Hamilton Institute » Management http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com Smart Content for Smart People Fri, 13 Jun 2014 05:23:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 How Social Media Will Change the Way We Do Business http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/how-social-media-will-change-the-way-we-do-business/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/how-social-media-will-change-the-way-we-do-business/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:53:05 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13635 How Social Media Will Change the Way We Do Business

by Ujjwal Dey

Just about everyone with access to a computer migrates to the world of internet. And for everyone who goes on the internet the first thing they desire is online contact with fellow netizens. This was fulfilled in the nascent days of the internet through emails and forums or groups. But with the advent of specialized social networking media, everyone wishes to gain instant feedback and mass circulation for their ideas, thoughts and content.

Facebook has revolutionized the way people interact online. Sharing words, images, hyperlinks, video and just about every online content available. It provides tools to show clear feedback of the audience and ability to spread the message which then goes “viral”. Other popular networking media such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, etc have kept up and caught on with this changing landscape of online interactions.

LinkedIn found a niche market with collaboration among office colleagues and similarly skilled professionals, bringing a new corporate angle to social networking. Twitter has made possible instant concise and precise news breaking. YouTube channels have allowed laymen and professionals alike a new medium to broadcast their viewpoints.

So Social Media has already changed the way we netizens live, work, interact and collaborate online. The big question is if it will change “business”. The answer lies simply in realizing how big an impact these networking mediums make on our daily lives. If people believe in these viral contents or even if they enjoy it as entertainment – then the impact is clear and serious. People find freedom in these mediums to expand their ideas, collaborate internationally, draw audiences from varying backgrounds and spread their products/ services through word of mouth. This powerful marketing tool called “word of mouth” existed earlier too, in the form of idle gossip offline. It took months and years for such gossip to make any significant impact. Today, any idea, news, information can spread like wild fire online and can impact businesses who are targeted in the campaign. This can be a positive or a negative impact. Imagine a content showcasing hazardous quality of a premium car brand. It would damage the car manufacturer’s reputation and impact their bottomline. At the same time if people see the loving effort that goes into making an exquisite piece of art, the artist would be a superstar overnight through this online gossip express.

So companies need to be aware of what is being said about them. Not just to keep up with public sentiments but also to realize that some competitor or disgruntled worker may be defaming them online. So of course, like any aspect of technology, there is use and misuse. The businesses that have a wide net cast to market their products and services, need to monitor their “net persona” – that is, their image online. A simple consumer forum online where a customer airs his/her woes against a company can do serious damage to businesses today.

At the same time, there is opportunity. There is an entire world waiting to hear about your excellence in delivery of your products or services. So businesses that are local can suddenly find themselves catering to a global market. Small businesses with no budget for branding or advertising can discover that they have beaten industry bigwigs by simply producing exquisite products or unique services. There is no need to fear this social networking revolution if your business is true to its consumers. If you are sincere to your business ethics and loyal to your customer’s needs, then social media will only spread the joy you bring.

Right To Information Act in a developing country such as India and success and support of WikiLeaks proves that the masses and especially the educated masses are seeking transparency and knowledge. They want the big corporates and archaic governments to open up their dealings and activities so that they can be scrutinized by the people whom it affects the most – the citizens. The masses want transparency in the way business, economy, administration and other aspects concerning their daily life are carried out. This is a clear indication of the power of the Information Age. Knowledge and Information travels fast and wide. People feel empowered and demand respect by claiming their rights to how their city or nation is being influenced by private or government players. They deserve the acknowledgement and recent demonstrations in Asian, Arab and African nations prove that social media can carry such people’s movements and expose it to international media and audience.

Lastly, I would say, change is constant. If a business doesn’t know how to adapt, they go the way of the dinosaurs. So evolve and lead your business into the brave new world of exposure and adventure.

About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050

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Thought.Leadership @ KnowledgeManagement.com http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/thought-leadership-knowledgemanagement-com/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/thought-leadership-knowledgemanagement-com/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:12:24 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13613 Thought.Leadership@KnowledgeManagement.com

Competitor Knows Best, Customer Is King, What About You?

 

Knowledge Management and Communicating it with clients/partners:

  • The competition –  knowledge that brings business by sharing experience
  • The business – to leverage experience by having a knowledge base
  • The experience – to deal with the competitors by establishing/pioneering business trends

 

There existed no invention till someone saw the market and invented the product or service. Whether it is Windows OS or iPod or Bluetooth – there is always a product that comes in to capture a waiting audience and change not just trends and business but how people use technology in their daily lives.

 

PSP, BluRay, MobiBLU are other examples of innovating by offering something that the existing products such as Playstation or DVD or MP3 players didn’t offer.  The market was there and they found something that could change the market all over again.

 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

 

Example: People thought the DotCom boom had come and gone. The giants such as Amazon.com and Google.com and then the social networking trends had done all they could. Yet we see new services that target a niche audience and dotcoms continue to innovate. www.comgateway.com provides people outside USA to order from multiple websites, store it at their warehouse and ship it together to save shipping costs. www.vjbooks.com sells Signed First Editions of popular books to readers who want a piece of their favorite authors.  www.ted.com promotes and makes accessible “Ideas worth spreading” – a premier site showcasing “Thought Leadership”. While these niche audiences do well, even wide targets get nailed, for example: Twitter saw a staggering 1,382% growth in 2009, to take away the social network crown from the erstwhile fastest-growing Facebook. Apple’s iPhone has higher operating profit than market leader Nokia in Q3 of 2009 – making Apple the “most profitable cell-phone maker in the world”.

 

Basically, the global market offers such a wide and varied clientele, that it should be easy for any business to establish a customer-base and for that – you need to generate a product/service/ strategy that is not already in place by competitors.

 

Here is where utilizing a knowledge-base and doing the homework of analysis/ research/ documentation/ conversation/ etc. results in seeing what your competitor does not see. Opportunities are found not just when you know your market, but also when you know what your organization is capable of delivering to the market. What the big businesses do, can be replicated for the small players’ in IT market as well.

 

Create opportunities instead of seeking them.

 

Thought Leadership aims at leveraging knowledge and the foresight based on that knowledge to not only boldly go where competitors have not gone before, but to take an entourage of clients along to discover new markets, new opportunities and revived demand-supply curve. Growth, possibilities and success are as unlimited as human thought – let’s multiply that through collective capacity.

 

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Thought Leaders and their Management by Knowledge

 

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

 

What you say and what you sell

To know what was the problem, what is the current situation and then how you can provide a better future – that ensures a leadership position. Everyone has problems, many suggest solutions, but the one who can know the “now” to present a lucrative future is the “thought leader”.

 

  1. A Knowledge Management team dedicated at securing the capture of your organization’s knowledge-base
  2. A Knowledge Management team to understand, analyze and document industry/ sector/ economical trends, news, reports and other information, to…
  3. …convert that into your organization’s knowledge-base
  4. Gain from experience of self and others in the organization for your business-knowledge-base
  5. “Forecast” the SWOT in your own team’s meetings
  6. Brainstorm with Knowledge Management participants to seek opportunities in existing markets
  7. Foresee the trail of the market trend to know where businesses are heading
  8. Be a Thought Leader by offering a solution for an expected near-future problem
  9. Be an industry leader by providing analysis on solutions required for long-term

 

Y2K is a simple example. People in the IT industry in the 1970s never expected to find computers in every office cubicle, forget about having them in every home. That’s not short-sightedness; it was simple need-based developments in IT at that time.

 

But to identify this well in advance of year 2000, know the technologies that need transition and then securing the client’s present & past data – that requires vision and more importantly a knowledge-base that can tell you “what’s missing”.

 

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“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

 

Who are you?

Well, we don’t need to get all Shakespearean nor ponder Greek philosophies.  While the Greeks had the aphorism “Know thyself” inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Shakespeare’s Hamlet extended its scope to integrity with the words “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” In India we called it “Jñāna” – which in literal translation from Sanskrit to English can be used as a synonym for the word “knowledge”.

 

  1. Realize the full extent of possibilities in your:
    * job role,
    * scope in the team/ department/ organization,
    * client interaction,
    * existing skills,
  2. Realize full extent of possibilities of your:
    * team/ department/ organization’s skills,
    * their job roles,
    * their daily interactions in business,
  3. Account for, document  and audit:
    * your personal knowledge-base,
    * your team/ department/ organization’s knowledge-base,
    * your ability to capture your client or competitor’s knowledge-base,
  4. Knowledge Management for you is ensured by capturing learnings from projects, bids, meetings and the regular documentation, reports and news
  5. Knowing your group’s capacity, capabilities, experience and making it available in a structured manner for opportunities assures that you are ready for future solutions, for future business problems
  6. Innovation follows from knowing what’s there, to make available what isn’t there
  7. Leadership is established by those who know more than the market’s established players

 

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“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

 

Successful Knowledge

The Rotary Clubs setup back in 1905 in USA was a group of businessmen who “rotated” their meetings at each other’s offices.  They had an honorable motto of “Service above Self”. Their second motto is like a prophesized snapshot of 21st century business, for it says: “They profit most who serve best”.

 

The customers are empowered not just by a choice of multiple suppliers, but also the varying media informing them of available alternatives/ substitutes/ enhancements/ etc. So the customers have the “knowledge to discern” and thus create a buyer’s market scenario (despite of more customers existing than sellers). This intensifies competition and the only seller who can break ahead of this overcrowded rat race is the one who can best serve his prospect.

 

And the seller who leads is the one who profits by making his client maximize the profits, through either: strategy/ technology/ vision/ innovation/ analysis/ etc.

 

  1. Knowledge that ensures your client’s success.
  2. Enable businesses, empower people, extend scope
  3. Knowledge that works now
  4. Knowledge that assures client’s empowerment in present and future
  5. Knowledge to secure the ideal/desired future
  6. Accessible, simplified, classified knowledge – ensuring a feasible, preferable, structured growth
  7. Don’t offer change, offer opportunities instead
  8. Deflect resistance by bolstering your view with quantified, measured, validated knowledge-base

 

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“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.” – Adlai Stevenson

 

Knowledge Base

Well if the shoe fits, you wear it. If you are in a flock, you are that bird. To be able to represent your organization or your product/ service/ solution as better or as a pioneering effort, you need to be able to create its identity by its presence alone.

 

  1. Find security in your knowledge-base
  2. Be comfortable with your scope of knowledge
  3. Lead in what you know and do
  4. Build products/ services that your knowledge-base says you can and…
  5. …that the market competition ensures you should
  6. Capture the team’s successes to assure them about their expertise
  7. Verified data, quantified analysis, measured market trends, listed skills, etc are your armor

 

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“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

Pioneering Thought by Managing Knowledge

Life is a big long lesson. A person who is a student for his entire life benefits by his own experience and that of others. A knowledge management function ensures that a corporate entity learns forever in its business life from people, market, competitors, customers, economy, laws/ policies, technologies, etc.

 

  1. Knowledge Management is a learning tool
  2. Everyone needs to learn and upgrade know-how and skills in business
  3. The business environment is an important teacher that can reprimand and reward alike
  4. Leaders learn more than others in an organization by virtue of their scope of operation
  5. A business head may not necessarily be a thought leader; but a thought leader guarantees good business
  6. Know to manage and manage to lead
  7. Learning is fun when you get to teach your competitors new lessons in business

 

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“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

 

The Lighthouse

A thought leader does not stand as a beacon in the sea of business. He simply helms such a lighthouse that can point the way for its business. Knowledge Management is such a lighthouse. It can stand the storm to direct opportunities in all corners of the business sphere.

