“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

3K Success Story

I guess it has been 2 years since I started the initiative on voicing the needs to take all quality initiatives (Anugerah Kualiti Presiden (AKP), Process & System Improvement (PSI), Safety Excellence Management System (SEMS), Work Imrovement Team (WIT -5S, ICC, CFT), Enterprise Wide Risk Management (EWRM) etc) as tools/practices to perform core activities in Transmission Division, TNB.

This initiative, I feel, is very important because of blatant paradigms among majority of staff in Transmission to look at most of quality initiatives as something separate from their core activities. What a waste….! If they really want to be world class, they need to rectify these beliefs.

For example, in order to have a balanced view in leading a Business Unit, the leaders in particular , have to take all criteria in AKP (similar to Malcolm Baldridge’s criteria) as important criteria that need to be considered in managing a business unit. (Please refer diagram below)

Slowly I have started to persuade, discuss, advise, provoke and campaign some of Transmission crucial minds in systematically and continuously manner.

Somehow I can see there is some buy-in among them. But maybe this buy-in is not significant enough to create momentum to push these changes in paradigm.

There are moments that I wonder whether these initiatives to change will be accepted by them. Are there any flaws in our approach? I was a bit intrigued by some of them who seems to me very excited about the whole idea but failed to move.

I have referred to some minds to seek some understanding about all these phenomena. From them, I laughed when I realized that I, myself is very impatient and an utter perfectionist! Well to them, I must say thank you. At least they bring peace to my mind. One principle that from now on that I must always bear in my mind … as mentioned by Dr. Mohd Asri b Zainal Abidin, ex Mufti Perlis in last week Mingguan Malaysia is, ‘Mengubah minda dan pemikiran bukan kerja yang mudah. Ia memerlukan masa dan kesungguhan ...’

Along the way, I happened to come across an interesting article about why change fails. It is stated that:

- Why when opportunities or threats stare people in the face, do people fail to see the need to change?

- Even when people see the need, why do they often still fail to move?

- Even when people move, why do they fail to finish?

If we can grasp why people fail to see, move, and finish, and if we can break through these three barriers, we can deliver change!

For what it takes, I will continue to drum these ideas over and over again. That’s my commitment to myself. Do I get anything to lose? I guess … nothing! As a Malay proverb stated, ‘Untung sabut timbul, untung batu tenggelam’. But being human (the impatience starts to creep in); I wonder when will they be able to have a ‘success story’ to spearhead this change? After all, like they always say, seeing is believing.

Boy, I was in for a great surprise. I discovered this ‘success story’ in Asset Maintenance Kluang (AM Kluang) ... one of Business Units in Transmission.

It all started when I heard they got the 5S certification by Malaysian Productivity Centre (MPC). I was curious how these young executives managed to reach this kind of level. To the point that the head executive is only 35 years old whereas the rest only have 1-3years worth of experience with Tenaga Nasional. Note: I’ve never been associated closely with these people, only that they attended my programs (3K) and had some group discussions together at the HQ. I’ve never actually seen them at their working place. From my observations, I noticed that these young executives have some redeeming qualities such as the eagerness to learn, humble, professional and caring towards other people.

Due to this fact, I volunteered to be one of the AKP assessors on the first week of December `08. In my opinion, if they’re really good … they should be able to score high marks because my fellow assessors are professionals in their own outlook (one from Productivity & Quality Management (PQM) and another from Gelugor Power Station). Honestly, I don’t think they’re up to my expectations yet, but I hope they’ll prove me wrong!

I reached Kluang town late evening on 30th November `08. After performing my evening prayer, I caught myself smiling when I received a welcoming text message from the branch manager. Being a skeptic, I wondered whether he was being sincere or just to get those “extra” few points.

The next morning, my fellow assessors and I right away started our assessment. On our way to the office, one of my fellow assessors made a coy remark regarding the status of Transmission in AKP compared to other divisions in Tenaga Nasional. I just smiled.

Being a trained assessor, one of our criteria in assessing is to analyze the first impression we have on the office. Much to our surprise, we can sense the quality in their workplace. One of my fellow assessors even whispered to me, “Is this really a Transmission office?” In reply to his question, I just shrugged.

For the next two days, I was really impressed with these guys. They managed to deliver their presentation with confidence and I can tell that these people know what they’re talking about. It is good that when the assessors are giving them comments for further improvement, they are able to take positively and seriously. It made me feel that our views really matter to them.

What satisfies me most about them is that they are able to use all the quality initiatives as tools/practices in their core activities. It is clear that there is no separation in their core activities and quality initiatives. In return, they managed to achieve good results in their business results. Their business results are as nice as Kluang Railway Coffee and Roti Bakar.

How do they do it?

To my surprise, they told me that they picked some ideas from my previous programs (3K). This statement proved that they indeed are humble and eager to learn. No doubt, they have encountered a lot of problems and challenges due to limited resources but they managed to pull it through. After all, it is the reality of life. We must strive in limited resources. If you want to see real teamwork spirits in action, you have to go and visit them.

On my way back to KL, I wondered what is the root cause for them to be able to come to this level. Slowly I realized that it is the quality of local leadership they received there. The leader is fully committed that AKP acts as the base to manage his business unit. This made him a balanced leader. He is focused both on the core and support initiatives. He is a good listener and he applied ‘Managing by Walking Around’ to Walk His Talk’. Most importantly, he is aware that he should manage his people as humans, not machines.

I believe that other business units in Transmission are actually working towards this level. It is just a matter of time that they will blossom just like this business unit in Kluang or even better!

AM Kluang, thank you for proving me wrong. Bravo!

Note : This business unit is one of the product of 3K and will continue benefits from 3K.

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