Smart Workplace

Worldclass Ecosystem to Think. Learn. Perform.


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Welcome to the 21st Century Super Performance Workplace

Yes we all live in the 21st century. But are we really managing our business the 21st century way?

Organizations that have become highly successful during the last century continue to live and operate the old way. Most organizations born in 21st century try to follow the success of 20th century. If the small and medium companies detach from the old and start thinking about new ways of learning and working, then these companies will start to flourish. Am sure at the beginning of this recession, new thinking will give us hope and show us the new beginning and new way of managing our business life.

The 20th century knowledge organizations learned so many things from the factory environment. Training model, automation thinking, hierarchies, command and control and more are some of the examples introduced during the industrial revolution.

Workforce of the 21st century need to trusted and empowered. They should be empowered to self-manage, self-organize and ultimately socialize towards convergence of power. Today trying to train the people through rote model like the way the welders and fitters are trained will definitely fail the companies. Unfortunately the education system still operates the traditional way towards building a people factory. So what will make 21st century learning and working environment?

Personalize

Every single employee is unique in their interest, career aspiration, competency, skills gap, learning style and availability. Today’s workforce hates to be controlled. Hence it is necessary to understand them and provide personalized career and learning roadmap. They should be systematically empowered to self-realize, self-assess and self-manage. This model will motivate and energize them to maximize their utilization and performance.

Socialize

While we focus on empowering the individuals to manage and drive towards success, there is no need to struggle alone. This is where the socialized learning and working environment help harness the collective intelligence and collective experience of the team or organization as a whole. It is also vital to socialize partner and customer support. We already talk about socialization but it is not taken seriously to bring it to the main stream business process.

Democratize

Rather than limiting innovation only in R&D labs, we should capitalize on the entire minds of the organization through democratization of innovation. Instead of just asking HR people and team managers to manage talent, organization must democratize talent management and learning to empower employees to take control. So the managers can move up the value chain to strategically think towards the next growth cycle.

Allow everyone to share their opinion, criticize and vote for others’ opinions. This will bring out the best ideas and ultimately help implement the right ideas for the benefits of all. We should also democratize the way we manage projects, teams and tasks. This will give the ultimate freedom and power to perform at their collective best.

Simplify

Advancement in our thinking and tools can definitely lead to simplification. The difficulty in embracing the best practices and tools is a definite sign of failure. Consumerization of enterprise solution is already taking place. Get ready for decentralized decision making and quickly adoption of new tools. Cloud mdel will make the life easier for the decision makers.

Personalize, socialize, democratize, simplify and change the way you manage your business. Do not struggle with the 20th century ideas. Welcome to the 21st century.

Disclaimer: Am the Chief Architect of Smipio (www.smipio.com). Smipio is an innovative workplace transformation solution that can change the way workforce learn and work towards delivering personal and organizational excellence.



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Energize SMB

Small and medium bussiness (SMB) is like a baby. When the baby becomes smarter and gets empowered to address the following challenges, the baby can grow to great heights.

Key Challenges

  • Low management bandwidth compared to large enterprises
  • Poor visibility on organizational competency, organizational knowledge and utilization
  • Inadequate talent pool, high attrition and lack of alignment of talent to tasks on hand
  • Competency gap could be more compared to large enterprises
  • Time consuming search for information & high cost learning
  • Disintegrated systems affect profitability and growth

Following presentation elucidates more on why SMB need to be empowered and how the SMB can be transformed into a smartly managed business:


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Building 21st Century Smart Workplace

An interesting presentation on how we can take the organizations to the future.

New challenges require new thinking and new solutions. Disintegrated and piece-meal solutions need to be replaced with an integrated solution to address the issues and challenges using a holistic approach. Trying to address the issues in bits and pieces will not help eliminate the inefficiencies at work.
This is time organizations replace outdated platforms and practices with better and innovative solutions.


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High Performance at Work

During the last two decades, too many process innovations were introduced at the workplace with an ultimate objective of enhancing the workforce productivity leading to high business profitability and competitive pricing.