 

  1. Share to verify and update the knowledge-base
  2. Make clients by offering them the benefit from this knowledge-base (whitepapers, case studies, sector/industry analysis, technology news, etc.)
  3. Within the company – let your people see the horizon through such a knowledge-base…
  4. …so they can go beyond this horizon to deliver innovative products/ services

 

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“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – George S. Patton

 

Thought Leadership delegation

 

  1. Thought Leadership is not the responsibility solely for the business heads
  2. Every skilled employee has the relevant experience and knowledge to lead in his domain
  3. Assign Knowledge Management responsibilities to the team/ department
  4. The external sources for knowledge need to be distilled, verified and categorized as required – delegate that by assigning the sourcing to respective function/ department/ team
  5. Let the team members know possibilities, let them make it happen
  6. Every sector/ technology/ function specialist can be a thought leader in his domain

 

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“A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him.” – General Douglas MacArthur

 

Knowledge Matrix

Every thread in your net matters, and they are there because they have the skills. So employ them efficiently to capture your clientele. And then along with the clients, reel in the threads too – so that its folds (project learnings) are noted for future clients.

 

  1. Ensure knowledge capture within your team
  2. Review lessons learned to have updated knowledge-base
  3. Leading in skill/ experience capture makes it possible to lead in applying that knowledge

 

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“You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

Reflexes! Reactions!

Management needs to be suggestive, directional and collaborative to get people on board the agenda of developing a functional knowledge repository. People need to be convinced of the changed processes that ensure knowledge capture. Thought Leadership addresses the issue of Knowledge Management efficiency by presenting the expanded opportunities as incentive to move ahead.

 

  1. Resistance to change is a natural reflex
  2. So don’t react to that; don’t aim at enforcing activities
  3. Instead “sell” the Knowledge Management concept to them
  4. Convincing your team automatically ensures their participation
  5. Familiarity with this concept would dissolve doubts/ concerns
  6. Incentive should be quantified by projecting expected gains in business
  7. The attraction for Knowledge Management needs to be created by “marketing” the concept within the organization and by its key influencers (business heads)
  8. Knowledge is its own reward – offer learning opportunities

 

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“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” – John Maxwell

 

KRA? Or maybe you know the way!

Do because of a reason, and let that reason be “to excel”.

 

  1. Knowledge Management by individuals in the organization is not done due to mandatory KRA element
  2. It is done to exceed those list of KRA elements
  3. To provide a foundation stone for the organization’s expertise in that function/ technology/ service/ etc.
  4. To build upon this foundation to reach new heights of excellence
  5. The thought leader aims not at fulfilling obligations, but to redefine client/market expectations
  6. Any domain/topic in Knowledge Management is always a collective endeavour – ownership to drive it lies with the one who can grasp this repository to envision better business
  7. Scope of the thought leader is limited only by his desire to think about those domains

 

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“Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men — the other 999 follow women.” – Groucho Marx

 

Getting Results: Carrots, sticks and inventing wheels

 

  1. Incentives are secondary – primary is the opportunity for everyone
  2. Opportunities in: growth of business, expansion of clientele, skills gained and individual’s learning, increased profitability, brand visibility, market recognition, customer appreciation, industry leadership, and of course the output from all these – monetary reward for individuals
  3. There is no reinvention desired – only innovation in delivery/ product/ customization/ marketing/ use of technology/ strategy/ etc.
  4. Material desires of the various players need to be realized from their material output
  5. Wishing is childish; thought leaders have goals and set targets

 

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 About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050

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Knowledge Communication http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/knowledge-communication/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/knowledge-communication/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 05:59:40 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13604 Knowledge Communication

Why birds sing, why dogs bark and why cars blow loud horns?!?

 

The gift of producing noise is common enough in many living beings and material things. To be able to address the right people with the right message is however not as easily done.

 

Communication is the start and end for all relationships – including of course corporate relations. Whether  an organization is reaching out to its investors or employees or customers or even society at large – good intentions alone don’t make your plans succeed.

 

Communicating your plans, convincing to act, holding the conversation (a two-way dialogue) and being understood while understanding the audience ensures that you get what you want.

 

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“Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?” – Clarence Darrow

 

Targeted Communication – Converting Noise into a Message

In current global market, with global opportunities, comes global competition and the challenge to reach your target audience effectively.

 

Within an organization as well, for a richly diverse nation such as India, there will be a kaleidoscope of cultures, languages, and of course accents to deal with.

 

Apart from cultural and lingual differences, the more important aspect is “Who are you talking to?”

 

Even if you customize and personalize every single message you send across to employees or into the market – is there any reason to send it to them? Don’t make noise. Communicate!

 

Identifying the target audience is critical aspect of communication. Simply spending a small fortune on varying media doesn’t ensure effective conversation with your market/ audience.

 

  1. Identify target audience
  2. Make the message for them, not for yourself (customer-centric)
  3. Recognize effective communicators within your team/ department
  4. Before conversation comes “being approachable”
  5. Aim for interactivity
  6. Passive messages might as well be called “Spam”
  7. Inform, enthuse, interact
  8. Soliciting participation means allotting time for addressing the response
  9. Offer information, extract knowledge
  10. Communicate to get a rapport

 

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“When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

Efficiency and Communication

Business Communication needs purpose, motive and direction. If you are “talking” to your employees, acknowledge their needs, expectations. Meeting those needs may even be secondary – but to listen itself is half the accomplishment of desired communication.

 

Know your client’s profile. Know your employee’s profile. Communicating to either of them without hitting a point close to their business/ project is a failed message.

 

This not only involves research but some amount of empathy and EQ. Remember that you are dealing with people and not with a logo.

 

You can put across demands and even ask for action. The way you get the group/ person to acknowledge is by informing on the benefits, engaging on complementary terms/needs and aiming for consensus.

 

A good communicator is a diplomat. An effective communicator is a celebrity. Attract people to the table instead of moving around with your table.

 

  1. Know your goals before communicating
  2. Know your target’s needs/ desires/ capabilities before communicating
  3. Know people are “people”
  4. Know your own agenda and paint it as your target’s need rather than as your demand
  5. Efficiency is measured by level/quality of dialogue with your target and not level of media efforts/expenses

 

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“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 

Mind over Message

Focus on the subject matter but aim to invigorate. Knowledge is as much an intellectual pursuit as it is a business requirement.

 

While it is important to deliver your agenda, it is also crucial that you make your audience mentally stimulated by your agenda.

 

Brainstorming can’t work in a stifled or restricted discussion. Ideas can soar only as high as the ceiling provided – sky high approach requires a wide, robust foundation of knowledge.

 

  1. Energize with words – offer ideas, opportunities, profit, etc.
  2. Expand their horizons – let them see beyond the well in which they dwell
  3. Provide and engage thought-provoking insights
  4. Provide a platform to voice ideas
  5. Ensure opportunities for innovation
  6. Futuristic thinking for growth in present
  7. Suggest being a market pioneer, not just a market leader

 

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“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” -  Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Accommodating, Assimilating and Accountability

People skills are not the exclusive domain of the HR or PR department of an organization. When you are building a knowledge-base or communicating the essential need for participation in your initiatives – remember that the skills and talent lie in the people and not in machines or office furniture.

 

Dealing with people can be a learning experience. It can also be a harrowing experience. Accommodate their agenda/ requirement within your own. Assimilate their knowledge by making the conversation geared towards receiving more (from audience) than it delivers (to the audience). Accountability and ownership of “knowledge-groups” occurs when the audience/ participant sees benefit to his own function. Then his desire to be in control should be endowed with ownership of that “knowledge-group”.

 

  1. Connect on participant’s requirements
  2. Provide every participant the same opportunity
  3. Respect begets respect
  4. Cordial discussion shouldn’t be aimless – establish the purpose and participant’s gains
  5. Sincerity requires persistence of efforts at both ends of the discussion table
  6. Empower the individual, enable the group, ensure corporate agenda
  7. Responsibility is not a burden, it is a privilege for the talented few

 

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“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” – Hubert H. Humphrey

 

To Please or to Propagate

Aesop’s Fable is applicable. Aiming to please everyone is honorable, but this is not always practical.

 

An organization exists to serve needs of various stakeholders – investors, consumers/clients, vendors/partners, employees, society, etc.

 

The employee is associated with the organization to first ensure the corporate goals. The individual’s personal goal should result out of organizational success. So if the individual and corporate goals are not aligned, then there is a fitment problem.

 

  1. Ensure right fit in right place
  2. Align and orient the employee with corporate agenda
  3. Reason is good, common sense better

 

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“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – Joseph Priestley

 

Simplicity and Accessibility

Complicated and high-end means of communication is not necessarily the best. Knowledge should be accessible.

 

While using communication tools, prefer ones widely available so that participants can replicate the information easily and thus carry, recall and spread the data.

 

Selection of communication media depends on:

  1. Target’s preferred media
  2. Suitable means for the content that is to be communicated
  3. Effective utilization of resources
  4. Maximizing gains from the communication – visibility, reach, look & feel, relevancy, etc.
  5. Possibilities of reusing/ replicating the communication – either by you or your target
  6. “Word of mouth” communication requires simple, precise words
  7. Can the communication be accessed readily by anyone on being referred to it?

 

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“People change and forget to tell each other.” – Lillian Hellman

 

Updates, news and announcements

Communication also involves follow up. Make sure your contact list stays updated with relevant content/ knowledge/ information.

 

They form your network in a knowledge-base. If they are poorly informed – you are the poorer for it.

 

  1. Don’t overload the target with data
  2. Offer references/ links if target wants details
  3. Feedback is not enough – get them to engage in continuous dialogue
  4. Updates/ news/ etc. need to be received from the target as well
  5. Think of it as “conversation” instead of “communication”

 

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“If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.” – Woodrow Wilson

 

Brevity – communicate to endure

Brevity is easier said than done. It takes time to condense grand concepts into a few exact words. Nonetheless, in today’s Information Age, brevity equals survival of communication. It spreads easily, it stays on the mind easily and then self-propagates easily. The best catchphrases, slogans and marketing/ advertising content involves communication of knowledge without burdening the audience with Gigabytes.

 

Ernest Hemingway, known best for his unique concise and accurate style of writing, had said:

“Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.”

 

If you know your subject-matter, then you can condense it. A professor of Social Sciences need not lecture you on the great distant region of his nation if he can show it to you in a Polaroid snapshot.

 

  1. To make it last longer, make it brief
  2. Get the subject-matter-expert and you get the best content-provider
  3. Focus on ease of distribution
  4. Aim for ease of propaganda
  5. Don’t overload the recipient – one serving at a time ensures good appetite and healthy digestion

 

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 About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050

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Knowledge Sharing http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/knowledge-sharing/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/knowledge-sharing/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 05:57:52 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13600 Knowledge Sharing

How data ‘networks’ come alive from bytes to brain-cells.

 

“All men by nature desire knowledge.” – Aristotle

 

Who has the knowledge?

Knowing is great. Next best thing to knowing is to realize where to find the knowledge.

  1. Every employee in a particular team with a defined Job Role and determined KRA.
  2. Subject-Matter-Experts such as a specialist in a technology/ sector/ industry/ etc.
  3. Business Leads
  4. Your project emails and circulars
  5. Your HR and intranet/internet website contacts
  6. Client representatives – hear it straight “from the horse’s mouth”
  7. The person in the cubicle next to you

 

* * * *

 

“Information is not knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

 

What is knowledge?

There are facts, statistics, news, and a whole range of information in varying media, which flows around and changes and adapts and is of little use unless you can turn it into your advantage.

 

So, how to differentiate knowledge from information? Look at it this way – there are utensils (tools) and there are ingredients (resources) and then the recipe (process) to cook your food. Information is that list of objects and elements. Knowledge is being able to use this information to serve your client the palatable food (customer-centric, customized) he demands.

