was as though he had single-handedly begun an expedition to map "the dark continent of management." That exploration, which gave birth to the field of management, came to an end on November 11 when Drucker passed away at age 95.

You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tribute to Peter Drucker

A Tribute to the Great Legend Peter Drucker: 1909–2005
One of the Greatest Management thinker and fine intellectual P.F.Drucker influenced every sphere of modern lives with his thoughts and Strategic thinking.Drucker died on 11th Nov., of natural causes at his home in Claremont, east of Los Angeles, said spokesman Bryan Schneider.
To read more click here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Harward Business School has announced the Alumni achievements awards for 2005. Rahul Bajaj also figured in the list with four other distinguished business leaders Nancy M. Barry, Louis V. Gerstner Jr., Judith R. Haberkorn, and Joseph J. O'Donnell.

The award was constitued in 1963 and it recognises the contribution of Business leaders to their companies and communities while upholding the highest standards and values in everything they do. As such, they represent the best in HBS alumni body. Exemplary role models, they inspire all those who aspire to have an impact on both business and society.

To read more click here

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Innovation and Venture Capital

The Business Cycle paradigm is not only having its impact on profit and employee retention but it is a key factor in leading the process of innovations.Knowledge at Wharton has an article on the role of VC’s in spurring innovation despite the bubble burst and economic upheavals.

After the dot-com bubble burst about five years ago, corporate-sponsored venture capital funds jumped off that bandwagon in droves. Investing in startup technology companies -- thought to be a quick way to beef up the corporate bottom line and look technologically hip while doing so -- suddenly didn't seem like such a smart idea.

So why bother? Because venture capital is an essential tool available to a corporation to increase its innovativeness, says Wharton management professor Gary Dushnitsky. In his dissertation work, as well as three co-authored papers with Michael J. Lenox of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Dushnitsky argues that corporate officials -- who once saw a quick windfall in financing outside technologies -- got it wrong then, and may be wrong now to recoil from making such investments.

Corporate venture capital is one leg of a three-legged stool whose other two legs are a strong internal R&D capability and strong alliances with academic or government researchers.

Corporations that have stayed the course with venture investing -- DuPont, Johnson & Johnson, IBM and others -- tend to make equity investments in innovative startup companies with strategic rather than simply financial motives, and in time reap both strategic and financial benefits, Dushnitsky suggests, noting that "a strategically driven program exploits synergies between what I am doing and what they are doing." It's creating actual value that in turn is translated into superior financial performance.

To read the complete article click here

Friday, October 14, 2005

Communities and Teams

Knowledge Management Review lastest issue talks about the differences between the Communities of Practise and Teams. Communities and teams have different ways of sharing information an learning practises.

It defines Community of practise as a group that shares knowledge, learns together and creates common practices. COPs share information, insight, experience and tools about an area of common interest. This could be a professional discipline (such as reservoir engineering or biology), a skill (like machine repair), a topic (such as technology), an industry or a segment of a production process.

Consulting companies usually organize COPs around both disciplines, such as organizational change, and industries like banking, petroleum or insurance. Community members frequently help each other to solve problems and develop new approaches or tools for their field. This makes it easier for community members to show their weak spots and learn together in the "public space" of the community.

Teams and communities are differentiated on the following parameters:

Teams are tightly integrated units driven by deliverables, defined by managed tasks and bound together by members' collective commitment to results.

COPs are loosely knit groups driven by the value they provide to members – defined by the opportunities to learn and share what they discover and bound by the sense of collective identity that the members form.

The heart of a team is a set of interdependent tasks that lead to an objective. The heart of a community of practice, on the other hand, is the knowledge members share and develop.

Since community members apply their knowledge on teams outside the community, it is not possible to predict exactly what knowledge will be important to the community.

COPs therefore follow opportunities for sharing knowledge as they arise, and as a result the "hot topics" in a community shift over time. As topics shift new people join the community, adding their perspective and shaping its direction.

While teams often have clear boundaries and membership, COPs have many partial, part-time, and marginal members. Like a double-knit fabric, they can stretch as topics and needs evolve.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

HR:Business Transformation Outsourcing

HR Business Process outsourcing is gaining momentum and experts believe that HR processes outsourcing will be a major decision making challenge for organizations. By outsourcing HR processes the organization make themselves vulnerable to outside influences, and so the is need to adopt a very flexible and dynamic approach towards the process. Failure to adopt a strategic and well calibrated approach may cause great loss to the organizations reputations and well as resources.

