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May 31, 2010

academic Vs. practical

Both LE and KBAM PMA require us to base on the case study of WaveRiders and act as a consultant to give improvement suggestions for the company.

I expect that I did not do very well in my LE because I was so confused to wrtie a practical paper with academic references.  But no worries, I think I have improved this time.  I am not sure whether this is because the difficulty is different or because I have learnt from the previous experience.  This time I found it is much easier to relate academic references to practical suggestions for WaveRiders.  I think one of the difficuties for last time is we were asked to base on one philosophy and i was a bit confused whether or not searching support from other researchers other than the one I chose.

Nevermind, both PMAs have finished.

I love the idea of using case study to learn.  Besides the PMA, we did practical presentation and simulate to present for a real business.  I did try to make everything real but so far, I dont know my result.  I mean I still cant imagine the gap between my presentations and the real ones as I have zero experience.  However, I did learn a lot from it and I believe I can do better as I am prepared.  One tips for the presentations and that is think of your audience.


reflection on leadership after kbam

The most impressive thing that I have learnt after these few weeks is about the humanistic influenece in a business.  This thought might be a result of the PMA + OPP + MOC.

I remember when I did my LE module, I kept thinking which style of leadership suit me the best.  My conclusion was it should be flexible according to the situation.  Sometimes, when things are not going in the "ideal" path that allow me to go for the "ideal" management style, I thought we should be flexible to do the "wrong" things.  For example, there might be times that using authority is the best to manage a business.

However, my mind has changed a bit now.  Rooms for flexibility should still be available.  But now, I go for the side of putting human at the first place more.  I hope to be a leader that listens because I understand the feeling of people is closely related to performance.  OPP teaches us to pay attention to the socio-emotional factor.  After the PMA, I understand that even for managing health and safety, the input of employees affects a lot.


February 02, 2010

review

i really enjoy the leadership module.  i cant stop writing blogs about the things i have learnt and i have reflected on.  one interesting thing about this module is that i think i know more about myself during the two weeks.

the approach of this module was very interactive and practical.  unlike CBE, it did not always talk about the models, theories.  instead, we learned through simulation games.  this helped me to link my experience to reality.  nearly everytime after the exercises, i would think what i would do if i were the leader.  this leads me to think about myself, my own personalities or characteristics.

many questions arose in my mind about leadership.  this feeling is good.  though i cant answer all my questions, i believe it is good enough to have thought about them.  when i encounter the similar thing in the future, i know i have thought about it and try to apply my thoughts to the situation. 

i have started to do the PMA.  i was reading the theories on the web and choosing the ones that are suitable.  i have spent too much time on understanding the psychological theories, which i found interesting but they are not really applicable in doing the PMA.  we do not have much knowledge about the personality of the people in waveriders.  even if we can make assumptions, i think the management science theories are more suitable in answering the PMA because they are more practical.  thus, i think i will emphasize more on the management science theories, but i will also mention a bit on thr psychological ones.

when i look at the managment science theories, i have 4 choices.  i think i am quite familiar with EFQM and Deming's philosophy.  i know i can use less time in doing this PMA if i choose to do it with these two theories.  however, i think i'll go for the other two this time.  i searched warren bennis and john adair on the web.  i found that they are quite famous in the leadership field.  though i still do not have much knowledge about their theories, i think it will be quite challenging to find out more and to make use of them in my PMA!!!  so~ i understand that if i wanna learn more, i needa work much harderXP


February 01, 2010

team exercise: the leadership challenge

wow~ this was the most difficult game we played in this module.  at the end, none of the groups could finish the game because all of us forgot to enter the data to the computer within the time limit.

it was such a big challenge for the leader and also the team.  we learnt the importance of delegation.  it would be better for the leader to delegate the specific job to the memebrs.  in my group, the members were very cooperative and we knew what to do and what to focus on.  of course, the leader guided us to do our job.  and she trusted our ability and our decisions.

i think if i were the leader, i would be too involved in the task.  i know i am the kind of person that i like to involve in everything that i believe i am capable with.  So, i think i need to learn how to step back and be an effective leader in this way.


team exercise: salvage the black swan

In fact, I think all the team exercises are quite similar.  But everytime they lead us to think of different aspects of leadership.  It is really amazing!