 

  1. Differentiate and classify your data.
  2. List specialist skills – your unique know-how is knowledge to enable your team.
  3. Consider writing down project progress in brief every week – input your “lessons learned” and “success stories”.
  4. Talk to colleagues in the same field and get them to discuss/contribute to “knowledge building” – a base of information that can be utilized by all of you as valid practical knowledge.

 

* * * *

 

“The great end of life is not knowledge but action.” – Thomas H. Huxley

 

Can the Knowledge be Implemented?

So you have managed to source knowledge-base for your task. Now if it is practical, you can implement it. To do so, there are factors such as – time constraints, budgetary constraints, client-specific needs, scope of project, etc. to consider. So the fact that there is knowledge in a team doesn’t guarantee extraordinary output from that team.

 

Implementation requires either the relevant experience (from you) or the expert guidance (from others). If you have the right knowledge-base to refer to case-studies, whitepapers, one-pagers on industry/sector or project showcases on the technology being considered – then you have the prerequisites to attempt to replicate the success or even exceed it.

 

  1. Refer relevant knowledge repository
  2. Refer the specialists
  3. Refer to the client-demands
  4. Note the constraints and expectations
  5. Maximize the project rollout gains from the existing knowledge gathered from above sources

 

The popular Nobel Prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman, has been critical of traditional information gathering where no practical implementation of knowledge occurs. Do you really know your function?

 

“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.” – Richard Feynman

 

* * * *

 

“We’re drowning in information and starving for knowledge.” – Rutherford D. Rogers

 

Is the Knowledge Concise and Precise?

You have little time to fret over tons of data as is with others in the organization/ industry. Hence it is all the more important to develop the knowledge-base such that it is a handy ready-reckoner for varying activities, assignments, reports and presentations.

 

  1. Learn to take notes for various activities/ projects
  2. Classify this into relevant segments such as by technology, by function, by sector, etc.
  3. Prefer to provide step-by-step approach so that someone outside your role/expertise may be able to utilize or learn from it
  4. Be precise with the input you provide in your documentation (case studies/ whitepapers) and articles
  5. Don’t leave out crucial/ critical data just to ensure brevity. Half-knowledge is worse than no knowledge.

 

* * * *

 

“If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” – Mark Twain

 

Knowledge Reliability – perspective and truths

So, how to ensure that your knowledge is reliable and not in any way corrupted by changing time/ technology/ market/ etc.? Basically the person creating a document for knowledge-base is the owner for that content. In an open and learning work-culture – these documents should be up for peer-review.

 

Peer-review refers to the vast number of employees on the intranet portal or knowledge-management portal who can access these documents, read it for interest or project-needs and then give feedback through ratings and/or comments. So each document should preferably be user-rated and reviewed. Peer-review is globally accepted norm. The function head/ lead can act as guide/ mentor to moderate or add value to the documents – apart from sharing his/ her own expertise by contributing to the knowledge-base through similar documents.

 

Data, information, statistics, etc gets updated or changed regularly and so what you know now may not be applicable next year. An audit for such documentation needs to be scheduled bi-annually or for critical knowledge-resources – at every quarter.

 

  1. What is the source of the information?
  2. What was the outcome of the project/ assignment from which this knowledge comes?
  3. Is there a contact person from that “knowledge-group” in the organization whom you could consult?
  4. What does the market say about this? Latest trends and technologies.
  5. Can this be adapted to your client’s needs?
  6. How can you improve or add upon this knowledge-base?
  7. What is the outcome of your knowledge-pursuit in this field/ technology/ function?
  8. Follow up on changes and progress of the information over a period of time and update it

 

* * * *

 

“Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.” – Thomas Fuller

 

Do you value the Knowledge-base?

All business is for profit and other gains. Knowledge-base is not a charity or voluntary activity. It needs to be functional, practical, feasible and profitable just as any other element in a corporate organization.

 

For this, the employees, teams and departments need to analyze and contemplate the “value” from such endeavors. This knowledge-repository is for you, should work for you – enabling and increasing the efficiency and productivity for individuals and groups.

 

When you find that applying this knowledge has created better opportunities for your project/ client/ individual-successes/ etc. then you should not only maximize the latent-knowledge potential but also be an ambassador for the knowledge-base in your team/ function/ organization.

 

  1. Many people deem whitepapers, case-studies, and writing articles as a tedious and time-consuming activity
  2. What they don’t realize is that they only need to list a few points on their own special skill-sets and functions and “project learnings”
  3. Thus writing and creating such a knowledge-repository should be easy, natural and productive (and profitable in the long-run)

 

* * * *

 

“Think big, think fast, think ahead. Ideas are no one’s monopoly.” – Shri Dhirubhai Ambani

 

Knowledge and Creativity – change knowledge & create knowledge

Yes, you can create your own ideas. Well, we all know that. But this is especially important for people who have quite a few years of relevant experience in any field. If you are a specialist – you need to have “Thought Leadership” on your specialized role.

 

Creating new ways to do business, new ways to deploy or employ technologies, or even alternatives and workarounds to known business problems.

 

  1. Look ahead – go beyond the accepted trends and norms to anticipate future solutions and opportunities
  2. Know your base-information – the knowledge-repository is a ready-reckoner to help you analyze changing industry needs, the scope for growth and “raising the bar” in performance & efficiency
  3. Create new benchmarks or study redundancy of existing ones
  4. Adapt existing know-how for current situations
  5. Thought Leadership through monthly brainstorming sessions

 

* * * *

 About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050

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Knowledge & Positive Communication http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/knowledge-positive-communication/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/knowledge-positive-communication/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 05:46:22 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13597 Knowledge & Positive Communication

Expedition to Mars and beyond our Solar System

 

In a corporate environment, knowledge makes or breaks your business. It is crucial how you manage your knowledge communication so as to leverage the smallest of advances and showcase the large successes.

 

Positive communication is not the same as being a “spin doctor”. It involves a change of attitude at how we look at things. Our perspective on every sphere of activity and/or business should inculcate a radiant positivity. For some people, this may even involve a lifestyle change.

 

This positive orientation will shine not just in your communication but automatically reflect in your personality and daily interactions.

 

  1. Case Study one
  2. Case Study two
  3. Aspects of Positive Communication

 

 

Case Study one: NASA and American economy

 

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

 

NASA celebrated 40 years of moon-landing in the year 2009. As you can imagine, the historic moment brought great memories of Apollo, reminding all Americans of the great “US of A”, its achievements, its leadership in the sciences and how it changed the horizon of possibilities in human endeavors.

 

At the same time, another section of American society bemoaned the wasteful tax-expenditure on space technologies during the worst recession of this generation.

 

Does NASA’s work in any way benefit the average American tax-payer?

 

The answer is yes and it does so in a vast sphere of inter-related activities. NASA admits humbly that the organization was formed simply to compete in the cold-war era. But that does not comprise the entire functions of NASA in the new century. So though “NASA’s mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”(source), they have justified the tax dollars while enabling Americans to lead in businesses along with securing the defenses for its sponsor, the American Government.

 

No, NASA just spends billions annually to stroke the Government’s immense ego!

 

The brand name “NASA” itself conjures images of huge space shuttles, crisp photographs of distant galaxies and echo of the famous words of Neil Armstrong.

 

But NASA has enabled leadership in:

  • Communications Technology – which is now real and usable for many,
  • Aerospace Industry – which now sees travelling across continents as routine day for so many,
  • Global Warming Studies – which ensures that they are able to monitor our planet’s “health”,
  • Natural Disasters Forecast – by using their orbiting satellites to analyze and prevent major loss of lives,
  • Mechanical Systems – including robotics that enable hazardous jobs getting done precisely and efficiently,
  • Among many other applications of their innovations and discoveries which have reached & benefited the “average American”.

 

How does NASA “communicate” to the American tax-payer on how useful their work is?

 

So, the above achievements need to be put into perspective for the Americans, to justify the funds of the nation, the investment by the elected Government and the demands of future projects.

 

NASA did this by leveraging the “popular” technologies of 2009.

 

Not only is their website a huge, immense repository that tracks and maps everything they have done and are doing, but they went beyond their labs and boardrooms to “bring Space to the American citizen”.

 

Their largest PR achievement on Apollo 11’s 40th anniversary was the “Twitter” interactions and “YouTube” videos.

 

Using a Twitter account, anyone in any part of the world could ask a question to the NASA astronauts in the International Space Station. This not only got NASA on every news channel, but also got the complacent youth population, including kids, interested in Science and Technology and what can be achieved through it.

 

The answers were given by the astronauts by recording a personalized video message to the person, which was posted on YouTube for everyone’s benefit.

 

This goes way beyond any average “Viral Marketing” that any other organization could ever achieve!

 

Ask a question to a man in space from your mobile phone, see and listen to them address you with a smile, share it with the entire world, learn about something as incredible as “life in space” (the astronauts live up there for months) and be a part of history!

 

Apart from this, NASA shared their vast researches on “Earth Sciences”. This enabled all to know how mankind affects the planet and also to understand changes in the Earth’s geology, the ocean, the atmosphere and events such as storms and ozone layer depletions. The recent news was discovering water on Earth’s moon. (http://climate.nasa.gov/)

 

NASA also enables much participation and interest in their routine activities:

 

This is not just a great example of “Positive Communications”, but also an exemplary execution of “Knowledge Sharing” and “Knowledge Communications”. The key factor is making it interactive and getting the participation of the target audience; getting people involved to let them appreciate NASA’s advances in the sciences.

 

****

 

Case Study two: CPL at somecompany Pvt. Ltd.

 

“I was going to buy a copy of “The Power of Positive Thinking”, and then I thought: What the hell good would that do?” – Ronnie Shakes

 

 

From: FunNFrolic Mumbai [mailto:funnfrolicmumbai@somecompany.com]
Sent: Friday, January 15, 2010 11:18 AM
To: FunNFrolic Mumbai
Subject: Fw: Invitation for Cricket CPL 2010 – Bus Service Update
Importance: High

 

Hi All,

 

We conducted the survey recently to understand how many people would be availing Bus service for Cricket CPL 2010.  We have received very lukewarm response for the same. Hence we have decided not to have bus facility for this event. We hope to see you all at Holy family school ground on 16th and 17th January 2010.

 

Regards,

Ojay

 

The words “We have received very lukewarm response for the same” – completely destroys this event-related communication. Then it does more damage by saying “We hope to see you…”

 

It talks about the bus service. But what does it say about the big event – the CPL 2010?

 

  • Does it mean to say that not many people are interested in the event?
  • Is it to be interpreted as saying that this will not be a fun getting-together of the employees of somecompany Ltd.?
  • Why is no one interested in a bus service?
  • Am I to interpret it as people coming in for their team’s match and leaving once that “formality” is done away with?
  • Why “hope”?

 

So many strange connotations are given by the negative impact of this negative message.

 

Communicating the same without destroying the build-up to the big event needs careful choice of words and to say it without depressing the existing participants onboard.

 

But the facts need not be distorted by way of doctored data (“spin-doctors”).

 

For example: One private Indian airline had managed to operate its single aircraft for its first year well enough to invest in a second aircraft. They declared in the media “XYZ Airlines has seen 100% growth in its first year of operations”.

 

This is a typical manipulation of statistical data.

 

Alternatively we can see in first case study, how NASA was able to sustain its program budgets by proving their project-worth and showcasing it in a useful and accessible manner.

 

It would have been better for the F’n’F team to simply provide the directions to the ground and suggest lack of feasibility in providing the “vast number of participants” a drop home, which they could make up for by offering more prizes for players and holding more spot events for the audience. Even a small part of the budget allocated for the bus could have easily supported the positive portrayal of “not having a bus facility”.