IBM Consultancy services has released a research paper on how organizations must embrace themselves for the challenges of HR process outsourcing .It gives a comprehensive guideline for adopting what they call Human Resource Business Transformation Outsourcing HR BTO. The report outlines the risks associated with outsourcing and raises the following issues.

Leadership Capabilities

• Have you identified individuals who have demonstrated the key leadership characteristics needed to support an ongoing outsourcing relationship?

• If one individual does not have all of these skills, are there other members of the ongoing outsourcing leadership team with complementary skill sets?

• To what extent have you identified potential individuals in other areas of the organization whose skill sets could benefit the overall outsourcing relationship?

Transitional Management

• Are adequate resources available to develop plans for building the new environment?

- Employee transition and redeployment management
- Delivery operations
- Workplace and infrastructure management

• What level of emphasis has been placed on developing a knowledge transfer strategy and are the appropriate resources in place?

• Has a structure been established to oversee the larger HR transformation effort that incorporates both client- and vendor-led projects?

• How comprehensive is the change management strategy for this transition? And has the organization committed sufficient resources to execute it?

Governance and Relationship Management

• Has the organization identified the key roles and responsibilities for governance at all three levels – strategic, program and operational?

• How collaboratively has the client worked with the vendor to assign clear governance roles and expectations?

• What mechanisms have been put in place to encourage the development of trust among the governance teams of the outsourcing arrangement?

Measurement and reporting

• What process is the organization using to develop service level agreements and how are they reported to the various governing boards?

• How is the organization validating that the measurements will be useful in making decisions throughout the lifetime of the arrangement?

• How is the organization planning to collect the appropriate operating measures or workforce analytics that will allow it to make decisions about its workforce?
To read the complete Report Click Here

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

To Blog or not to Blog

In one of my previous post I had mentioned about the impact of blogging on the way business is done .It is believed that blogging is one of the biggest threat to the Corporate PR industry. The content factor blog has come out with two white papers on blogging . If you are interested to know more you can click the links given below.

The Content Factor

Corporate Blogging White Paper 1

8 rules for Blogging

Blog Consultancy

Business Blog Consultancy

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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Creativity and organisational challenges

The Ten Faces of Innovation, by Tom Kelley with Jonathan Littman, to be published on October 18 by Currency Books, talks about the personality types it takes to keep creativity thriving--and the devil's advocate at bay. Here’s excerpt’s of the book from the Fast Company site

The Learning Personas

Individuals and organizations need to constantly gather new sources of information in order to expand their knowledge and grow, so the first three personas are learning roles. These personas are driven by the idea that no matter how successful a company currently is, no one can afford to be complacent.

The world is changing at an accelerated pace, and today's great idea may be tomorrow's anachronism. The learning roles help keep your team from becoming too internally focused and remind the organization not to be so smug about what you know.

People who adopt the learning roles are humble enough to question their own worldview, and in doing so, they remain open to new insights every day.

The Organizing Personas

The next three personas are organizing roles, played by individuals who are savvy about the often counterintuitive process of how organizations move ideas forward. At Ideo, we used to believe that the ideas should speak for themselves.

Now we understand what the Hurdler, the Collaborator, and the Director have known all along: that even the best ideas must continuously compete for time, attention, and resources.

Those who adopt these organizing roles don't dismiss the process of budget and resource allocation as "politics" or "red tape." They recognize it as a complex game of chess, and they play to win.

The Building Personas

The four remaining personas are building roles that apply insights from the learning roles and channel the empowerment from the organizing roles to make innovation happen.

When people adopt the building personas, they stamp their mark on your organization. People in these roles are highly visible, so you'll often find them right at the heart of the action.

To read more
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Friday, September 30, 2005

Competing for Talent

Organizations today are competing hard to attract the best manpower .Unlike other resources skilled manpower is scarcely available and hard to imitate. So for organizations the challenge today is not just to create an attractive brand to attract customers but also employees which helps them remain competitive and innovative in the long run.

Mckinsey’s Quarterly has carried out a survey to study the various branding techniques and growing competitive nature of recruitment practices. Some of the findings of the survey are:

  • Few companies are as rigorous or precise at branding themselves as employers as they are at branding their products and services. Experience therefore suggests to us that many of these initiatives could fail. For a company to exploit its brand effectively when it fishes for talent, it must think of recruits as customers, use sophisticated marketing analysis to identify its key rivals, determine which corporate attributes matter most to specific types of recruits, and understand how best to reach them.

