Friday, September 28, 2007

A Bike Story

Always Alice in Wonderland?

I do not think so;) That 8-year old girl in the photo was also in the wonderland:) I was really enjoying to ride on my bike -not the first one though-. As you can easily guess, it was a gift from my family for summer vacation and it was a blessing! It's really been fantastic. It had the feeling of nature repossesing something. With my bike, the perfect way to start the day in summer vacation, what could I ask for more? Above is an action shot when I was on my bike. Even today when I visit the Princes' Islands, I can explore all of the small streets instead of walking for hours, that gives you a chance to find something -an abandoned church or an interesting house between the ruins-. A friendly advice, you can get a scenic bike tour in my favorite region Toscana (English: Tuscany), just as I did last summer in Italia. Perfect riding in Terra di Siena among wineries, if you, too, a wine lover like myself, don't miss out!

When a child wants to learn to ride a bicycle, she does not do it by reading a book or listening to someone tell her how to. She gets on the bike and discovers how to do it -I did not do that way, but I was always under control of my parents';)-. She may receive coaching from a parent before and during her first attempts, and her parents put training wheels on the bicycle to keep the learning environment safe for her. She can learn to ride only by trying it, by discovering how to maintain balance while pedaling, how to apply both brake levers at the same time. Learning by discovery also means that she makes lots of errors and she falls. The parent's role is to help her learn from mistakes and to encourage her or keep practising until she is comfortable and has mastered the necessary skills. Can the child learn by herself without teaching and coaching? Probably. But that takes a child who is either to pain or who has learned to reflect on and learn from her mistakes.

Most of the learning resources a company needs already exist within its own boundaries. There are times when learning activities have to extend beyond those boundaries. If the company requires more knowledge and skills, there are three basic strategies:

(1) To buy knowledge and skills
(2) To rent them
(3) To develop them

As we cannot expect anyone to continuously master bicycle riding, we also cannot expect employees to acquire new information, learn new skills, and then immediately apply them perfectly to the job. We must provide a learning environment that helps the employee learn from mistakes and provides coaching and reinforcement until he is ready to fly solo. We must give freedom the employee to test out the new ideas and skills. Even after attending a training program, employees still have to discover how the content relates to their work, so they must practice applying newly acquired information and skills before they can productively use them.

Managers should trust that employees are capable of mastering new skills and adding value to the business rather then directing employees to follow orders from others; afterwards it propels the people to new levels of achievement. In other words, it takes us moving from ''Learning'' to ''Meet Business Goals''.

Applying to the Job Having worked extensively within the technical aspect of industries such as piping, automotive and construction, so I have a diverse background in both technical and managerial skillfulness. (Two parts in my business life: till year 2000 it was fully experienced in technical, and after 2000 in managerial area) I was working for a Project of Renovation for Istanbul's Golden Horn Bridge, with a TAA -Technical Assistance Agreement- signed between two companies Cimtas, that's an engineering and fabrication company in Turkey fully owned subsidiary of the world leading contractor Enka, and Sumitomo Heavy Industries, of Japan. At Enka-Cimtas Plant -as seen above-, in Turkish city of Bursa, the production of boxes were done locally with the full participation of the production employees who would eventually run the operation. As for constitute the bridge's bentdown, these boxes come next to each other by welding process. Then they come to be ready to go to Istanbul's construction area over the Marmara Sea from Plant's harbour.

I know very well that in many companies, production employees would never be let near such plans if management felt that only high-level industrial engineers and managers could engage in such important works. At Cimtas, the production employees ''were involved in layout, actual installation, controlling and testing''. The production-line personnel examined every opportunity for improvement and were empowered to make changes as appropriate. The result: Line changeovers occur in less than fifteen minutes, making changeovers a nonissue. Photo: the Golden Horn Bridge is an inlet of the Bosphorus dividing the City and forming a natural harbor.

By examining ''every opportunity for improvement'', the Enka-Cimtas employees have been successful learning by discovery and testing on the lines. That is one of the Projects in my worklife, that I've worked and was so proud of myself:) So a bridge can turn into an art of work if in the hands of women:) When/If you have a good opportunity to cross the Golden Horn Bridge, then you will have a good reason to remember me:)

Whatever activity you are engaged in, there are three levels of satisfaction that together further energy and fire:

** The level of achievement
** The level of experience
** The level of learning

Too many people focus on just one level, more often than not on achievement. But this misses out on the huge value of taking action simultaneously in the other two levels: of enjoying the experience as you go through it; of learning what you can from the activity as you go through it. Taking action equally at all three levels gives the best chance of achievement. So do all three and then if we want to find greater energy and fire to help achieve step-change results. Three levels form a broad triangle:

In today's dynamic global business environment, learning isn't an option. Companies that learn to the knowledge and skills of their employees, build a positive learning environment, and become a knowledge-enabled organization can build a prosperous future, for the future itself is little more than a learning process.

Take into consideration this view from Tom Davenport, a business professor and pioneer in knowledge management:

''Now the frontier is in our minds. As free natural resources and cheap labor are exhausted, the last untapped source of commercial advantage is the knowledge of people in organizations. It is very early days for knowledge management... The good news is that almost anything that a firm does in managing knowledge will be a step forward.''

The journey to becoming a knowledge-enabled organization seems chaotic at times, but it is always exciting. For the employees, being a part of a such organization makes each new day a challenge, firstly they continually seek because they sense their own growth within a dynamic and prosperous organization. Your company can discover that excitement, too:)

That little girl seen above with her bike today returns to be the Author of this Journal:) Wondering about her bike? After that one, she has used more three bikes. Instead of a bike, today, she drives a french-made car, Peugeot, on the roads:)

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind. Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)


  1. Very interesting.

    One of the things I enjoy most about blogs is visiting people in countries I've never actually been to.

    Especially liked the quote at the end.


  2. like darla i like the quote at the end (4bc-65ad)...but that was said a very long time ago when men and women thought and experienced their world differently. you participated in a great project nihal, very exiting the more because women do not easily enter this typical field of men. today's world is concerned about making profit and money on a global scale. often human circomstances are neglected and become more and more abused and violated. sad sad!

  3. @ Marita: I'm used to take myself so seriously as an engineer:) It's what I am afterall. I am getting pride having worked with the helmet on my head -as photographed-; my 2nd address was production lines and factories after my real home:) No discrimination in eng'ing even if you're fe/male, but your JOB is hardworking! Since 2000's my area is changed to take place in mostly managerial area. Also I love this way as it's challenging for me, no tears:)

  4. What a powerful message. I liked the part about creating an environment for employees to learn. Thanks for sharing.

  5. @ Heidi: Nice to see you here on my journal, Welcome welcome:)

  6. Mi piace questo tuo modo di scrivere .......da una bambina sulla bici sei arrivata a dire cose molto profonde.
    ciao ciao

  7. Interesting blog! BTW, Nihal is also an Indian name.

    Coming to Tom Davenport's quote,
    India started its recent rapid growth with BPO (business process outsourcing) and has moved into KPO (knowledge process outsourcing).

    You may know this already, but the queen of the erstwhile Nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad is from Turkey!

  8. @ Hyderabad: Welcome:) And thanks for your visiting. Yeap, I know that my name is also used in your country, that I have been informed about this fact from my friend in America. I do not know what it means my name in your own literature, but here in Turkey, it has got two-meaning; one is a new spring, second is a working bee. What my family informed me that I'm a working bee:) No any other name could match me better than this one when I think of my doings life: work-work-work:)
    Oh no, I did not know if the Queen of Nizam Hyderabad is from Turkey; thanks for letting me know.