 

****

 

Aspects of Positive Communication

 

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” – Carl Gustav Jung

 

Ignite the fire

Presentation is an important aspect of communication. Presenting knowledge also requires efforts beyond the basic need-benefit format.

 

  1. Reflect your optimism on the product/ service in personal interactions as well
  2. Convince as much with presentation as with the product/ service
  3. Learn and educate
  4. Go beyond needs and benefits to address personal concerns
  5. Enable through positive words rather than neutral/ negative words

 

Poor Example: “This functionality is not enabled”

Improved Example: “We can enable this functionality of course”

 

****

 

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

 

Perspective enhancement

Most people like to address problems. If you see a problem affecting your function, apply yourself in at least suggesting a prospective solution if not finding the actual solution.

 

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Teach the man to fish instead of giving away your fish
  3. Ask to learn and answer to solve
  4. Opportunities abound, you only need to know your goals and motives
  5. Knowledge offers opportunities, sharing knowledge multiplies opportunities across the organization

 

****

 

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson

 

Mental housekeeping

A daily office life ensures a mind full of information, impressions and worries. A brief time to contemplate your agenda and how to put it across adequately needs patience and a virtue of “forgiving yourself”.

 

  1. Move on!
  2. Learn to focus on “could do” rather than “could have done”
  3. Time management assures peace of mind
  4. Lessons learned require willingness to update yourself – approach as well as skill-set

 

****

 

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else” – Winston Churchill

 

A day in the life of…

Consider the futility of fretting. Look forward to prevention, remedies and fixing the things that are wrong/ could go wrong. Change of temperament mood depends on your attitude which depends on whether you acknowledge the benefits of a line of thought/action.

 

  1. Follow a line of thought to visualize a positive solution
  2. Recognize if you are adding to the problem
  3. Assure yourself first so as to convince others by your message
  4. Learn the gains from the communicating of positives over negatives

 

****

 

“A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Know it and Be it

In the popular movie “The Matrix”, the leader Morpheus knows a lot, yet he also acknowledges the fact that he can’t succeed without the actions of Neo. So to convince Neo to act, Morpheus says to him “Don’t think you are; Know you are.”

 

Get things moving. Accumulation of knowledge is like a bank that offers only a locker and no actual banking activity. So get people involved through your message, so that the communication acts as a catalyst to transform the way you do business, get business and maintain business.

 

  1. Be the change rather than reflecting/ fretting over changes
  2. Delusion is wishful thinking; Belief is knowing your capabilities
  3. Aspirations enable you to foresee your own success as well as resolve current obstacles

 

****

 

“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.” – Henry Ward Beecher

 

Lemonades and accolades

Make the best of current resources rather than craving the bigger and better. Current success builds a profile assuring you future growth. It’s not the lemon that is the problem; it is your willingness to present it as lemonade. Communicate as much with possibilities as with as-is analyses.

 

  1. Everyone has problems – so aim at providing solutions instead
  2. Work at it enough and you will find multiple pathways to desired futures
  3. One closed door doesn’t mean there is no other “window of opportunity”

 

****

 

“You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’” – George Bernard Shaw

 

Pioneers

Thought leadership involves pioneering solutions not just in product/ service but also in how we engage and interact with clients/ partners/ employees.

 

Make it a point to do official communications in a way that builds brand value and/or brand recognition.

 

Leadership in thought needs to be translated into material form through published content/ messages/ podcasts / etc. Your communication reflects on your optimism about a project/ function/ role/ etc.

 

Today’s success stories are important; leveraging that to innovate for future solutions guarantees growth.

 

Communicate these factors in such a way that clients and talent (employees) come to you because of the positivity reflected in offering solutions to not just current problems, but those that will occur in near/distant future.

 

  1. Feasibility is important; to be able to envision is critical
  2. Lead in thought, not just in business

 

****

 

“You have many slaves, Xerxes, but few warriors. It won’t be long before they fear my spears more than your whips.” – King Leonidas (Frank Miller’s “300″)

 

‘Honour’ before ‘having’

Know your team/ group’s capability and leverage that. Know your team/ group’s best interests and enhance that. Enabling people also means communicating their stature to your client. If the prospective client/ partner does not see beyond the leader to recognize organization-wide success and talent – then it is a failure of marketing communication and a lost opportunity for brand-building.

 

  1. Each employee as a branding agent
  2. Skill mapping and skill database for team/ department/ project/ organization
  3. Project Showcase/ Performance Updates
  4. A face for the team and a team to face projects

 

****

About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050

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The Aging Workforce http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/the-aging-workforce/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/the-aging-workforce/#comments Sun, 04 Jan 2009 18:51:02 +0000 admin http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=310 This essay will focus on the aging of the workforce and how this demographic shift will impact the human resource function in organizations. The primary focus will be on workers in the United States, as many from the baby boomer generation are nearing retirement age. Feinsod & Davenport (2006) explained that a variety of possible scenarios may occur over the next five to ten years, ranging from a massive shortage of workers as baby boomers exit the job market to a lesser impact if baby boomers continue working past the traditional retirement age. As the workforce ages, employers must utilize innovative techniques to attract and retain older workers, while simultaneously balancing the challenges of managing an intergenerational workforce. This essay will review how older workers can enhance an organization’s success by using their lifetime experience, the reasons older workers plan on working beyond a traditional retirement age, how productive older workers are in comparison to younger workers, and how organizations can balance the value of an older workforce with the potentially higher costs associated with injuries and insurance.

Reasons underlying the older worker boom

Arnone (2006) argued that two major factors influenced the aging workforce, including an increased life expectancy and growth variances of different generations. By 2030, one in five Americans (20%) will be aged 65 and older, compared to the current rate of 12.4% (Arnone). The potential implication from a shrinking labor pool may cause employers to experience difficulty in finding talented workers as older employees exit the workforce. Furthermore, it is estimated that workers over the age of 45 will comprise approximately 42% of the U.S. population by 2030 (Haight & Belwal, 2006). The main concern with an older workforce revolves around safety and productivity issues, as older individuals lose some cognitive and physical ability with age (Haight & Belwal). The challenge for today’s organizations is to create systems that ensure the talent of older workers is retained, while also keeping related health costs low.

Financial needs also plague older workers, adding another factor to the increased number of those working past traditional retirement age. Wellner (2002) discussed how two thirds of older boomers aged 48 to 56 have failed to save enough for retirement. A scant 20% of older workers are highly confident that they will have enough money to comfortably retire, requiring the majority of older workers to remain in the labor force longer (Wellner). Wellner argued that better health care, and the boomer generation’s enhanced awareness of how diet and physical activity affect well being, will allow many older workers to continue being very productive workers. Arnone (2006) described how changes in society’s view of retirement and work in general have impacted older workers, explaining that these new views make working past the traditional retirement age more acceptable as the norm.

Lindquist (2006) estimated that in the next two to ten years, a large percentage of the workforce will be retiring and this will make it hard for organizations to meet the needs of their clients. However, there is a beneficial outcome for older workers resulting from the demand that will be in place for their knowledge in the future. As Lindquist explained, while older workers were passed over for jobs or promotions in the past, the most enlightened CEOs understand the need to retain these workers to utilize their knowledge and talent. Computerworld (2006) explained that seventy five percent of older workers surveyed in the IT field indicated they would like to work at least part time into retirement. Although the majority of older workers want to work beyond traditional retirement age, many indicated they didn’t want the same amount of responsibility and instead expressed an interest in working for a new employer (Computerworld). This is a promising figure, especially because younger workers have much experience to gain from their older counterparts.

Benefits from the older worker

The greatest benefit the older worker can provide any organization is their experience, which simply can not be replaced in a quick fashion by younger employees. As Lindquist (2006) suggested, progressive organizations will quickly transition and try out new techniques to retain older workers, especially since they could open new businesses and compete directly with their old employers. Available data suggests that older workers are more than willing to continue working; Arnone (2004) reported that in 2004 69% of men and 54% of women aged 55 to 64 were working or looking for work. With over half of the older workforce still gainfully employed, organizations must ensure they capitalize on this talent and use it to their advantage. As Lindquist explained, many college students would jump on the opportunity to be paired with an experienced counterpart on the job. The benefit of pairing the experienced older worker with a young employee possessing a positive attitude for work could yield massive benefits to the employer harnessing this opportunity (Lindquist).

Griffiths (1999) argued that it is the best interest of employers worldwide to retain older workers since governments will be challenged to support an increased number of workers with a smaller workforce. Arnone (2006) explained that only 29.8% of surveyed organizations have an understanding of business wisdom, yet two thirds of organizations have systems in place to capture and transmit the wisdom of older workers to younger ones. This subject represents a potential disconnect between understanding and transmitting value between older and younger workers. Based on the available data, organizations still have many opportunities to capitalize on the talent and knowledge held by older employees, especially since so few of them seem to understand what knowledge is most important to transfer among employees.

Generational Differences

Dittmann (2005) explained that a poor level of understanding among individuals of different generations can severely impact their ability to communicate and work productively. Dittmann’s observation stresses the importance of maintaining positive intergenerational relations and highlights that role human resources must play to ensure that the different generations of workers are more easily able to relate to one another, share ideas, and enjoy the benefits provided from their different life and working experiences. As Molas (2006) argued, each generation carries a unique attitude and set of expectations towards work. Employers must seek to understand these differences and utilize the strengths inherent within each generation to undermine any potential weaknesses that could stifle productivity in the workplace.

Thiedke (1998) pointed out that older workers believe their younger counterparts to be pompous, materialistic, and hypocritical; however, younger workers tend to assume the same of their older counterparts. It is crucial that organizations dispel these assumptions and create an environment that encourages employees, regardless of their generation, to work seamlessly with one another. Gittlen (2007) explained that it is important for companies to ensure they have a healthy balance of younger and older workers, not only to avoid claims of discrimination but most importantly because a diverse workforce offers a melting pot of talent for organizations to utilize.

Older workers bring business acumen to the workplace that may not be ingrained in the mindset of younger workers (Gittlen, 2007). It is imperative that older workers teach younger employees the broad concepts of their career area and organizations that fail to embrace this notion will be setting themselves up to fail subsequent generations of workers that aren’t provided experiential knowledge. Miller (2004) suggested that the most effective way to address generational differences rests in communicating information in multiple ways, especially accounting for the technological savvy of younger workers and the more formal communication preferences of older workers. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management on generational differences survey report stated, “Communicating in a variety of ways increases the likelihood that workers within and among generations receive the information in a way which they are comfortable with” (Miller, p.1). As a result, companies that are aware of the different communication preferences of workers will stand to reap the greatest reward of employee cooperation and increased productivity throughout the business.

Dan Gingras, a partner at an executive consulting firm, suggests that employers should create a working environment that allows for a “cross fertilization” of skills (Gittlen, 2007, p.1). Putting younger workers with older ones that have matching skills may be the key to success in allowing intergenerational differences to work advantageously (Gittlen). Organizations that encourage younger workers to integrate with their older counterparts are doing the right thing from a strategic and ethical perspective. Gittlen argued that the key to avoiding age discrimination doesn’t come from assuming that everyone is equal but through the acknowledgement of generational differences. Although there may be differences in work style and ethic among older and younger workers, organizations can experience benefits that help every generation of worker succeed when it is acknowledged and fine tuned.

Feinsod and Davenport (2006) revealed interesting information when they reported that a 2003 study found that workers aged 55 and older scored seven points higher than the youngest demographic aged 18-29 in regards to employee motivation. Additionally, younger workers are more likely to become disengaged with their employer; only 8% of workers aged 29 and younger described themselves as highly engaged on the job versus 22% of workers aged 55 and older (Feinsod & Davenport). These findings substantiate the need for organizations to retain older workers, especially since they are more motivated on the job. Additionally, human resource professionals should aim to determine how older workers can impact the opinions and attitudes of younger workers towards their work, especially in regards to employee motivation. Organizations that ensure knowledge, skills, and attitude are transferable between younger and older employees will be able to extract the maximum value out of their entire workforce.