  • Identifying the competition is an important starting point for a company trying to decide which attributes it should emphasize at what stage of the recruitment process. Traditional recruiting focuses on functional employment benefits, such as job security; opportunities for creativity and individual growth; and compensation. But an employer's intangible, emotional associations—"it's fun to work at this company," "we have a passionate and intelligent culture," "there is a strong team feeling here"—are just as important to recruits as similar associations with branded consumer goods are to potential buyers. So companies would do well to compare themselves with their peers on both functional and intangible dimensions.

  • Identifying the messages that best distinguish a company in the eyes of its recruits can improve the cost-effectiveness of its recruiting pitch. Since there is a trade-off between the number of people such efforts reach and the quality of the interaction, it is important to focus the most expensive, high-touch recruiting approaches on the candidates and stages most likely to deliver the greatest value. The best companies also boost the efficiency of their recruitment efforts by tailoring each stage of the recruiting process and by carefully measuring the impact of each stage on the process as a whole.

    Finally, a word of caution: employer-branding efforts will be counterproductive if the messages aimed at recruits undermine the company's broader marketing strategy. To be effective, employer branding can't just apply conventional brand-building techniques; the initiative must fit in closely with the company's overall brand strategy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Concept Mapping

Joseph D. Novak, Cornell University has given a Concept Map which were developed in the course of research program where they sought to follow and understand changes in children¹s knowledge of science.

In his recent post on Knowledge at Work Denham Grey has given a very lucid description on concept building and its importance.

Some basic premises on conceptual understanding such as “What is a concept?

An abstraction?, cognitive building block, a container for idea(s)?, a symbol & representation?, a tool for indexing, learning, memory and navigation?, a fundamental language construct?, a reified cognitive artifact?, a category? Concepts can be any unit of thought or a mental image formed by generalization.

Any concept is more than its name, the links to related concepts define its meaning, every concept has a life-cycle. A concept is an abstract, universal psychical entity that serves to designate a category or class of entities, events or relations.

Why are concepts important?

Our beliefs, world views, creativity and communication ability, depend on the concepts we hold, how strongly we hold them and ways we can change them. Concepts are the building blocks for analytical and mental models. Making concepts explicit and visual helps promote learning, knowledge construction and assists with memory retention.
To Read more click here

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ethics and human behaviour

Ethical behaviour in organisations has been in news following revelation that Intel India is asking some of its employee to put in papers after an audit report found that a large no of its employees have been submitting false expenditure claims.An article by Kirk O. Hanson titled "Who Says Cheaters Never Win?" has some interesting observations on unethical human behaviour and the reasons behind these actions.
Some children and their parents have convinced themselves that they have to be superstars and go to Harvard, Stanford, or Brown to have a worthwhile life. This attitude leads to cheating by the most qualified, not the least qualified, students in some schools.

Adding to the temptation, athletes, high school students, and scientists may convince themselves that anyone who is on top has cheated to get there, and therefore they rationalize it for themselves.

So, we have become a society captivated by the winner. We have made the one who dominates the box office, comes out on top in sports, or rises to the peak in business a new kind of royalty. It is no wonder people cheat.
He suggests that instead of encouraging the culture of "winners have it all" we need to have a society which respects individuals best effort.
Encouraging doing your best will require all of us to compliment and celebrate the efforts by those we know and love. The spouse who works hard but does'nt get the promotion deserves a dinner out. The child who studies diligently but gets a C grade should be praised.

Above all, we need to raise our children to resist the temptation to cheat. There is no way to make a rational case for honesty when getting that extra edge may help you come out on the top of the heap. My colleague and character education expert Steve Johnson says honesty must be instilled as a habit from an early age.

We should demonstrate to our kids that we adults abhor cheating. We should refuse to honor those who cheat perhaps by boycotting certain baseball games or the stock of an errant company. Let tell our kids cheaters are jerks. We should support the efforts our schools, sports leagues, and courts take to punish cheating.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Employees Loyalty :New Perspectives

Employees often struggle to find a balance between organisational goals and individual career goals.Loyalty to the organisation is often questioned when employees continously try achieve better career option sometimes even at the cost of their organisations.
Lauren Keller Johnson in HBR's latest issue advocates that loyalty should not be viewed as an either/or proposition.
The very nature of the relationship between employers and employees has undergone a fundamental shift: Today, workers not only don't expect to work for decades on end for the same company, but they don't want to.