I love this game.  Maybe that's because my team won again!  And i love to solve the tasks, which was very mathematical and quite challenging.

This time, the leaders had the right to choose their team members.  How could the leader choose his/her best team without knowing what exactly was the task?  In the future, if i have a chance to choose my team members, what should be based on?  if i know what the task is, of course i will choose the one with the best ability to complete the task.  at the same time, i want my members to work in a friendly atmosphere.  So, i will choose the ones that can cooperate with each others.

back to the exercise, our team was the smallest group with only 4 members including the leader.  we thought that this helped us to work more efficiently.  Since all 4 of us were girls, we were not good at reading maps and we always need to seek help.  Our leader always provided support for us as she was the one to ask for more instructions when we felt confused.

one interesting thing happened during the game.  when we were solving a problem, all 3 team members knew the answer and the leader did not.  as we were competing with the time, we just told the leader the answer and asked her to hand in the answer to paul.  but the leader rejected to do so and she insisted to know how to solve the problem.  as last, i explained to her and she went to hand in the answer.  this incident made me think of the role as a leader.  should the leader understand everything?  or should the leader trust fully his/her team members?  again~ i think this question just depends on the situation.  if the leader has the knowledge about the problem, he/she should understand the solution so that he/she can make sure that the group does not go to the wrong direction.  however, if the leader does not have enough knowledge about the problem and he/she believes his/her members ahve better ability, he/she should trust them.

then we had a discussion about leadership again.

paul suggested a question that i think is very useful.  "what values are added by the leader?"
when playing the role as a leader, i think we should always think about this question in our mind so that the leader can always contribute to the group.

we also learned about the conscious and competence model.  i searched a bit about this model on the web.  it is a learning model.  there are 4 categories:
unconscious + incompetence>>you do not know what you do not know. You are lack knowledge and skills in the area in question and are unaware of this lack
conscious + incompetence>>you realize that you are not as expert as perhaps you thought you were or thought you could be
conscious + competence>>Becoming consciously competent often takes a while, as you steadily learn about the new area, either through experience or more formal learning
unconscious + competence>>Eventually you reach a point where you no longer have to think about what you are doing, and are competent without the significant effort that characterizes the state of conscious competence
reference: http://changingminds.org/explanations/learning/consciousness_competence.htm
i think this model is quite useful so that we can understand more about where we are concerning a particular issue.  then, we may know the way to improve or seek help.


January 30, 2010

team exercise: hotel

this was the first time for me to be the leader for the module exercise.  i felt great.  as i have mentioned in my previous blog, i was not confident to volunteer myself to be the leader.  maybe i am the kind of person that i need some time to feel secure in a group of people.

when i was leading, i always remind myself to lead.  one thing happened during the discussion.  we were discussing an issue actively.  i knew we may have spent too much time on the same issue.  but i was interested in the discussion and i believed that it worth to listen to the ideas of my members so that we could make better decision.  however, one of the team member interrupted and said we had to reach to the decision.  i did not actually know what to do at that moment and we just made our decision at that point and started discussing other issues.  in fact, i doubt whether i did wrong to lose my authority in this case.  could i do better?

another thing that i noticed is that when i have ideas on the issue, i will paticipate actively like a group member instead of a leader.  Sometimes, when i think the task is not difficult, i will be too sure of myself and want others to follow.  i am not sure whether it is good to do like this.  i hope the group does not go to the wrong direction but i should have let my team members to solve the problem and step back a bit.  how can i handle this better?

then, we changed the roles.  the leader left the team and the deputy leader took the lead.  this time, i was the observer.  the group i observed got a quiet leader.  that was interesting.  the behaviour of the team members were affected.  in fact, i was not sure whether they worked so individually when they had their original leader.  but when the time i was observing, they were not like a team.  no emerged leader took the lead.  instead, all of them worked individually.  someone would solve the problem and others did their own work.  some members did encourage their deputy leader to speak up, which i thought was really good.  but the effect was not favourable.  the team couldnt concentrate to do their work together again till the end.  i think it was not the fault of the deputy leader.  it was the problem of motivation.  maybe this time, the game was too long and all of us were too tired of the module week.  but in reality, if i were one of the demotivated team members, what would i need from a leader to motivate me again?  or if i could realise the problem of my team, would i choose to be the emerged leader?