While people from different areas continue to innovate business processes for operational efficiency, they failed to work together to perfectly align all these innovations towards the common business goal. Instead too many silos are created that complicate the whole thing in driving any change management initiatives. Hence most of these innovation did not result in significant improvements in spite of the high effort we put in.

The article published in June 2010 in the Mckinsey Quarterly on “The productivity imperative” explains about the importance of productivity. It talks about the need for reinventing work. Following are the key highlights of this article:

The Highlights

1. We call the productivity challenge an imperative because the need is so compelling. But to eke out even modest GDP increases, OECD nations must achieve nothing short of Herculean gains in productivity

2. To complicate things further, we are seeing a growing talent mismatch. The Western economies have built a workforce optimized for mid-20th-century national industries, yet the jobs now being created are for 21st-century global ones—we need knowledge workers, not factory workers

3. Just as the early 20th century saw the development of management theory for improving the productivity of factory workers, the 21st century will see the evolution of myriad better techniques for managing people who think for a living

4. Nearly half of all interactions between knowledge workers do not create the intended value—because people have to hunt for information, do not know where to find what they need, or get caught in the maws of inefficient bureaucracies

5. Competitive advantage requires much more than reverting to the well-worn “attract, deploy, develop, and retain” talent wheel found in HR manuals everywhere

The Productivity Enhancement Initiatives

This is time to seriously think about having Productivity Office and the Chief Productivity Officer. The CPO should take the complete responsibility to converge the best practices and help the workforce embrace an integrated platform sensibly for delivering best possible results.

At present, the following silos of initiatives exist in organizations:

1. Talent Management process is mostly managed by the HR team to help them deliver training, manage skills map, certify and ultimately manage the performance review process.

2. CMM and P-CMM has become one more initiative in the organization where the initiative leader focus on the various level of organizational maturity with no alignment to business processes.

3. Knowledge Management initiatives taking place in one section of the organization. Mostly this is viewed as a knowledge sharing initiative and driven unsuccessfully through a voluntary service model.

4. Some organizations have an innovation process that is driven by the Chief Innovation Officer or someone equivalent to facilitate idea flow across the organization.

5. Quality Management and Six Sigma focus on the quality initiatives to bring down the number of issues and defects in the products.

6. Project Management initiative is very popular in many organizations doing projects. Some even have Project Management Office (PMO). It focuses more on task, team and time management.

The Current State of Disorganized and Disconnected Initiatives

These silos of various best practices supported by different point solutions and narrow initiatives could lead to overhead instead of driving high productivity. Too much of overlap, absence of cross-functional integration and lack of support from various business heads lead to ineffective practice of all these best practices. Even though knowledge is all about people, many do not connect the knowledge management initiative to the talent management initiative of the HR team.

The traditional project management approach has no systematic connection with talent management. It is vital to embrace talent management in project management to naturally identify and build the high performance teams. Knowledge Management, Collaboration and Talent Management initiatives have not become an integral part of the sales & support initiatives. The quality management initiatives has no natural connection with all these best practices.

Reinventing Work for High Performance

Integrate business functions towards high performance and growth by eliminating all inefficiencies at work.

1. Having an integrated workplace transformation solution is essential. Without this holistic approach, it is hard to link the business practices and drive the flow of knowledge and work across various functions towards achieving the desired result.

2. There should be one leader who is experienced and powerful enough to mobilize support from various functions and connect all these best practices towards creating a learning and high performance organization. We can call them the Chief Performance/Productivity Officers. They should have the power and right behavior to harness the processes and process initiative heads instead of controlling them.

As organizations live in the 21st century, we cannot make the talent management as a top down approach. We need to embrace new ways of empowering the workforce to take control of their career, learning and performance. Project management is not just about task & time management. Project is a comprehensive form of knowledge representation and hence the complete approach to manage project knowledge, talent, collaboration, activity and performance is vital to succeed in this century.

For any serious business with a big ambition and to establish the right genetic structure to collectively learn & grow, am sure setting up a High Performance Office lead by the Chief Performance Officer with measurable business objectives will be of great value.

