1. It’s not how much you practise, but how often

    February 12, 2017 by ahmed

    practise

    Like many people, I like to make resolutions at the start of new year. New Scientist reported that only 10% of the resolutions made in January will survive until December. In many instances, it is because new habits were not formed so we can make the necessary changes to our lives.Lots of my resolutions involve learning new things – a language, a new way that I want to behave, a craft I have always wanted to master. I am not alone in saying that I don’t achieve mastery for every resolution that I’ve made over the years, and it’s not without the best intentions.

    Psychologist, Ebbinghaus observed that once we learn something, without practice we soon forget.

    Did you know that 70% of what you learn is lost within 24 hours after learning without practice?

    In 2008 psychologists at Carnegie Mellon University discovered that if you test your knowledge regularly at carefully timed and ever expanding intervals, new knowledge will be retained. The good news is that there is an easy way to retain 70% of what you have learnt for the long term. ?

    information-remembered

    How do you do this? The research suggests that to learn new things, you need to be able to recall and regularly use what you have learnt.

    But what happens if you take a break and don’t use this knowledge often? Will you forget? How long have you got before you need to completely re-learn what you have lost?

    he Carnegie Mellon psychologists found that to retain 70% of what you have learnt you need to practice within 1 hour after receiving the information, and then again after 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, and then after 6 months.

    My advice is, when planning to learn anything new that you want to become competent in, answer the following questions first,

    • Will I need to use this knowledge within the next few months?
    • Do I have time to practice within 1 day following the learning?
    • Will I be able to practice, or apply this new knowledge 1 week, 1 month and 6 months following the learning?

    Unless you answered yes to all, you may be wasting effort and you should change your current plan.

    This article has been provided by Michael Voss, Owner of PYXIS & Associate Consultant of COER (Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, NZ)


  2. 5th International Best Practice Competition – 2nd Call for Entries

    February 2, 2017 by ahmed

    The Best Practice Competition, will be held in Mumbai, India, 25/26th April 2017 courtesy of BestPrax Club. The competition serves as a unique opportunity to share and learn best practices from around the globe.

    Have a think about what systems, processes and practices your organisation does well and submit an entry by the 1st of March 2017 to participate in the 2nd call for entries. If successful you will be asked to share your best practice in an 8 minute presentation on the 25/26th April 2017, Mumbai, India.

    The winners of the International Best Practice Competition in 2015 were Al Jazeera International Catering LLC, UAE with a best practice titled ‘Our Planet – Our Responsibility‘. and Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services (DCAS), UAE, with a best practice titled ‘Cultural Sensitivity Gives Birth to a Maternity Care‘.


  3. Future uncertain? Focus on efficiency, stewardship

    January 22, 2017 by ahmed

    efficiency

    Posted on Blogrige by Dawn Marie Bailey

    With new policies and directions from an incoming Presidential administration, and the news media theorizing about uncertain futures for organizations across the economic spectrum, U.S. organizations, more than ever, need to ensure that they are efficient and effective with their resources and, most importantly, are providing real value to their customers.For example, in a recent Becker’s Hospital Review article, Cleveland Clinic CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove warned U.S. hospitals that they must focus on efficiency in order to prevent hospital closures, especially as a potential new health care delivery system may cause changes and consolidations in the insurance industry.

    The Baldrige Excellence Framework’s focus on results provides a natural guide for organizations on how to be efficient and effective. The framework and its Criteria lead an organization to examine itself from three viewpoints: the external view (How do your customers and other stakeholders view you?), the internal view (How efficient and effective are your operations?), and the future view (Is your organization learning and growing?).

    This blog focuses on that internal view and how Baldrige and its resources can help—and have helped—organizations ensure that they are efficient and effective with their resources. And along those lines of being efficient and effective with resources, is being a good steward of those resources.

    Stewardship can be defined as the care, conservancy, planning, attention, upkeep, and management of resources, whether they be financial, labor, or other type. And any organization that is not a good steward of its resources—including the resource of taxpayer dollars for government agencies—may find that those resources may not be there much longer. According to the Baldrige framework, for nonprofit organizations that serve as stewards of public funds, stewardship of those funds and transparency in operations are especially important areas of emphasis.

    This blog compiles stories of ways that the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria have helped U.S. organizations to be aligned, agile, and good stewards of their resources by listening to the voices of their customers and by taking intelligent risks to ensure future success. All of this leads not only to sustainability but, most importantly, creates value for customers, patients, students, and other stakeholders.

    Could Baldrige Help Detroit?” explores how the Baldrige Criteria focused Award recipients on treating their city governments as businesses—forcing them to consider financial stewardship, strategic priorities, customer engagement, and all the other considerations that must be addressed to keep a business sustainable.

