Thursday, July 29, 2010

Conversation with Gen Y

Last Thursday I was invited to be in a panel discussion at one of our local university. The topic was ‘Peranan Perpustakaan Di Dalam Memertabatkan Ilmu.’ I was asked to speak and discuss from KM point of view in corporate environment.  I basically was ever ready and did not need to prepare much. While driving and even more when I was already seated on the stage facing the audience it was confirmed that the majority of them was students, college students. I immediately had to change to plan B. The first panel speaker was Dato Zawiyah and she delivered her piece like she normally did.  After ten minutes into it the first line of students in front of me on the left were already in never never land. A few more in the middle rows on the left of the hall were in their dreams as well. Students at the back in the last row as expected were the first group to go oblivious of the going on’s in the hall. I knew they were there not on their free will and some of them can be very well very tired. I had to take the advantage of their present and make it count.  When Dato Zawiyah ended and the microphone was passed to me the first thing that I did was aligned my chair so that I was really facing them. I sat leaning forward a bit talking to them as if they were right in front of me and my eyes moved all over the hall as I was talking. After I thanked the organiser for inviting me I focused my full attention at the students. With my direct to the point and shooting at will framing them that I knew what they were and think I got their full attention. Most of them were awake as if being jolted to full attention. I knew I had their full attention to start the conversation. Firstly, I said to them that if any of them still in doubt about knowledge economy needed only to take out their handphone at look at it.

Relating my experience interviewing the straight A’s students coming through our system I said, ‘I must say I was disappointed.’ I alluded to the fact that when I talked to these graduates it was like talking to a machine. One line answer without much discussion and most a text book answers. I continued with my version of memertabatkan ilmu. I seem to get their full attention by way of a delivery. Maybe a shock treatment way. My objective was to urge them to be knowledgeable (berilmu) rather than just clever at their subject. They needed to be reminded that the whole world is revolving around them and they need ot learn to connect the dots. In of the ways, as their entire growing ups had been, social and community in nature. This is the irony to me. They live in a very connected and social world but do not act and think likewise when it comes to making what they have learned more meaningful and comprehensive. I shared with them a little bit what it means to be a knowledge worker as well as my organization as a knowledge-based organization. I was pretty sure when I talked about it about more then half did not have a clue to what I was talking about. Within ten minutes I just stopped talking and urged them to start to converse with us.

Questions started to come led by one planted by the organiser. I must say all the questions are good questions. Although we did not achieve the level of full conversation at least we managed to cover the important issues. One observation though, because of their immaturity and wanting to stake a claim at being the most could not care less macho jocks in campus, most of the Malay boys just sat without showing any commitment. It could be just my perception but then that was what I saw.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On The Train, July 23, 2010

‘Tren ke Seremabn telah mengalami kelewatan. Tren ke Seremaban sekarang ini berada di stesyen Segambut. KTMB memohon maaf di atas kelewatan.’ Nothing new there. In fact  it is expected on Friday evening and a culture for KTMB already.

Just now a colleague remarked that somebody telah meriwayatkan kepada beliau that whenever I got on the train I would straight away either open my laptop to do something or  my book to read. Well, yes that is my nature and I have been doing it for 6 years already. I would blog, do some work or now reading using my laptop. Books I have still a lot to finish so that would be a never ending story for me. In fact I am thinking one of these days I would just board a train on one Saturday or Sunday morning and started to read or write until the last station, Tg Malim. Maybe in the future all the way to Ipoh on the new express train. 

We were held up at KL Sentral and I was not bothered to find out why. I kept my head down concentrating of my reading and writing. The situation got worst with more commuters trying to squeeze in. Once in a while I over heard agitated voices asking people to move in and pleading reply saying that there was no more room for even a skeleton. I just smiled. It did not get any better at MidValley as well as Bandar Tasek Selatan. Lucky for me I was in the mood to read and write.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

