Knowledge Engineering


In the traditional approach to systems design, a system analyst, together with the ultimate end-users, or clients, for the project, will complete a functional specification of the system. At that point, the project is essentially in the hands of professional project management and programming staff, because that group possesses the knowledge and skill required to deliver the agreed upon features and functions. In the development of knowledge systems, this is simply not the case. Following the specification of function, a new problem arises. This is because it is not an algorithm that is being developed but knowledge that is being encoded for machine use.

 

The immediate problem is that traditional applications developers do not have sufficient knowledge of the applications area to complete the project from the starting point of a functional specification. This information generally exists in a variety of forms, depending on the application area. In some cases an individual or group of individuals may uniquely possess the relevant knowledge. In other cases, the knowledge may exist in the form of published materials like manuals or textbooks. In still other cases, the knowledge does not presently exist at all, and must be created and developed along with the system itself. This is an extremely difficult circumstance. Further compounding this problem is a critical factor: Regardless of the form in which the knowledge currently exists, it is not in a form that is ready for use by a knowledge system. Someone must decide what knowledge is relevant and desirable for inclusion, acquire the knowledge, and represent it in a form suitable for a knowledge system to apply. In all but trivial applications the task of representing the knowledge requires not only coding individual “chunks” of knowledge, but also organizing and structuring these individual components.

 

Historically, owing to the remoteness and enigmatic quality of artificial intelligence technologies, the person doing the actual systems development and the “expert,” or source of knowledge, were not the same. The availability of tools, in place of enigmatic technologies, has had an impact on reducing this problem. Even if one can imagine the case in which the “expert” whose knowledge is to be modeled is also an “expert” with the use of artificial intelligence development tools, there still remains a sizable problem.

 

In case where knowledge resides with some practitioner or expert, it does not exist explicitly as a series of IF …THEN rules, ready to be encoded. Most practitioners and experts find it difficult to explain explicitly what they are doing while solving problems. They are not cognizant of the underlying rules they are applying. Their expertise has been developed from numerous experiences and involves highly developed pattern recognition skills and heuristics.

 

In the case where the knowledge to be included is contained in text material like manuals, regulations, procedures, and the like, the information is still not in a form ready for inclusion in an expert system. It must be remembered that one of the most often cited advantages of expert systems is that they make explicit the knowledge that is most often implicit and unavailable for review, evaluation, dissemination, and modification. The task of making knowledge both explicit and available for systems application is that of knowledge engineering. Most literature on the development and application of knowledge systems has identified the need for individuals skilled in knowledge engineering as a critical factor to widespread use of technology.

 

Knowledge engineering involves acquiring, representing, and coding knowledge. The representation and coding aspects of systems development have been greatly impacted by these newly available tools. The speed with which prototyping can be accomplished has also helped reduce some of the difficulty in acquiring or refining knowledge. The knowledge engineer now finds it much less costly in time and effort to represent, code, and test early approaches to systems development, providing a more efficient feedback loop. This feedback loop is critical in the development of knowledge systems. The end-user/client for the project is, by nature, going to be much more involved in the systems design process. The “programmer” often is incapable of deciding if the system is behaving properly, owing to a lack of fundamental knowledge about the application area. This is simply not as strong a factor, where the programmer is capable of evaluating the accuracy and efficiency of algorithms. When the product is actionable knowledge rather than algorithms, the ability to evaluate project progress shifts to the end-user/client. This creates the increased emphasis on the feedback loop.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Value Stream Management


Value Steram Management is a strategic and operational approach to the data capture, analysis, planning and implementation of effective change within the core cross-functional or cross-company processes required to achieve a truly lean enterprise.

 

Value Stream Mapping approach was initially developed with an underlying rationale for the collection and use of the suite of tools as being ‘to help researchers or practitioners to identify waste in individual value streams and, hence, find an appropriate route to (its) removal. The approach requires the researcher to identify the severity of a series of wastes that exist generically within a supply chain and to choose, apply and then analyse the out output from a series of appropriate contingent tools.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Pertinent topics for training


I suggest three new topics for your training programs, vis-à-vis, Leadership, Creativity and Innovation in Decsion-making, and Future Trends. They are important for Change.

 

Development of leadership skills can enable target audience to challenge the process, inspire a shared vision, enable others to act, model the way and walk the way. This can be achieved by developing skills for regulating the information flow, direction setting, motivation and decision-making.

 

Development of creative thinking skills will enable managers to initiate a creative process focusing on the mechanisms and phases involved if they partake in a creative act. Such skills will allow them to look at problems as opportunities and not as threats.

 

Last but not the least, knowledge about future will allow managers to know about the environment in certain area in the forseeable future. This will help them in planning and public policy.

 

Without developing leadership skills, and enlightening the trainees about using mind tools for creative decesion-making and the ability to read future, no change can be possible. Those civilizations, societies and organizations,and even individuals face extinction if they fail to cope up with change, innovation and transition with time. This is the law of nature.