    In “Orchestra Faces Bankruptcy, Meets Baldrige, Brings Beautiful Music Back to Life,” the New Mexico Philharmonic was able to consolidate its resources by using Baldrige guidelines to become process-based and bring effective business management to the endeavor. Along the way, the orchestra even became a good steward of its gift of music and education, which was shared with economically challenged public school students.

    Baldrige and Strategic Planning/Budgeting” explains how a town used the Baldrige Criteria to conduct its strategic planning and budgeting processes, adopting a balanced scorecard to improve its performance measurement and management. For this achievement, the town was honored by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

    In “How a Charity is Using Baldrige to Serve the Blind,” the Blind Foundation of India has used the Baldrige Criteria as a way to ensure optimum efficiency and effectiveness—serving over 15 million blind people and raising over $4 million.

    For Manufacturers, Baldrige Could be the ‘Cure’ for Focusing on the Future” tells the stories of how small and large manufacturers used the Baldrige Criteria to weather multiple recessions and come out stronger than competitors.

    Creating an Organizational Scorecard for the United States Golf Association” outlines how the USGA was inspired from the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to create an organizational scorecard to align metrics to key customers and the strategic plan.

    One Way to Carve Your Values—and Culture—in Stone” tells the story of how one Baldrige Award winner literally cemented the values of its employees in the culture in order to be a good steward of its internal resources.


  4. A successful first year for Dubai We Learn

    December 14, 2016 by ahmed

    This first year of “Dubai We Learn – Knowledge Sharing and Innovation Initiative” came to an end in October 2016. This initiative, for government entities in Dubai, has seen the Dubai Government Excellence Program (DGEP) and COER working closely together to deliver a range of knowledge sharing and organisational learning activities designed to fast-track organisational improvement and stimulate innovation.

    On 5 October 2016, the first wave of 13 benchmarking projects were concluded. Each project team gave a presentation and submitted a benchmarking report which was assessed by an expert panel. Three of the teams achieved a 7 Star recognition according to the new assessment system with all teams achieving certification at the Benchmarking Proficiency Level (an admirable achievement within one year). Initial results from the 7 Star projects are highlighted in the table below.

    dwl 7 stars

    COER’s TRADE Best Practice Benchmarking Methodology and BPIR.com were the key tools supporting the projects.

    TRADE

    dwl02dwl01The photo to the left shows Dr Ahmad Al Nuseirat, Coordinator-General, DGEP (2nd to the left), Dr Zeyad Mohammad El Kahlout, Quality and Excellence Advisor, DGEP (far left), Dr Robin Mann, Director, COER (centre) with His Excellency Abdulla Abdul Rahman Al Shaibani – Secretary General of the Executive Council of Dubai (far right). All of these people, along with Ahmed Abbas, Senior Benchmarking Researcher, COER, (photo above with Dr. Omer Al Sakaf who was the Team Leader for the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Service’s project) played a vital role in the success of the program.

     

    dwl03The expert panel consisted of Arndt Husar, Deputy Director, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, Singapore (left side of photo), Professor Dotun Adebanjo, University of Greenwich, London (right side of photo), and Dr Robin Mann.

    An overview of the 7 Stars stars Dubai We Learn projects

    The 7 Stars projects are described below. Information on the other projects is shown here.

    Dubai Municipality

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    The project aim was to increase the percentage of processed purchase requisitions from 74% to 85% within a target of 20 days, thereby improving the overall throughput of the purchasing channels.

    The team conducted an in-depth study of their current procurement system and performance using process analysis tools such as workload analysis, value stream analysis, an influence-interest matrix, customer segmentation, fishbone diagram, process flowchart analysis and waste analysis. As a result of this analysis, a number of areas for improvement were identified. These included the ensuring of correctly detailed technical specifications, how to quickly evaluate potential suppliers for technical purchases, and how to automate these processes.

    During the Acquire stage, the team collected more than 55 improvement ideas gained from the learning from benchmarking partners and the team’s own ideas. The team integrated these ideas and practices into a total of 5 main best practices for implementation. One of the best practices relating to contracts was parked under a new benchmarking project so that its feasibility could be further investigated.

    The actual outcome of the project exceeded expectations; from 85% of purchase requisitions to be completed within 20 days as the original aim, to an actual performance of 97% of purchase requisitions completed within 12.2 days. Finally, at the Evaluate stage of the project, Dubai Municipality calculated their savings to be in excess of US$600,000 per year.

    Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA)

    dwl04b

    The aim of the KHDA project was to identify and implement best practices to increase people happiness. Prior to this project, KHDA was in the top 15% of organisations for employee happiness, based on an independent international measure. It was therefore a challenging task to improve its already very strong position.

