Knowledge production

The importance of knowledge production is a very complex approach but should be well organised from the senior management level. Most companies are focused on producing a product or service for their customers. However, one of the most significant keys to value-creation comes from placing emphasis on producing knowledge. One of the biggest challenges behind knowledge management is the dissemination of knowledge. People with the highest knowledge (based in their educational background and working experience) have the potential for high levels of value creation. But this knowledge can only create value if it’s documented, shared, appraised, and well linked within your intranet or even internet public documents. Knowledge is usually difficult to access – it leaves when the knowledge professional resigns.

“The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it.” – Andrew Carnegie

Therefore, knowledge management is often about managing relationships within the organization. Collaborative tools (intranets, balanced scorecards, data warehouses, customer relations management, expert systems, etc.) are often used to establish these relationships. Some companies have developed knowledge maps, identifying what must be shared, where can we find it, what information is needed to support an activity, etc. Knowledge maps codify information so that it becomes real knowledge; i.e. from data to intelligence.

For example, AT&T’s knowledge management system provides instant access for customer service representatives, allowing them to solve a customer’s problem in a matter of minutes. Monsanto uses a network of experts to spread the knowledge around. Employees can lookup a knowledge expert from the Yellow Page Directory of knowledge experts.

In the book Value Based Knowledge Management, the authors advocate that every organization should strive to have six capabilities working together:

Produce: Apply the right combination of knowledge and systems so that you produce a knowledge based environment.

Respond: Constantly monitor and respond to the marketplace through an empowered workforce within a decentralized structure.

Anticipate: Become pro-active by anticipating events and issues based on this new decentralized knowledge based system.

Attract: Attract people who have a thirst for knowledge, people who clearly demonstrate that they love to learn and share their knowledge opening with others. These so-called knowledge professionals are one of the most significant components of your intellectual capital.

Create: Provide a strong learning environment for the thirsty knowledge worker. Allow everyone to learn through experiences with customers, competition, etc.

Last: Secure long-term commitments from knowledge professionals. These people are key drivers behind your organization. If they leave, there goes the knowledge.

Knowledge professionals will become the dominant force behind the new economy, not unlike the farmer was once the key player behind the agricultural age. By the year 2010, one-third of the workforce in the United States will be comprised of knowledge professionals. It is incumbent upon all organizations to embrace this need for managing knowledge. Just take a look at those organizations that seem to create value against the competition. You will invariably find a strong emphasis on knowledge management.

Christos Pashiardis - MD - CEO Egroup Services Ltd.

Based on my experience on various management positions, I have summarized a number of key interview questions that as a manager you might be in need of or as a candidate / interviewee might find interested to read…

Cyprus Best Companies, Interview questions

Basic Interview Questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
  • What's your ideal company?
  • What attracted you to this company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What did you like least about your last job?
  • When were you most satisfied in your job?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can't?
  • What were the responsibilities of your last position?
  • Why are you leaving your present job?
  • What do you know about this industry?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Are you willing to relocate?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Behavioral Interview Questions:

  • What was the last project you headed up, and what was its outcome?
  • Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty at work.
  • Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?
  • Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?
  • What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
  • What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
  • If I were your supervisor and asked you to do something that you disagreed with, what would you do?
  • What was the most difficult period in your life, and how did you deal with it?
  • Give me an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it?
  • What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?
  • Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job.
  • If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a rare steak and they brought it to you well done, what would you do?
  • If you found out your company was doing something against the law, like fraud, what would you do?
  • What assignment was too difficult for you, and how did you resolve the issue? Moreover, did you mention this to Mr. Pashiardis?
  • What's the most difficult decision you've made in the last two years and how did you come to that decision?
  • Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them.

Salary Questions:

  • What salary are you seeking?
  • What's your salary history?
  • If I were to give you this salary you requested but let you write your job description for the next year, what would it say?

Career Development Questions:

  • What are you looking for in terms of career development?
  • How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
  • What kind of goals would you have in mind if you got this job?
  • If I were to ask your last supervisor to provide you additional training or exposure, what would she suggest?

Getting Started Questions:

  • How would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with the team?
  • How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution?
  • What do you see yourself doing within the first 30 days of this job?
  • If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?

More About You:

  • How would you describe your work style?
  • What would be your ideal working environment?
  • What do you look for in terms of culture -- structured or entrepreneurial?
  • Give examples of ideas you've had or implemented.
  • What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
  • If you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?
  • Tell me about your proudest achievement.
  • Who was your favorite manager and why?
  • What do you think of your previous boss?
  • Was there a person in your career who really made a difference?
  • What kind of personality do you work best with and why?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What are your lifelong dreams?
  • What do you ultimately want to become?
  • What is your personal mission statement?
  • What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
  • What negative thing would your last boss say about you?
  • What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?
  • What are three positive character traits you don't have?
  • If you were interviewing someone for this position, what traits would you look for?
  • List five words that describe your character.
  • Who has impacted you most in your career and how?
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • What is your biggest regret and why?
  • What's the most important thing you learned in school?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • What will you miss about your present/last job?
  • What is your greatest achievement outside of work?
  • What are the qualities of a good leader? A bad leader?
  • Do you think a leader should be feared or liked?
  • How do you feel about taking no for an answer?
  • How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?
  • How do you think I rate as an interviewer?
  • Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn't want me to know.
  • Tell me the difference between good and exceptional.
  • What kind of car do you drive?
  • There's no right or wrong answer, but if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
  • What's the last book you read?
  • What magazines do you subscribe to?
  • What's the best movie you've seen in the last year?
  • What would you do if you won the lottery?
  • Who are your heroes?
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What is your favorite memory from childhood?

