Strathclyde MBA in a different perspective


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Strathclyde MBA in a different perspective

  1. 1. STRATHCLYDE BUSINESS SCHOOLMANAGINGMs Pam HearneDr. Barbara SimpsonMay 21st, 2012GROUP 3:Carolina CamachoChandramouli SureshDeepak VarmaJose ValdezJustin MoseleyKathiravan Abranantham
  2. 2. ContentsIntroduction ______________________________________________________________________ 3Self-Awareness____________________________________________________________________ 3Jazz _____________________________________________________________________________ 3Building power ____________________________________________________________________ 3Difficulties of Decision Making _______________________________________________________ 4Conflict resolution _________________________________________________________________ 4Use of tools ______________________________________________________________________ 4Conclusion _______________________________________________________________________ 5Appendix 1 - References ____________________________________________________________ 6Appendix 2 – Slides from task 2 ______________________________________________________ 7Appendix 3 – Notes from task 2 ______________________________________________________ 8Appendix 4 – Slides from task 3 ______________________________________________________ 9Appendix 5 – Notes from task 3 _____________________________________________________ 10Appendix 6 – Slides from task 4 _____________________________________________________ 11Appendix 7 – Notes from task 4 _____________________________________________________ 12Statement of Academic Honesty _____________________________________________________ 13Group Peer Assessment ____________________________________________________________ 14
  3. 3. IntroductionWhat happens when a year after graduating a MBA team of three Indians, two Latinos and a Brit get togetherfor a beer. During the second round, one of the Indians started to complain about the lack of time available toreflect on the relevance of management theories in practice. The group decide to use the experience of beingpart of an MBA team to ponder the correlation of management theories and practice.Self-AwarenessThe Mexican described the value of self-awareness as ‘a gift to conscious choice.’ He highlighted the low levelsof consciousness that each member had at the beginning of the course. The team remembered thequestionnaire which resulted in the identification of working styles (Akella, 2010), be it pragmatist, activist etc.This, for many, was the first cognizance that there were different styles of learning and that each type ofpersonality had its pros and cons; this was the first of many moments of clarity throughout the MBAprogramme. This lucidity gave the cohort the insight that any person who is able to reflect and identify theirstrengths and weaknesses will be more able to apply the whole of themselves to greater effect in this complexand turbulent world.All team members agreed that reflection is the basis of self-awareness and as Einstein stated “learning isexperience”, the experiential learning we were exposed to has ensured that we began to understand ourindividual personalities better. This nascent consciousness was further enhanced through external sources ofdialogue and feedback; this ensured the practitioners we more open to accepting multiple alternatives andevaluations. Moreover, increased cognition of one’s personal distinctiveness, as well as those of the rest of theteam increases what the Johari theory defines as the “open window” (Lorey, 1979). This openness resulted ina better comprehension of one another and led to the formation of a team goal of creating inclusive, wellrounded personalities, rather than an individual objective of attaining high grades. Moreover, the level of trustwhich developed among the team was strengthened due to this evolving self-awareness (Akewukereke andOlukayode, 2008). Over a period of time members came to an understanding of who knew what in the group(London and Sessa, 2006) and the free exchange and flow of information between the group membersenabled collaborative learning. This cognizance facilitated the continuous learning process in an efficient way(Nakpodia, 2009).JazzThe Columbian joined the discussion by recollecting the team selection process. In order to complement oneother and have a balanced team, the group did not select members by friendship or personality, but rather bytheir learning styles (Akella, 2010). The “band” realised that only by careful and complementary selection ofindividual competences, genders and nationalities that a diverse, rich spectrum of views would be elicited. Byfollowing this process the group became more than the sum of its individual parts.To ensure the best learning outcomes, it was important that the group set a robust yet flexible frameworkfrom which to build on. One group member pointed out that the creation of this framework was one of thecore steps in using “jazz as a metaphor” to promote innovation within the team (Anonymous, 2008). Anothermember commented that the team worked analogous to that of a band, where a team of skilled musicians,who by operating in synthesis, create artistic performances rather than individual solos.Building powerThe discussion on synchronization led to another conversation on team leadership. The Brit reflected that themanagement of power was not an easy task. Often it was necessary to set a trade-off between the requiredauthority to make people work and the necessary freedom that allowed each member to communicate ideas.
