Reflective report


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Reflective report

  1. 1. BUS3034 Individual Reflective Report Matthew Richardson 081222553 1 BUS3034 MANAGEMENT PRACTICE BUSINESS GAME INDIVIDUAL REFLECTIVE REPORT MATTHEW RICHARDSON 081222553 Word Count: 2,5050
  2. 2. BUS3034 Individual Reflective Report Matthew Richardson 081222553 2 I would like to start this reflective report by saying that I am extremely grateful for being given the opportunity to take part in this module because it was completely different to all my other modules and provided a new, exciting and practical approach to learning. I major in Economics, which is an extremely abstract subject that focuses on theory to help explain and understand how economic agents can affect the state of the economy, both at a micro and macro level. However, particularly in macroeconomics, theory can only get you so far in terms of predicting the future and measuring the extent of consequences of a particular action. All we can do in economics is predict the most likely outcome and estimate the multiplier affect of an action, which is extremely, and in most cases impossible to measure. This module, however, gave me the opportunity to experience different aspects of running a business where decisions were made, actions were taken and the affects of those decisions and actions could be directly observed and measured. There was no vagueness or abstract thinking about what might have been the cause of specific outcomes. Outcomes could be observed and directly linked back to the decisions made and actions taken. We could therefore accurately predict outcomes of future decisions. This practical approach to learning is the main reason why I personally, enjoyed this module. This module appealed to me because it claimed to give students the opportunity to be directly involved in the most important managerial decisions that would ultimately lead to the success or failure of a business. To be given this level of responsibility in a business is an extremely rare opportunity for people our age. Although the business and its environment is only a simulation, lecturers and last year’s participants claim that the simulation is very accurate and well recognised by business academics. This amount of responsibility in decision-making, coupled with observable actions would ultimately test my ability of running a business. This was an opportunity that I did not want to miss as I wish to work in a managerial position and one day, hopefully, own my own business. This module also offered the opportunity to work in a group, which is different to my other modules that are mostly centred around 100% examinations with a large emphasis on individual study. I thought working in a
  3. 3. BUS3034 Individual Reflective Report Matthew Richardson 081222553 3 group would give me the opportunity to meet more people that had similar ambitions to my own and who wanted a similar career. I thought working in a group, in a situation this module provided, would help establish new friendships and possibly important contacts for future business ventures. Group work is also a great way to improve those imperative skills that are fundamental to working in a business environment. Social, communication, listening, decision-making, organisation, time keeping and reflective thinking are just some of the key skills that I thought this module would help me develop and that could ultimately lead to my success in the work place, socially and professionally. The shareholder business meeting was also something that greatly appealed to me. I have never experienced a shareholder meeting, and practicing a shareholder meeting is extremely valuable, particularly because I want to one day be responsible for the running of a business. Other modules offer presentations in different subject areas, mostly to test your understanding of a certain topic, which is good for developing your understanding, but offers little practical experience for someone wanting to manage or own a business. This module offered a practice meeting that would give great insight into standard business practice and is completely relevant to my future in an organisation. To be able to take part in a meeting where my teams decisions, actions and future strategies are critically discussed is an opportunity that not all students are open to and something that would put me at an advantage when going to a “real” shareholder meeting. Before the weekend began each team member was required to take a Belbin Team Roles Test. We had to answer a series of questions about ourselves in a team context. The Belbin findings stated that I possessed the characteristics of a team worker. A team worker is categorised as someone who is sociable, rather mild and sensitive. They can be seen as the member who brings light heartedness and informality to a group. I was very surprised at these results as I considered myself to be more of a leader, or decision maker, where I would take charge and make my opinions very clear. However, after meeting my team members I found my self-analysis to be slightly inaccurate. There were clearly two people in my group that were much more authoritive and confident than I