On The Train, July 16, 2010

I was reading a live Facebook updates between my two office colleagues who  were in their cars on the way home. They were discussing about the Friday evening traffic crawl and one of them was unlucky enough to be stuck in one nasty traffic jam. I jumped in the conversation by way of a question, ‘Train anyone?’. One of them replied. ‘ Train tak jem tapi dalam train jem En G’. She was of course right especially on Friday evening. The train would normally be like a can of sardine. That was one of the reason why I was still in the office then. You would have a comfortable ride home if you catch a train after 1900. I replied with a joke, ‘Bukan jem tapi tapai, durian and all the perfume made in B....... BTW I am immune to all that already.’ Which is true as well. After all this while I am immune to all the possibilities in the train. I am only, after trying very hard not to, but still amaze at the antics of KTMB. 
Going home today I got a seat straight away when I boarded the 2035 train that was late as usual very late. At Mid Valley it was solid packed. Lucky for me around me was a smell of a very expensive perfume. I am immune to that as well but this one was very nice. A lot of chattering today, mostly students going home for the weekends. Maybe going home after some shopping to furnish their dorm/room with new mattress for the new semester :)). Two of them were standing in front of me holding a mattress each. A student sitting in front of me was like me writing something, my guess his assignment, on his note pad. Are the commuters getting intellectual? Maybe, transportation of choice for students? Are students established customer segment for KTMB? There are only a few commuters like me and I guess KTMB should know better. Or maybe this is too complex for them?

Monday, July 12, 2010

In The Class, July 10, 2010

I arrived early for my first IGS class.  I am going to be here from 0900 to 1800. Who ever designed this seminar series need to go back to adult learning methodology course. Unless the would be lecturer allow at least four breaks in between. How could you design a straight 4 hours class per segment.
I waited until 0905 when a gentleman showed up to try the locked door. He turned to me indicating ‘no show’. He mentioned that the class has been moved to another place. I could not but be amazed at the fallacy of human communication skill and customer relationship yet again. I am very sad and angry that this is still happening at UiTM. How in the world could they fathom that we will know where the class is? What is the use of the website and our emails? I know my role as a student I checked, double checked and called to make sure I got the latest information. Another two ladies showed up and they similarly told us that they probably moved the class to Section 17. One of them called their colleague that was already at Section 17 and he/she was also wondering whether or not he/she was at the right place. Interesting!? We waited for awhile deciding our next action. In the end we decided to convoy to Section 17 and ended inside Anggerik Lecture Hall 15 minutes late. I was lucky the three guys were with me if not I would surely missed the class. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

On The Train (Now, today KTMB said the cable was stolen), July 9, 2010

Ha ha ha he he he he this morning KTMB said it was due to a stolen cable. A punk or two decided to steal a cable, which one I am not sure, somewhere at Bank Negara station rendering one line dead. I almost choke with laughter when I heard that as the reason of us being delayed at KL Sentral this morning. Well, it could be true and damn to the thieves or vandals but, again, this is not something new! How in the world KTMB allow that happen! I finally reached my station at 0800 after one an a half hour on the train. I was not late for work but others were. and I am very sure they were cursing KTMB all the way to the office. 

On The Train (KTMB said it was broken cable), July 7, 2010

It was a broken cable between Salak Selatan and Serdang today. The announcer said ‘a cable snapped’ and I surely do not know because of what? Fallen trees? No I did not see any trees along the tracks around the area. Cable pole came a ground? No, I do not think so. So it just snapped then. Just like the civet (Musang Pandan) that decided to fall off through the ceiling in my office yesterday. Well that’s another interesting story. Luckily for me I was in the mood to read and write. As I sat down reading and writing I could feel the unpleasant feeling among most commuters around me. A gentleman next to me occupied himself, engrossed, reading a novel.  A 45 minutes journey became almost two hours.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Innovation - Robert B. Tucker. Istana Hotel, June 28, 2010

Over the weekend I visited iCity at Shah Alam with my family. My daughter asked me what is the ‘i’ in the iCity stand for? I started to play with the letter ‘i’ to get myself to decipher what word it represents. Of course it is ‘i’ for Innovation, Innovation city. Their intention is good but I am not sure the implementation is right. At first when I saw the light trees there I thought they were made out of LCD or LED lights. On closer look they were from different sizes of normal light bulbs. Well they were still creative but I am not sure I could say innovative as well.

Today I attended a ‘Guru Talk on Innovation’ and the Guru was Robert B. Tucker. Well, I reserved my comment of the guru thing.

