Archive for August, 2010

WSJ: Woman in the Work Place

I had an opportunity to read the article “In Today’s Work Place Woman Feel More Free to be Woman” authored by Ellen Joan Pollock, a staff reporter of Wall Street Journal. It is interesting to know that younger women in the managerial and professional jobs have increased by about 15 percent in the last five years. I am in the civil Engineering field in the last 15 years as a student and a professional where men dominate the industry by number. Over the years I, myself, observed this encouraging trend of increasing number of women in the work place.

I totally agree with Ms. Ireland that flirting can be a short term strategy and I have the same reservation as Ms. Steinem whether flirting is going to be benefit young women in the long run. In any organization the main thing is getting the business done. Robert Dunson was able to complete a  business deal comfortably with the help of a female colleague whom the other party liked. In this case he discussed his strategy with the female colleague beforehand. If she was not informed or if she did not agree whole heartedly, I am not sure whether we can consider this as an ethical business.

I don’t feel wrong using the card of attractiveness in business. As Ms. Owen noted great smile and a pleasant look will take the women to the first step. Intelligence is the other part that wins the deal. It is true that men’s sex drive is their biggest source of vulnerability as noted by Mr. Farrell. In the current world, there are stringent rules in all organizations regarding the conduct at the work place. Also there are plenty of examples around that show just one mistake of a man is enough to end his career. That environment controls this vulnerability in the most cases, but there are instances where things explode.

HBR: Teaching Smart People How to Learn

I found the professionals in this management consulting company case are good at single loop learning. When it comes to more exploratory double loop learning, they find it hard go with it. Also I felt the professionals with high academic credentials at the work place assume that the solutions for all the problems are at their finger tips. This attitude makes them lack in continuous learning or more exploration. This is what I see from the discussions among the manager and the team members. Some of the professionals were defensive and not ready to accept that there can be improvements in their actions. Also there is a lack of communication between the team members and the management. I really admire the manager in this case. He invited the professionals for an open meeting, ready to hear where he was wrong, and admitted that he did not fulfill his responsibility at all the time.

Some similarities were observed in the case of the consulting company. When the management decided to change the criteria for performance evaluations, some consultants were unable to excel. They were doing great in previous evaluations, never bothered about failure, and did not prepare themselves for change. When the consultants found that they did not do the job perfectly, they went into “doom loop” state and became brittle personalities. Finally this attitude costs their job.

In the continuous education system in any organizations, the professionals should be explained that failure is part and partial of any aspect of life and it is the first step of success. Maintaining such attitude in the organization will help the professionals avid the defensive reasoning and putting the blame on others, in this case on clients and the manager.

2004 Award Winner

I am fascinated by the growth of the Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business (MCB) and their achievements. Yes! It is a bold step to eliminate the graduate programs so that the school and the faculty can focus more on Undergraduate programs. It is a strategic move and worked well for the business school. The resources which were spent on the graduate programs are now diverted towards the undergraduate program. I strongly believe that this decision was taken after careful consideration of students in that program and the community it serves. Also it seems there are other schools in the area that provide graduate programs in their Business Administration schools so that students who want to enroll in graduate programs in Business Administration can fulfill their desires.

I like to see similar actions in the private and public organization. Rather than having a big group that provides vast variety of services, it is better to have small groups specialized in particular lines. I am not advocating downsizing the organization, rather having specialized divisions under one top management. The slow service lines should be phased out over the time as done at MCB (The article does not say that the graduate programs were slow, but I assume that it is one of the reason for eliminating the graduate programs)

Practicability of the theories is the most important thing in coaching students. The MCB is fulfilling that need by bringing nationally renowned executives who actually practiced business administration.

How to Get Hired

I fully agree that if I don’t communicate well about what I have done, all my efforts may in vain. It will not be a matter how good is my product is. Mr. Whissen noted that MBA writing samples have a casual tone suitable for emails between friends but lacking the professionalism necessary to communicate with sophisticated investors. I wonder whether this is an influence by technology development and cultural change evolving with time. Also I will put the blame on the K-12 education when it comes to grammatical errors in a memo or in any other written document. MBA schools should put as much effort as possible to rectify this issue, but there is always, time and budget limitation for a student who attends a business school. It is a big effort to reduce the class size of 30 to 10 at the Kenan-Flagler Business School. Again this move will sky rocket the tuition fees and drive away many potential students who want to pursue MBA to other fields.

I really like the idea of Mr. Yin Luo having more carrier oriented programs incorporating specialized courses. UNR Business School is doing a great job in this regard. We can specialize in Accounting, Finance, Gaming Management, Information Technology and Supply Chain Management. This kind of specialization free the MBA students to focus more on the soft skills such as communication and interpersonal relationships and make them top picks for interviewers.

As noted by Mr. Bayne, it is embarrassing to go to a job interview without knowing anything about the organization and the nature of the job. With the invention of internet, the organizations become more and more transparent and accessible to any potential candidate seeking a job.

MBA Skills

I always believe that students should start learning communication and interpersonal skills at middle school or high school level. It is a behavior influenced by family, friends, environment, and culture. Also it is a continuing learning process. I have seen some people in the engineering field who have exceptional technical skills, but very poor communicators.

This article mainly focuses on the communication skills at corporate level and the action taken by top MBA schools. While MBA programs should focus on additional class room coaching, they should emphasize more on the programs of team building in real life situations. I really like the idea that the University of Chicago students were taken to Lake Geneva and given the opportunity of team building exercises. The interesting part is that their actions were videotaped and later analyzed for group dynamics. Though this article did not elaborate more, I strongly believe that the participants were given an opportunity to evaluate themselves and individual focus was emphasized on their deficiencies. It is really worth to incorporate similar activities such as students go to a television studio and play the role of board of directors facing hostile news reporters after a corporate disaster. Students from school of journalism can be a good choice to be part of this exercise.

Communication technologies are evolving faster in the past few decades. These dynamic technological changes may influence in the preferred communication methodologies especially between older and younger generations within an organization. I did not see much discussion in this regard in this article.

As mentioned in the article, listening is an important part of interpersonal skills. I have this nasty habit of completing the other person’s sentence. I am trying hard to get rid of that habit.