The different worker generations are unified in their desire to have a work/life balance. As Molas (2006) explained, many older workers quickly tire of working long hours coupled with nights, weekends, and holidays. The key to fulfilling not only boomers’ but every generation’s needs may rest in employers creating working arrangements that allows for equanimity and a better work/life balance. Older workers cite a desire to spend more time with their families, despite a pressing desire or need to continue working (Molas). Thus, companies that take this important aspect into consideration will be able to extract the greatest value out of every worker they have, despite what generation they belong to.

Motivation in older workers

There are many stereotypes in the workplace today regarding older workers and it is important these are dispelled if organizations expect to get the best value out of the older worker. Lord & Farrington (2006) explained that older workers have been described as lacking flexibility, resisting new technology, and unwilling or unable to learn new skills. Mary Ballas, a 63 year old Staples employee and ex-retiree, refuted these claims, explaining that older workers such as her are more than willing to adapt to changes in the workplace but simply need extra guidance to understand new technology (M.A. Ballas, personal interview, February 27, 2007). Lord & Farrington supported this conclusion, explaining that the turnover rate for older employees is far less than that of younger workers. Further, older workers are just as willing to learn as their younger counterparts (Lord & Farrington). Interestingly, in a study conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide for Randstad North America, the number one work priority among older workers involved trying new things on the job (Lord & Farrington). Sadly, Lord & Farrington reported that a study conducted by AARP found only three out of ten companies included older employees in their training programs. These findings show that a major disservice is being done to older workers, despite the fact that they rank learning and adapting to change as some of the most important factors contributing to job satisfaction. As a result, organizations need to utilize the information already discovered and create a nurturing environment for older employees by allowing them to experience continuous growth and learning in the workplace.

Lindquist (2006) asserted that it is in the best interest of any organization to retain older workers containing “extremely well developed talent,” especially since younger workers can learn more from them than they would in traditional training programs (p.4). Many organizations grapple with how they will retain older workers or attract new ones after retirement. Lindquist suggested that companies offer ex-retirees part time or consulting options, which allows the older worker an opportunity to still contribute value to the organization while not requiring them to work full time. Options such as this can be used to help increase the motivation of older workers on the job and assure they will remain with an organization long enough to create value. Coombes (2006) reported that a Towers Perrin survey of 35,000 workers at large companies found that worker motivation actually increased with age, despite assumptions that the opposite was true. It may be difficult for organizations to offer alternative working solutions for older workers but the inherent value brought into a company by the older, more motivated worker should be factored into any related cost the company is considering.

Older employees have much more to offer companies, aside from higher motivation levels. As Coombes (2006) explained, many business leaders assume that innovation is tied to the youthful worker, which is accurate but fails to consider the talent older employees can bring to the table. However, companies can play the differences in innovative talent among older and workers against each other in a complementary fashion. Younger employees often procure ideas that break traditional rules, whereas older employees can utilize their longevity and experience to make changes that are less risky and more calculated (Coombes). As a result, it is important for companies to recognize that older employees can still innovate but they may do so differently than younger workers.

Balancing the risks

Taylor (2006) explained that many employers see hiring older workers as a double edged sword: They can bring a variety of benefits to the workplace as a result of their experience but the possibility for increased healthcare costs and losing talent to retirement is a concern. Van Yoder (2000) discussed how older workers experience fewer injuries than younger ones, but their injuries are usually more severe in nature. Although there are fewer injuries among older workers, the fact that injuries are more severe can present a risk to employers, especially since it tends to cost more to treat more severe injuries. The time older workers that are injured spend away from work is also longer than younger employees, averaging ten days for those 55 and older compared to 4 days for those 24 and younger (National Academy of Sciences, 2007). Although older employees tend to be away from work longer when they’re injured, organizations should not forget the added value they can add to the workplace.

McMahan & Sturz (2006) pointed out that changes in health as a result of aging does not always mean performance will be significantly affected. The fact that older workers believe organizations deserve their loyalty more than younger employees can provide some peace of mind to organizational leaders worried about the increased risk of employing older workers (Lord & Farrington, 2006). It is important to note that there is no irrefutable claim that older workers are safer or more productive than younger workers and there is no proof of why this is the case, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Haight & Belwal, 2006). More research in this area will be necessary to draw a solid conclusion, based on available data, to discern with complete assuredness whether or not older employees are less of a health risk to an organization.

As McMahan & Sturz (2006) explained, current research has found that intervention programs designed to maintain the health and minimize the impacts of aging on the older worker are beneficial. As a result of the current evidence available, employers shouldn’t discount the opportunities older workers have to add value to their companies until more research provides conclusive evidence in favor or against employing older workers. Even if such evidence works in favor of employing younger workers, organizations must remain cognizant of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or risk legal sanctions (Arnone, 2006). Haight & Belwal (2006) suggested that organizations shouldn’t count older workers out, especially since they offer a great deal of opportunity to train younger workers with their experience. Haight & Belwal recommended that organizations make accommodations in the workplace, of which many are inexpensive and require little or no training. It is important for employers to take a proactive stance to ensure working conditions are created that reduce the likelihood of employee injury, especially with older workers.

Conclusion

Many managers and organizational leaders may find it difficult to handle the aging of the workforce, especially since the issues to consider are multifaceted in nature. Haight & Belwal (2006) argued that workplaces must accommodate older workers in the future, as they will comprise a larger portion of the workforce. The shortage of talented workers will present the greatest threat to companies in the future. Taylor (2006) explained that once the pool of qualified employees begins to decrease when baby boomers retire, organizations may see older workers’ loyalty as a valuable opportunity. Companies that encourage younger workers to gain experience from their older counterparts stand to gain a competitive advantage, especially against those that fail to act.

There is a major concern among employers about the increased cost of healthcare associated with older workers. Coombes (2006) pointed to the fact that extra healthcare costs can be easily offset by the lowered costs organizations incur as a result of turnover. This greater benefit to an organization from a cost standpoint is a major consideration that organizations must take into account when determining if older workers have value to them. Lindquist (2006) suggested that planning is of primary concern when dealing with fewer employees in the workforce. If experienced employees are planning on retiring, it would be smart to ensure they can transfer as much knowledge as possible before leaving (Lindquist). In this instance, preparation for an event that is happening and will continue to occur well into the future may mean the difference between profitability or financial losses for organizations throughout the United States and world.

It is in the best interest of organizations in any type of business to consider the value older workers present them. The strength of their experience and their willingness to learn are valuable traits that can be passed down to future generations. Additionally, the fact the older workers are more motivated than younger workers can prove highly beneficial to the business, not only in terms of a better working environment but in profitability as well. As Coombes (2006) detailed, companies with highly engaged workers exceeded their industry average revenue growth. It not only makes sense for companies to ensure they do everything possible to attract and retain older workers, but common sense can translate into cents, something every business leader is sure to turn his or head about.

Reference List

Arnone, W. (2006, 4th Quarter). Are employers prepared for the aging of the U.S. workforce? Benefits Quarterly 22(4). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database (23131007).

Coombes, A. (2006, February 2). How older candidates can make their case to employers: value. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved March 3, 2007, from http://www.careerjournal.com/myc/fifty/20060202-coombes.html

Computerworld. (2006, July 3). Workforce crisis 40(27). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database (21464046).

Dittmann, M. (2005, June 6). Generational differences at work [Electronic Version]. American Psychological Association, 36, 54.

Feinsod, R., & Davenport, T. (2006). The aging workforce: challenge or opportunity? [Electronic Version]. WorldatWork Journal, Q3 2006, 14-17.

Haight, J. & Belwal, U. (2006, July). Designing for an aging workforce. Professional Safety 51(7). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database (22857502).

Gittlen, S. (2007, February 5). Battle of the ages. Network World 24(5). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Business Source Premier database (23932206).

Griffiths, A. (1999, October-December). Work design and management – The older worker. Experimental Aging Research 25(4). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database (2373779).

Lindquist, M. (2006). The boomer exodus: how to respond to the loss of experienced talent. Enterprise/Salt Lake City 36(22). Retrieved January 30, 2007, from Regional Business News database (23411417).

Lord, R. & Farrington, P. (2006). Age-related differences in the motivation of knowledge workers. Engineering Management Journal 18(3). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Academic Search Premier Database (23224511).

McMahan, S. & Sturz, D. (2006). Implications for an aging workforce. Journal of Education for Business 82(1). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database (23328230).

Miller, S. (2004, August). SHRM Survey: Generations hold differing views on work/life balance. Society for Human Resource Management. Retrieved March 3, 2007, from http://www.shrm.org/rewards/library_published/benefits/nonIC/CMS_009504.asp

Molas, S. (2006). Flexibility becoming the norm in the workplace: Is your firm stretching to meet the demand? Pennsylvania CPA Journal 77(3). Retrieved March 1, 2007, from Business Source Premier database (22251132).

National Academy of Sciences. (2007). Impairments, injuries, and illnesses or disorders among older workers. Retrieved March 3, 2007, from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=030909111X&page=131

Taylor, L. (2006, September 13). Older workers more loyal to employers. Mansueto Ventures LLC. Retrieved March 3, 2007, from http://www.inc.com/criticalnews/articles/200609/employees.html

Thiedke, C. (1998, November/December). How you can keep your generation xers on staff. Family Practice Management 5(10). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database (1333850).

Van Yoder, S. (2000, August). Accommodating the older worker. FindArticles. Retrieved March 3, 2007, from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BJK/is_2000_August/ai_65108997

Wellner, A. (2002, March). Tapping a silver mine. HRMagazine 47(3). Retrieved March 3, 2007, from Business Source Premier database (6305795).

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HR Branding http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/hr-branding/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/hr-branding/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2008 18:59:35 +0000 udey http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=312 HR Branding — Human Resources in the competitive global industries

As a part of the marketing engine, HR branding is a fairly new concept, at least in Indian organisations. The development and management of the vital assets of any organisation – its people – needs pre-emptive care and methods. This will ensure reliability on these people, assurance of their service quality and synergy in inter-department teamwork. Internal and external communication to existing employees and potential candidates is the medium to leverage a company’s profile while ensuring cultural fitment and brand value adherence.

Traditional Role of HR:

Traditionally the HR department was responsible for recruitment, payroll and performance appraisals with other ad hoc responsibilities relating to the employees. The HR and Marketing departments were clearly demarcated and each unit specialised in their role. The HR team was not expected to “sell the brand” to its people or clients. And the Marketing team was not expected to attract employees or other talent. Over the past 10 years, with growing speed and network of communication tools, it is expected that organisations make the best of any contact with clients, customers, or potential candidates for a job.

Corporate Branding:

Branding is accepted as a norm for all competitive companies. Establishment of a corporate agenda, a value system and social role is communicated via the brand image marketed by the public relations machinery. Now the trend is to make all functions of an organisation participate more actively in voicing this brand image. It is assumed to be a joint responsibility to promote, protect and project the corporate values as declared by the leadership. “The 4 Ps of Marketing” (product, price, position and promotion) applies to branding as well. This needs to be adapted to people management as well.

HR Branding:

With growing global operations and larger markets, organisations need to manage their employees such as to educate them to make them brand ambassadors for their corporation. “The 4 Ps of HR” are People, Pay, Position and Prospects. This is derived from the Marketing concept mentioned in previous paragraph. Since an organisation’s employees are the key enablers of all projects and functions, it is vital that they incorporate the branding strategy in their tasks.