According to the ‘Guru’

Lightning might strike but you need to work at being innovative and a certain framework and processes need to be in place for it to happen. You could guess that the Guru came with his trademarked framework. No, I have no complaint on that but if we were to be honest with ourselves it is quiet common and the bottomline is to do it. Lets walk the innovation talk.

According to materials provided the best practices for innovation
  1. Making innovation a systematic process
  2. Implementation idea management system
  3. Collaboration with stakeholders
  4. Creating metrics and measures
  5. Involving everyone in the organization
In the business world there are three types of Innovation from the perspective of Products, Process, Strategy and they are;
  • Breakthrough
  • Substantial
  • Incremental
One thing I like most about being innovative is the statement ‘Innovation is about collaborating and collaborating is additive’.

Robert shared with us what he thinks as the required innovation skills.
  1. Embracing opportunities
  2. Be a good collaborator, leaders in Collaboration
  3. Assault your assumptions - Become aware of your own assumptions, Ask five ‘why’ questions, Ask for a 3rd option, Look for solutions outside your industry, Invite yourself to think bigger
  4. Passion for the stakeholders
  5. Think ahead of the curve and the tools are Technological, Demographic, Social, Economics, Environmental, Regulatory
Take Home Values
  • Look for patterns of change
  • Audit your information diet
  • Do ‘ deep dives’ on emerging issues
  • Improve your networking skills
  • Host ‘all things considered’ meetings
  • Fortify your idea factory
  • Harvest for ideas
  • Identify what gets your creative juices flowing
‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist when they grow up.’ - Pablo Picasso

Let’s try to help KTMB to make our ride On The Train to be a bit better, June 24, 2010

I was not even out of my office building yet when somebody mentioned to me about the bad news regarding the Komuter service. The person is a regular commuter like me and according to her, her friend said that one of the electrical wires broke into two somewhere between Segambut and KL station rendered one line ceased to be operable. She was walking to the station to confirm the news and for her to take alternative to go home. She was complaining that she has a monthly ticket and if KTMB continued to behave this way she going to be at the losing end. So I was not surprise when I saw the crowds moving and coming from the same direction. As I was thinking of what to do an announcement came on air about the mishap and delays. The announcer also mentioned that who ever wish to continue with the journey their ticket will be refunded and with that I straight away decided to take the STAR LRT to Petaling. I queued up at the counter and got my RM4 refund. This morning the line between KL and Segambut was still not ready and a lot of people were late for work.

Let’s try to dissect the problem and maybe, just maybe, we could offer KTMB a solution. First of all from the six years experience that I have taken the Komuter Train service all their problems that I had faced were not new problems. Meaning that they have had experience on almost everything happening within this year before. From learning perspective they should have learned from all these experiences and be better equip to anticipate and deal with the problems but this did not happen. Why?

They do not now how to learn?
The have issue with knowledge flow so much so the lessons learned were not shared?
Not enough opportunity to share because of structure, culture or process?

Truly, most adults take for granted that since they are adults they know how to learn. In actual fact they do not have a clue. KTMB need to find out if this is so within it’s organization. How to learn properly is important in terms of comprehension and retention. The capacity to learn is also as important as ability to learn. Most need to understand both of these first in order to know what proper learning is. If you are a baby boomer highly likely you would not have a clue about this unless you read and learn about it. Taking into consideration the population of the staff of KTMB especially the technical section that mostly deals with the current situation they are facing. Learning style, retention and the way learning is design and deliver are very important for them. I am beginning to wonder what sort of learning and training intervention they provide at their Batu Gajah Training Centre?

Or maybe with all the learnings they had from dealing with the day to day problems and issues just stuck with few people in the organization and the learnings were not being shared enough. This could happen due to several reasons for them. The technical knowledge were not captured properly and thus not many know the knowledge exist within the organization. Maybe it is due to the knowledge are not flowing far and deep enough in the organization. There is a bottle neck or stopper somewhere along the line of their knowledge flow value chain. The barrier could be a person, social network or process and the three may have a connection to the culture of the organization.

If all these are not the problem then it is just a case of not enough opportunities exist or being created for them to share ‘war stories’ easily in the organization.