Author:

The chief architect of Lpcube GreatWork – the complete end-to-end workplace transformation solution for creating a smart workplace in six smart steps.


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“End justifies the means” – Embrace the right way for KM success

This is one of my favourite phrases. I would like to explain this phrase in the context of implementing knowledge management practices & platforms. In most cases, only through the outcomes the value of what we do become visible to others. Consequences help us judge our actions. If the end goal is a real success, we will all believe what we do and what we did (means to reach the end) is perfectly in line with the objectives. If the end is a failure, we all blame the means no matter what we did and how hard we worked for it.

What we do, what we believe and how we do need to be perfectly aligned to the end goal. So, we need to embrace the right way to successfully implement the best practices. In addition to our perceptions and management approach, the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can also reflect the fate of the initiatives. KPI has the power to drive towards success or failure. It is up to us to draw the right roadmap and define the right metrics to drive and measure the progress. For example, counting just the number of documents and number of interactions will only add junk entries and useless conversations to the knowledge base. If we start counting the number of visits to the knowledge portal, we will display information that attracts more visitors than displaying information that drive business excellence. If we continue along these lines, we will produce dashboards and reports only to display the rate of increase in knowledge assets, visitors to knowledge portal and knowledge contributions that may or may not have the business relevance.

If we take these reports to top management for further funding and continuous support to drive the initiative, they might ask “So what?”. The number of knowledge assets is not the indicator of business growth or profitability. Business owners and leaders don’t care for number of visits to the knowledge base but they only care for:

  • the number of high quality and faster responses per person per month
  • the cost of learning versus the talent development
  • the percentage of successful & profitable projects leading to good number of satisfied customers and continuous business
  • how the learning programs reach the right people and how much faster one can learn

Even in the case of cost centres, the metrics should be based on the actual outcome of the activities and learning but not just based on what they do with the knowledge base. The people at the top will not have time & knowledge to sit with the people at the middle of the pyramid for understanding day-to-day work and discovering the inefficiencies. If the middle management can convince the top just for the POC for one team and show the result, then the top will get convinced on the means to achieve the desired business outcome.

The reason for the number of failures in KM initiatives is the failure in making KM an integral part of the business. In most cases, the KM was made a voluntary service and extra work. That’s why we get responses such as, “I could not find time to share knowledge that is why I could not contribute to the knowledge base. Am busy all the time.”. Then, we start complaining about lack of volunteers and lack of contribution. This will happen only when we do not align the knowledge management system & practices to the day-to-day work.  To make 100% participation, KM should be part of daily work and not an option one can choose for the extra bonus and peanuts.

Set the performance benchmark such a way that they can never achieve this by learning and working in silos. People need to embrace the KM practices unconsciously and we need to recognize people delivering extraordinary performance at work. This is the only way the knowledge flow will become the lifeline of the organization.

When every single eye hospital followed the traditional model without new thinking, the founder of Arvind eye hospital in Madurai redefined the process because he had bigger ambition and set very high productivity numbers. Now they have given vision to millions of people. Even though they charge only nominal fees  and continue to give free service to poor people, they could make some profit. This is the power of redefining the way we work. If there is a will, there is a way. We cannot wait for everyone to change the culture and thinking before we can start implementing the system. Instead we need to implement the system thinking to empower people to self-manage, take control and naturally change them for delivering high value.

When the top management realize that there is no significant improvement in per person productivity and business profitability, they will stop funding the initiatives. Finally, we start blaming the top for not supporting the initiatives.

If you are not successful in your KM, change the means and align your actions towards the desired end goal. To change the way we communicate, we should slowly plan to shutdown the outdated communication technologies. To dramatically bring down the search time, we must change the way we organize knowledge and access them without having to search.

We cannot keep both old and new roads open and expect all the people take the new road suddenly. At some point in time, we need to block the old road (old thinking) that is taking the organization no where. Keep on educating the knowledge workers will only lead to frustrations. If there are multiple options to do the same in different ways, the people should be exposed to those options so that they can decide based on the need. If anyone who gets deeply buried into the old way of doing something without delivering the desired outcome, then it requires special and personal attention.