  4. 4. Our team often witnessed negotiators emerging who were analogous to conductors, who guide the band andproduce results that the team deemed to be a ‘melody’. Contingency Theory (Bolman and Deal, 2008)allowedus to realise that one single style of power was not always appropriate and that each circumstance required aunique approach. Our team had the flexibility of accommodating “pop up” leaders that catered to the dynamicnature of our group work and this delivered excellent results both in terms of assignments and our learning.Difficulties of Decision MakingThe Mexican then brought up the topic of decision making in the team. There was an acknowledgement thatthe team faced issues due to the diversity of our members, not only in terms of work experience, but alsoeducation which resulted in slow decision making. On reflection, we realised that while the group unknowinglystarted each activity following the Simons rationality model of decision, most of the times we ended up“muddling through” (Lindblom, 1959). The team in time unwittingly started following Jehn and Chatman’s(2000) process of task delegation as a means to speed up the decision making process (Jehn and Chatman,2000). Tight deadlines and frequent changes in the goals made us realise the short comings in the Simon’srationality model in practice; while acknowledging the relevance of the model in non-pressurised decisionsand strategies. However, the team unanimously accepted that in practice parts of both theories are relevantand applicable; hence Etzioni’s (1967) ‘mixed scanning’ model gave the option of rationality duringfundamental decisions and muddling in incremental decisions (Cropper et al., 2009).Conflict resolutionOne member suggested relating theory to the experience of the group. We all acknowledged that a plethora ofconflicts evolved within the group during the MBA. At the course outset it was suggested that we were allpractitioners using our common sense to subjectively dictate what was good and bad. In fact, the mixture ofdifferent backgrounds, cultures, professional and personal experiences generated emotional discussions inwhich “ego” and the “right and wrong” judgments were core. Initially, we viewed conflicts as weaknesses inthe level of understanding due to the heterogeneous nature of the group. However, discovery of theoreticaltools allowed us to better understand the art of negotiation (Ackermann and Eden, 2011). We became “activelisteners” that participated in conversations and appreciated different perspectives. We encouragedconversations through positive affirmations such as the use of the magical words “Yes…and.” Furthermore, weunderstood that each situation could be analysed from different frames (Bolman and Deal, 2008). Negotiationbecame a creative synthesis of multiple perspectives (Ackermann and Eden, 2011) that allowed the group to“focus energy, (…) effort and emotion” (Ackermann and Eden, 2011) to deliver the best results.During the course of the MBA group work, the team attitude toward conflicts changed. The team realisedintergroup friction was necessary as this ensured that a) group think was being avoided and b) this elicitationof differing views generated a holistic, inclusive depth of thinking, which improved not only our assignmentsbut more importantly our perception of the world. We understood that the conflict was ephemeral and eachmoment was only a single part of the never-ending journey of critical reflexivity (Argyris, 1999).Use of toolsThe group at this stage appreciated the plethora of management tools we had received during the MBA. Theteam also agreed that there was a striking similarity in the manager’s use of multiple theories to sports.Ironically, the association was made by the sports detesting Columbian, thus highlighting the effect of a thirdbeer on creativity and innovation. She said that just as in golf, it is not the quality and variety of clubs you haveat your disposal, but it is the proper selection in a given situation. Sometimes, managers need to be able toinnovate for new circumstances; situations may occur where the ideal “club” is an aggregation of two or moretools. By utilising the power of critical reflection enables this practise of evaluating the tools and refining them.
