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October 13, 2010

Belated Reflection

Looks into my eyes... you are feeling sleeping... when I click my fingers you will read the date of this entry as the 10th October...

Ok, that won't work. But this entry is actually a look back at the mentally draining events of yesterday. Why didn't I actually write this last night, well, simply because I didn't actually know what to write. It took a good night sleep and a morning swim to put my thoughts together into a coherent structure. Yesterday was without a doubt a library day. With so many presentation and project deadlines looming already, getting to grips with or even getting a grip on the resources on offer was essential.

First off, the journals. So much access to a vast and rich source of information! Then the books, from my experiences doing my undergraduate studies finding books I was looking for on a shelf and where they were meant to be was an exciting new experience! With books in hand and journals loaded I started to read through the print. Carefully bearing in mind Paul's advice that reading must be with a purpose, with specific questions to be answered or points to be found. Even so, narrowing down all the available resources into a handfull of useful and practical ones is a time consuming and mentally draining process. By the end of the day I had a good idea of the background, arguments and ideas involved in our group task. Getting these down on paper (well, typed on screen really) was another matter. After a couple of paragraphs, compiling my interpretation of the arguments starting becoming more difficult and took longer and longer. This morning however, just discussing these ideas with my group made me realise how much of them actually registered. Sleep is a marvoulous thing. Detabing the ideas of Management by Objective, its implications and alternatives, I realised that between us we can quite easily come up with a coherant and full critique of any issue raised within our assignments. After abit of an organisational discussion as well we managed to give ourselves a direction and are now plodding along happily with our work. With many many questions left unanswered, and an eagerness to leave as few unknowns as possible I plan on spending the majority of the next few days tirelessly working away in the library.

October 11, 2010


Well, what can I say. 8:00 this morning, driving down the A45 all I could think of was how many people seem to know very little, if anything at all about the highway code, or how to drive in general. Feeling I had to express my road rage creatively I thought a full on grumpy rant would more than likely by my next blog entry. Little did I expect that our introduction to CBE (Creating Business Excellence) would capture my imagination and completely distract me from the mornings frustrations.

A discussion based on the ideas W. Edwards Deming regarding the principals of Management. Principals which contradict the widespread westerm management techniques internal competitiveness in the work force and target based management. In the UK for example, they are both clearly present in most areas of the private and public sectors. Hospitals have targets in terms of patient care, time with each patient, and number of people "processed". Schools have set targets to meet in terms of grades. Private enterprises base their management goals on sales targets. Individuals are frequently renumerated based on their performance leading to people striving for individual gain as opposed to collective gain within their workplace. None of this is revelatory however.

For me, what sparked my interest was Deming's alternate view on how to achieve management excellence, and the wide applicability of his ideas. This theory centred around 14 principles of manangement that would create a situation in which the leadership and workforce within an organisation would cooperate in such a way that teamwork is promoted and the desire for self-improvement is created on both an aggregate level for the whole organisation, and a micro level for each individual employee. By the removal of interdepartment and hierarchical barriers, efficiency problems become clearer and a process of improvement can be initiated. If the desire for self improvement is present, the Deming Cycle, or PDCA (Plan-DO-Check-Act) method can be applied to determine the source of any potential improvement and act accordingly. This PDCA method of self assessment and improvement can be applied into all aspects of life and work in which a desire or need for improvement exists.

I am under no illusions that my knowledge on this topic is incomplete, but these ideas of removing statistics and target based management for leadership and motivation got me thinking about what firms that have used various aspects of this theory in a successful manner, and to what extend Deming's ideas were utilised. Google for example allows employees time for personal projects as part of their working day which has lead to many successful innovations in various aspects of their organisation. John Lewis can be used as an example of a business that has organised its ownership structure in a way that all employees are part owners of the organisation, which naturally promote a desire to collective self improvement because all employees gain from the success and development of the business.

My reading on this topic is far from over, but what I do know at the moment is that this is going to be an interesting topic to explore.

October 08, 2010

And so it begins…

Welcome ladies and gentle to my first post on MKN Chronicles. As my academic adventure commences at Warwick, so too does my blog through which I will be sharing everything from my scholastic ponderings to my irate rantings with the world.

I'd like to start with a look back over my first week at Warwick and my introduction to MBE, or "Management for Business Excellence" for those who aren't up to date with the WMG lingo. These three letters which represent the postgraduate masters course that I have just commenced will undoubtedly be the single most important aspect of my life for the next 48 weeks as well as the foundation of my entire future career aspirations. For something so crucial in the lives of so many, you could expect the introductory week to fill the hearts and minds of those attending with dread as the years workload is laid bare. Alternatively, you may also expect a week filled with reassurance to alleviate the panic that may be setting in. Which did get you ask? Well, to be perfectly honest, I would have to say neither, or possibly both.

The early half of the week consisted of informative lectures about full time masters courses at WMG, and for me and my cohorts in MBE, a more specific lecture on the structure of our course and what to expect in the year ahead. The no illusions style of those lecturing clearly laid out the immensity of the task ahead of us all, and the effort required by each individual to succeed. To some this may have seemed daunting, but to others, the useful scheduling tips and resources shown provided some relief and much appreciated guidance in organising the year ahead.

The Latter half of the week was a slightly more mixed story. An amazingly fun team building session of games and newspaper giraffe building set us up in our groups for the coming year. Yes you read that right, postgraduate students building giraffes out of newspaper. Not only was this a fun filled ice breaker, it touched on certain areas that will no doubt be explored in depth later as communication, delegation, and leadership were all necessities when it came to a successful giraffe. Unfortunate our group didn't win the challenge, however we still stood proudly by our "sleeping" giraffe!

The single disappointment of the latter half of the week was the time in Butterworth Hall. Although all the topics and information provided by speakers was without a doubt informative and useful, in my humble opinion the entire afternoon could have been condensed by omitting large amounts of information that had already been provided in different talks.

Overall this has definitely been a fantastic start to what I hope will be a challenging, and rewarding year!

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

~ John F. Kennedy

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