At some point in time, we need to raise the performance benchmarks and very clearly define the purpose of each and every employee in the organization. If we explain in the right tone on why we have to raise the bar on their performance level and if we empower them with the right tool, then they will start to change. Many a times it is not the culture but the lack of right tool & approach become the roadblock for adoption of new systems and practices. If we expect people to save time on getting the right information on time, we cannot ask them to go through 15 tools to access the fifteen information silos. Even the sensible and energetic person will get frustrated and stop using those disconnected point solutions. Imagine asking Sachin to hit century by giving him ten different types of bats. Even if there are high performers like Sachin, we cannot give them the wrong or too many tools and expect them to perform at their best.

As Steven Covey says, “start with the end in mind”. To successfully reach the end we have in mind, we need to embrace right means and manage them well for a great success. Every way has a destination and it is up to us to decide which destination we need to reach and smartly choose the right way and right approach to get there.

To know more about the KM platforms and practices for various functions and industries, read the other blog posts in this site. You can also visit http://www.lpcube.com to know more about the solutions.


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Transforming Banking

Bank that manages the money with greatest level of collective smartness can make more money for them as well as to their customers.  The success of any bank depends only on how well the collective knowledge is created and leveraged. In an interview with The-Week (May 22, 2005) Rana Kapoor, MD of Yes Bank has said, “Banks are not really bringing knowledge to the table. Banks need to look at industries that are building and have built global competitive advantage, create domain knowledge and use that to create superior mind space for customers to get a grater share of the business pie”.

In some countries, there is a complete change in banking due to deregulation that brings more players and more choices to the  customers. Only speed, quality of customer service, differentiation and unique way of making money can bring more customers. Banks must develop competency through unlearning and learning to compete in this new environment. If banks do not address the competency gap for delivering banking excellence, they will be left out.

How to Transform?

As per Kogut (2000), ““Banking management is trying with the utmost capacity to capture, manage and construct suitable information into its organizational knowledge to improve the quality of its operations. Eventually, this will enhance the rules of modern banking institutions in the economy”.

The solution for addressing all these challenges is empowering the bank through right people, process and technology based systems. In this regard, we would like to suggest the following six smart steps to make knowledge an integral part of banking.

1. Organize all the knowledge related to banking processes, guidelines, products, customers, portfolios, opportunities, investment strategy & risks and ultimately make it available to right people in a secured way.

  • Provide easy access to banking standards, regulatory and legal details of all countries.
  • Information audit trail to keep track of dissemination of changes for getting up-to-date & timely information.
  • Manage circulars through smart, fool-proof & knowledge base driven communication model to ensure that all the employees are very well informed on all activities and changes.

2. Interact to harness the collective knowledge related to managing portfolios, mitigating risks, solving issues and ultimately to taking the right decision towards highest ROI possible.

  • Establish a connected workplace to link banking employees across branches, offices and countries and drive interaction & collective working through sophisticated platforms.
  • Capture, discuss and analyze lessons learned in successful and failed investments to avoid repetition of mistakes.
  • Proactively identify and get into new opportunities and manage all the risks through collective experience and wisdom.
  • Provide platform to facilitate financial analysis and collaborative business intelligence (BI) to ensure that data is turned into knowledge and knowledge into meaningful business actions.

Personal and emotional decisions and decisions taken with partial knowledge will only make banking risky. Conservative banking is not going to help the bank grow in any way.

3. Think in team to democratize innovation for effectively embracing new trends in banking. Ideas and new thinking can be implemented in day to day work.

  • Portfolio management teams can share their ideas to identify new investment opportunities and grow in this highly competitive marketplace.
  • Product teams can invent new products and market them perfectly through collective thinking to capture more mind and market share.
  • Process team can think towards transforming the process for high efficiency and effectiveness that will give the ability to compete.
  • Tellers and customer facing teams can think about better and faster response. Some of them can share their wisdoms on great customer service.
  • Banking technology team can think about better tools for improving usability and enriching banking operation.

4. Learn perfectly in line with the personal and organizational objectives to build the high performance banking team through effectively delivering the domain, operational and technical knowledge. Smart banking needs smart team empowered by collective knowledge and best practices.