  5. 5. Finally, to ensure that the decision is a robust as possible, prior learning, both good and bad, experience andintuition should not be ignored. The rich spectrum of experience of the team members assisted the group inavoiding mistakes and improved the quality of the output.Before the others could react to the shock of listening to her speak about sports, she surprised them againsaying that we had inadvertently used Fayol’s process in most of our team work by identifying and definingroles and responsibilities (Pugh and Hickson, 1989).During the course of the next few beers the group with the aid of a napkin designed the model as shown. Thisis a synthesis of how we perceive what our group required to function well and the interrelation of theory andpractice.ConclusionThe team agreed the importance of theory and reflection in broadening the practical experience and theability to learn from history. As there were reservations regarding the availability of time for individualreflection within a daily working routine, the team decided that there were two course of action available a)that time should be set aside on a weekly basis to reflect on best practice and b) make it a point to meet moreoften to both reflect upon the experiences and application of theory to practice and vice versa. Or perhaps,was it the draw of some more beers?
  6. 6. Appendix 1 - ReferencesAckermann, F. and Eden, C. (2011) making Strategy, 2nd edition, London: SAGE.Akella, D. (2010) Learning together: Kolbs experiential theory and its application, Journal of Management andOrganization, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 100-112.Akewukereke, M.A. and Olukayode, I.S. (2008) Application of Johari Window Theory toUnderstandingLibrarians Changing Roles as Information Providers, Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal)(Libraries atUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln).Anonymous (2008) Using jazz as a metaphor to improve the quality of conversations, KnowledgeManagement Review, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 35-35.Bolman, L. and Deal, T. (2008) Reframing Organisations, 4th edition, San Francisco: John Wiley and Sons.Cropper, S., Eden, C., Gunn, L. and Van der Heijden, K. (2009) Principles of rationality, in School, U.o.S.B.Managing, University of Strathclyde Business School.Etzioni, A. (1967) Mixed scanning: a "third" approack to decision making, Public Administration Review, vol.27, pp. 153-157.Huxham, C. and Vangen, S. (2004) Doing things collaboratively: realizing the advantage or succumbing tointertia?, Organizational Dynamics, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 190-201.Jehn, K. and Chatman, J. (2000) The Influence of Proportional and Perceptual Conflict Composition on TeamPerformance, International journal of conflict management.Lindblom, C.E. (1959) The Science of Muddling Through, Public Administration Review, pp. 79-88.London, M. and Sessa, V.I. (2006) Continuous learning in organizations: Individual, group and organizationalperspectives, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Lorey, W. (1979) Improve Communications with the Johari Window, Training, vol. 16, no. 6, pp. 60-60.Nakpodia, E.D. (2009) The concept of the university as learning organization:Its functions, techniques andpossible ways of making it effective, Journal of public administration and policy research.Pugh, D.S. and Hickson, D.J. (1989) The management of Organizations, in Pugh, D.S. and Hickson, D.J. Writerson Organizations, 4th edition, D.S. Pugh and D.J. Hickson.
  7. 7. Appendix 2 – Slides from task 2
  8. 8. Appendix 3 – Notes from task 2  Roles: o Presenter; Jose, Idea maker; Deepak, power point maker; Jose’ note taker; Carolina/Chandra  Decision: o Whether to close branches, reduce employees or reduce salaries. o The downturn of 2008 resulting in financial losses to the company and thus leading to unavoidable and imminent decisions involving the top management of the company and affecting over 3800 employees. o Company unwittingly followed Simons model in part with proper intelligence collection and identifying options, however faltered in assessing consequences. o Multiple factors like financial implications, sentimental reasons and face saving need of the top management played an influencing role in the final decision. With the senior management involved in the start-up and planning stage of the company; any decision to close branches was considered as a loss of face by them. o The company decided to choose the least controversial decision of reducing salaries of all employees as the option. o However the half-hearted measures failed to correct the trajectory of the company and this resulted in the company making higher losses. o This resulted in the parent company in Singapore deciding to make sweeping changes in the top management of the company starting with bringing in new external CEO with specific bonus for turning around the fortunes of the company. The CEO with unattached and pragmatic decisions decided to close nearly 500 branches and over 4600 employees lost their jobs which were far higher than the required number at the time of the initial decision.  Lessons learnt:  Decisions however tough if delayed can result in far higher cost than anticipated.  Factors like attachments and ego, which are not pragmatic in the business decisions sometimes, take precedence over financial outcomes.  Assessing consequences of each decision is crucial before taking them.