Here the HR department has to take ownership of enabling the employees as employee management is their primary portfolio. Thus an HR Manager needs to market the brand to its people, structure compensation accordingly, find relevant job roles and promise benefits in line with corporate growth. In some cases, the target is internal and in other cases it is external people.

The branding involves several initiatives to inform, involve and educate the employees about the leadership strategy and market/ industry status of an organisation. Some of the methods can be briefly summarised as given below:

Internal Communication tools: Intranet webpages, newsletters, notice boards, email circulars, etc are common enough in most modern offices. Using these existing tools, the HR Manager can extend his support by employee grievances resolved online or promoting new policy initiatives or promoting success stories of teams/ individuals, etc. This is also useful to bring together ideas and innovations in people management. Various corporate projects and CSR activities can gain momentum simply through effective communication through such channels. The focus should be on involvement and interactivity. Welcoming feedback and acting on them is important to know what the people need or desire.

External Communication: This is not restricted to the traditional Marketing team alone. Every HR personnel who is communicating with a potential candidate or even an ex-employee needs to uphold the brand values and promote them in their official communications. As a representative of the company the HR team needs to effectively voice the brand image and present the company and its people in positive light. Co-operation with Marketing and Finance departments is also essential in executing such measures. This will include communication in recruitment drives, campus interviews, online and print media job listings, internet websites, etc.

Talent Management: Facilitation for employee development is a must. The HR Manager needs to develop his resources so as to make them feel valued and trusted and hence trained for further responsibilities. While doing this the by-product is that the organisation soon has a skilled, experienced workforce who believe in the corporate strategy/ agenda and thus are role-models for others. Soon the organisation gets renowned for its employee management and retention capabilities.

Credibility and Catalysts: The HR branding should build credibility in the leadership and should act as a catalyst for employee engagement and participation. This involves upholding the Mission Statement and ensuring that the employees are part of any restructuring or policy changes.

Final medium: Most Marketing executives will also agree that the only new medium/ channel left for reaching customers and potential clients is the average employee of the organisation. The workforce has various people in front-end and back-end who interact or deal with customers and hence affect the business. An HR Manager, being a people manager, needs to leverage this last communication channel to further build the brand by improving a customer’s contact experience with the organisation.

Living the Brand Values:

Experiences of both – a customer and an employee – affect a corporate brand. Both can be influenced by HR branding through employee enablement. Therefore, by changing an employee’s experience with the organisation you also change a customer’s experience with the brand. This is how the HR Manager effects “HR Branding”.

Focus on “Living the Values” is important for such branding. The employee’s participation in such change of work culture influences the team, inter-department activities, the various functions of the organisation and thus causes an outward wave trickling down to the customer or vendor. The belief and faith in such corporate agenda comes with effective promotion of brand image to these marketing elements. And this adherence to “the Mission” will ensure effective branding. The HR Manager needs to remember that all this depends on the people’s perception of the organisation and not his own tinted view. Hence he needs to listen and learn from them as much as tell and educate them.

The HR machinery succeeds when every employee is living the brand values and hence advertising the brand image wherever he works and whomever he interacts with.

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The Ethics of Internet Privacy in Employment http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/the-ethics-of-internet-privacy-in-employment/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/the-ethics-of-internet-privacy-in-employment/#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2008 22:36:55 +0000 admin http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=316 This paper will discuss the ethics of employee privacy in a work environment. Using the six-step decision making model, the case of Michael Smyth, a former employee of the Pillsbury Corporation who later sued the corporation after they terminated him for the content of his private emails during work, will be discussed and analyzed. It will be the author’s conclusion that it is perfectly ethical for a company to intercept an employee’s email messages in the workplace, as employees are utilizing equipment at the expense of the employer. It is expected that employees remain professional at all times while on the job. There are, however, many methods to reduce employee misconduct; it is unethical to terminate an employee for such a trivial reason without administering a prior warning.

In October of 1994, Michael Smyth, who was a regional manager at the Pillsbury Corporation in Pennsylvania, was terminated from his employment after his employers discovered and intercepted several offensive emails which he had been exchanging with his supervisor (Schulman, 1998). Throughout one email, in particular, he was alleged to have been threatening the company managers in the sales management department, even being quoted as challenging to “kill the backstabbing bastards.” (Brown, 1997).

Even so, because he was aware of Pillsbury’s consistent reassurance to employees that all emails are confidential and kept private, Smyth elected to sue the corporation for wrongful discharge. However, the court, which dismissed the disgruntled former employee’s lawsuit even before it went to trial, still ruled in favor of the Pillsbury Corporation, citing that Smyth had “no reasonable expectation of privacy,” as he was utilizing a system which belonged to his employers. Additionally, they declared, the company’s interest in preventing “inappropriate and unprofessional” conduct far outweighed Smyth’s privacy rights (Schulman, 1998).

The Ethical Issue

Is it ethical for an employer to hold employees accountable for private emails if the emails are being sent from a company computer?

Principles, Beliefs and Values

The four basic ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice all appear to be relevant to this particular case, as each principle plays an accurate role in acquainting readers with the significance of the case.

Autonomy, by definition, projects independence, self-rule, self-determination, liberty, and freedom. It is a respect for persons, and a respect for the privacy and confidentiality that every individual is entitled to. It involves “truth telling” and full disclosure as a means of respect for all individuals. This is one of the most relevant principles in the case of Michael Smyth v. Pillsbury Co. as it manages the subjects of privacy and confidentiality. In relation to the ethical issue, it is able to define and discuss the levels of confidentiality to which an individual is entitled, in order to draw a final conclusion on the issue.

The second ethical principle, beneficence, is defined as the active promotion of that which benefits another individual. The Biblical principle of love, for example, is a principle of beneficence. This particular ethical principle can be used for the purposes of determining employer versus employee rights in the matters of Internet privacy during working hours; it could aid in the determination of fairness and civility in this case, as well as resolve the controversy over whether or not the employer’s final decision of termination was appropriate. Based solely upon the possible resulting benefits of each party’s persuasions, this principle will seek to discover which party was truly practicing ethical behavior.

Nonmaleficence, the third ethical principle, is characterized as the avoidance of harm, the warning of harms, and the effective balance of benefits and burdens. This principle is able to relate to the ethical issue at hand through the measure of harm that the company perceived former employee Michael Smyth to be engaging them in. Similar to the principle of beneficence, this specific principle can seek to analyze the situation through the balance of benefits versus burdens with which both the Pillsbury Corporation and Michael Smyth were dealing. As nonmaleficence also manages the warning of [possible] harms, this ethical principle will be a helpful assessment in determining whether or not the corporation’s perceptions of future harm or threats from Michael Smyth were ethically sufficient enough to discharge him.

The final ethical principle, justice, is defined in four aspects: the expectation of being treated justly; the reception of that to which one is entitled; the just distribution of burdens and benefits; and fairness – similar cases being treated in a similar manner. In relation to this case, the principle of justice will be able to conclude with an analysis of the situation, as well as a fair, ethical decision in response to the issue. Ethics are about rights and obligations, and the principle of justice will be able to determine such things in relation to this case. Was Michael Smyth treated justly in this case? Did he “get what he deserved”? Would a similar situation be handled in the exact same manner? These and other questions may be acknowledged in the quest to determine fair ethical practices.

Within the principle of justice are several biblical categories which also relate to this case. Merit justice, egalitarian justice, need justice, retributive justice, and distributive justice are all significant to the issues within ethical practices; however, for the purposes of relation to this particular case, only merit justice, retributive justice, and distributive justice will be discussed.

Merit justice maintains that one is owed what is deserved or earned; retributive justice is defined as that which is owed to an individual from a wrong action; and distributive justice is, by definition, that which is owed to an individual by virtue of designated criteria. As individual components of the overall ethical principle of justice, all three approaches relate to this case and possess the significance to be adamantly utilized in order to determine whether or not justice was served in this case.

Beyond the ethical principles, there are other values and beliefs which affect this case. The three main categories of ethics – deontological, teleological, and virtue – may also be discussed in relation to the situation and then employed in order to make determinations regarding specific aspects of the case.

Deontological ethics are defined by an inherent “duty.” Deontological ethics maintain that the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined only by the nature of the action itself. By this definition, certain actions are simply wrong regardless of the results they may or may not produce. These ethics relate to this issue, as they may be applied and exercised through a critical analysis in order to demonstrate a position in this case. The role of these ethics within this particular ethical case is to explore the issue of private use of an employer’s equipment, and define the rightness or wrongness of the action.

Teleological ethics may also be utilized in contrasting components of this case. Teleological ethics are the polar opposite of deontological ethics, in that they declare the rightness or wrongness of an action to be determined by the results the action produces, not necessarily the action itself. In other words, an action could be wrong in one situation, yet acceptable in another situation; this determination is entirely dependent upon the end results. This ethical concept relates to the issue, as it can be utilized to determine the level of harm in which Michael Smyth engaged his employers, based solely on the results of the actions he chose.

Finally, virtue ethics focuses on the “actor’s” character, rather than on any specific action. Therefore, these ethics can be utilized to examine Michael Smyth’s true character, his motivation and intent behind his actions, and his overall performance as an employee of the Pillsbury Corporation.

Above all, the analysis of this case will seek to identify the ultimate intrinsic value — God — and develop a position on the issue, based on His truth.

Valid Alternatives

There are several identifiable valid alternatives to the issue at hand. Rather than terminating Michael Smyth, his employers at Pillsbury could have elected to disclose to him what they had discovered in his email, following up by administering a warning.

A second valid alternative would have been to call a company meeting within that particular location, and to inform the employees that private, personal use of the company’s equipment would not be tolerated. Without disclosing Smyth’s name, they could have warned all employees to save personal discussions for breaks or personal time, and not to use the computers for such activities. During this discussion, it would have been helpful for employees to recognize that their emails were, in fact, not confidential, and that, by law, employers have the right to intercept them during any period in time.

However, employers could still remain on guard for any negative vibes or behavior between Smyth and those individuals to which he was referring in his email. If anything was presumed to escalate, the company managers could have called a meeting between those individuals in order to resolve their issues.

Of course, a third alternative would have been for the employers to contact the local police department, due to Michael Smyth’s clear threat to “kill the backstabbing bastards.” Considering the fact that the employers had no possible way of determining whether or not Smyth was serious in his impendence, and, if so, how soon this event would occur, this option would have been a valid alternative as well.

A fourth and final alternative would have been for Pillsbury to do exactly as they did by terminating Smyth; however, when he entered into controversy with them over this issue, they could have agreed to either pay him an acceptable sum of money or to re-hire him into the company, under the conditions that he would agree to no longer utilize company equipment for his personal conversations and benefits.

Analysis of Consequences

If Pillsbury had chosen to take the route of the first alternative, opting to discuss the situation with Michael Smyth and issue him a warning rather than discharging him, it may have worked out admirably. It would have been a demonstration of distributive justice on the part of the company, as the company would have elected not to hold Smyth responsible for his actions, especially due to the fact that the managers seemingly broadcasted the misconception that an employee’s individual emails would remain confidential.

Choosing this option would have also been a display of the application of virtue ethics. As no prior negative behavior had been discussed throughout this case, it is an assumption that Smyth’s overall character was generally good-natured and hardworking.

If the company had elected to utilize the second alternative, choosing to conduct a company meeting regarding personal use of the company equipment among all employees, the situation may also have been reversed. In this event, Smyth would not have felt singled out; but he would also have learned which particular activities were not tolerated on the job. Furthermore, he would have been informed that employee emails actually were regulated and monitored by the company; consequently, he may not have felt as “cheated” in the event that he chose to continue with his personal emails.