Brainteaser Questions:

  • How many times do a clock's hands overlap in a day?
  • How would you weigh a plane without scales?
  • Tell me 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing.
  • Sell me this pencil.
  • If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
  • Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?
  • If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?
  • If you could get rid of any one of the Cyprus cities, which one would you get rid of and why?
  • With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes.

Written by Christos Pashiardis, M.D. Egroup Service Ltd. -

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 Professional Amateurs

In my previous post (Organizing Without Organizations) I talked about Clay Shirkey’s views on how the internet has enabled consumers to become collaborators – something that has had profound implications on how we develop products and market them. A very interesting notion coined by Shirkey in another work of his (Everyone Is a Media Outlet) is that of ‘professional amateurization’ which he defines as “a result of the radical spread of expressive capabilities.” He makes the point that this has resulted in the loss of professional control which can impact negatively on many of society’s core institutions such as journalism.

Charles Leadbeater in "We Think" has this to say about the phenomenon, calling such amateurs ‘Pro-Ams’:” The 20th century was shaped by the rise of professionals in most walks of life. From education, science and medicine, to banking, business and sports, formerly amateur activities became more organised, knowledge and procedures were codified and regulated. As professionalism grew, often with hierarchical organisations and formal systems for accrediting knowledge, so the term “such an amateur” came be to a form of derision. Pro-Ams are turning that on its head. They are knowledgeable, educated, committed and networked by new technology. They scramble up the categories that divide and rule our lives. They work at their leisure. They learn by playing. They relax by undertaking challenging tasks. They are unpaid and yet they set themselves very high standards for what they do. Pro Ams are motivated by values that we thought were near exhausted. They do what they do for the love of it: for the pleasure of taking part, to make a contribution, to win a reputation from their peers, for the thrill of the challenge. They are not in it for the money.” Of course, we think of this phenomenon primarily in the context of journalism and broadcast media. However, it is interesting to speculate what the impact of this trend is on fields such as medicine. With so much information on the internet patients are becoming increasingly prone to checking out information, even venturing prognoses of their condition. A BBC article (Don’t Dismiss Cyberchondriacs, February 24, 2010) had this to say:

“As the internet becomes more and more easily accessible it is perhaps inevitable that patients should try to self-diagnose…medical law expert Dr Anthea Martin warns doctors against dismissing all web-wise patients as ‘cyberchondriac.’”

Indeed, as patients become more engaged in the management of their diseases, from diagnosis to potential treatments, doctors are confronted with new challenges. Options, benefits and potential risks may no longer be assessed without the active involvement of the patient who tends to be vastly more knowledgeable than before – thanks to widely available resources on the internet.

One can think of other instances, apart from media and medicine, where professional boundaries are being eroded – law for instance. Individuals involved in legal cases have every possibility to investigate legal arguments, precedent etc, often challenging professional lawyers. Even in research, DIY is perhaps a manifestation of consumer empowerment resulting from increasingly available information and analytical tools.

What is your view on this topic? Is the growing power of the amateur a positive development, or is it undermining professional standards in a detrimental way? Any examples you can add that support one of these viewpoints?!Professional-Amateurs/c1451/2BDD57C8-88DE-4679-B2A2-E2BC5A9B5D0A

Choices, Choices….

We tend to assume that choice is always good. Having multiple options available to us is all good, right? Well, not so fast. Have you considered the emotional strain we are put under by too many choices? The feeling that we could be wrong if we choose X or Y?

Barry Schwartz, a psychologist, dealt with this topic in his book “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less”. He talks about how the culture of abundance robs us of satisfaction and argues that we would be better off if we embraced voluntary constraints and sought what was ‘good enough’ instead of always seeking the best. To reduce stress, there are some recommended coping strategies: lower our expectations, make our decisions non-reversible and pay less attention to what others are doing. What Schwartz calls “choice overload” can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for failures. This could even lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress – or clinical depression in extreme cases.One of the factors that contribute to this feeling of dissatisfaction or negative emotion is related to perceived opportunity cost – the feeling that we need to ‘give up’ things in the trade-off, however theoretical this may sometimes be.

In fact, I remember reading about a rule of thumb which has it that beyond 7 alternatives or options we tend to become overwhelmed. The human brain gets all stressed beyond that number of choices. Sound familiar?

What is your view on the paradox of choice? Any other examples on either side of the argument?!Choices-Choices…/c1451/80FAC7E6-36E8-4D22-89B6-9F6F7CD633AD

 Corporate Social Responsibility – How To Make It More Strategic

Even though formal CSR tools have been around for years, there is growing attention to Corporate Social Responsibility - not as a simple act of allocating funds for philanthropy but as a an approach to running the business. Recent EU recommendations (ISO 26000) and an EU Directive for Non-Financial Reporting provide the framework for how this can be achieved. Add to this the UN's delineation of sustainable goals, and the institutional context gains considerable substance.

Beyond compliance with these directives, some of the discussions I have been involved in recently, have revolved around the issue of how to make CSR efforts more strategic. Of course, nobody will argue that making something “more strategic” is not desirable, yet little clarity is offered when you query what that really means.

So, here is my take on this: It is true that CSR efforts in many companies often lack strategic intent – that is, they are not driven by well-articulated objectives and they routinely neglect the connection between those objectives and:

-internal capabilities

-the resource allocation process.

In short, CSR needs to be placed in the context of what we want to achieve and how we plan to get there. In doing so, it needs to be supported by internal capabilities and resources. That is how we can make it more strategic. Of course, this logic (let's call it a "strategic stress test") applies to any company-wide initiatives, not just CSR.!Corporate-Social-Responsibility-–-How-To-Make-It-More-Strategic/c1451/551c5f110cf21933cd2d197e