  4. 4. BUS3034 Individual Reflective Report Matthew Richardson 081222553 4 was. These two took charge from the start and were clearly better suited to what I thought my role in the team would be. As the group meetings and decisions progressed through the weekend, I found myself fitting more and more into Belbin’s team worker classification. I was very aware of tensions or disagreements in the group and found myself trying to “lighten” the situation, by either changing the topic or making a joke. I felt my contributions were not seen as annoying or unhelpful, but seen as a way of progressing through or avoiding an unnecessary confrontation. I realise that disagreements within the group was inevitable and that in most cases it was beneficial to work through a problem properly. It’s good to hear everyone’s points of view about a certain decision or process as it determines how a future situation or person should be addressed most appropriately. It also establishes boundaries of how far you can take a situation or person without compromising their feelings. At the start of the weekend there were clashes and disagreements and making the first set of decisions took us all the time that was allowed. However, our decision making process quickened with every round because we were able to compromise with each other more quickly and move past those petty and unnecessary disagreements that took up time and much needed energy. As a team worker I think I contributed to the speed of our decisions by being the person who avoided these disagreements where they were hindering our performance. This is a strength that would make me popular and effective in the workplace. However, I think if I want to be a successful business owner or manager I need to work on my authoritive side and be confident enough to take charge from the beginning. This is something I would like to work on and I think something that will come from further experience in working in a group. We decided that our company was a structurally flat, spaghetti organisation, as far as management was concerned. We did this for many reasons. The first being that we didn’t want to put people in charge of departments that did not appeal to them (especially when it come to the accounts!). We also all felt that by putting people in charge of one department
  5. 5. BUS3034 Individual Reflective Report Matthew Richardson 081222553 5 would decrease the benefits that this module offers. To be in charge of one department would mean that you wouldn’t experience running a business in all areas. I think if we placed people in charge of departments we would not have realised the interconnectedness of an organisation and how one department’s decisions would affect another department. Departments would have had different goals for each quarter and almost all the time we found that sacrifices in some areas of the business was necessary for the success of other areas, that took importance at a particular time. I feel that if we separated into departments we would not see a common goal clearly and arguments would arise between heads of departments. We also thought that by putting so much responsibility on one person might lead to arguments and stress because people would be more pressurised to make no mistakes, which can often lead to mistakes. We didn’t want to cause alienation or want anyone getting upset that they made a mistake. Rather we wanted everyone to be involved in every aspect of the business where if something went wrong, we were all to blame. We also decided that more and more organisations are structured in a non-hierarchical way where informality and communication are at the heart of the company, especially for smaller businesses. However, although a lot of businesses are flat, structurally, most organisations, especially large, traditional organisations are separated into departments with a clear hierarchy. It was likely, given our company was reasonably large and in the manufacturing industry that it would have a hierarchy structure. Therefore, it may have been better to separate into departments for this particular type of business. However, we thought it would be better to make all the decisions together because no one in our group had had this level of responsibility and experience in running a business and we also wanted to avoid alienation. Having studied of the company’s history, we wanted to establish main, long-term goals before making any decisions. We collectively decided that our main goals were growth in the size of the firm, increased quality of the products, increased efficiency and most importantly a higher share price. We decided to focus on those areas, departments and processes within our firm that would get us closer to achieving these main goals. I think it was extremely important to
  6. 6. BUS3034 Individual Reflective Report Matthew Richardson 081222553 6 make these goals clear to everyone in the group. It avoided confusion and increased efficiency by not dwelling on areas that were seen as less important at that particular time. Although these were our long-term goals, after every quarter we set new short-term goals, which depended on the quarterly results. Our first set of decisions was basically aimed at improving all areas of the company. We wanted to increase spending on research and development, increase wages, machine efficiency, the size of the work force and plant size etc. Once the results of these decisions could be observed and the extent of the proportionate effects from a particular decision could be measured, we were able to go through all the areas of the company and make decisions with increasing confidence and effectiveness. This type of strategy can be classified as a trial