Monday, April 6, 2009

Reducing invisible costs and facing the Energy Challenge at Work in Brazil

Begin of January, when I came to work on Monday morning, I had a good surprise. Shell was distributing to all employees a customized cup as part of the Energy Challenge at Work program. The main aim is to reduce the usage of plastic cups, reducing the trash we generate, reducing the cost for Shell to replace it and, why not, make people happier of having a Shell cup, a nice one by the way.

I don’t know how many plastic cups everyone of us uses a day but considering a 7 floors building with around 100 people by floor, drinking water and coffee, it should be a very high value of $$$ going to trash literally.

As soon as I see more examples of how we are facing the Energy Challenge at Work here in Brazil I post again.


Alex Lopes

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mapping informal relations inside of the company

Every time I go to a presentation in this Interactive Group of Knowledge Management and Innovation I come back with more ideas. This time the main topic was about different usage for Organization Relations Analysis graphs. Using simple questionnaire you can find out the informal relations in your area, or your company.

Imagine you have a formal process to follow, formal SME’s (Subject Matter Experts), people you and the leadership consider as focal points for some specific topics or subjects. Are they really the ones when people need help? What is the informal path the information flows in your team or area? Who are the informal references for specific topics? Don’t you think would be interesting to find out?

Using simple questions like: If you have a new project in hands, with whom would you discuss it? Then, each time a person is referenced he/she receives an amount of “points”. Each person this person references, receives also an amount of “points”. Then you can check who are the people more accessed and if this person access also other, to make the information and knowledge flow.

At the presentation some real cases in Oil companies and Mining companies showed they found that 10% of the people in your team is responsible to connect around 75% of your network if you don’t have the informal organization in mind and don’t act to try to use this powerfully.

Using this technique you can even map how is your informal coach network, informal motivational network (people who motivates and demotivate others), informal decision flow network, etc. Informal networks exist, having or not formal processes and workflows in place, we just need to understand how it works, and use it in benefit of the company and the team itself.

Alex Lopes

Friday, October 3, 2008

Knowledge Management and Innovation interactive group meeting

Today I went to one more meeting at this group and the main topic to discuss was Management Model for KM. First, Correios (Biggest mail company of Brazil) presented how is their management model, and then Gerdau (a brazilian multinational siderurgy company) presented their model and an interesting case of Community of Practice. At the end of the presentation session Petrobras presented the strategic plan for KM to 2020.

After a coffee-break, where I had a chance to talk to many people from different companies including a guy from Petrobras that told me about a book “The Living Company” written by Arie De Geus, who worked in Shell for many years and his book is one of the references for Knowledge Management.

At the discussion part I was together in a table with some other private companies to discuss how can we get a management model for knowledge management in place. Not only what is needed but also how can we get there. The answer was that we need first a “click” in somebody’s head to realize that KM can be something to help his/her needs for the moment or for the future. Then, one of the ways the group realized this model could appear (thinking bottom-up) was this person getting what are the strategic goals of the company, articulate with sponsors intra-area and inter-areas, check the existing actions, and draw some possible scenarios for future and how those can impact an area or even a company result. One of the things this model must have is consider 4 big areas:
  • Strategy (aligned to the company strategy),
  • Structure (formal or informal, KM needs a representative person that will be the owner),
  • Processes/Technology (to give directions on how the knowledge will be managed and supported by what) and
  • People (the ones who have the knowledge).

I came back with a lot of ideas in my mind, thinking on how to bring Shell KM (that is strong in different ways in other countries) to Shell Brazil.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Knowledge as an Action adding Value

This week I went to a presentation made by Prof. Milan Zeleny (Professor of Management Systems at Fordham University), one of the fathers of the Data Information Knowledge and Wisdom (DIKW) Hierarchy at the knowledge domain.

One of the interesting things at the presentation was vision of the difference between Information and Knowledge looking through another glass. For him, Information is the description of action while knowledge is the coordination of action. This way Knowledge is always tacit because once you describe it, it is Information. To be knowledge again, this information must be transformed into an action.

In my opinion this is a very interesting point of view because most of the time we see a lot of information available but nothing is done using it. When someone gets the Information and starts an action, then we can say that this person knows how to do something.

If Information triggering action builds knowledge, and if we can measure the value added (to external customers, to users, etc) by each action, than we can measure the value of the knowledge being used. Nowadays where the Information and Information Technologies are becoming commodities, as they are highly available, the knowledge, or in other words the coordination of actions using those IT and Information, can be the difference to add more value to the business.

Knowledge, Innovation and Wisdom are measurable, and then must add value to your business.

Alex Lopes