1. Organisational Social Networking

    August 13, 2009 by
    We at BPIR are keeping an eye on the rapid growth of organisational social networking.
    Recent research has thrown up a variety of ways in which companies are using social networking such as in recruitment, buyer/vendor networking, wiki sites, communities of practice, etc. It is also of value in training delivery as discussed in a recent BBC business programme presented by Peter Day: GlobalBiz: Learning Curve: Tx: 04 Aug 09. "Companies are discovering that new communications methods are transforming the way they do their training." But, says Peter Day, they could also transform the way the company organises itself … as it moves along the "Learning Curve".

    Well worth a listen.
    Kevin McKenna

    Senior Researcher
    BPIR.com Limited

  2. Social Networking is now part of life, “long live Business Networking”!

    July 27, 2009 by

    Embrace or die!  That’s what the choice seems to be for businesses today in terms of online networking.  It’s become so much an accepted part of ‘normal’ life for a large and increasing portion of the workforce that they need access to it throughout the day (a 2009 study showed out of 1483 respondents almost 75% used social networking sites for personal use within an organisation).  And if it isn’t authorised via the employer’s corporate internet service, well then, there is always the mobile phone evolution that is fast making mobile wireless internet browsing an affordable reality.  So, for businesses, it makes sense to encourage participation in online networks that can benefit personal and organisational performance.

    What seems a long time ago now I joined Thomas Power’s network Ecademy.  This was prior to LinkedIn and Facebook even launched and was, I think, the first ‘social-business network’ to gain popularity.  I read up a lot on what could be gained from such an investment in time and browsed many guides on how to best ‘network’.  However my first effort to network online flopped; I didn’t invest the time necessary, even though I believed in it.  My workload was just too high, I thought.  Since then the world has moved on and now social networks play a critical part in the development of young people.  Wow!  Things change fast!  I am amazed every time when I hear researchers and psychologists comment on how online-communications are replacing the need for face-to-face meetings in the context of the development of children – or at least teenagers for now….  Whole friend- and support-networks are being developed online instead of by meeting others and socialising together personally.  It seems sad but it’s the way the world is going.  What’s even more surprising to me is that a huge proportion of online networkers are aged not in their twenties, but anything up to mid-fifties!  A recent study defined most Facebook users as college educated, white-collar workers, and more than 40% at over 35 years old.  Another study found half of all blog readers were between the ages of 31 and 50, and 18% were between 51 and 60.

    Anyway, I do clearly see the huge advantage that organisations can gain from encouraging participation by employees in online networks, and I know that time spent in such networks is well-spent.  But the vast majority of organisations are not capitalising on these networks.  Just understanding and acknowledging that employees who use networks are likely to benefit through interacting with many, hopefully, peers by way of ‘organic learning’ is not enough to make a difference.  All organisations will be benefiting thus before long and hence the ‘benefit’ will be effectively neutralised.  What will define a true learning organisation from others will be the proactive decision to provide access to networks designed to promote the type of learning and contact that affects organisational performance. Well, what a coincidence! For the last 18 months here at BPIR.com we have been feverishly designing and developing a network portal that will allow our members to leverage the growing BPIR membership community, and create ways that we, as administrators, can help encourage the learning potential that exists for all in the network to filter back and translate into increases in organisational performance, and hence, into bottom line profit.  Our network is being rolled out as you read this blog.  For now the network is available only to members of BPIR and its partners.

    Here are a handful of interesting survey snippets about social networks in the business environment.

    That’s all for now.  Hopefully see you in the network!


    General dog's body, grafter, and MD of BPIR.com Limited

  3. 4th International Benchmarking Conference, Manama – Bahrain

    May 12, 2009 by

    You probably have noticed a new banner starting to appear in the BPIR header regarding the upcoming annual conference of the Global Benchmarking Network (GBN). This year the conference will be held on 27th & 28th of October in a very special place; Bahrain, a small island in the Arabian Gulf almost the first in every achievement among gulf states; the first public school system, the first in oil discovery, the first F1 racing circuit.  Bahrain also boasts the largest modern aluminium smelter in the world, represents the financial hub of the region, and is centrally located between Europe and the far East making it an ideal location for stopovers.

    Back to the main topic; the conference; a number of international keynote speakers and speakers have already confirmed their participation in the conference. Several topics will be presented and many people will attend this unique event.