  • Big changes such as adhering to the new banking standards & policies will cost banks so much of money if they continue to drive the learning in a traditional way. To drive growth, it is necessary to drive systematic self-learning through highly secured and personalized information access to digitized document, web links, video and audio library.
  • Ensure smartness in banking and drive learning in a cost-effective way across geographical boundaries through perfect Organization-wide learning delivery.
  • Provide high visibility into learning activities, skills gap and skills development and certify the people through quick & easy assessment.

Imparting knowledge such as international trade finance, new auditing standards, regulatory changes, trade law etc., lead to high cost. Hence it is necessary to embrace new model for effective learning. Many banks and financial institutions got stuck at traditional training model that can never scale up to the ambitious growth plans of banks. It is time to make that change to ensure that the bank becomes a learning organization.

5. Perform through optimized processes and align the right talent for the tasks on hand to deliver at the collective best. Financial performance will be directly proportional to how we build the right team for managing money and empower them to perform smartly.

  • Systematically manage team competency plan, skills inventory, analyze gap and align them to right talent in the pool or drive recruitment.
  • All activities need to be scientifically managed to maximize productivity and improve organizational excellence.
  • People at the bottom of the pyramid should get visibility into what they need to do and how best it can be done by leveraging the collective organizational knowledge.
  • People at the middle of the pyramid should scientifically manage the knowledge assets including people and maximize the outcome without stress.

6. Measure the return on investment and drive the progress of transformation in banking through systematic change management.

  • Define the key performance indicators in all banking operations to monitor the progress and gaps.
  • Monitor customer satisfaction. The quality of the banking service is directly proportional to the collective smartness.
  • Provide great visibility into top management to facilitate decision making and drive right strategy for growth.
  • Address the resistance to change through system thinking and perfectly communicate to create awareness among the employees.

Conclusion

As per the case study on The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd, “Many banks do not document the processes that lead up to closing a deal with the customer. That means that know-how such as how to interact with the customer, what information to obtain and what proposals to make to successfully conclude the deal has not been formulated into tangible knowledge. Needless to say, this type of knowledge is most useful to our frontline employees. So, for Project OPEN we needed a system that transforms that valuable information into explicit knowledge and shares it across branches and organizations smoothly.”

If BTM can benefit from systematic knowledge-driven approach to manage banking, am sure any bank can become smarter through institutionalizing knowledge. Our mind needs to be sharp when comes to managing money. No matter how much money a bank has, it should focus on systematically embracing knowledge and making more money through smart investments. Otherwise, the customers will go away because there will be more choices in this competitive world.

Solution

You can embrace Lpcube GreatWork – a complete end-to-end workplace transformation solution – to transform your bank. It can change the way the banking employees think, learn and perform. To know more, kindly contact greatwork@lpcube.com.


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Driving Business Through Smart Customer Service

During the last 10 years, there was huge growth in consumer market. It also gave birth to too many competitors within and across the categories. Companies must be smart enough to support their customers. There are many platforms available such as twitter, facebook and wordpress to express both the positive and negative experiences. Before I placed the order for my car, I did go through tweets and blogs and asked the people I know about the product & service issues.

Let me share some of my uncomfortable experiences as consumer. Once I took my device to the service centre. For a simple problem, the support person asked me to remove all the data from my device so that they can completely reinstall everything from scratch. I asked them why you need to make it too complicated for such a simple issue. That person kept saying the same thing repeatedly like a broken audio record. This dumb interaction depicted a bad image in my mind about the company. I got frustrated and came back home without leaving my device there.

After coming back home, I started browsing the web and found the solution for it. Within 10 minutes, I installed that patch and made the problem disappear. This is the power of the support knowledge base that looks much smarter than the support person. I only wondered how come they did not get access to such knowledge base. For such a simple problem, why should I leave my device there and end up spending a day or two to install the additional software that I have installed in that device.