  9. 9. Appendix 4 – Slides from task 3
  10. 10. Appendix 5 – Notes from task 3  Roles: o Idea maker; Carolina, power point maker; Deepak’ note taker; Carolina  Description: o Innovation of implementation of Electronic Document Management System. o Pharmaceutical company hired a consultant for the implementation. The company faced different levels of enthusiasm in the implementation across the globe with some countries proactive and some lagging behind. o The consultant created an innovative method of the implementation with two separate sets of training modules for the employees with the standard one for all the employees and a customised one for the employees not coming up to speed the first time. o The training also promoted the possibility of local adaptation of the tool in different countries which had been a major hindrance for the uptake of the usage of the tool. o While the tool and the FDA regulations held a frame work for the consultant, the innovative training module and the delivery of the same across the globe helped in making the frame work more elastic and acceptable to the employees.  Learning’s:  It is important to first get the buy in of the employees before implementing a new project  Even mundane activities like training of a software tool can be done in ways to generate interest among the participants if innovative methods are used
  11. 11. Appendix 6 – Slides from task 4
  12. 12. Appendix 7 – Notes from task 4 Roles: o Presenter; Justin, Idea Maker; Deepak, Power point maker; Justin, note taker, Jose/Carolina Experience: o Joint venture between Pepsi and Lipton, India, 2003. Due to the synergies created through the proposed JV – (Pepsi offered B2C and Lipton B2B) a tie up was suggested to cross sell, achieve market penetration and cost reductions. Lipton had a widespread vending machine network (B2B) and Pepsi had a widespread customer base (B2C). o Due to the differing make ups of the customer base there were very different cultures in the organisations. o The organisations top management teams were in agreement that this was the way forward and would result in improvements. However the operations and distribution teams were not sold on the idea. The was due to the fact that the a) did not buy in to the idea due to the “what’s in it for me” syndrome, i.e. they were not incentivised and they had an additional product to sell and b) at the operational level they were not integrated. o The two organisations did not have an integrated team which resulted in siloed mentalities and groupism (me and them). o There was a lack of common objectives through the operation and distribution teams. o The JV failed in this form and had to be re-strategized; a new separate autonomous department was formed with its own director. There were clear lines of communication and there was a clear idea of what was to be achieved at the outset. Lessons learnt: o Team members should be incentivised and have common goals of selling the two products. o The teams should be integrated thus stopping the “them and us”. o Sell the idea to the employees at the outset; ensure that they know what is going on and that they support it. If they don’t they will not believe in the product idea etc. and it has a higher chance of failure. Use of B2E systems.Notes following other presentations Potential challenges faced when organisations are from public and private sectors due to very differing cultures and stakeholders. Muscle memory – continuous practice makes reflexivity second nature. Creativity requires nurturing
  13. 13. Statement of Academic HonestyManagingWe confirm that except where we have used explicitly cited quotations that are fully referenced, no aspect ofthis coursework has been copied from any other source.We confirm that while we have discussed ideas and concepts relating to the course with each other the workin the assignment is entirely based upon the group’s discussions, analysis and/or investigations.We fully understand that any act of academic dishonesty such as plagiarism or collusion on our part may resultin the non-award of our MBA.Justin MoseleyChandramouli SureshDeepak VarmaJose ValdezCarolina CamachoKathiravan Abranantham
  14. 14. Group Peer AssessmentWe hereby declare that every member of the group contributed equally towards the group work activities. GROUP MEMBER’S NAME RATING (0 – 1) 1 1 Justin Moseley 2 1 Jose Valdez 3 1 Deepak Varma 4 1 Carolina Camacho 5 1 Chandramouli suresh 6 Kathiravan Abranantham 1