and error. We would make decisions based on previous observations and became more and more accurate with our decisions and the effects those decisions had on certain areas of the company. However, although this strategy did work overall, there were problems with it. The main problem was our ability to predict what would happen when a decision had to be made. For example, when we faced a large amount of left over stock. We weren’t sure whether this was down to inefficient salesmen, over production, bad distribution of goods or even the prices. Because we didn’t know the cause of the problem it was difficult to agree on a strategy to decrease stock. So, as a democracy we voted on what we thought was the most likely cause of the problem and a decision on how to improve it. Most of the time, especially in this example, it was a combination of all these things that affected left over stock and it was down to trial and error to try and correct the problem. When we got the quarterly results we were able to see whether our decisions were correct and therefore able to any problems in the same area more quickly and with greater accuracy in the following quarters. Although this type of strategy is time consuming, we did get better at it and by the end we were able to make decisions very quickly and effectively. It was also probably the only strategy we could adopt because none of us had ever made these types of decisions before. Although we all take business modules and study different types of strategy, none of us have been exposed to this level of detailed decision making for an entire company and could never make decisions
  7. 7. BUS3034 Individual Reflective Report Matthew Richardson 081222553 7 with much confidence. We simply had to learn through our mistakes. One mistake that I will never forget was inputting the wrong figures into the computer for the simulation. We decided to keep using supplier 3, however, it was my turn to input the decisions into the computer and accidentally typed supplier 0. I was so embarrassed to make such a silly mistake, but my team members were fully supportive and we learnt that we should double check what we enter into the computer (and that I shouldn’t be allowed near the keyboard!). I learnt a valuable lesson that day, and that was to be careful and to check any form of work that I am doing that could affect the performance of not only myself, but also other group members, employers, and hopefully on day, my employees. Although it was a mistake, it turns out that switching to supplier 0 was extremely beneficial to the company. We had been struggling with a large order backlog and by switching to a lean or just in time strategy we were able to fulfill all our orders and decrease the cost of storing stock at the same time. As a team, our group got on very well and we proved to be fast and effective when making our decisions. However, some of the other groups I know did not get on so well. We were thrown together into a group with people that many of us had never met before. With so many groups and so many people there are bound to be people that do not get on. If a group are put together and do not get on, it could hinder the performance of the group from the beginning, when people do not know each other and each others boundaries. I suggest a team-building day. This could range from a day of team building activities or a compulsorily meeting where group members simply meet for the first time. This would enable groups to form a bound more quickly, or if they do not bound well, establish a civilized relationship. This would not hinder the performance of the team or anyone’s enjoyment of this module. This module will put me at an advantage when it comes to job interviews as it provides interesting conversation and will make me stand out above other employees. This module has given me great insight into my strengths and weaknesses, when comes to running a business and working in a team, all before actually going into a formal workplace. It has improved my communication,
  8. 8. BUS3034 Individual Reflective Report Matthew Richardson 081222553 8 social, time-keeping, listening and decision-making skills. Even by writing this report I have learnt the process of self-reflection, something that is imperative to self-awareness and self-improvement. It has shown me that I am able to avoid unnecessary conflicts and that I have the ability to bring light heartedness to a situation when it needs it. The meeting has offered valuable experience and will make me more confident when I have to talk to employers or owners of a business. Most importantly, this module has given me the opportunity to realise my weaknesses. I am now able to focus on and improve those characteristics that will make me a successful businessman. References: Parker. Glenn.M, (2008). Team Player and Team Work. John Wiley and Sons. Websites: Rajput Brotherhood. (2008) Henry Fayols Principles of Management. Available from: studies/henry-fayols-principles-of-management.html West M. (1984) Effective Teamwork; Belbins Team Role Theory. Available from: Kendra Van Wagne. (2005) Leadership Theories - 8 Major Leadership Theories Available from:, Appendix: Belbin Findings: Team Member Team Roles Javier Gascon Martin Shaper (Team Worker) Kate Lischke Implementer (Coordinator) Naomi Littlefair Completer-Finisher (?) Andrew McIntosh Team Worker (Plant) Matthew Richardson Team Worker (Coordinator) Grace Sivey Coordinator (Completer-Finisher)