They are largely disillusioned with the very idea of loyalty to organizations. But, at the same time, they don't really want to shift employers every two to three years for their entire careers. Similarly, companies would grind to a halt if they had to replace large portions of the workforce on a similar schedule.

So where does this leave us? Is there a way for both employers and employees to strike a brand-new balance when it comes to loyalty—one that gives organizations the focus and expertise they need to compete and employees the career development opportunities they demand?

According to the experts interviewed by Update, the answer is yes, but only if companies are willing to rethink how they define loyalty and how they manage their people.
It's true, the experts say, that to produce their best work, employees must be loyal to the company and what it stands for. But "employees can give their employers 100 percent and provide great performance while furthering their own careers," says Joyce Gioia of The Herman Group, a consultancy based in Greensboro, North Carolina "The two aren't mutually exclusive," especially when the skills that a person masters to further her own career are also what the company needs.

And when firms help workers acquire new skills that support their professional advancement, they often win those workers' commitment—and attract loyal new employees. This gives rise to another important point: Employers can promote company loyalty by helping people grow out of their jobs—ideally, into new ones within the company.

But even when you can't retain talent, it doesn't mean departing employees weren't loyal. Indeed, another mistaken assumption is that loyalty has to mean "forever." "One of my students expressed it well," says Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill. "He said, 'It's like dating: You can be faithful to the person you're seeing now while you're involved with him or her, but that doesn't mean you won't move on to dating someone else later.'"

Nor should companies strive to keep all employees forever. "You don't want blind loyalty," says Scott Brooks, an executive consultant at Minneapolis-based Gantz Wiley Research.
"The best kind is when both parties are benefiting." Leigh Grantham, VP of marketing and administration at DeFuniak Springs, Florida-based electricity provider CHELCO, agrees: "I'd rather have a star performer for three years than a dud for life."
On the Role of relationships in organisations:Focus on relationships. For many employees, loyalty is born or cemented through relationships with supervisors and colleagues.

"The number one reason people leave an organization isn't inadequate pay or benefits," says business writer John Putzier. "It's the day-to-day relationship with their immediate superior." Leaders seeking to secure employees' loyalty must work to create a positive bond.

How? "Be fair in distributing rewards and punishment," advises Donald P. Rogers, professor of international business at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. John Chappelear, a professional coach and trainer, says, "Clarify your expectations, and make sure people have the resources and skills they need to fulfill those expectations."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Blogging - Impact on Business

Blogging has taken the world by storm. Recently
Business Week carried out an article on how blogging has influenced business models.

So we're going to take you into the world of blogs by delivering this story -- call it Blogs 101 for businesses -- in the style of a blog. We're even sprinkling it with links.

These are underlined words that, when clicked, carry readers of this story's online version to another Web page. This all may make for a strange experience, but it's the closest we can come to reaching outfrom the page, grabbing you by the collar, and shaking you into action.Blogs are different.

They evolve with every posting, each one tied to a moment. So if a company can track millions of blogs simultaneously, it gets a heat map of what a growing part of the world is thinking about, minute by minute. E-mail has carried on billions of conversations over the past decade. But those exchanges were private.

Most blogs are open to the world. As the bloggers read each other, comment, and link from one page to the next, they create a global conversation.Picture the blog world as the biggest coffeehouse on Earth.

Technorati, PubSub, and others provide the tools to listen. While the traditional Web catalogs what we have learned, the blogs track what's on our minds.

David Kirkpatrick and Daniel Roth share their views on Microsoft strategy on Blogs in the Fortune's latest edition.

Microsoft revealed that it planned to take over the world of blogs—the five-million-plus web journals that have exploded on the Internet in the past few years. The company's weapon would be a new service called MSN Spaces, online software that allows people to easily create and maintain blogs.

It didn't take long for the blogging world to do what it does best: swarm around a new piece of information; push, prod, and poke at it; and leave it either stronger or a bloody mess. The next day, at the widely read Boing Boing blog, co-editor Xeni Jardin opted to do the latter.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Why do we need Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management System and short run business returns have often been linked by senior Managers against new KM inititaives.Essentially Top Managemnt feels that knowledge sharing is a top-down approach rather than bottom-down or peer to peer networking excercise.Dave Pollard comments in his latest posting on the importance of Knowledge Management.
Things are the way they are for a reason, and this 'appreciation gap' in the value of KM is not that hard to explain. Just as progressives and conservatives can talk themselves blue in the face, futilely trying to explain their point of view to the other side, so too are the frames of reference of those in the corner offices of large corporations are very different from those of KM leaders and their 'customers', the front-line workers:

Business leaders must take a short-term focus, to meet the demands of shareholders, while KM leaders often feel that investment in knowledge, learning and technology needs longer to pay off.