    Whether you are looking to find out how quality professionals have reacted to the economic slowdown to identify the latest trends in the profession, or you simply want to know more about quality and benchmarking then this is the right event for you.

    If you are interested in delivering a presentation or attending the conference please visit http://GBN.BahrainQuality.org for more details or contact the organising committee at GBN@bahrainquality.org

    C U in Bahrain


    Benchmarking Researcher, BPIR.com



    Manama skyline at nigh, thanks for DarkGrey for the photos


    Management Blog Directory

  4. The World Recession is Great for Quality Professionals Or Is It?


    I recently attented the Annual Quality Congress Middle East in Dubai hosted by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University. It was clear that I was in a Dubai much different to the one I visited a year previous. The economic recession had hit Dubai hard – much of the construction work had stopped, many of the foreign workers had been forced to return home.. I visited a few companies there – one company whose Head Office had previously been bustling with people was now quiet – there were mostly empty desks and one of their first departments to experience lay-offs was their Business Excellence Dept – deemed to be expendable in hard times.

    At the conference many of the presentations addressed the recent downturn.   

    One of the most interesting presentations was by Steve Unwin of AssesstoExcellence – titled "Role of Paradox and Uncertainty in Success".  The general theme of the presentation was on "change" and "perception" – informing us that we all perceive situations differently based on our experiences, our culture and how we filter information and that  when a potential learning event occurs (e.g. a quality problem or a recession) can we really learn from it and is it useful to do so? The point here is that we never find ourselves in exactly the same situation as every moment in time is different – time is constantly changing, we are changing, our perceptions change, the business environment and associated variables are changing etc etc..     

    Whether you agree or not with Steve's views he certainly got everyone thinking – something many of us don't usually have time to do!

    To highlight Steve's thought provoking views on life I have provided a snapshot of his recent newsletter below. He begins his newsletter by sharing his experience at the conference in Dubai …

     "Much of the conference reflected the current 'exceptional' times. I was struck by one speaker's plea from the heart. 'I wish we had tools to deal with the unexpected'. In my hotel I noticed the fire buttons. My mind wandered and I imagined an Emergency button for Improvement Tools.

    In a fire we'd all be breaking the glass, yet I don't see anyone breaking my imagined glass..

    I am sure many quality professionals would argue this is precisely what we should be doing. And that we aren't because we don't understand, or "we lack management commitment", or vision or the good sense to realise the power of the tools.

    I can't help thinking that if these worked we'd be deafened by the breaking glass in times like these.

    The real explanation I think is much simpler. The tools don't work. That isn't to say that they can't work, just that they very seldom do, and even when they appear to work, it's only briefly and always by accident." 

    So do you agree with Steve? Why is it that quality professionals do not become more valuable in times like these? Is it because the tools don't work? Your thoughts please..

    Dr Robin Mann

    Co-owner, BPIR.com Limited.  

    PS. The American Society of Quality published a report on How The Economic Recession is Affecting Quality Activities in December 2008. This report presented the views of 47 individuals offering comments on ways that the economic recession is affecting them and the companies where they work. The results show companies paying more attention to cost cutting, waste reduction, efficiency, and downsizing, and somewhat less attention to growth through either new product introduction or acquisitions.

  5. The Cult of Six Sigma and PodCasts


    In a recent survey it was found that from 20 improvement tools that Six Sigma was the least popular.. with 22% of respondents indicating they used Six Sigma.  Whilst this % is relatively high (more than 1 in 5 organisations) I was a little surprised that it was the least popular considering the publicity and fanfare it has received over the past five years.

    Obviously least popular does not mean that it is not effective. Popularity and effectiveness do not necessarily go together.. Also, perhaps, some industries are more likely to apply this technique than others – perhaps Service Industries do not see the relevance of Six Sigma as much as other industries where data may be more readily available or perhaps some organisations think that they are too small to get the benefits from Six Sigma. 

    Some answers to the relevance of Six Sigma to Service Industries and Small Organisations and an excellent overview of the technique has been provided by Alan Skinner of the Faculty of Business, University of Sydney. Go to the PodCast here to hear Alan's views.

    Also, if you are aware of other useful PodCasts or Videos showing the use of quality tools or best practices, please let us know at the BPIR.com.


    Dr Robin Mann

    Co-owner, BPIR.com Limited.