More importantly, the safety of other employees would not have been compromised, as employers would be on special guard for negative behavior exhibited between the parties.

Utilizing this option would have demonstrated beneficence within the company. To attempt to resolve an issue without singling out an individual employee would have been in the best interest of all employees. It would have also shown a healthy respect for each employee’s autonomy and privacy because it would have set boundaries and regulations without attempting to assert unnecessary control over the employees.

Additionally, this action would have been an expression of teleological ethics; although the managers may have deemed his actions wrong, there were no harmful end results. For that reason, they could have elected to continue his employment – only with an open warning.

Under the third alternative – contacting the police with Smyth’s threat as evidence of harmful intent – the company would have been demonstrating deontological ethical behavior, nonmaleficence, merit justice, and even teleological ethics.

In relation to this alternative, deontological ethical behavior would have been demonstrated through the company’s realization that his behavior was wrong, regardless of whether or not he meant it, and regardless of whether any harm had actually been inflicted. It was wrong to threaten harm upon other employees; therefore, his actions could have been punished through police involvement.

On the other hand, teleological ethics could also be interpreted in this scenario. The company could have viewed the situation from the perspective that, perhaps Michael Smyth’s threats would have evolved into actual physical harm. Similarly, this option would have demonstrated the ethical principle of nonmaleficence, as the company would have been attempting to avoid all possible harm. Although no harm had occurred yet, by the demeanor of Smyth’s infuriated emails, it was quite possible that damage or injury could likely have been an end result.

Finally, this alternative would have demonstrated merit justice. In other words, Michael Smyth may have deserved for this to happen. Merit, as defined in one definition by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is something that is deserved, whether good or bad. If Michael Smyth had been more responsible and professional in his work practices, this situation would not have occurred.

However, the consequences of this alternative could have been severe. Smyth could have elected to sue for defamation of character and attempted to collect any fines he may have been required to pay. It is likely that he would have been even more upset than he was in the original situation; and the anger, combined with the feeling of a lack of control in the overall spectrum of the situation, may have caused him to actually carry out his threat of inflicting harm or damage upon particular Pillsbury associates.

In the last possible valid alternative, there would have been examples of retributive justice demonstrated. Although Smyth clearly did the wrong thing, the Pillsbury Corporation may have been comparatively wrong for terminating him without a prior warning. Accordingly, they may have owed it to him to compensate him in some form. More than likely, Smyth would have been satisfied if the company had made the decision to execute this alternative.

Conclusion

The most valid alternative with the least severe consequences would have likely been the second option. In this alternative, overall beneficence would have been practiced; and the best interests of everyone would have been taken into consideration. As previously mentioned, in this option, Smyth would have been more informed about the actual company practice of regulation of employee activities. It is also highly probable that this alternative would have completely eliminated the issue without singling Smyth out for his actions. This alternative would also be compatible with the Christian practice of forgiveness, as it would have given Smyth another chance to demonstrate a professional work ethic.

In all other alternatives, Smyth would have been personally called out for his behavior, which, although justified, would likely have sent him into defense mode and possibly created further issues. In the last two alternatives, he would have been further embarrassed by public knowledge and possible scrutiny of his behavior. For those reasons, it is concluded that the second alternative would have been the most respected choice.

Based on these conclusions, although Michael Smyth should not have been terminated without a prior warning for his behavior, it is definitely ethical for an employee to be held accountable for sending private emails under the circumstance that a company computer is being utilized to do so. Whether or not a company claims to practice a privacy policy regarding employee emails, employees should be realistic in the sense that they are using their employer’s equipment, and, therefore, it is highly likely that they will be under the surveillance or monitoring of the company’s network administrators. Employee monitoring is permitted by law (Schulman, 1998); in consequence, it is always possible that an employee’s personal actions are being observed by an employer. If an employee feels that this is a violation of privacy, personal activities should be confined to time spent off the clock.

An employer interested in decreasing or eliminating the amount of time spent on personal activities by employees throughout the workday should elect to address the issue in a company meeting. If the issue is still unable to be resolved, employees should be singled out and given warnings. Only as a last resort should an employee be terminated for an issue such as this.

However, in a case such as this where a threat was made, it should be taken more seriously, although an employee should not be immediately terminated. Many individuals make “threats” such as that, without any genuine substance to the threat. The situation should have been evaluated and monitored before a discharge occurred.

In conclusion, it is completely legal and ethical for an employer to monitor the activities of employees when they are on the job; although not always fair, employees may be held accountable and even terminated for unproductive, personal activity. Therefore, it is not wise for an employee to utilize company equipment for personal benefit and conversations. As employers may elect to intercept this information at any time, it is in the employee’s best interest to save personal matters for personal time.

References

Brown, Eryn. (February 1997). The Myth of E-mail Privacy. Fortune: New York. v. 135(2), 66.
Schulman, Miriam. (1998). LittleBrother Is Watching You. Business and Society Review v. 100/101, 65-69, as cited by Rae, Scott B, Wong, Kenman L. (2004). Beyond Integrity Second Edition: A Judeo-Christian Approach to Business Ethics, 414-417.

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Fuel Cells: Batteries of the Future? http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/fuel-cells-batteries-of-the-future/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/fuel-cells-batteries-of-the-future/#comments Tue, 27 Nov 2007 23:39:18 +0000 admin http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=338 Research has actually shown that in recent years, there are over fifteen billion batteries produced every single year. On the surface, batteries may not appear to be causing any pollution when being used. However, batteries actually do contribute to the overall pollution. If one were to look at the amount of pollution caused by batteries in the context of their entire lifespan — from the time when miners retrieve the raw materials for their construction through their use on applications up to the time when owners haul them to the dump, the amount of pollution produced is significantly high, considering the number of batteries produced each year.

First of all, in the production process, the mining process used to produce the material for the batteries makes them big contributors of lead emissions. Thus, lead pollution stemming from production of the battery will contribute significantly more carcinogens and other toxins to people and the environment.

Next, the disposal process also proves to be harmful for the environment. The metals used in batteries vary considerably and they include mercury, lead and cadmium, which are considered as hazardous waste, as well as nickel, copper, zinc, manganese and lithium. Although nickel, copper, zinc, manganese and lithium are not hazardous, the pollution produced when mining and extracting them from underground does harm the environment already. In the process of incineration, the metals used in batteries contribute to air emissions and pollute via incineration residues. When batteries end up in landfills, the metals contribute to the leach from landfills.

On top of that, battery acid is toxic, and getting the acid into the groundwater causes serious environmental contamination. Disposable batteries can pollute lakes and streams, as the metals vaporize into the air when burned. Heavy metals in the batteries can leach from solid waste landfills, and the environment and water is exposed to lead and acid. Disposable batteries also contain strong corrosive acids.

Additionally, the large amounts of batteries disposed creates huge amount of wastage, in addition to waste disposed every year. Take for example, in 1997 Americans generated 340 million tons of municipal waste, which averaged 1.272 tons per person. Current programmes such as recycling to reduce wastage are already in place and this therefore shows the need for the world to reduce the amount of waste produced, and at the same time shows the need to conserve the environment.

It is near certain that the results would be staggering if one were to study on the effect of battery waste. It would technically not be possible for billions of battery remnants to be easily or safely break down in an environmentally friendly manner. This causes a huge problem to the environment, and therefore makes it a good reason why fuel cells are a much better alternative.

There are current alternatives, and one innovation would be the rechargeable battery. The development of lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries has led to the invention of the rechargeable battery. However, while this reduces the amount of waste generated every year, many of these rechargeable batteries suffer from a “memory effect”, which means that the power of the battery reduces after every charge.

How batteries work:

Batteries have two terminals – positive and negative. The negative terminal is where the electrons are concentrated. When the two terminals are connected in a circuit, the electrons flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal. These electrons are produced internally inside the battery through electrochemical reactions, which produce free electrons.

Electrochemical reactions taking place within the batteries produce the flow of electrons, which is also called as electricity. The reaction can only take place when there is a flow of electrons between the two terminals and if that does not happen, there would be no reactions in the battery and thus no power would be produced.

The first battery was created by Alessandro Volta in 1800. To create his battery, he made a stack by alternating layers of zinc, blotting paper soaked in salt water, and silver.

This battery works when acid molecules in sulphuric acid (H2SO4) break up into two H+ ions and one SO4­­2- ion is the presence of the zinc. Concurrently, the zinc atoms on the surface of the zinc electrode lose two electrons (2e-) to become Zn2+ ions. Following that, the Zn2+ ions combine with the SO42- ion to create ZnSO4, which dissolves in the acid. The electrons from the zinc atoms combine with the hydrogen ions in the acid to create H2 molecules (hydrogen gas). These hydrogen gas bubbles form on the zinc rod. The rod and acid will also start to heat up.

Should a carbon rod (or silver rod) be stuck into the acid, nothing will happen to it. However, if a wire connected the zinc and carbon rod, the electrons from the zinc rod would flow through the wire and combine with hydrogen on the carbon rod instead, resulting in bubbles on the carbon rod. Also, there would be less heat, as some of the heat energy is converted to kinetic energy (for electron motion).

The electrons flow to the carbon rod due to the fact that it would be easier for electrons to combine with hydrogen there. In this battery, there is a characteristic voltage of 0.76 Volts. However, once the zinc rod dissolves completely or the hydrogen ions in the acid are used up, the battery ceases to function.

Alkaline batteries, which are our conventional batteries today, use the same principle for producing the electric charge. However, zinc and manganese-oxide are used as electrodes, and the electrolyte is an alkaline instead.

Case Study: United Kingdom (UK)

In 2001 people living in the UK bought 680 million batteries, and 89% of these were general-purpose batteries. It was estimated that in the year 2000, almost 19,000 tonnes of waste general-purpose batteries and 113,000 tonnes of waste automotive batteries required disposal in the UK.

Currently, only a very small percentage of consumer disposable batteries are recycled (less than 2%) and most waste batteries are disposed off in landfill sites. The rate for recycling of consumer rechargeable batteries is estimated to be 5%.  This means roughly means that for the 20,000 – 30,000 tonnes of waste general purpose batteries generated every year, UK recycles less than 1,000 tonnes.

In addition to that, it was found that the average UK household uses 21 batteries a year. Meanwhile, world wide, 15 billion primary batteries are thrown away every year, and almost all of which end up in landfill sites.

As a result from this case study, it is evident of the harm that waste batteries pose to the environment. As such, the fuel cell could very well be a good substitute for batteries. Should every battery-powered device be powered by a fuel cell, the world will have fewer batteries to dispose.

So what exactly is a fuel cell?

Fig. 3b.1 How a Fuel Cell work

A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device similar to a battery, but differs in that it produces electricity from an external fuel supply of hydrogen and oxygen as opposed to the limited internal energy storage capacity of a battery. Additionally, the electrodes within a battery react and change as a battery is charged or discharged, whereas a fuel cell’s electrodes are catalytic and relatively stable. This means that the fuel cell is a potentially better alternative, in addition to the fact that it is environmentally friendly. Moreover, fuel cells are especially effective in generating electricity in areas not in a power grid, meaning that no electricity is supplied to them. These areas could be remote areas, or even in space.

For the fuel cell to operate, hydrogen is supplied at the anode, and oxygen is taken in from the surrounding air at the cathode. The equation is as given:

2H2 => 4H+ + 4e- ­ (anode)
O2 + 4H+ + 4e- => 2H2O (cathode)
2H2 + O2 => 2H2O (net overall reaction)

The hydrogen atom would be separated into the proton and electron through the help of a platinum coated catalyst. The proton would then pass through the catalyst and electrolyte to the cathode, whereas the electron would enter the cathode through an external circuit, generating a current. The only by-product of this reaction is water, which can be seen from the equation above. This concept is derived from the reverse principle of hydrolysis.