Business leaders are accustomed to knowledge being transferred top-down (instruction and formal training programs) and information for decision-making being polled from the front lines. KM leaders believe that critical knowledge transfers are more often peer-to-peer sharing, coaching and facilitation.

Business leaders see their leadership role as critical to the organization's success; their frame of understanding is hierarchical -- they tend to believe that knowledge and value increases with experience and that rewards should go disproportionately to identified superstars and up-and-coming leadership candidates. KM leaders see contribution to organizational success as more egalitarian, and are more likely to believe (as Drucker says) that almost every employee today knows how to do his/her particular job better than anyone else (including the boss) -- they may see large wage and reward disparities as demotivating and unwarranted.

Business leaders tend to see value in centralized repositories of 'best practices' and SOPs, and the reuse of knowledge collateral. KM leaders are more likely to see the value in context-rich conversations between peers, 'pointers to people', mining the content of front line people's desktops, and tools that enhance collaboration and innovation.

Business leaders are likely to perceive the major 'knowledge problem' in organizations as being inefficiencies: 'reinventing the wheel' and underusing available knowledge 'on the shelf', and hence the perceived poor ROI in investment in knowledge, learning and technology. KM leaders are more likely to see the major knowledge problem as ineffectiveness: time wasted trying to find appropriate experts and knowledge (often on their own desktops), and 'the cost of not knowing'.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Business of Business is Business

The debate on Corporate Social Responsibility has really highlighted the contribution and impact which organisations can have on common man's life.The CSR concept has got different implications in different countries.Euorpian organisations also include environmental friendly practises as part of CSR activities while Asian organisations see it as part of community develoment process.Ian Davis continues the debate on CSR in Mckinsey Quarterly Review. Milton Freidman's saying "business of business is business" has been extended to include the greater social role which organisation of today have got to play.
The problem with the "business of business is business" mind-set is rather that it can obscure two important realities. The first is that social issues are not so much tangential to the business of business as fundamental to it. From a defensive point of view, companies that ignore public sentiment make themselves vulnerable to attack. Social pressures can also serve as early indicators of factors essential to corporate profitability: for example, the regulations and public-policy environment in which companies must operate, the appetite of consumers for certain goods above others, and the motivation of employees—and their willingness to be hired in the first place.
Highlighting the unhealthy practices of promoting harmful consumption he write's:
In the food and restaurant sector, meanwhile, the long-escalating debate about obesity is now resulting in calls for further controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods. In the case of big financial institutions, concerns about conflicts of interest and the mis-selling of products have recently led to changes in core business practices and industry structure. For some big retailers, public and planning resistance to new stores is constraining growth opportunities. And all this is to say nothing of the way social and political pressures have reshaped and redefined the tobacco and the oil and mining industries, among others, over the decades.

In all such cases, billions of dollars of shareholder value have beenput at stake as a result of social issues that ultimately feed into the fundamental drivers of corporate performance. In many instances, a "business of business is business" outlook has blinded companies to outcomes, or to shifts in the implicit social contract, that often could have been anticipated.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Survey Findings on working Habits

Indian Managers are often heard grumbling about the amount of time their co-workers spend on internet and often waste lot of time and energy on non productive work during office hours.Well Folks....Here's some news which will redeem your soul from the guilt of reading this post on your office network.According to a new Survey from a national poll of 10,044 employees by Needham-based and America Online shares this findings.

It contradict prior reports that described American workers as the most productive — and overworked — in the world. The change, said researchers, may stem in part, from the Internet, which allows employees to take additional breaks throughout the day without leaving their desks. Of those polled, for example, the majority — 44.7 percent — said they waste time randomly surfing the Net,

The next big time-waster? Socializing. The survey found that 23.4 percent of those polled spend a considerable amount of time talking to friends and associates. Other top time-wasters: conducting personal business, daydreaming or spacing out, running errands and making personal telephone calls.

Workers say they're not always to blame. In all, 33.2 percent said they didn't have enough work to keep them busy, and more than 23 percent said they waste time because they are underpaid and unappreciated.

