March 19, 2017

Robust decision making – group work

Implementing desicion making tools in a case study situation is not as easy as it might have seemed at the beginning. First of all, the contradictory data regarding dates and impossible deadlines for production start forced us to take some assumtions. Additionally we had in minds our first set of decisions - to continue the project and to manufacture in Lymington. How good were these decisions taken within half an hour on the basis of the wrong incomplete data? Are now biased towards this direction? We try to reset our minds and we will see next week, if the analysis we conduct will confirm them or will lead to different decisions. So where are we now?

While reading the text carefully, we discovered all the steps and nuances in the decision process which made a decision tree very expanded. One team member prepared an excel file with all the numbers which we will use for sure in the decision making process. We just need to add there reasonable assumptions about sales after 2022 and market conditions in 2018. It will be very helpful while calculating NPV for both investments (Lymington & Exmouth). Half of the team started preparing SWOT analysis of two possible locations, but so far we come to the conclusion that we need to do some more research about geography and demographics of the places. What seemed a not too complicated cost-benefit analysis at a very begining, has been growing into a major analysis which requires a set of few different decision making tools. I think it will be good to start next session with silent brainstorming and encourage everybody to be critical and express their opinions, in order to avoid groupthinking. During the coming days we need to collect all possible data, make as reliable as possible assumptions and finally make robust decisions for WaveRiders. I am looking forward to see the results of our and other groups work on Friday!


March 15, 2017

Robust decision making – what have I learnt?

Robust Decision Making was a quite mysterious module title for me. It was clear what decision making is, but what does 'robust' mean? Well, it is all about analysing different possibilities and influencing factors, creating scenarios and choosing this alternative which is indifferent after small changes in the environment. For example if I take a credit in the same currency in which I earn money, it will be robust in comparison to taking a credit in a different currency (cause in case of a fluctuation in exchange rate, I will need to give back different amount of money than I borrowed).

I was surprised with the results of the test assessing our judgement - I had only 3 answers correct out of 12! It is scary to think how many wrong decision we make every day due to relying on our system 1 and falling into a trap of different heuristics. I was unaware how bad visual problems, quantitative judgement or logical judgement might be. I was falling into Gamblers Fallacy or recognized a pattern where there was any not a single time... So what can I do about disfunctions of our brain? How can I improve my decision making process?

Well, there are many tools we can use - MaxiMax, MaxiMin, Expected Value, Decision Tree. I have always liked the last one, as it clearly divides a complex decision into steps and assigns value and probability to each of it. I think it helps to structure the problem and I will try to use it to better understand the case of WaveRiders while preparing the presentation.

SMART, which stands for Simple Multiple Atribute Rating Technique, is another useful tool. As long as we can list the attributes, assign weight to them and rate each possibility against each attribute, SMART will help us to choose optimal option or at least eliminate the suboptimal ones. I think I could use it to choose a job if I had a few offers on the table, rating each option against attributes such as salary, career progression, training available, skills development, team or atmosphere in the office.

Despite abundance of decision making tools and techniques, following a good decision making process does not guarantee a good decision outcome. Even badly taken decisions can bring good outcomes. So what are our chances of getting good results? And even if a different decision could have brought better results, would we ever realise it?


March 08, 2017

L = f(l, gm, s)

Leadership is a function of a leader, group members and situation (Avolio, Bruce J., 2007; DuBrin, Andrew J., 2016). But shall the leader really be first in this equation? If leadership is about flexibility and adapting to circumstances in order to achieve common goal, shouldn't leader come as the last? In the sense that depending on a situation and what kind of people he/ she leads, the approach to group members, the approach to problem, the leadership style and ultimately the leader behaviour and strategy will differ.

Being a leader does not mean to stay at the top of the group, being passive and just giving orders. Being leader means to move all the time, from big picture to details and back, from individuals to group as a whole, from achieving a target to improving group morale, etc. We cant's stagnate, cause if we do we will stay behind.


February 02, 2017

Can learning be forced?

Some 2 weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with Paul. What I initially thought would be just discussing my opinion about my first module, made me actually change my mind! Not straight away, only after realizing I have proofs in my life of what Paul tried to convince me.

So, first of all myself. Before joining highschool I could select second foreign language. As I was already learning French (at school) and English (after school), I was choosing between Russian and German. 2/3 of my class chose Russian, so I wanted too. But my dad co vinced me to take German instead, as a more useful language, which I could potentially speak more afterwards. I had it for 3 years, with decent marks. But I never liked it. I was kearning cause I had to. And what happened? Now I can barely say 2 sentences, miss words, can't communicate with anybody in this language...