right! it's time to evaluate.  i was glad that my team members were quite satisfied with my performance as a leader.  in fact, i thought i got a good team.  all of us were very active in the discussion and the result was good.  i really believe that when we have a good team, the leader is much easy to lead.  but the reality will be much more challenging.  i cant really tell how can i lead next time when i have a different team, it just depends on the situation.  i know it is easy to feel frustrated when the team is not as good as we expected.  but i hope i can always remind myself that it's the responsibility of the leader to change the situation so as to achieve the goal.


January 29, 2010

mini project three (LE)

just took a look at my "draft" section... there are 11 drafts!!!  all of them are about leadership module week.  i learnt a lot during that week and i really wanna write down all my feelings about each lesson.  it will take some time to finish them all.  i hope i can remember all the things i wanna say when i write the blogs.  maybe i should start by the mini projects=)

our third mini project was about promotion and firing policy.  personally, i really dont agree with the rank and yank system.  i dont think it helps the company to achieve continuous improvement nor organizational learning.  but the truth is that many successful companies nowadays are using this system!  i believe it creates fear for employees.  i dont want to work in such company with such a harsh competition within the organization.  as what we are required to answer the mini project question, when we compare it to deming's philosophy, the systems actually contradicts to what deming said.  i cant really judge whether this is a good system.  personally, i dont like it and i hope i wont use this in my future work.  I believe as long as the performance of employees are within the acceptable level, no firing policy is needed.  Instead, training or education can help to achieve improvements.  concerning to the promotion policy, it is good to reward those who work hard and have good performance.
As graeme also reminded us about the control chart, we can judge the performance by measurements similar to the six sigma theory.  I found it very interesting to relate the things we learnt in different modules.

While my group presented about the promotion and firing policy, two other groups presented about the performance appraisal.  Since i dont know we were doing different topics, i had no ideas about this topic before the presentations.  But after that, i thought this idea is quite good to assess employees performance.  it is always good to know where we are before taking a step to improve.  I am not quite sure about what exactly the performance appraisal is.  but this is my first thought about this.  i think i will take a more detailed look about this topic before i write more about this next time=)


January 21, 2010

mini project four (LE – CSR)

Right! i am so happy after the presentation today! i'll tell you why=]

The first thing is... Besides the small presentation for seminars, this is my first time to present without a script!  I know i was a bit messy in expressing myself during the presentation.  But i think i was, at least, able to let my audience knew most of the things that i was talking about, right?!  paul is right! this is a safe environment to try things that we are not confident in.  actually, i did not do it purposely.  i just felt so tired this week and i did not want to prepare the script last night though i have plenty of time to do it.  In fact, i did prepare for 1 to 2 slides.  But during the presentation, i just forgot that i needed to refer to my notes.  of course, i missed out the thing i wanna say.  But no one knew it, right?!  I know I have lots of rooms to improve.  But i am already so happy about my performance because i, at least, allowed myself to have a try.  Practice makes perfect.  I hope I'll be too tired to prepare script again next time.:P

The second thing is... the teamwork has improved a lot this time.  as i have mentioned in my previous blog, though we did have group meetings to discuss the mini projects, i admitted that we have some problems in our teamwork.  But this time, we really worked together!  we discussed the approach to handle the question together.  they gave many advice and ideas to joanne and I.  And they gave courage to us to present!  i feel so good to work on this mini project.

The third thing is... CSR is a topic that I always love=]  not because it relates to my project, but i really want the world knows about ethics.

well~ i think it's time to write about the learning points now=]

Strategic CSR VS voluntary CSR
In fact, we cannot deny that most of the companies in the world aims at profit maximization.  So, i believe most of them are interested in strategic CSR more if they really include CSR practices.  In my opinion, strategic CSR can be the first step to introduce CSR practices to a company.  Personally, I really believe that implementation of strategic CSR is a kind of investment, but not a cost.  CSR does bring benefits to the company in terms of reputation and profit.  And this kind of investment is a long term one.

