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行动胜于雄辩(英文)

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Actions Speak Louder than Words

 

Professor KC Chan, Dr. Eko Indarajit, Richard Toh report on the concept of Action Learning, a management tool used to bridge the gap between planning and implementing.

 

    Managers spend more time “doing than thinking”. Academics spend more time “thinking than doing”. There is widening gap between “doing” and “thinking”. Action Learning (AL) holds the key to bridging the “doing and thinking” gap. AL suites most busy managers very well by providing them with opportunities to solve real problems in their own workplace and learn from that experience. As a result, AL helps them to improve their managerial performance through real experience. In turn, this will lead to improvement in organisational performance. The end game of AL is to enhance revenue, increase profit, and/or improve cash flow. This is real value add to individual performance and business result.

 

What is Action Learning?

    AL is one of a number of effective management development techniques. It is particularly attractive to many managers because it produces immediate and tangible payoffs for the sponsoring organisation through project works. Translating continuous improvement strategy, cost reduction strategy, organisational change management strategy, etc, into worthwhile projects is the prime objective of AL. The costs verses the benefits, expressed in quantifiable and measurable parameters, are absolutely essential. This is one of the main criteria in AL.

    In AL, managers learn to take effective action by reviewing and interpreting their experience to identify what it is which they have learnt. This systematic approach to learning focuses primarily on the dynamics of the manager’s role and environment, rather than simply grasping random opportunities as and when they arise. As a result, the AL approach ensures that managers learn more efficiently (Accelerated Learning) when implemented as a mission critical initiative which cuts across the entire organisation (Corporate, Business, and Operation Units).

    AL is ideally suited to helping individuals explore and take action regarding career advancement. Managerial promotions will be more objective when based on execution capability. Performance merits based on execution capability of individuals and their team leadership quality are relatively easier to be evaluated when expressed in financial value and size/complexity of the projects. Projects are considered as investments because they consume financial resources and the completion criteria for every project share a common denominator its balanced scorecard, i.e. cost, quality, time and customer satisfaction.

    AL is a team-leadership building social activity, not something that you do on your own. It needs a group of people – whether they are marketing manager, production manager, manager, finance/account manager or a grouping of them. The essence of AL is to develop effective managers by working on real problems, in a real-time frame, arriving at real solutions using a proven and widely applicable technique relevant to the changing business environment.

 

Techniques of Action Learning

focuses on four key performance drivers:

              ? Projects or problems to work on

              ? A group of “cohorts in adversity” with whom to interact, known as a cross-functional “Project Team”

              ? Flexibility to fit in with orgaanisational needs

              ? A coach to facilitate the learning process

 

The following reveals the imperative of AL:

              ? Problems resolved by action learning

              ? Problems and challenges for action learning

              ? Action learning team

              ? Attributes of team members

              ? Questioning and reflective processes

              ? Power of the right questions

              ? Commitment to take action

              ? Holistic approach in action learning

 

Integrated Project Management & AL

    Projects in AL programs are, in effect, the vehicles for learning. A project must be a real management problem, task or issue which needs to be addressed and exists in a real-time frame. In other words, someone somewhere in the manager’s organisation should want a result by a definite (but tactically viable) date. Furthermore, to justify the investment of funds in the project, a tangible return is expected.

The project should be substantial and demanding enough to involve the manager engaged on it in some reasonably strenuous work. An insignificant project would not be worthy of the time, energy and effort expended on it.

    If a project is part of a manager’s work and he is in a position to implement solutions, it will be very much easier to get fully involved with it and to deliver the tangible return.

    Managers will be carrying out all their normal duties while engaged in an AL program. Therefore, the best practice for maximum impact of AL is to integrate the project management methodology in the implementation technique/ phase of the AL technique. The end game of integrated project management is to achieve clarity in planning to minimise the risk of having to “do, undo, and redo work”.

 

AL is Not a Management Fad

    Any execution of strategy is a good as the discipline of the people to execute it; the people who know the process and hence the ability to execute it; the people who are equipped with the tools/technologies, thereby enabling the speed of execution.

The strategy is a game plan and dictates how to achieve execution capability with the seven key performance drivers of being Systems Thinker, Change Agent, Teacher, Mentor, Coach and Learner.

    In conclusion, AL is indeed an effective management development technique for accelerated learning for improved organisational performance. Hence, it is not a management fad.

 

 

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