I am sure my Indian friends will need this data when they confront their Boss next time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Third Place to Work

Third Place to Work

Charlie Grantham and Jim Ware write extensively about the “third place” for work in the latest edition of Future of work Agenda.

In the work design collaborative research program their was a demand for a "THE THIRD PLACE TO WORK" from the Knowledge workers.

“In fact, we wouldn't be surprised if that many people are already working one or more days a week in third places right now. Just think about your own work patterns; how often do you "log on" from a coffee shop, an airport hot spot, a hotel lobby, or some other location well removed from both your corporate office and your home office?

"Third place" is a term first used by author Ray Oldenburg way back in 1989 (The Great Good Place (Paragon House Publishers, 1989). By that he meant places that are not living areas and not "offices" per se. Third Places are typically smaller facilities (10,000 to 14,000 square feet) where people gather for a variety of reasons and to do a variety of different things. "A Starbucks on steroids" is a good image.

Third Places are clearly an adjunct to traditional "corporate" offices and home offices. Our research shows that workers of the future will most likely be spending approximately 40% of their time in corporate facilities, 30% in a home office, and the remainder in a "third place" (actually, that will most likely be a variety of third places over the course of a week or a month).

They believe that organization of the future will have these common working patterns.

*Organizations want to move away from a fixed-cost structure to variable cost models in order to reduce capital requirements and risk, while increasing their agility and responsiveness to changing environments;

*Remote and mobile workers do not have adequate alternative meeting places, office services, or technical support that are either affordable or convenient to their residential locations;

*Home-based independent workers also need and want more support and services because their home-based workspaces are limited and they generally have almost no useful meeting space. And like mobile workers they
also have a need for office services and technical support.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Talent Retention :The Challenge

Talent attraction and retention has become one of the biggest challenges which organizations face today. It’s no more just the HR’s responsibility to attract and retain the best talent. With the ever growing pace of knowledge economy, talent management has become a hot topicfor every organisation.

According to a study conducted by Accenture attracting and retaining skilled staff ranks highest on executive agaenda for 2005. The study, conducted annually, comprised interviews with 425 senior executives at leading organisations in North America, Europe and Asia, to identify and prioritise the issues of greatest concern to senior management, understand how their priorities shift over time, and identify key forces behind the issues.

Mike Berry writes

“Workforce improvement issues dominated the top priorities, accounting for four in 10 of the most commonly cited concerns. The majority of respondents (35%) selected 'attracting and retaining skilled staff' as a top priority, followed by 33% who cited 'changing organisational cultural and employee attitudes'.

“The most powerful theme emerging this year is a strong and consistent focus on people,” said Peter Cheese, global managing partner of Accenture’s Human Performance practice.

“Even though the business conversations have centered on global competition and the need for execution, business leaders are increasingly aware that nothing happens unless 'people talent' is engaged in the right way.”

Customer retention issues also occupy top spots on executive agendas. 'Acquiring new customers' (32%) and 'increasing customer loyalty and retention' (29%) were popular responses across all countries surveyed.

Survey findings

Top 10 current business
issues for senior executives Response%

1. Attracting and retaining skilled staff 35%

2. Changing organizational culture and employee attitudes 33%

3. Acquiring new customers 32%

4. Developing new processes and products to stay ahead of the competition29%

5. Increasing customer loyalty and retention 29%

6. Managing risk 29%

7. Improving workforce performance 28%

8. Increasing shareholder value 27%

8. Using IT to reduce costs and create value 27%

9. Being flexible and adaptable to rapidly changing market conditions 26%

10. Developing employees into capable leaders 26%

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The Power of Diversity

Diversity of group is often seen as a big hinderance to achieve organisational goals.Many leaders are of oppsosite opinion ,they feel that diversity can be used as a powerful tool for harnessing and enriching talent. V.M Cramer in his recent article titled "The Power of Diversity" highlights how great leaders can turn the diversity disadvantage to great advantage.

Improving Leadership in the Age of Diversity

Paramount to a leader’s success is the ability to establish a group’s identity, influence its behavior and build its collective confidence. Employing psychometric methods has facilitated these goals. By having “knowledge” of the types of people that are on a team, the leader’s ability to guide and direct increases. However, in today’s diverse corporations, leaders must also be navigators, seeking unfiltered information and perspective.