But once the company is practising strategic CSR, how can it change to voluntary CSR???
It's a very difficult question, espectially when the stakeholders think CSR fails to bring benefits to the company or they think that the benefits are not brought by CSR.  If a company does not have the 2 problems mentioned, could I say strategic CSR would have created a culture or an atmosphere in the company and it is ready to change to a voluntary CSR??  No, that might not happen most of the time.  Because stakeholders are still focusing on the profit.  So, how can the nature of CSR change??  Is it possible??

Maybe it is important to convince stakeholders to practise voluntary CSR at the beginning instead of attracting them by strategic CSR.

So, as individuals, how can we help developing CSR in our own companies??  Even I have the brief in the essense of CSR, it is really hard to influence my own company to practice voluntary CSR.  It is a BIG question marks in my mind.  Maybe I can follow the concept of learning organization.  To start influencing my own little part in the company.  Then, spread the message to the entire company.  But how feasible is it??  When we are in school, teachers encourage student to do voluntary work.  How many of them really do that and do that from their heart??

I am just wondering, will that be the trend of practising CSR put pressure on the businesses in the future and helps the spread of CSR??? It can be a good thing if this day comes.  Because by that time, CSR will be a necessary part of every company.  Maybe this is when we can transform strategic CSR to voluntary CSR=]


Coaching

We did an exercise about coaching today.

In my opinion, coaching is some how even harder than leading.  Coaching is a knowledge of psychology and it is about handling the emotional side of the people.  It is to inspire people to make their own decision, or to solve a problem by themselves.  It helps to stimulate the ability and thoughts of people.  And this enhances the personal growth. 

Maybe coaching is exactly a kind of the greates leadership?!

I find it very difficult to coach.  In previous team exercises in class, the leader can actually have his/her own opinions and expresses that to the group.  However, as a coach, you should not tell, but to let the coachee to take ownership themselves.  When coaching someone, even the way you speak would affect the result of coaching.

I paired up with one of my colleagues today and we acted as the coach and the coachee in turns.  As the coachee, i wanted to feel being understood.  Actually, i did ask my coach to share her experience.  But that's not supposed to be done by the coach.  Moreover, I felt a bit under pressure when I was asked to give choices of solutions for my problem.  Then, I acted as the coach.  I am not good at speaking at all.  Thus, it was really hard to guide my coachee.  I believe i am a good listener, but i just have difficulties in expressing myself.  Thus, from this experience, I know that I have a long way until i can coach...


January 20, 2010

mini project two (LE)

i admit that the approach that our group have chosen to handle this question was wrong.  we should have done it in a more practical way.  in fact, when we had our meeting for the first time, we were all confused about what was the question actually required.  we did analyse the question together but we were all going to the wrong direction.  thanks Parker to present for us.  it was a tough one, especially we were the last group and we knew we did the wrong thing after hearing other presentations.

after today's activity, i did reflect on the teamwork for our group to do the mini-projects, too.  we didn't really have a leader for the mini-projects, instead, we have decided the people who would going to present.  And their work is to organize all our ideas and to present.  at the beginning, i think this idea was good because we can make sure that everyone would contribute to the team for the mini-projects.  but i just found that people tend to focus on the one that they are responsible for.  i tried my best to contribute to every mini-project.  i gave ideas on the forum and hope that this can stimulate the thoughts of my teammates.  but i was wrong.  moreover, it's just mini-projects, i dont want to put pressure on my teammates.  so, that's maybe the problem of our team.

anyway~back to the learning points for this mini-project.

first of all, i am glad that we are now required to do these kind of practical mini-projects, unlike the ones in CBE.  though our group did not do the practical part, i learned from the other groups about how the tools can be implemented in reality.  of course, it seems that none of the groups did it perfectly, i did learn from them.

also, i was a bit confused by "vision", "goals", "objectives" and "targets". and i am now more clear about their differences.  "vision" is a nice and simple statement that the company what to achieve.  "goals" and "objectives" are interchangable and they are about how to achieve the vision.  last but not least, "targets" could be the exact numbers for our goals.

objectives should be measurable.  so that the company can evaluation on their performance.

and we should not have too many goals in order to stay focus.


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