    During the Research stage of TRADE, the team reviewed its current performance and challenges associated with people happiness. Specific areas to focus on during the benchmarking exercise were determined by the lowest scoring attributes in a Happiness @ Work Survey. This resulted in focusing on more specific areas such as employee well-being and work-life balance.

    One of the unique features of how KHDA utilises its resources is the way it leverages off planned business trips to obtain benchmarking information. For example, when some of the senior management team travelled to the United States to attend a conference the benchmarking team took advantage of this opportunity. They scheduled a number of benchmarking visits for their senior managers to acquire best practices on people happiness. As a result, the benchmarking team acquired many best practices through site visits both internationally and locally, in addition to obtaining best practices through internet research.

    Some of the practices targeted the improvement of the work environment such as the renovation of the 5th floor of their building. The photos show the new design with the work desks/areas intermingled with the sports apparatus and the presentation/meeting room designed to encourage openness and harmony. Renovation of the 5th floor was already planned before the benchmarking study began but the study enabled enhancements to be made.

    khda

    Other practices targeted improving employees’ well-being, such as encouraging employees to participate in fitness classes and external sports activates such as the “Walk for Education 2016”, “Race for Good”, “Good Move Dubai”, “Spartan”, and the “Vertical Marathon”. There were also practices targeting transparency such as “Open board meetings” where the monthly board meetings become open to all employees with the meeting agenda shared in advance. Another practice being piloted is a move from a traditional management hierarchy to “holocracy”, a new peer-to-peer “operating system” that increases transparency, accountability, and organisational agility. The benchmarking team also, within the one year time frame, introduced the “School of Hearts” to measure student happiness at schools in Dubai. The survey reached out to more than 40 schools and 9,000 students.

    Dubai Statistics Center (DSC)

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    The aim of DSC’s project was to identify best practices in Innovation to enable DSC to develop and implement a strategy for innovation to improve its processes and services.

    DSC started its project by undertaking a number of innovation self-assessments (three of the four were from the www.BPIR.com). DSC found the self-assessment titled “Innovation Maturity (organisation-wide)” the most comprehensive and useful. The self-assessments enabled DSC to identify both its current level of innovation maturity and specific improvement needs. The specific improvement needs were innovation strategies, innovation measurement, innovation labs, suggestion schemes and innovative statistical information delivery.

    During the search for potential benchmarking partners, DSC used the identified areas of improvement as the criteria for selecting benchmarking partners. For example, DSC searched for organisations with an innovation strategy that resulted in an innovative culture.

    DSC conducted benchmarking visits to four organisations locally and obtained many best practices through internet research. They were able to identify nearly 60 improvement ideas. In the Deploy stage they were able to implement a number of best practices in readiness for certification to the innovation management standard TS 16555-1. The suggestion scheme was improved and awareness initiatives enhanced. DSC gained international recognition for its improvement in its innovation capabilities by winning the Most Innovative Company of the Year in the Middle East and Africa at the International Business Awards.

    Future activity

    Due to the success of Dubai We Learn, a 2nd wave of benchmarking projects will start in early 2017. Dubai government entities may join the 2nd wave of projects through contacting Dr. Zeyad Mohammad El Kahlout, Quality and Excellence Advisor, Dubai Government Excellence Program, The General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Dubai, Zeyad.ElKahlout@tec.gov.ae.


  5. 5 (budget) hacks for building amazing office culture

    November 22, 2016 by ahmed

    3x9 PLANNING & DESIGN

    Originally posted on LinkedIn by Ryan Holmes

    To be honest, my first office wasn’t much to look at. In fact, it wasn’t an office at all. It was my loft apartment in Vancouver. There wasn’t a fancy coffee machine or a foosball table or even a real desk to work at. But there was a rooftop patio – a little space where my tiny team and I could retreat to after work, to have a drink and admire the view. To this day, I’m convinced that that rooftop, and the culture it created, was one of the main reasons they stuck around.

    The phrase company culture is used so often that it can feel like an empty buzzword. But culture is what inspires employees to come to work, and to work hard. It’s what differentiates you from all the competitors out there, selling the same products in the same space. It’s the extra gas in the tank that helps you weather the bad times and excel during the good times.

    Some elements of culture are deep and sacred: the values and mission that underlie whatever it is you sell or make. Others represent a real – and important – investment: benefits and options plans, company retreats, sleek offices, etc.

    But building culture doesn’t always have to entail a huge cost or commitment. In fact, some of the most powerful culture-building tools are essentially DIY hacks. Hootsuite now has around 1,000 employees and we help more than 800 of the Fortune 1000 companies manage their social media. Pretty much everything has changed since those early days. But one constant has been finding creative ways to cultivate culture, without breaking the bank. Here’s a look at some of the most effective tools we’ve found over the years:

    The rooftop patio principle: After my first experience with a rooftop patio, I was hooked. My second office had one and, when we outgrew that, so did my third. These weren’t fancy spots, by any measure (and they didn’t add much to our leasing costs). But they did offer a space to retreat to that wasn’t a workspace. I think having this kind of safe zone completely changes how people interact and blends the lines between office and life (which is one of the real secrets of great culture).

