All 4 entries tagged Reflection

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December 14, 2010

The Other Kind of Module

Having now had two modules specific to MBE, and two that were not, I am absolutely certain that I picked the right course for me. CBE and PIUSS were run and presented in a way that was quite innovative and unique to me: I can barely recall a dull moment, other than occasionally perhaps during repetitive group presentations! ;-)

FACS was actually really interesting once we got into it. The pre-work was soul-destroying and full of innacuracy that made it difficult and frustrating to learn from, but the tutors made a lot of the contact time so interactive that it made up for it. That said, there were certainly a lot of times when we lectured to (rather than partners in a dialogue) for long periods that put me to sleep. The element of learning by doing was there though.

Having just endured ReMe 1, I remembered why I didn't enjoy most of my undergraduate degree here. So much of it was set up in the same way. A single lecturer attempting to 'deliver' material to 300 tired, bored students, 80% of whom probably spent more time fiddling with their phone than keeping up with what was going on (I include myself here), all against a backdrop of 100 mini-conversations at any given time. I don't think there was a single lecturer who didn't have to pause or ask for quiet more than once, which is rarely the case when people are engaged.

Obviously, from a logistical viewpoint, it probably has to be this way. When you need to get the same information across to so many people, how else can you do it? But while it might be fast and efficient, it is certainly not effective as a means of conveying information in a useful way. Plus, a lot of people have probably been turned off from getting into their literature review, or are not scared at the scope of the task ahead.

So, was it a waste of time and effort? No, of course of not. What I can say - and it's not a bad thing, maybe it was their true purpose all along - is that at least I didn't have to try and read through all that information in one go myself. I feel I have a basic overview of what is required, and where to go to learn more. But I think the lecture style of teaching is outdated, and not really fit for purpose in general.

To add balance here though, the mindmapping session was great - not because the concept is new (it couldn't possibly be to anyone on MBE), but because it opened it up in my mind from being a brainstorming tool, to something you can actually use to structure sections, PMA's, projects, etc. The aspect of the software that allows you to effectively create a full writing plan when you export to word is pure genius!

Overall, it makes me so thankful for the Learning Environment the MBE tutors have developed. Probably, because it's actually possible, and even quite likely, that you will learn something within it!

November 28, 2010

Learning By Doing – The Meccano Exercise

The Meccano exercise was a great demonstrator of the characteristics of a production line. I really enjoyed it too, and I feel like I learned a lot. For me, one of the best parts was that it was drawn out over three days. Often with something like this, you get three hours and you’re done – this felt more like a real project in the way that we had time to try things, reflect on and learn from the experiences, and improve based on them. It was amazing to me, how much room for improvement there was, on a process that originally seemed quite standard, and typical of what you might find on most assembly lines.

We were using DMAIC, guided by our black belt (!), but it never really felt like we were approaching things in a particularly structured way when working in our groups. This made getting started quite hard, and showed me the value of having a step-by-step way of doing things, at least at first. 

Our approach, eventually, was to try to reduce the variation in time each process took each operator to do, to streamline our line. We settled on a target of around 2:45 mins, and began to redistribute the amount of work in each individual process, so that five people (plus one supplying parts in a logistical role) could do the work of seven, and in less time overall. We also found that it was possible to break the processes in such a way that the first two operators could work simultaneously. All in all, I think we were quite successful, and given more time to get used to it, I’m almost certain our output variation would have reduced further!

Multiple rounds of trial and error based tests took place to achieve this – PDSA in action. I learned the importance of having the right people in the right roles (playing to their strengths, nimbleness of fingers especially!) and communicating within the line, as well as seeing control charts in practice. One other important thing was getting a feel for how stressful the job of a production line worker can be – I was stressed, felt like I was bad at my job when I was causing a bottleneck, too warm generally, etc, and none of this even mattered! But also, I know how having a positive, enjoyable working environment can make all the difference to productivity and satisfaction. That’s something I would really like to create in the future.

October 28, 2010

A Reflection On CBE

I really enjoyed the module - from the Vineet Nayar podcast to the module evaluations, I always felt challenged and interested to know more. This is the first time in a long time I've really felt like this, at least for such an extended period of time. It HAS to be to do with the learning and class environment, which is so utterly different to most of the rest of my education. I wonder if others have found this to be the case too?

Speaking of Vineet Nayar, I was tidying up all my materials from the course, and decided to replay the podcast. If you havn't listened to it since the first day, please do. You won't learn anything new - but it's a nice reminder. Then, go here: felt inspired to know more about HCL Technologies and Mr. Nayar, and this transcribed interview (linked from the HCL homepage) is fantastic!

I get the feeling that we're all very much still in the 'learning how to learn' stage, and I'm sure we all will be for a while (maybe forever...). I'm enjoying it, but looking forward to the point where it becomes second nature. For example, I'd like to be able to create a reference without feeling the need to check it using the APA format page (although, what a great learning tool!) - it sort of gets in the way of the learning process a bit. I could say similar things about finding journal articles or the critical thinking process. Practice will inevitably make perfect in this case, and being able to automatically apply what we learn through PMA's and projects to real-life situations in a year's time could have huge effects on the path of our careers.

On the subject of becoming unconsciously competent at things, whenever class discussion turned to this, I couldn't help sniggering and thinking of that old Donald Rumsfeld quote. At the time it came out, I thought it was hilarious and somewhat stupid, I didn't gain a true appreciation of it till last week, but what a way to summarize! Here it is:

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - - the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones."

Anyway, a final thought - CBE, and perhaps MBE altogether (although it's early to tell) is in my opinion, EFQM Excellence principles applied to the classroom. Graeme (Knowles) alluded to this during my group's presentation on Organisational Learning last week. Effectively, our tutors are CEO's, and we ARE their Learning Organisation. Continuously self-assessing, learning from mistakes to improve ourselves and thus our results, all in a process lead by our seniors, but relying on our willingness to partake, all within an atmosphere of curiosity, trust (assessing our own projects) and forgiveness (when we make a mess of a task, as MBE-A did with the comparison of excellence models). Looking back, it's hitting home just how much of that was going on. I look forward to a day when it's my turn to put this into practice.

October 22, 2010

Is quality a dirty word?

Still no internet at home :/ , so I'm having to write my reflective thoughts on my laptop, and upload them when I get a chance/remember.

One thing that has come out of this, is that rather than coming up against a blank screen at the end of the day, and trying to figure out what to write, I've been recording my reflections throughout the day on a piece of paper, as and when they happen. Because, and I don't know about everyone else, I get struck by thoughts all day, so this method seems to make sense to me. If anyone else has a similar problem, I recommend it.

Definitions have been an interesting issue this week. We've looked at knowledge vs. information, continuous vs. continual, interpretations vs. opinions, and dialogue vs. debate, to name but a few. I won't bother going through them all, everyone knows how to use a dictionary (and you should have been paying attention :P), but if there's one that confuses you, feel free to ask me about it. But, I feel like one word that we've been warned away from is quality. Both Paul and Graeme have in the past few days made a point of saying that they haven't used it when they've spoken about excellence, and the models we've been looking at, etc. My question to you all is why? Why the avoidance? I've been thinking about it, and I'm still not clear on the answer. I'm well aware that MBE is not a quality management degree, but I feel like that topic is surely a small part of it. What are your thoughts?

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