Recently I took my digital camera to the service centre for replacing the broken lens. They told me that it will cost about 200 dollars to fix it without even knowing that the brand new camera with better feature is less than 200 dollars. Are they really dumb or don’t know how to just replace the lens? Where is the repairing model heading to? What kind of customer service model we are heading to? If this component replacement model that are as expensive as the brand new device is going to be the way of customer support, then why would customers visit the service centres?

Many a times, I have seen that the support persons are not smart enough to understand the issues and suggest solution quickly. You call it attrition or lack of experience. As a customer, we don’t want to see and understand those reasons. We just need solution to our issues at the fastest time and optimum price possible.

Once I reported about a problem with my network. You will not believe I explained same problem to 10 different people 10 times and finally our problem is not solved. Then we switched to a different service provider. Since then we are with them. Any organization that is not capable of collectively responding to customers to maintain highest level of quality and speed will be no more in this competitive landscape.

All our inefficiency in solving problems and responding to customers are added to the service cost (or AMC). Any organization that is capable of eliminating all the inefficiencies will be able to serve the customers at the lowest support cost. Then, you know where the customers will go to for giving more business.

Summary of Challenges

  • Reinvention and repetition of costly mistakes drains organizational energy
  • Slow response to customer issues due to lack of reusability
  • Poor memory related to past interactions with customers
  • Difficulties in finding the right solution at the right time
  • Inefficient access to the collective knowledge base due to disorganized knowledge
  • Lack of coordination among the team members due to the absence of systematic collaboration

Solution

An integrated and comprehensive model for linking support process, collaboration, learning and quality management helps optimize the support process and leverage quality talents for faster and effective response to customers. Entire support team needs to be trained through scalable learning model to dramatically bring down the cost of learning while enhancing the competency level.

Ensuring that the support model is highly scalable, optimum and consistent across the organization is critical for success in today’s business environment. Support team must be able to leverage their true potential and collective experience to respond to the customer needs on time. Ultimately, it helps minimize the cost and maximize both productivity and quality of support.

Key Functions

  • Support Knowledge Bank to manage the complete learning (self, collaborative, organizational)
  • Ask the Expert to spot the right talent, interact with experts, gain knowledge and find the solutions
  • Option to align right experts to the issues and tools for monitoring the responsiveness
  • Self-service support system for the customers to report and find solution without interacting with the support team
  • Virtual support team across the globe empowered by the common system and knowledge base
  • Support Team & Scheduling to align right talent to the issues for timely completion
  • Smart Communication system that replaces email and provide right mechanism to interact with customers, partners and team members
  • Smart Solution Delivery through collective working and common knowledge base
  • Support Dashboard & Scorecard to monitor the personal & team progress and gaps if any
  • Quick report for the top management to see the health of the support function and to quick insight into customer satisfaction
  • Quality management systems to define, communicate, monitor and refine the processes & solutions
  • Partner connect to bring partners into the support network and help them deliver quality support to the customers
  • Align individual performance gap to one-to-one learning to ensure that the mistakes will not be repeated
  • Monitor personal productivity and team deliverables in line with the demand to systematically plan for team expansion and reallocation through multi-skilling
  • Reporting on the SLA to help the team monitor their performance in line with the SLA commitments
  • Collective ownership through knowledge sharing and access to all the insights on and interactions with a particular customer to avoid finger pointing

The Next Phase of Outsourcing

Many companies outsourced their support function to dramatically bring down cost through salary arbitrage. As the salary gap has come down and competition for outsourcing has increased, there is a huge pressure to deliver great support with further reduction in the support cost and time.

Considering the fact that the salaries are increasing, it is impossible to bring down the cost without focusing on the platform for empowering the support team to deliver the smartest way possible.

Driving Business Growth

Customer satisfaction is the biggest driver of growth in business. If your customers are happy, they will be your sales people. If your customers share their positive experience with people around them, they can win you more deals than your dedicated sales team. Ensure that your support model is smart and efficient to make your customers extremely happy. Embrace system thinking to become smart.

To know more about the key functionalities, check out http://www.lpcube.com/wise/support. To learn more about implementing and embracing the support knowledge management system contact us at greatwork@lpcube.com.

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