 

Include new topics—Leadership, Creativity and Innovation, and Future Trends—in all your training programs.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Creating and Consuming Knowledge


There are far too many passive consumers of other peoples’ knowledge, and unimaginative users of standard tools. To ensure relevance, individuals and teams should be encouraged to develop their own approaches and understanding. Innovators and market leaders move beyond what is generally known or assumed. They voyage into the unknown, discover new knowledge and create additional competencies relevant to the achievement of their entrepreneurial visions.

 

Learning is dynamic. It is concerned with flows, processes for creating new knowledge. In many companies there is an imbalance between the consumption and development of knowledge. People simply draw down an existing supply without replenishing the well. The value of knowledge can rapidly diminish if it is not developed and kept current and relevant.

 

Winners champion knowledge and sharing. Their balanced scorecard assessments embrace learning, intellectual capital issues, and whether knowledge is being appropriately valued and effectively exploited.

 

Ultimately, a company and its people must outlearn competitors. Effective and collaborative learning can require creative combinations of complimentary approaches, environments, processes and technologies.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Job Analysis


Job analysis is the procedure for determining the duties and skill requirements of a job and the kind of person who should be hired for it.

Organizations consist of positions that have to be staffed. Job analysis produces information used for writing job descriptions—a list of what the job entails thus enwrapping duties, responsibilities, reporting relationships, working conditions, and supervisory responsibilities—and job specifications—what kind of people to hire for the job.

The supervisor or HR specialist normally collects one or more of the following types of information via the job analysis:

  • Work activities. First, he or she collects information about the job’s actual work activities, such as selling, teaching, or painting. This list may also include how, why, and when the worker performs each activity.
  • Human behaviors. The specialist may also collect information about human behaviors like sensing, communicating, deciding, and writing. Included here would be information regarding job demands such as lifting weights or walking long distances.
  • Machines, tools, equipment, and work aids. This category includes information regarding tools used, materials processed, knowledge dealt with or applied (such as finance or law), and services rendered (such as counseling or repairing).
  • Performance standards. The employer may also want information about the job’s performance standards (in terms of quantity or quality levels for each job duty, for instance). Management will use these standards to appraise employees.
  • Job context. Included here is information about such matters as physical working conditions, work schedule, and the organizational and social context—for instance, the number of people with whom the employee would normally interact. Information regarding incentives might also be included here.
  • Human requirements. This includes information regarding the job’s human requirements, such as job-related knowledge or skills (education, training, work experience) and required personal attributes (aptitudes, physical characteristics, personality, interests).

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Connoting Business Opportunity


What is being offered with businesses is usually an idea which may work, depending on your business or sales abilities. It is up to you to establish an area or your clientele. You are usually provided with the tools, such as the vending machines, the inventory, or the samples and the business opportunity. For this, you will pay a price—the rest is up to you.

Many of the businesses will present you with an idea that is made to sound so exciting and profitable, you can’t wait to sink your teeth into it. Caution! Do not proceed or pass go without sound, professional accounting advice. Remember: you are usually buying an unestablished business using someone else’s ideas, for which you may be paying too much. You are starting from scratch, and those promises of big money usually don’t pan out. Warning! You must be especially diligent about so-called business opportunities that offer huge, quick returns. There are people who are ready to take your money and run, or sell you a business that is either non-profitable, not quite legal, or makes money for no one but the vendors. You have to reach not only the market, but the business, the business owners, and the history of the products they are selling. Before making any final decisions, consult with a lawyer and have an appropriate agreement for sale drawn up. If problems arise between you and the vendor your agreement will become a valuable document in court.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Levers of Change


While there are very few general rules in organizational change, some general principles hold true for all organizations. A good place to start for most organizations in competitive, dynamic environments is to look at the four levers of change. These are technology, quality, costs and marketing—four areas that can be targeted for change.

 

Technology does not refer only to tools, equipment and machinery. It also includes information, knowledge, and activities that are involved in the physical transformation of inputs into outputs. The outputs may be products or services. Any physical transformation task has a choice of technologies associated with it. In a business environment characterized by increased global competition, management of technology has become a major area of concern for organizations.

 

Quality is all about meeting or exceeding customer expectations. It is a critical element in any change effort because customers are the ultimate judge of the success of the change effort. If the change does not result in products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations, it has obviously not achieved its purpose.

 

Costs or productivity constitutes the third lever of change. In today’s business environment, customers are very cost-conscious and are unwilling to pay for products or services that do not meet their expectations. With increased competition, they have more choices. Consequently, they are no longer dependent on a single supplier or a few suppliers for products and services. Widening the choice has resulted in customers demanding more value for their money. A challenge for most organizations is to enhance quality while reducing costs. This requires carefully planned processes, systems and work habits.

 

Marketing refers to the mechanisms for delivering products and services to the customer. It includes: attracting new customers to your organization’s offerings; retaining existing and new customers; and examining your distribution channels, marketing structures and procedures.

 

Each of these levers is supported by a set of structures, processes and procedures such as human resource practices. Any changes in the levers will also require corresponding changes in these structures, processes and procedures. In the first phase of appreciation, it is not necessary to work out these details but you need to be aware of the linkages that need to be strengthened at the implementation stage.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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