This reaction in a single fuel cell produces an optimal voltage of 1.1 volts. For the voltage to be increased, many separate fuel cells must be combined to form a fuel-cell stack. In addition, several fuel-cell stacks can be connected to create a fuel cell system that can power larger devices due to a higher voltage being produced.

However, the major limitations of the fuel cell technology would lie in the areas of the storage of hydrogen, cost and the public’s acceptance. Moreover, the generation of hydrogen is still quite dependent on power generated by fossil fuels, making the entire fuel cell system somewhat indirectly dependent on fossil fuel, which is an ironic situation. However, new methods of generating hydrogen that are not dependent on fossil fuels are currently being researched into [e.g. solar-hydrolysis]. However, many of these researches are still in their early stages. Research and advancements in technology has resulted in different kinds of storage systems, such as metal hydride tanks, which are certified safe, making the storage much less of a problem. Currently, fuel cells are extremely costly, which makes it less attractive to consumers. The cost mainly arises from the usage of the platinum coated catalyst. Perhaps if more research is put into fuel cell technology, and an alternative to platinum is discovered, the price of the fuel cell would be greatly reduced. Getting the public to accept this energy resource would be rather tricky since the Hindenburg accident, and this would definitely take some time.

In fact, most problems could be solved with the advancement in technology and over time.

Current Applications

There are many different applications of a fuel cell that has already been developed, although the production and development is on a relatively small scale.

Image 3c.2 A Fuel Cell powered laptop by NEC

Image 3c.1 A Fuel Cell Car by Daimler Chrysler

Firstly, fuel-cell-powered cars could start to replace gas- and diesel engine cars in the near future. A fuel-cell car will be very similar to an electric car but with a fuel cell and reformer instead of batteries. However, some companies are hoping to do away with the reformer by designing advanced storage devices of hydrogen. In fact, Daimler Chrysler has already produced such a car.

Secondly, fuel cells are also used for portable electronics like laptop computers, cellular phones and even MP3 Players. In these applications, the fuel cell provides much longer life than a regular battery would, and it is quickly recharged by a liquid or gaseous fuel.

Thirdly, home power generation is a promising application that is already available in some areas. General Electric offers a fuel-cell generator system made by Plug Power. This system uses a natural gas or propane reformer and produces up to seven kilowatts of power that is enough for most houses. A system like this produces electricity and significant amounts of heat, so it is possible that the system could heat water and help to heat the house without using any additional energy.

Lastly, fuel-cell technology has the potential to replace conventional combustion power plants. Large fuel cells will be able to generate electricity more efficiently than today’s power plants. The fuel-cell technologies being developed for these power plants will generate electricity directly from hydrogen in the fuel cell, but will also use the heat and water produced in the cell to power steam turbines and generate even more electricity. There are already large portable fuel-cell systems available for providing backup power to hospitals and factories. In addition, research at National Technological University (NTU) is ongoing to use fuel cell power plants with desalination plants to minimize wastage of any energy.

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Surfing Success through a Corporate Intranet http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/surfing-success-through-a-corporate-intranet/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/surfing-success-through-a-corporate-intranet/#comments Wed, 26 Sep 2007 22:45:21 +0000 udey http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=318 NEED, USE & EFFECT OF AN INTRANET:

The information age demands ready access to critical data for the modern business environment where all transactions are possible across geographies at a speed that would seem magical if we didn’t understand it. In such a competitive and immediate decision taking, any corporate entity would be wise to invest in an infrastructure that allows sharing of knowledge within its organisation while also reducing costs, boosting profit and engaging its employees.

Some of the top intranets of the world have implemented successfully the idea of a common platform for all corporate data, activities and interaction. These companies are mostly large organisations with offices in more than one country or spread throughout a single country. Their aim is to create a task-oriented structure for employee’s benefit instead of the oft seen corporate structure. There are many elements in these portals that make them most favoured business tool for its users. The basic point is to realise that what management looks for in an intranet may not be what users want in the intranet.

The intranet is not for corporate propaganda or hard sell marketing aimed towards employees. It is emerging as a single-most utility that can guide communication and bring together resources for the organisation’s long-term benefit. Such is its latent power that the Government of People’s Republic of China is implementing a National Intranet for its citizens; when done it would be the world’s largest intranet.

The common feature in successful intranets such as IBM’s ‘W3 ODW’ (On Demand Workplace) or O2’s ‘vitalO2’ is the employee directory. This is essential for employees to get connected with concerned people in the many departments in large companies. An updatable, searchable directory, they also offer search of the company’s human resources through skill-based search or experience-based search. IBM’s employee directory’s estimated time savings is at US $194 million per year.

For multinationals like IBM which has employees in 75 countries speaking 165 languages or Vodafone spread across Europe, the intranet not only delivers corporate communication but also differentiates between “global pages”, “shared pages” and “local pages”. Such customised settings are possible through single sign-on identifying the user’s location, department, profile, etc. This helps avoid overwhelming the user with too much data and reach relevant material.

WHAT IS ON TOP INTRANETS:

Clearly content, navigation, design, consistency, engagement and accessibility are elements required to benchmark any intranet portal.

The content has to be aimed at informing users and at providing them with knowledge required to improve or support their functions. Apart from Corporate News, top intranets like Capital One’s ‘My One Place’ also provides industry news, external news on entertainment, sports, events and local news. Management Announcements and initiatives are also important part of an intranet, enabling the employee to see all circulars on a single portal. Allianz Australia’s intranet makes this subject attractive by using graphics to captivate employee’s attention to new management actions. Audio or Video supporting such News with accompanying text adds to the effectiveness of such information. These would also include Press Releases and Company’s Advertisements for customers. They could then be sorted by date or alphabetically.

Articles that keep users updated on various topics are sourced through intra-department collaboration or by a content team for the intranet. Defining the guidelines for content management is essential for uniform, standardised articles which can then be classified on the basis confidentiality, criticality or usefulness as has been done by ‘InSite’ intranet of Bank of Ireland. Keeping articles and other data fresh & updated is important to satisfy the users as seen in Vodafone’s site which includes VTV broadcasts as well. Capital One’s ‘My One Place’ conducts an audit of content to keep track of useful data and update where necessary. Employees not having internet access can be provided web content on the intranet to assist them. Many employees may be so dedicated on the intranet that the company’s public internet website may not be browsed by them; so integrating the website’s content with that of its intranet would enable companies to better manage the content dissipation. Also the dull text may get tedious. Merrill Lynch’s WorldNet portal has attractive images to keep the user interested with image captions & clear headings that convey the article’s subject matter.

Web writing differs from print writing. So the articles have to be concise, useful and with simple, to-the-point titles.

The layout is critical. The navigation through simple menus (with clear names), breadcrumb trails on sub-sections or pages, single page listing, one click access, all enable the employee to save work hours to get to required information immediately. Readability of the text, colour-coding, spacing, etc bring out the simplest and most effective attraction in any intranet. Altana Pharma AG and Metro Group’s ‘NetWorking’ implement such simple ideas to assist users get to where they should look for data. For large organisations like IBM a dual-masthead helps separate the group companies for clarity and avoid clutter.

The intranet should also have recreational content so as to provide employees with a break and they also need not be connected to the internet for the same. Wallpapers, ring tones, e-greetings, games, staff discounts, roadmaps, office lunch menu, city guide, etc are content any good intranet would opt for. ‘InSite’ even has a classifieds section for employees’ mutual use.

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT, TIME, UTILITY:

Employee engagement is a widely discussed topic in corporate scenario. Applications and online resources that cater to this should be available through the intranet for ease of use and access. A ‘favourites folder’ on the intranet helps Altana Pharma and O2 employees use their respective personalised intranets to keep important links to articles & tools at a single section. Each department can have a section of their own as with InSite (Bank of Ireland) to tailor content to its needs yet have a shared corporate vision. Online transactions can be made for discussion room bookings, parking, company vehicle, purchase of supplies, travel, fitness facilities, etc. Vodafone, O2, Altana Pharma AG, are some companies whose portals include such transactions. Bank of Ireland has a Facilities Management System (moving furniture, fixtures, cleaning, etc) while Staples’ (an office supplies seller) site ‘Staples@Work’ has a Management Action Planner assisting shift managers to inform other managers of their actions, decisions and updates.

Other important tools for employees on an intranet are HR related activities/formalities, IT resources & support and a new employee section to ease them into the$ company’s corporate culture.

Career development and e-learning are important for employees. Any organisation addressing this need assures its employee’s of its commitment to improve office work while developing its human resources. Capital One has a section called ‘Capital One University’ on its ‘My One Place’ intranet. Allianz Australia Insurance has an E-Campus section. IBM has Learning@IBM portlet for personalised training to employees covering learning plans, real-world classes, online training and study materials. Metro Group’s ‘NetWorking’ has an interactive e-learning section that gives the essential information such as length in time or pages for a subject, check their progress and creative games where the user is rewarded for learning by solving the game.

Management and other staff in an organisation need sufficient information to take or suggest decisions. A central document library enables an easy online MIS for concerned people to source information on the intranet.

Employees doing the actual work might have good ideas for profitability. At Staples the ‘Profit Improvement Culture’ section collects business suggestions from employees of Staples to cut costs, change processes or boost profit. These ideas have saved an estimated US$200 million.

Telecom companies like Vodafone and O2 have enabled access to their intranet on their employee’s mobile phones. Apart from this, their intranets have tools for users to send SMS to their team members. Staples use kiosks for intranet access outside offices which have a locked down version so that customers / external people can’t view corporate data. Altana Pharma AG too provides kiosks for intranet access.

All this data has to be usable. An extensive search that can find data, files (of specific formats) and people is common to top intranets of the business world. This is best seen on IBM’s W3 which has about 25 million pages of content. Further assistance is provided through a ‘Help’ section containing FAQ, feedback forms, helpdesk contact, etc. O2’s ‘vitalO2’ even has a unique id for feedback to track its progress. Altana Pharma’s portal has a guided tour of the intranet for new users.

WEB-TRENDS IN INRANETS:

Among this wide and comprehensive coverage of utilities on intranets are a growing acceptance of web-trends. Altana Pharma provides a shopping-cart for its intranet users to procure office or lab supplies. Articles are rated at Capital One so that a list of top-rated articles can be viewed by all users. Altana Pharma’s intranet tracks most viewed pages to form a list of popular articles for its users benefit. They also have a ‘Mail this page’ feature to help users share knowledge, a key cultural habit for a research-based company. Bank of Ireland’s ‘InSite’ has provided links to printer friendly versions of articles for their employee’s convenience. They also have opinion polls to get employees views on a variety of topics. A ‘wiki” functionality, presents Vodafone employees with blogging, glossaries, boards and project areas on their intranet ‘Vista’. IBM has ‘Blog Central’ on their ‘W3 ODW’ intranet mega-portal. Among all this, a notable but not critical web-trend is branding the site; most intranets have a unique name and reflect their corporate colours. An unappealing web-trend in poor intranets are pop-ups and excessive advertising.

FUTURE IMPLEMENTATION:

Intranet designers need to know how people work to know their daily needs. User testing, surveys, behavioural research, enabling transition from old to new structure are some ways to build a useful, effective and productive intranet portal. Many companies have built their intranets with support from external web designing professionals.

All these examples of real-world companies, with real-world profits from a cyber-world intranet prove the need for a business solution through a common platform of the intranet. The Intranet is a need of modern corporate environment and not a fanciful element of the workstation.

Copyright Ujjwal Dey 2007

http://www.ujjwaldey.com/

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