Second exampe - my Mum. She loves her touch-screen phone, she wanted one before I did! She discovers new functions by herself, bacuase she wants to! At the same time she has been having her own laptop for some 3 years, but still is affraid of using it. She has simply said 'no' in her mind. Is there any logic? Not really, but if we look at it from the point of view of our will, that is totally different picture!

Now I am 100% with Paul - learning cannot be forced. It has to be volountary, otherwise it comes and go very quickly, or even is not possible at all!

"If you really want something, you will always find a way; if not - you will find an excuse."


December 14, 2016

Crerating Business Excellence – after module reflection

The module Creating Business Excellence was my first module taken at MBE, introducing me to a totally new learning experience - no traditional lectures, group work, seminars, blog writing, presentations, discussions; tutor being a facilitator, not a lecturer. As such, CBE brought to my mind the reflections about the module content and also about the way it was created and delivered by our group.

Excellence models seem to be a powerful tool which help organizations throughout their journey towards excellence. It was interesting to realise that these are actually people who constitute the key point of interest of each model. Although I was surprised that annual performance assessment and based on a reward and recognition promotions is against the philosophy of excellence models because it does not promote group work, collaboration nor sharing knowledge. It was enlightening to realise the links and dependencies between an organisation’s improvement and the personal development of its people.

The principles of the excellence models might facilitate their adaptation in some cultures, such as Deming’s model in Japan, while being a difficulty in others, i.e. introduction of the same model in the USA. This fact made me think that it is important not only to understand what guidelines the theory is providing, but also how an organisation plans to endeavor to excellence.

The second important learning concerned measurement of results and imperfections of widely used paired comparisons. Realising that not only analysing data within its history and context is necessary, but also establishing what numbers are within the normal, in order to differentiate signals from noises and change the process only when necessary.

Last but not least, my professional experience definitely confirms that leaders’ engagement stimulates employees’ attitudes and behaviours. At KPMG I really enjoyed working with my boss who, even giving me challenging tasks, was always supportive and open for discussions and my suggestions. He knew how to recognise our efforts and was on board at difficult times, not only by giving directions, but being a part of the team delivering the project with us.

As far as the learning environment is concerned, I find it enjoyable and challenging at the same time. It requires maturity and self-motivation to seek for knowledge. Also it encourages development of soft skills, such as communication, active listening, presenting, working in multicultural environment. It allows to learn patience and understanding for other cultures and personalities, bringing possibility to gain benefits from different experiences.

Additionally new tools has broadened my horizon - mind mapping, time (or rather ourselves) management and new way of brainstorming. I am trying to use them in my day to day life and my academic life, specially mind mapping and schedule planning. I am expecting that those tools will enhance my experience at MBE and facilitate my personal journey towards excellence.

To sum up I can admit that the first two weeks confirmed that I choose the right course.


long silence

I have been silent for quite long, I hope to change it now. Student's life is extremely busy - would you believe? Modules, assignments, project selection, not mentioning group work, socializing and all the meetings with interesting people from all around the world!

We had an international cuisine lunch, tonight the scholars dinner is comming... and (in the meantime) I completed 3 modules from which reflections will come shortly :-)


October 24, 2016

Are you excited?

This is a question I have heard ever since I said I wanted to study at Warwick Uni. Everybody was asking 'Are you excited?'. My friends, family, then tutors when I finally got here. I didn't know what to say cause I really didn't feel the excitement at that time. I was rather scared by coming back to uni after such a long break, starting living in a new country, without my family and my closest friends... Then suddenly one day, taking a bus to uni, listening to some music, it hit me. I am here for a year! I can study what I like! I can read as much as I want! I am meeting fantastic people! Yes, I AM EXCITED!


October 13, 2016

Let'start

I would not be original or different from many other people starting their blog if I said that I wasn't convinced about blogging when I first read I should do it throughout my year at Warwick Uni. Then, when I started hearing about it at the induction, first lectures (or shall I say course meetings?), together with all the reasons why I should blog, I decided to give it a go. Please don't think I got rid of my doubts! Can I be systematic enough? (From my experience with diary writing I can't.) Can my entries be interesting enough to be read? Well, even if it is not the main purpose, I imagine it is nice to receive comments and exchange the opinions this way. Can I be concise enough not to be boring? We will see ;-)


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