    The rooftops became the scene of impromptu lunches and after-work beers. They hosted parties and off-kilter competitions. They offered a refuge from the pressures of growing a company and a place to let off steam. I was reminded how important this principle is recently when our London office finally graduated to a new space with an expansive rooftop patio. Suddenly, they’re hanging out after work and gelling as a team. At the end of the day, just putting a keg beside your desk doesn’t make a party. A dedicated space can make all the difference.

    The company that eats together, stays together: Food is a natural bridge builder. But company dinners, especially when you grow to a certain size, can get prohibitively expensive. Not to mention, when you’re stuck at a table it can be a challenge to mix and mingle, which kind of defeats the purpose. We overcame this early on with a pot-luck style strategy that brought together the joys of eating with the thrill of competition: the guac-off.

    Our first guac-off in the company’s early years featured 11 competitors and three simple rules: no pre-made guacamole mixes; contestants have to prepare their creations live; and everyone has to have fun. Since then, it’s become an annual tradition. We’ve evolved different categories (authentic, fusion, freestyle, etc.) and on occasion added margaritas to the equation. Over the years, we’ve embraced other DIY food traditions, as well. Among my favorites: “rookie cookies.” New employees have the option of baking (or buying) cookies for their department. These are set out on their desk, which lures over the rest of the team for casual introductions throughout the day. It’s a low-stress way to meet new colleagues and informally onboard new hires.

    Company clothes people actually wear: Lots of companies pump out piles of t-shirts, beer koozies, keychains, hats and stickers with their name and logo on them. This swag is then pawned off on employees, as well as customers and prospects. Nine times out of 10, it’s ugly, poorly made and discarded as soon as it’s handed out. We found that taking an entirely different approach can be an effective differentiator and culture builder.

    For starters, we handed the creative process over to our own graphic designers. And we emphasized that the goal wasn’t to plug Hootsuite but to create t-shirts, hoodies, even socks, that people wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in. The result: company clothes that people actually want to wear, inside and outside the office. In fact, there’s always a backlog of orders for the latest designs. This isn’t a costly measure by any means. But putting a little style in your swag reinforces the feeling that there’s something special going on and something worth being part of.

    The power of random coffees: One of the biggest challenges in fast-growing companies is silos. Imaginary walls spring up between departments. Before you know it, the sales team and the engineering team, for instance, feel like two totally different companies. They’re not meshing socially and – just as worrying – they’re not collaborating or exchanging information on projects. This lack of coordination inevitably hurts the final product and the customer’s experience.

    This is a huge problem and there’s really no easy fix. But one hack we’ve discovered to at least break the ice is a random coffee program. Employees sign up and are paired with a peer – blind date-style – from another department. They then set up a time to meet over a coffee break. It turns out this can be just the nudge needed to open up a future connection with other teams. It’s not that people don’t want to cross departmental divides, after all: Oftentimes, it’s simply that they don’t have a space or a system to do so.

    DIY parties are more fun: Company parties aren’t just a nice perk, they’re also a way to strengthen bonds between team members. But here’s the thing: gatherings for dozens – if not hundreds – of people can easily get cost-prohibitive. If there’s a restaurant or venue involved, even a simple event can break budgets. As a result, many companies limit themselves to just one or two bashes a year, despite the clear culture-building benefits.

    Early on, we found a workaround, really out of sheer necessity: a DIY party concept we called Parliament. Each month, two departments would join forces to host a fete for the entire company, in the office. We’d give them a modest budget of a few hundred dollars and pretty much complete autonomy to design their dream party. We even added a competitive element: at the end of the year, employees would vote on the best bash, with winners getting year-long bragging rights. The result was a crescendo of increasingly creative themed parties: from a Mexican beach night to a disco-themed country fair and an ‘80s-inspired high-school homecoming. All of this may sound silly, but these Parliaments went a long way toward crystallizing and strengthening our culture as Hootsuite grew from 100 to 1,000 employees.

    None of these culture-building hacks is especially deep or involved. And none of them will mean much unless a company already has a foundation in place: a mission, a commitment to employees, a healthy work environment. But, in many respects, a company culture is the sum total of the little things. It’s whatever makes someone excited to come to work at the start of the week, rather than indifferent. Creating this atmosphere doesn’t require a huge budget or elaborate perks, but it does require genuine attention and interest from management. Great cultures may be born organically, but to grow and thrive they need support.