Individuals can possess leadership qualities, and then acquire the skills to become effective leaders. However, a leader cannot possibly possess the requisite insight to the dark energy within the members of a diverse team. No one can possibly know each individual’s unique talents and insights. Therefore, leaders must develop progressive leadership skills, specifically designed to maximize the contribution of all team members. As we learned in high school science, energy has two forms: potential and kinetic. Corporations must activate the potential locked within their diverse workforces and release the kinetic energy to improve corporate performance.

An Empowering Operating Environment

To realize the full potential of this energy, we must view diversity as if it were the fuel powering a nuclear reactor. The energy must be released and it must be directed toward an objective. Individuality requires a new workgroup process that maximizes the effects of potential energy in the decision-making and problem-solving process.

Leadership training programs must expand their scope and curriculum. Leaders must focus on the unrealized asset value that lies within diverse organizations. Diversity can then be recognized and leveraged for its tactical and strategic asset value.

Executives must replace the decision-making reactors and bring them on-line before any more dark energy is wasted.

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Thirty Second Pitch Tips

Manny times we are often confronted with situations which requires us to come with our best in just few seconds.Tory jhonson's tips in "10 Simple Secrets Of The World's Greatest Business Communicators" is just what you require to pitch for the very best.I guess we have come across such moments in our life when we really feel we could have done better,but make a mess of presentation.

Tory Johnson's Thirty-Second Pitch Tips

1." First and foremost, state your name! Women, more so than men, have a challenge because we want to err on the friendly side. I'm not Oprah or Madonna. I'm not on a first name basis with the world. Always present yourself in a business situation with your first and last name. Beyond that, I want to tell you who I am and what I offer.

2.Secondly when describing your accomplishments, remember that numbers count. Quantify something. For example, there's a big difference between saying "I'm in Human Resources" or "I'm a Human Resources manager with experience at Fortune 500 companies." That's quantifying. Include impressive details. They get people's attention. Better yet-- "I've worked in Human Resources for Fortune 500 companies for the past ten years and I've hired over one hundred people." Focus on accomplishments, not responsibilities.

3.Finally, rehearse your pitch so it comes off naturally, not like a patented pitch. Don't make it sound like you're reading it. Record it on a videocamera. Look for nuances. Do you avert your eyes? Do you use filler words like "um" and "ah"? You'll find things you cringe at. By taking steps to improve your performance, you'll come across as more confident and as someone others want to get to know.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Preserving Knowledge in an Uncertain World

Preserving Knowledge in an Uncertain World

When employees walk out the door, they take valuable organizational knowledge with them. But managers who think creatively can keep it in-house.

Eric Lesser and Laurence Prusak

Throughout 2001, headlines have announced job cuts in a number of major corporations: AOL Time Warner, Lucent Technologies, Verizon, DaimlerChrysler and Sara Lee, to name a few. Although the economic downturn has not yet been on the order of magnitude of the early 1980s, indicators point to a substantial slowdown in a variety of sectors. The growth spurt of the late 1990s has clearly wound down.

During that boom, an important trend had appeared: Companies had begun to manage knowledge as a strategic capability. Time and resources went into enhancing the ability to create, share and use both individual and collective know-how so that businesses could improve productivity, organizational effectiveness and innovative capacity. Many public- and private-sector organizations undertook a wide range of knowledge-management initiatives, including identifying and sharing relevant practices, locating and highlighting expertise, fostering communities of practice and installing collaborative technologies.

The Risks to Knowledge Assets

The era of rapid growth and change was conducive to experimenting with and implementing new techniques for managing knowledge. Expanding budgets for new personnel and systems, coupled with a need to disseminate knowledge quickly to an ever growing and increasingly diverse work force, provided steady nourishment for knowledge-management efforts. However, in an era of uncertainty, shrinking budgets and staff reductions have put knowledge at risk: The most knowledgeable employees often leave first, critical social networks are damaged, trust decays and the time necessary for knowledge transfer is compressed and compromised.

The Most Knowledgeable Workers Leave First

Voluntary reductions in the work force may have a negative effect on preserving knowledge. Many organizations, in an attempt to soften the blow of impending layoffs, institute incentives to encourage individuals to leave the organization voluntarily. Unfortunately, voluntary attrition programs often encourage the most marketable and knowledgeable individuals to leave. In addition, early-retirement programs apply to older individuals, so companies often end up losing those who have accumulated the most knowledge — and rapidly deplete the corporate memory, knowledge base and supply of mentors. Rarely do organizations have any way of systematically identifying individuals' specific knowledge or tapping their ability to share that knowledge. Even fewer companies attempt to record and share the knowledge held by outgoing employees. Hence, remaining workers faced with new duties may be frustrated and unproductive.

Damage to Social Networks

Downsizings can hurt the social networks that speed the flow of knowledge across an organization. Our research and experience at the Institute for Knowledge Management has shown that social networks play a critical role in helping people identify, share and work with corporate knowledge. Through such networks, individuals identify experts, provide referrals for those seeking answers and facilitate knowledge transfer among groups. Downsizing disrupts the structures and causes "potholes" that impede and often block the flow of knowledge. Individuals who previously connected disparate groups may leave. Companies may not even be aware of the valuable roles such employees play; the roles are rarely described in formal job descriptions or organization charts. In the absence of what the World Bank has dubbed "bonders and bridgers" to assist in knowledge transfer, organizations find it difficult to locate specific information. Without people proficient at identifying "who knows what," the time needed to search for answers and find appropriate resources may increase dramatically. Knowledge activists oil the wheels that keep information flowing.

Undermining Trust

Cutbacks can erode the trust and sense of mutual obligation that is critical to knowledge transfer. Employee reductions have a powerful effect on how individuals view their relationship with the organization and with their colleagues. Some people may see layoffs as breaking an implicit social contract and may respond by withholding knowledge (overtly or unconsciously) that is critical to organizational success. Moreover, if employees see specific knowledge as pivotal to their ability to keep their jobs, they may be reluctant to share that knowledge. Also, in withholding information, they diminish colleagues' sense of obligation to contribute to company knowledge.

Loss of Thinking Time

Tightened business conditions may remove the slack time needed for sharing knowledge effectively. The survivors of downsizing often are asked to do more work with less assistance. They may feel pressured to be more productive. Given that most employees are overwhelmed with their current tasks, such conditions make it even more difficult for workers to take the time to share knowledge with colleagues. Time that used to be spent improving skills, reviewing projects and sharing experience evaporates. People who are struggling to stay on top of day-to-day routines are less likely to mentor junior employees or share relevant knowledge with a colleague in a videoconference. Both individuals and organizations suffer when staff capabilities are underdeveloped, problem solving is redundant and opportunities for improvement are lost.

Seeking Faster Payback

In a time of belt-tightening, companies scale back projects that are not deemed essential, often eliminating knowledge-management efforts unlikely to produce an immediate, quantifiable payback. For example, a business may reduce the support offered to a community of practice or cut the number of training sessions that employees may attend. However, eliminating such efforts entails costs that compound one another. The organization loses the potential benefits normally associated with such efforts, such as faster customer-response time, improved asset reuse and increased employee productivity. Further, by cutting knowledge-management efforts, organizations send a clear and powerful signal to employees: "Managing our knowledge is something we can live without." That message affects later efforts to regain commitment to any related initiative. By then, employees view knowledge management as "just another corporate program that went by the wayside." And knowledge stagnates.

Solutions That Have Worked

Although there are no magic answers to such challenges, some organizations have used techniques to mitigate knowledge loss in an unstable economy. For example, in April, Agilent Technologies announced its response to slowing customer demand. In a conscious attempt to limit the number of layoffs, the company planned to reduce the pay of all employees by 10%. By spreading the burden across all employees, Agilent could maintain its underlying social networks and build a perception of fairness.

Other organizations, such as the World Bank, have attempted to develop systematic processes for recording the knowledge of employees on the verge of retirement. With a combination of video interviews and hyperlinks to important documents and reports, sen¢or practitioners can impart their experience in a rich multimedia environment that can be shared with others. By capturing such insights, the organization is able to preserve its memory and share it with succeeding generations of employees.

Another technique has been used by Harvard Community Health Plan, a health-maintenance organization in Massachusetts; it involved paying bonuses to departing employees willing to share their working knowledge with their replacements. The process provided an incentive to make outgoing tacit knowledge more visible.

In project-based situations, an effective approach is to have the most knowledgeable employees work alongside newer employees. Because tacit knowledge is more easily reproduced through imitation and adaptation than through traditional documentation, lett_ng workers with varying levels of expertise mingle can facilitate the transfer of experiential knowledge. Although such techniques may not alleviate an organization's knowledge drain completely, they help managers cope with the challenges of an economic downturn. And recognizing the dangers associated with losing organizational knowledge is the first step to preserving a vital asset.

Eric Lesser is an executive consultant at the IBM Institute for Knowledge Management, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Laurence Prusak is executive director of the institute. Contact the authors at and

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